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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 4

Some of you have been receiving outstanding results from the running backs that you selected during your draft process. Unfortunately, there are many of you who have endured injuries, disappointing output, and inconsistent patterns of usage with your runners. If that applies to you, then those unwanted outcomes have diminished your enthusiasm for some of the backs that are contained on your rosters.

That should fuel your desire to locate alternative options on the waiver wire. In addition to the  presence of health issues and lackluster production, the reemergence of bye weeks will also impact your lineup decisions through Week 12. This week only two teams are involved, which will allow you to become reacclimated to this process. However, that does mean that anyone who owns Le’Veon Bell, Matt Breida, or Raheem Mostert will not have those backs available.

Regardless of your reasons for examining waiver wire options, this article will help you locate the best running backs to target. These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners that are available if you are contending with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be considered as droppable in order for you to secure your replacements.

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Frontrunners - Week 4 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the runners that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues. 

Wayne Gallman, New York Giants - 3% owned

The former fourth-round pick entered Week 3 with 669 rushing yards on 164 attempts (4.1 yards-per-carry). He had failed to reach 60 yards in 30 games which understandably vanquished him to irrelevance. However, that quickly changed when Saquon Barkley encountered an ankle injury. Now, Gallman has ascended into this week's top waiver target at the running back position, because he is primed to inherit the Giants' RB1 responsibilities. He will be performing in a rejuvenated offense that ignited during Daniel Jones' professional debut. Availability will not be an issue, as he can be obtained in 97% of all leagues. Barkley owners should monitor his status throughout the week. But seizing Gallman should be your highest priority of Week 4 roster planning if you are searching for help at running back.

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs - 5% owned  

The combination of Damien Williams problematic knee and LeSean McCoy’s ankle issue created an opportunity for other Kansas City backs to vault into the fantasy landscape. That triggered significant conversation regarding Darwin Thompson, including my recommendation to grab him from your Week 3 waiver wire. I remain convinced that Thompson possesses the versatility to become a factor in Andy Reid’s explosive attack later this season. However, it was Darrel Williams who commandeered the majority of touches during the Chiefs’ matchup with Baltimore (14 touches/109 total yards). McCoy did overcome his ankle issue and accumulated 80 total yards on 11 touches. Thompson managed just eight yards on four attempts, while Darrel Williams was impressive while capitalizing on his opportunities. If Damien Williams returns this week, then attempting to project the distribution of touches could be a demanding task. But Darrel Williams’ performance still provides your incentive to add him without hesitation.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers - 29% owned

Jackson has maintained a consistent presence in this column due to a mixture of his considerable talent, and the yardage that he can accumulate when he receives touches. The second-year back has performed proficiently with his opportunities, averaging 7.9 yards-per-carry on 18 attempts. He has also scored a touchdown that was negated by penalty during each of his last two matchups, which includes his electrifying 60-yard burst in Week 2. Jackson's touch totals are impacted by the extensive usage of Austin Ekeler, who has assembled 368 total yards on 57 touches. However, Jackson will also confiscate a respectable percentage of touches on a weekly basis and is fully capable of accruing favorable numbers. He remains a legitimate roster option for anyone who is searching for a flex option. He should also accumulate sizeable yardage this week when the Chargers face Miami. That elevates him to the frontrunner category.


In The Running - Week 4 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain widely available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings - 21% owned

Dalvin Cook has already accumulated 375 rushing yards, is averaging 125 yards-per-game and has accrued four touchdowns. He is also averaging 22 touches-per-game. and will continue to receive a considerable workload in Minnesota's ground-oriented offense. However, nearly 80% of Cook’s owners have not protected themselves from a potential roster crisis by handcuffing him with Mattison. This provides an opportunity to seize a talented back who would instantly function with the same touch total if he would elevate into Minnesota’s RB1 role. Mattison possesses the elusiveness and determination to deliver favorable numbers if this scenario occurs, which would vault him to high-end RB2 status. Mattison has also rushed for 132 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries and presents the potential for standalone value whenever you encounter lineup issues. That should supply sufficient motivation for you to seize him this week.

Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins - 44% owned

Thompson's ownership percentage has increased since the regular season began. But he remains available in over 50% of all leagues even though he presents owners with a viable starting option in the PPR format. Thompson leads the Redskin backfield in snaps (71/55%) and functions with a clearly defined role. Those factors have enabled Thompson to average 9-targets-per-game, lead the Redskins in  targets (18) and pace the team with 12 receptions. That also placed him third among all backs in each category entering Washington’s Monday Night matchup in Week 3. Derrius Guice will be sidelined for the foreseeable future (torn meniscus), and Adrian Peterson is destined to remain a non-factor in the Redskins’ passing attack (2 targets). That will sustain Thompson’s pass-catching responsibilities as the season progresses. It also solidifies his ability to provide assistance for owners who are confronted with issues in their PPR lineups.

Frank Gore, Buffalo Bills 15% owned

The 36-year old Gore's amazing longevity may not equate to an enticing fantasy option. But he will be allotted a larger percentage of his team’s touches on a weekly basis than many other backs that you will uncover on the waiver wire. The long-term usage (14 seasons/3,870+ touches/18,562+total yards career yards) and lack of explosiveness at this point of his career are factors when considering him for your roster. But if Buffalo’s decision to jettison LeSean McCoy did not convince you that Gore would be an integral component within the Bills’ offense, Devin Singletary’s hamstring issue should eliminate any lingering concerns. Gore has now commandeered 44 of the 62 rushes that have been registered by Buffalo running backs while averaging 57 yards-per-game and two touchdowns. That does not equate to enormous weekly point totals. But Gore does not present the inconsistency of other backs who possess greater upside.


Dark Horses - Week 4 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year, or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries or byes.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens - 3% owned

Justice Hill remains a viable waiver wire option whose playmaking potential could make him a valuable resource as the season progresses. But Edwards is currently the back that accumulates carries whenever Ingram is standing on the sidelines. Edwards led the Ravens with 17 rushing attempts in Week 1, and accrued 68 total yards on nine touches in Week 3. That workload is significantly higher than Hill's, as the rookie has received a grand total of three touches during the Ravens’ last two matchups. Ingram is clearly Baltimore's RB1, but Edwards would assume a massive workload if Ingram would be absent for any reason. If you extract Lamar Jackson's rushing attempts from the equation, Ravens running backs have still accumulated 79 carries in three contests. This underscores how extensive Edwards' opportunities can be if he is temporarily elevated into a lead back role.

Tony Pollard
, Dallas Cowboys - 17% owned

Pollard demonstrated his playmaking capabilities once again in Week 3, by exploding for 103 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts (7.9 yards-per-carry). He has now generated 177 total yards on 34 touches which does not include a touchdown that was negated by a holding penalty in Week 2. Despite his ability to stockpile yardage, Pollard’s primary appeal is relegated to functioning as an electrifying handcuff for anyone who owns Ezekiel Elliott. But the vast majority of Elliott owners have yet to safeguard their rosters from any problematic absence by Elliott. Pollard's value would skyrocket if that scenario would occur, and the degree of difficulty in attaining Pollard would increase significantly. His talent surpasses nearly all other backs that are currently available, which should encourage anyone with roster space to add him.

Tyler Johnson, Detroit Lions - 2% owned

Johnson was included in the dark horse section during the recommendations in Week 1. However, he performed on just eight offensive snaps during Detroit’s season opener and registered one carry for six yards. But his opportunities and output have increased during the Lions' last two contests (13 touches/41 total yards). The likelihood of Johnson remaining involved on a weekly basis was solidified when Detroit released C.J. Anderson before Detroit’s Week 3 matchup at Philadelphia. He is now the primary backup to Kerryon Johnson and will collect larger workloads when favorable game scripts develop. He displayed his explosiveness during his 2019 Pro Day at Maryland (4,4-40), and his speed provides an element that should help him preserve his newly attained responsibilities. Tyler Johnson presents needy owners with a flex option, whose value would ascend quickly if Kerryon Johnson is absent from the lineup.


Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure an RB with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins - 27% owned

Guice’s latest injury has compelled Washington to place him on injured reserve. This positions him within a window of two months before it would culminate with his return. That is an enormous time frame for you to stash a player who has yet to prove that he can assist your efforts in qualifying for the fantasy postseason. His torn meniscus sidelined him after 18 yards on 10 attempts and the injury did not develop on the same knee in which he suffered a torn ACL during 2018. When is finally able to return, it is unclear how quickly he can absorb a workload that will be sufficient for your needs.

Even though Guice was Jay Gruden’s choice to perform as the Redskins' lead back, it might be necessary to gradually integrate Guice into the backfield rotation. That would relegate him to a convoluted three-way committee in coordination with Adrian Peterson, and pass-catching specialist Chris Thompson. That is not a scenario that should motivate you to sacrifice a critical roster spot for an extended period of time.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams - 27% owned

Trepidation about Todd Gurley’s troublesome knee unleashed a sizable amount of concern throughout the offseason. That included the belief that Gurley’s touch distribution would fail to approach the 21-attempts-per-game average that he averaged from Weeks 1-8 last season. It also fueled Henderson’s Round 7 ADP, as he appeared capable of attaining a weekly role while operating in a timeshare with Gurley.

After three contests, Malcolm Brown has been the recipient of 19 touches, while Henderson has only been entrusted with one. The Rams did trade up 24 spots in order to select Henderson during last April’s draft, and his big-play ability could still ultimately elevate him into an expanded workload. But his value is currently too constricted by the presence of Gurley and Brown, and there is no indication that he is worthy of occupying a roster spot.

Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs - 47% owned

His ownership percentage is gradually shrinking. But it is still hovering just below 50% of all leagues. Even though we are slowly progressing toward his return in Week 10, that still requires you to navigate through another six weeks of matchups. That leaves him incapable of making contributions to your lineup before mid-November. You also have no assurance that he will garner enough touches to help you when he does resurface because Nick Chubb has been performing effectively with a considerable workload (23 touches-per-game).

Every weekly matchup is critical in your efforts to secure a playoff spot. Unless you are a dynasty owner or are participating in a league with deep benches, it is recommended that if you disengage from the process of clogging your roster. That will allow you to find a player that can improve your chances of winning your critical matchups now.

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