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Week 5 Running Backs - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

As we enter Week 5, some of you are contending with massive disappointment regarding the production of running backs that you selected early in your draft process. This includes anyone who owns Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Devonta Freeman, Joe Mixon, Kenyan Drake, Jay Ajayi, Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, and LeSean McCoy, as this cluster of backs have either subjected you to discouraging results, or have been sidelined completely. In either case, you have been unable to rely upon backs that you originally thought would supply the foundation of your rosters at this critical position.

While this has been frustrating, it is essential that you manage your emotions, avoid making impulsive decisions, and utilize the abundant resources that we offer at RotoBaller. That will improve your chances of making the most effective roster adjustments due to disappointing performances, production-inhibiting time shares, or injuries. For the next eight weeks this can also involve replacing any backs that are unavailable during their bye weeks. That factor will apply to anyone who owns Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, or Ronald Jones II, as the Bears and Buccaneers will be the teams that will be impacted by this process in Week 5.

But regardless of why you are now considering your waiver wire options, this article will assist you in locating the best players to target. These recommended options 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 dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. Here are this week's most viable waiver wire options at the running back position.

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Frontrunners - Week 5 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 50% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues.  

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts - 13% owned

Even though the 5’9” Hines is not a feasible candidate to function in a feature back role, he continues to present evidence on a weekly basis that he should be included on rosters in PPR leagues. He has now collected 22 of his 26 targets, including the team best 11 that he garnered in Week 4. That enabled him to produce season highs in receptions (9), and yardage (63), while also generating the first two receiving touchdowns of his career. He has now assembled at least five receptions in three of his first four contests, while capturing sustainable responsibilities as the Colts’ receiving back. He remains fully capable of exploding for sizable gains, which provides Frank Reich with sufficient incentive to deploy him in that role as the season continues. That delivers the motivation for anyone in PPR leagues to seize him for their rosters.

T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars - 49% owned

This has been an extremely frustrating situation for Fournette owners, who have received a grand total of 71 scoreless rushing yards on 20 carries in exchange for their first-round investment during the draft process. The entire experience during Jacksonville’s first four games has been torturous, as Fournette has missed two games completely, failed to play throughout the entire first half in the Jaguars’ other two games, and forced his owners to endure endless ambiguity regarding his availability as the season has transpired. This has also created a fluctuating situation with Yeldon's stock, as his value has vacillated with each new development in Fournette’s status. Yeldon’s value has been elevated again after he generated 100 total yards and two touchdowns in Week 4. His ability to deliver reasonable production, should combine with the ongoing uncertainty regarding Fournette, to provide potential owners with sufficient incentive to secure him. Particularly if you are an exasperated owner of Fournette. 

Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns - 18% owned 

Cleveland's second-round pick has languished in a situation that is vastly different than other first-year backs that have been supplied with frequent opportunities to perform. But Chubb has been impressive in limited game action (10 carries/146 yards/14.6 YPC), including his two sizable bursts for touchdowns in Week 4 (63/41). Even though Chubb’s path to opportunity is encumbered by the presence of Carlos Hyde, the rookie does possess enough talent to perform effectively if he is given an opportunity, which is the rationale for stashing him this week. If Hyde would suddenly depart the lineup for any reason, Chubb would instantly become a viable fantasy option. By securing him now, you could avoid a congested race to the waiver wire later if Chubb is suddenly elevated into a substantial role.


In The Running - Week 5 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Mike Davis, Seattle Seahawks - 2% owned

When news emerged that Chris Carson would be inactive in Week 4 due to his hip injury, the expectation was that Rashaad Penny would operate in a sizable role. Instead, it was fourth-year back Davis who commandeer 25 touches, while Penny was only allotted nine. Davis capitalized on his opportunity by accumulating 124 yards, scoring two touchdowns, and averaging 4.8 YPC. With that impressive performance, Davis has surged into the fantasy landscape, as he would likely receive another extensive workload if Carson’s health issue lingers. He may also have convinced head coach Pete Carroll that he is worthy of an ongoing role within the Seahawk offense, even if Carson returns for Seattle’s Week 5 matchup with the Rams. Penny should eventually procure more touches before the conclusion of the season. But Davis is ahead of the rookie right now, which presents potential owners with a viable roster addition.

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks - 45% owned

I will admit my surprise upon noticing that Penny's ownership percentage had fallen below 50%. Some frustration was understandable when he received just three touches in Week 3 after averaging 10.5 touches per game in Weeks 1/2 (11/10). Still, simply jettisoning Penny to the waiver wire was premature, and he was already a logical addition for savvy owners even before Chris Carson’s hip injury sidelined him in Week 4.  If an owner in your league is among the 55% who have allowed him to become available, then you should strongly consider securing Penny now. Seattle’s workload distribution in the backfield is always subject to change - particularly since Carroll is involved. Penny will be allotted fewer touches than Carson and Davis in the next few weeks. But the Seahawks did invest a first-round draft pick on Penny. This makes it borderline unfathomable that he would not collect a significant number of touches as the season progresses, and he should not be allowed to inhabit your waiver wire.

Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 22% owned 

The fact that Jones had been inactive for Tampa Bay's first three games, then produced 28 yards on 11 touches in Week 4, may not inspire confidence in his ability to become a prolific scorer anytime soon. But the Buccaneer ground game had been abysmal while Jones was temporarily exiled in Week 1-3, as Peyton Barber averaged just 2.9 YPC while operating as the unchallenged primary back, and the Buccaneers were dead last with a feeble 3.0 YPC.  Jones’ pass catching ability is certainly not a strength. But play-caller Todd Monken's aggressive approach has been successful without utilizing running backs as receiving weapons, as the Buccaneers had the league lowest team target share for backs heading into their Week 4 matchup (11.7%). Even though Jones may undergo an on-the-field growth process, he appears to have passed Barber on the depth chart, and should retain Tampa Bay's RB1 responsibilities.


Dark Horses - Week 5 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.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns - 42% owned

Johnson was considered a droppable commodity in this column after Week 2, but that was before Baker Mayfield’s ascension into the starting role. The rookie signal caller has ignited Cleveland's offense, passing attack, which has created additional space for the Browns’ ground game. But even though Johnson is performing as a complimentary back behind Hyde, he still possesses the ability to perform effectively when he is allowed the opportunity. It is this potential for production that creates the appeal for securing Johnson, as his touch total has been underwhelming (6/4/4/6). But even if he does not replicate the numbers that he accrued during his first three seasons, Johnson has the ability to deliver reasonable production if he obtains more touches. That makes him worthy of stashing in deeper leagues, as he could provide a temporary solution for owners contending with injuries and bye weeks.

Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles - 5% owned

Forecasting the workload for any of Philadelphia's four running backs (Jay Ajayi/Darren Sproles/ Corey Clement/Smallwood) has become an arduous task. But injuries to Sproles (hamstring) and Clement (quad) have presented Smallwood with the chance to accrue 21 touches during the Eagles’ past two games. The third-year back has responded by manufacturing 108 yards and a touchdown, which could allow him to maintain an ongoing presence in Doug Peterson’s rushing attack. Ajayi’s role as the team’s theoretical RB1 supplies the most certainty in this complicated backfield, although his inability to evade nagging injury reduces his dependability. Neither Sproles nor Clement can currently be considered as reliable options due to their health concerns, which could supply Smallwood with even more opportunities to receive touches. This makes him a potential roster addition if you are short-handed due to injuries or bye week concerns

Robert Turbin, Indianapolis Colts - 0% owned

You may have grown weary of even putting any thought to the situation surrounding Indianapolis running backs, as opportunities have been distributed between rookies Jordan Wilkins and Hines, while Marlon Mack has only been available to register 11 touches. Despite Hines’ value as a receiver, none of the Colts’ runners possess a skill set that warrants feature back responsibilities. But that has maintained a path for the 28-year old Turbin to secure a consistent role. He will finally begin his eighth season this week, as his four-game suspension will have reached its conclusion. While the congested committee does not provide an optimal situation, Turbin could receive touches in short-yardage situations, and near the goal line. That would enable him to supply you with a bye week option if you are in need.


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.

Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 55% owned

Barber was presented with the chance to operate as Tampa Bay's lead back. But unfortunately, he did nothing to demonstrate that he should maintain that role. Barber only managed 148 yards on 50 attempts, including 24 yards on seven carries in Week 4. Meanwhile, Jones only generated 29 yards with his 10 attempts as he made his debut in Week 4. However, even if he struggles while functioning in an expanded role, there is nothing surrounding Barber's performance which would indicate that he can supplant Jones as the Buccaneers' primary back.

Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings - 46% owned

Entering the season, there appeared to be justification for believing that Murray would seize a reasonable workload as the Vikings’ short-yardage and goal-line back. That theory became questionable in Weeks 1-2, when Dalvin Cook averaged 53.5/74% of Minnesota's offensive snaps while Murray was relegated to an anemic (18.5/26%). This diminished Murray’s value, while limiting the rationale for owning him to the possibility of a substantial workload if Cook were forced to the sidelines. But when Cook was absent in Week 3, Murray only rushed for one yard on two attempts. Then in Week 4, Cook was reduced to spectator status after 10 carries, yet Murray only carried twice while sharing touches with both Mike Boone and Roc Thomas. Blend in the inadequacies of the Minnesota’s offensive line, which has contributed to Minnesota’s 3.5 YPC rushing average, and every possible reason for owning Murray has now been systematically eliminated.

LeGarrette Blount, Detroit Lions - 15% owned

Blount has averaged nine carries during Detroit’s first four games, although his average drops to just six attempts per game if you disregard the 16 carries that he attained in Week 3. He is also averaging just 2.2 YPC, even though he somehow retains an ongoing role within the Lions’ backfield. Meanwhile, Kerryon Johnson has visibly been the superior runner, while averaging 5.3 YPC with his 9.5 attempts per game. That includes the 6.2 average that he delivered in Weeks 3-4, as the disparity in effectiveness between Blount and Johnson became increasingly evident. It is easy to envision Johnson’s usage expanding, as the gifted rookie appears destined to confiscate a sizable percentage of carries. That will also allow him to become a crucial component on numerous rosters before the season has concluded, while simultaneously relegating Blount to irrelevance. That should compel owners to locate a better option.

More Waiver Wire Adds and Pickups

Check out RotoBaller's famous fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!