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Week 8 Running Backs - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

We now enter the planning process for Week 8, as some of you are contending with backs that have been inconsistent or completely absent due to lingering injuries, while others are receiving disappointing results from runners that you originally believed would be among your most dependable performers. Some of you have also been impacted by recent events that have altered the landscape for backfields in Cleveland, Jacksonville, New England, Buffalo and Oakland. Fortunately, you now have an opportunity to utilize your waiver wire in order to capitalize on the escalating value of the backs that are about to obtain a more extensive workload.

This week’s waiver wire can also benefit those of you must replace the backs that will be absent during their bye weeks. That will apply to anyone who owns runners on the Falcons, Cowboys, Chargers or Titans, as Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Ito Smith, Tevin Coleman, Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry will not be available this week.

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 8 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.  

Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts - 52% owned 

It is customary to focus on backs that have 50% or less ownership in the weekly recommendations that are contained in this column. But two of this week’s most enticing waiver wire targets have ownership levels that have edged slightly beyond 50%, and it is important that you strongly consider them in your pursuit of roster additions. This applies to Mack, who presents a favorable combination of excellent Week 7 production, and no formidable competition to impede him from capturing a sizable workload. Mack just accrued 159 total yards and two touchdowns against the Bills, and his 19 carries easily exceeded the number of attempts that were distributed to Jordan Wilkins (6) and Nyheim Hines (5). Mack has commandeered double-digit touches during all three games in which has played (11/13/21), while Wilkins' usage has descended to an area far beyond the fantasy landscape, and Hines' usage has degenerated from a season-high 22 touches in Week 5, to an average of 5.5 since Mack's return. Mack should continue to confiscate the majority of opportunities and can manufacture enough yardage to function as an RB2/RB3 option for you.

Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons - 54% owned

Smith is this week’s other premiere waiver addition with an ownership percentage that resides just above 50%. Atlanta’s fourth-round pick received double-digit touches when he made his NFL debut in Week 2, as the result of Devonta Freeman’s knee injury, and has now accumulated 45 touches during games in which Freeman has been sidelined. Smith is operating in a timeshare with Tevin Coleman, which impacts the ceiling of both backs, but he still receives enough opportunities to supply owners with a viable flex option, along with the capacity to function as even more in favorable matchups. Since Week 4, Smith has carried 28 times and has already commandeered 14 attempts inside the red zone – which doubles the total that has been designated for Coleman. Smith should continue to capture the majority of goal-line carries, which provides sufficient motivation to add him.

Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders - 23% owned

Through Oakland’s first seven games, Martin has managed just 99 yards on 27 attempts (3.7 YPC), while struggling to navigate yardage with anything resembling the results that Marshawn Lynch delivered. He has also been noticeably lacking the explosiveness that Jalen Richard can provide. But even though the dynamic Richard is the superior playmaker, Martin possesses the confidence and commitment of Oakland's coaching staff, which will propel him into the responsibilities that had been designated for Lynch. His ability to sustain that role should be dependent upon whether he can perform effectively, but it is feasible that Jon Gruden might continue using Richard primarily as a pass-catching weapon even if Martin struggles - without significantly expanding Richard's workload. While this situation could ultimately change, Martin will be highly involved in this week's reconstructed ground game, and it is easy to envision Gruden doggedly allowing him to accumulate carries as the weeks progress. Owners with injury and bye week challenges should take this into consideration.


In The Running - Week 8 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Jalen Richard, Oakland Raiders - 20% owned

It would require a separate column to properly list the rising number of deficiencies that now exist on a Raiders roster that is actively depleting its talent. However, the Raiders' growing issues on offense will be exacerbated by the absence of Marshawn Lynch, and the exodus of Amari Cooper. This will blend with the shortcomings of the team’s 27th ranked defense to create frequent game scripts that involve Oakland trailing during their upcoming matchups - which should cement Richards' value as a low-end RB2 in PPR leagues. He was seventh among all backs with 37 targets as he entered his Week 6 bye, and was tied for fifth with 31 receptions. If Martin is unproductive in his expanded role, then Jon Gruden could eventually deploy Richard more extensively on the ground. His ability to generate big plays easily surpasses Martin's, and that could elevate Richard’s already ascending value even further.

Chris Ivory, Buffalo Bills7% owned

The possibility of a LeSean McCoy absence this week due to his head injury has presented a potential rise in value for Ivory.  He immediately assumed lead back duties once McCoy was ruled out in Week 7, and proceeded to generate 106 total yards on 19 touches. That includes the season-best 81 yards on the ground that he accumulated on 16 attempts (5.1 YPC), as Ivory's workload easily surpassed the usage that was allotted to Marcus Murphy (9 touches/70 total yards). While McCoy's status should be monitored, this situation serves as a reminder that Ivory is firmly in position to receive favorable volume if he temporarily functions as Buffalo's RB1. This returns him to the fantasy radar for anyone whose roster currently requires a flex option, provided that McCoy ultimately misses time.

Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers12% owned

Mostert has undergone a thorough transformation from an unknown player who had accumulated just 47 yards on 13 carries from 2015 through Week 5 of this season, to a back who has suddenly become a recommended roster addition. He unexpectedly emerged in Week 6 by accruing a team-high 87 yards on 12 attempts (7.3 YPC), then manufactured 78 total yards on 11 carries against the Rams in Week 7. His ownership percentage only rose 11% percent last week, as many potential owners were hesitant to utilize a roster spot on a runner that might become been a proverbial one-week wonder. But Matt Breida's inability to remain healthy, coupled with the general ineffectiveness of Alfred Morris, should compel Kyle Shanahan to keep Mostert involved in an injury-depleted offense that desperately needs an infusion of explosiveness.


Dark Horses - Week 8 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.

Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos - 3% owned

Royce Freeman has accumulated 75 touches and averaged 4.4 YPC during the Broncos’ first seven games. But he also suffered a sprained ankle during the team’s Week 7 matchup, which could sideline him for at least one game. Even though Freeman’s status should be monitored, any potential absence would expand Philip Lindsay's workload considerably, while also vaulting Booker into temporary fantasy relevance. Booker's snap count has consistently remained between 26%-38% this season, although he has only received a total of 12 touches since Week 4. But if Freeman is unavailable, Lindsay would commandeer the majority of opportunities, and Booker's usage would also rise. This could elevate him into consideration a flex option for desperate owners. Particularly since he would be the beneficiary of a favorable Week 8 matchup against the Chiefs.

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks - 17% owned 

This suggestion includes an enormous caveat that is necessary when discussing a member of the Seahawks' backfield, due to the unpredictable nature of the decision-making that is involved in determining the usage of Seattle's top three backs. To this point of the season, we have already seen Chris Carson's snap count fluctuate between 29% and 74% during games in which he was healthy, while Mike Davis carried three times in Weeks 1-3, 33 times in Weeks 4-5, and just six times during Seattle's Week 6 matchup. We have also observed Penny's erratic touch total oscillate on a weekly basis, even though he is yet to exceed 10 in any given contest. Still, the Seahawks did invest a first-round pick on Penny, and it remains logical to believe that the ongoing fluctuation in usage of all three backs will eventually involve distributing more touches to Penny.

Kenjon Barner, New England Patriots1% owned

The 29-year-old Barner entered the league in 2013, has played in 47 games, and has accumulated 380 yards on the ground. 310 of those were generated during Barner’s three-year tenure with the Eagles, but neither Barner’s opportunities or his output have been sizable. However, the knee injury that has been incurred by Sony Michel could launch Barner securely into the fantasy radar. While an MRI did not reveal any structural damage, Michel is currently considered week-to-week. This limits the Patriots' present backfield options to James White and Barner, which places Barner in position to accumulate carries – providing that New England does not add another back. For now, Barner is a candidate to ascend into a tangible role, which presents the rationale for adding him to your roster.


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.

Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens - 58% owned

As with any week in which potential owners have been presented with a collection of waiver wire options, you will need to determine which backs are the most sensible candidates to drop. Allen began the season by producing a touchdown in the Ravens’ first three contests. However, he accomplished that while averaging five attempts per game. This created the risk of a dangerously low floor if he did not score – which could easily occur given the limited weekly opportunities to do so. He has now failed to discover the end zone in four consecutive games, only reached double-digit touches twice this season, and has only received 10 in Baltimore’s last two games combined. While his workload could conceivably increase, there are other backs among this week’s recommendations that already collect a greater number of touches. Relying upon Allen to provide fantasy points while operating within the boundaries of limited opportunities is an ill-advised plan.

Alfred Morris, San Francisco 49ers - 26% owned

Morris began the season as San Francisco’s Week 1 starter, then was entrusted with 40 carries during the 49ers’ first three contests. But his role has diminished, as he has failed to reach double-digit touches in three of the team's last four games. Meanwhile, the unexpected surge in usage for Mostert has launched the undrafted free agent from complete obscurity to the potential of an integral role in Kyle Shanahan's offense - fully at the expense of Morris. It is extremely difficult to envision starting Morris in view of his declining usage, combined with his inability to provide the explosiveness that Mostert and Matt Breida can deliver. This removes all rationale for keeping him.

Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers - 26% owned

The Packers will return from their Week 7 bye amid the likelihood that Mike McCarthy will continue utilizing Williams, Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery in a production-inhibiting timeshare. Jones is able to generate enough yardage with his eight carries per game to remain productive for his owners (5.9 YPC). But Williams has continued to underwhelm (3.8 YPC), albeit with the same unproductive results that should have convinced owners to avoid him during the draft process. He has failed to exceed 33 rushing yards since Week 2, and there is no justification for having the confidence to use him in your lineups. That, in turn, should supply the incentive to drop him.

More Waiver Wire Adds and Pickups

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