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Week 9 Running Backs - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

We now enter the planning process for Week 9, 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. 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, which involves six different teams for the first time this season (Cardinals, Bengals, Colts, Jaguars, Giants, Eagles). As a result, anyone who owns Saquon Barkley, David Johnson, Joe Mixon, Marlon Mack, Carlos Hyde, T.J. Yeldon, Josh AdamsWendell Smallwood, or Corey Clement will not have those backs 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 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 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 9 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.  

Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 45% owned

Barber entered Week 8 with a track record of unimpressive performances during his opportunities to function as Tampa Bay’s workhorse back, which was underscored by his underwhelming 3.5 YPC and his 260 scoreless yards on the ground. Despite concerns about an ankle injury, he rumbled for 85 yards and his first rushing touchdown of the year on 19 attempts, while finally producing high-quality numbers as the Buccaneers' primary rusher. While that should provide sufficient rationale for potential owners to secure him, Barber's value is further enhanced by the knowledge that Ronald Jones II will not present an immediate threat to his workload. The disappointing second-round pick is now contending with a hamstring injury, which could sideline him for multiple weeks. He also finished with -3 yards on two attempts in Week 8, and has yet to reach 30 rushing yards in any of the four games in which he has played. Considering the number of backs that will be unavailable this week, Barber becomes a viable flex option for anyone in need.

Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders - 53% owned 

Martin has been maligned repeatedly throughout the fantasy community, and Jon Gruden's belief that he could still function effectively as a runner received equal criticism. The skepticism was justified, since he had averaged 2.9 YPC in 2016/2017, and had only manufactured 3.7 prior to Week 9. However, the appealing number of opportunities that he would receive while operating as Oakland's primary rusher still made it logical to include him in last week’s roster recommendations. Martin then proceeded to surpass expectations by bursting for 89 total yards on 15 touches in the first week of his deployment as the Raiders' feature back. He did lose a critical fourth-quarter fumble, but his 72 rushing yards (5.5 YPC) should keep him locked in as the team’s RB1. Anyone who invested in Martin last week now has a resource that is more valuable than had been anticipated. He also remains available in nearly 50% of all leagues, and if his name resides on your waiver wire, you should secure him for Oakland's matchup this Thursday with the 49ers.

Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons - 37% owned

Smith averaged 8.5 touches per game from Weeks 2-7, generated a touchdown in three consecutive contests (Weeks 4-6), and was owned in over 50% of all leagues heading into Atlanta's Week 8 bye. However, that number has dropped to 37% even though his opportunities in the Falcons offense remain unchanged. The fourth-round draft pick did not make his first appearance of the season until Week 2, yet his 14 red zone carries were tied with Ezekiel Elliott, while exceeding the totals of Jordan Howard, Phillip Lindsay, Joe Mixon, Alex Collins, and LeGarrette Blount (among others) prior to Atlanta's aforementioned bye. He averaged a 29.5% snap count during the last two contests in which Devonta Freeman was absent (Weeks 6/7), compared to 37.5% for Tevin Coleman. He should sustain that level of usage, which will supply opportunities for Smith to expand upon his current touchdown total (3), while also amassing enough fantasy points to maintain consideration as a flex option.


In The Running - Week 9 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts - 32% owned

Hines performed on 69% of the Colts’ offensive snaps between Weeks 3-5, and accumulated 206 total yards during that three-game sequence. He also averaged 12.4 touches and seven targets per game from Weeks 1-5, while forging a role as the pass-catching back for Indianapolis. But his touches per game (5.5) and targets (2.5 per game) regressed in Weeks 6-7, after Marlon Mack returned from his protracted hamstring injury. This compelled most of his owners to drop Hines after his snap count dropped to 26% in Week 7, while Mack’s ascended to 56%. However, we were quickly reminded that even if Mack is functioning effectively, Hines can be successful as he accrued a season-high 78 rushing yards on 11 attempts. Even though Hines will not always line up against a highly substandard defense like Oakland's, he has the speed and versatility to remain productive even if his snap count remains below Mack's.

Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos - 3% owned

Booker was included among the suggested roster additions in last week’s column, in anticipation of the expanded workload that he would receive if Royce Freeman’s ankle issue forced him to the sideline in Week 8. But even after it became apparent that Freeman would miss Denver’s Week 8 matchup with Kansas City, the uninspiring numbers that he had amassed through seven games (51 rushing yards/177 total yards) was a significant factor in his ownership rising by only 2%. But after Booker’s performance against the Chiefs, interest in utilizing him as a flex option should increase significantly. He took advantage of the additional touches to establish new season highs in rushing (78), and total yards (101), while averaging 8.7 YPC on the ground.  Even though Phillip Lindsay garnered a larger percentage of the overall workload (21 touches/13 touches), Booker accomplished enough to warrant adding him - with the caveat that his value remains elevated only as long as Freeman is unavailable.

Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles - 1% owned

The undrafted rookie has now elevated beyond being a mere roster stash after being entrusted with a team-high nine carries, and bolting for 61 yards (6.8 YPC) in Week 8. He has now capitalized on his opportunities for two consecutive weeks, after averaging 5.5 YPC with his 13 attempts. He has easily performed more proficiently than Corey Clement during that two-game span (12 carries/12 yards/1.0 YPC), while Wendell Smallwood compensated for an underwhelming performance on the ground (8 carries/24 yards/3.0 YPC), by generating a 36-yard touchdown reception. Even though that was also a byproduct of poor coverage by Jacksonville. Once the Eagles return from their bye, Adams should operate in an elevated role, and could easily secure the most carries on a weekly basis. Potential owners should not be concerned about Clement, or the potential return of 35-year-old Darren Sproles, and instead should focus on adding Adams to their rosters.


Dark Horses - Week 9 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.

Elijah McGuire, New York Jets - 6% owned
The Jets have officially designated McGwire for return from injured reserve, and he has already been practicing with the team. The 24-year-old back had been contending with a broken foot, but New York now has a three-week window to add him to the 53-man roster. Even if he is eased toward a desirable snap total after his return, he could eventually capture a count that resembles the 47% that had been allotted to Bilal Powell - who has been placed on IR due to his neck injury. McGuire must ascend beyond rookie Trenton Cannon on the Jets’ depth chart, in order to function within a timeshare with Isaiah Crowell. However, he can supply an enticing blend of speed and athleticism, and accumulated 522 total yards on 105 touches during his 2017 rookie season. McGuire's potential to receive a sizable workload before the season ends makes him one of this week’s most intriguing roster additions.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans - 52% owned 

The initial hope during the offseason was that Henry could finally accumulate sizable yards and stockpile touchdowns as an unchallenged feature back. But that instantly evaporated when Dion Lewis was signed by the Titans. But even though Henry ’s usage and output have been even lower than anticipated, the 6’3, 248-pound back is worth an investment for anyone who is contending with a scarcity of roster options. Henry did generate his first touchdown of the year in Week 7, while also generating a season-best 56 total yards. Lewis should continue to receive the majority of touches, but Henry’s team-high 12 red zone carries bodes well for his chances of receiving more coveted goal line opportunities. Henry's level of usage is still sufficient for potential owners to consider stashing him, and it would only require a slight increase for him to become a viable option in the weeks ahead.

Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles - 43% owned

While Adams appears to have secured a more substantial role within Philadelphia’s congested backfield, Smallwood has also displayed enough proficiency to remain involved in Doug Peterson’s game planning as the weeks unfold. He has averaged 62 total yards per game since Week 3 and rushed for 5.3 YPC during that span. While those numbers won’t cause massive movement by potential owners to their waiver wires, he has accomplished enough to maintain his responsibilities within Peterson’s attack, while supplying owners with a moderate level of fantasy points whenever they require a flex option. He has also performed more effectively than Corey Clement, whose touch total dropped to a season-low five in Week 9, and is now a strong candidate to lose touches. Smallwood cannot help owners until Philadelphia returns from this week’s bye, but anyone whose roster contains the space to add him can consider doing so.


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 - 46% owned

Allen's most productive sequence of games from a fantasy standpoint occurred in Weeks 1-3. However, he only averaged 2.3 YPC on the ground, and 23 YPG as a receiver in those contests, as his output was constructed largely by generating four touchdowns. But after he was allotted eight red zone carries in Baltimore's first four games, he has received just three during the Ravens' last five contests - even though he did score on a dump-off pass late in the Ravens’ Week 9 matchup with Carolina. Still, his usage has nearly evaporated, as he has accumulated just 13 touches in Baltimore’s last three games. He has also carried only four times, including none against the Panthers. Alex Collins has received 46 touches during that same sequence of games, and Allen’s minimal workload has rendered his fantasy value as non-existent.

Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles - 54% owned

The ongoing challenges for Clement owners are inherent constraints that are placed upon his production as the result of Doug Peterson's dedication to a three-man backfield rotation, combined with his increasingly anemic production. Clement has only exceeded a 33% snap count once all season and has never eclipsed 45%. His touch totals have also regressed steadily since a season-high 19 in Week 4, as he only was allotted five against the Jaguars in Week 9 (14/10/5). His production has understandably dropped in conjunction with his opportunities, as he achieved a grand total of just five yards versus Jacksonville. The emergence of Adams, and the superior proficiency of Smallwood, suddenly has placed significant obstacles in Clement’s path toward enhanced value. Owners should locate an alternative back, who functions in an environment that offers a better chance to flourish.

Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons - 40% owned

The concept of sending Freeman to the waiver wire might be uncomfortable, because 40% of his owners are still keeping him affixed to their benches. But if this applies to you, then you should reassess this situation. The earliest that he could conceivably help you your team will be Week 15, and it is difficult to envision the five-year veteran performing again this season unless the Falcons' remaining games contain significant postseason ramifications. Even if all of the factors would somehow align to vault him back into an active role, his ability to function with a significant workload cannot be guaranteed. This hardly provides a foundation for keeping Freeman on your roster, with so many weeks remaining in your season, and a number of alternative options still available.

More Waiver Wire Adds and Pickups

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

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