Eight Running Backs to Target on the Waiver Wireby Mike Fanelli October 6, 2020 0 comments
A few weeks back, I wrote a similar article like this one providing six running backs to target on the waiver wire after we saw Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey end up on injured reserve. Unfortunately, we had another weekend with two more star running backs going down with serious injuries. Nick Chubb suffered a knee injury, while Austin Ekeler suffered a serious hamstring injury. Both players will be placed on injured reserve but should be back at some point this season.
However, for fantasy football owners, the question is, “what do I do now?” The answer is to hit the waiver wire and try to keep your team together with smart adds, good trades, and some duck tape. Some running backs that you could trade for on the cheap right now include Cam Akers, David Johnson, Raheem Mostert, and J.K. Dobbins. However, this article is about waiver wire targets, so here are eight running backs fantasy owners should considering adding that are owned in under 60 percent of ESPN leagues.
Big Money Top Targets
These targets are running backs you should throw a big percent of your FAAB at or use your top waiver priority on. Both of these running backs appear heading towards a high-end FLEX option or even a low-end RB2.
Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers (56.2%)
While Kelley’s production has dropped off the last two weeks, his role remains consistent. He has at least 10 touches in every game this season, including two or more catches in each of the last three games. With Ekeler out for at least the next three weeks (and likely much longer), Kelley steps into the Chargers’ RB1 role. For fantasy owners, he will be limited by Justin Jackson and, more so, Justin Herbert‘s ability to push the ball downfield. However, with the expected uptick in touches with Ekeler out, Kelley should have a weekly floor of 12 PPR fantasy points going forward.
Devonta Freeman, New York Giants (55.8%)
In Week 3, Freeman had five carries for 10 yards. However, last week he appeared to be more comfortable in the offense. Freeman had 11 carries for 33 yards, but more importantly, four catches for 35 yards and 10.8 fantasy points. The most important numbers are 54 and four. That is the percent of snaps and targets Freeman had on Sunday; both led the Giants’ running backs. With the Giants’ offensive line troubles, the Giants’ running back with the most value will be whoever is getting the passing game work. Based on Sunday’s numbers, it appears Freeman has that role. Assuming that stays the same, Freeman has high-end FLEX appeal each week with a safe floor.
Value Could Change Quickly
With these running backs, their value is very much boom or bust, depending on the situation. One lucky break and they could find themselves in a weekly conversation as a top 20 running back or better. However, there is a risk as these running backs will require a change for them to become consistently worth playing.
Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints (54.8%)
Over the first three weeks of the season, Murray failed to score eight fantasy points in any game. However, on Sunday, he had his best game of the season, totaling 15 touches for 83 scrimmage yards, two touchdowns, and 21.3 fantasy points. Now a large part of that was the two rushing touchdowns he got. However, Murray has 12 or more rushing attempts in three of four games this season. The volume is there, and he can steal some goal line work from Alvin Kamara. If Kamara had to miss time because of an injury, Murray would become a top-five running back. However, Kamara has missed just three games in his career, and the Saints could turn to the passing game more with the return of Michael Thomas.
Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals (25.2%)
Much like with Murray, Edmonds is in a similar situation. However, unlike Murray, Edmonds could take the starting job from Kenyan Drake. After a great end to the 2019 season, Drake had the transition tag placed on him and is playing on a one-year deal. In each game this season, Drake’s production has dropped. He scored 14.5 fantasy points in Week 1 and has seen his fantasy points slip in each game as he scored just 3.5 on Sunday. Meanwhile, Edmonds has played at least 32 percent of the snaps in every game this season and is coming off a season-high 15 fantasy points. In August, Kliff Kingsbury expressed how he viewed Edmonds as a starting-caliber running back. If Drake continues to struggle, the Cardinals may make a change.
Damien Harris, New England Patriots (15.4%)
Sony Michel was placed on injured reserve yesterday and will miss at least the next three weeks. Meanwhile, Cam Newton is currently on the Covid list. The Patriots were down their top two rushers last night against the Kansas City Chiefs, but Harris stepped up. In his first game of the season, Harris led the team in rushing attempts (17) and yards (100) while averaging 5.9 yards per carry against a good Chiefs’ defense. With Michel on injured reserve, Harris appears to be the starting running back in New England. While he looks like a good add, we have to see how Newton’s return will impact Harris. Either way, Harris needs to be added in all leagues, especially non-PPR leagues.
Deeper League Long Shots
For those of you in deeper redraft leagues or maybe some dynasty leagues, these running backs have shown some promise recently and could turn into a valuable fantasy asset. While these are long shot targets, you can likely add them for a little amount of FAAB money or as a later waiver claim.
Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers (8.6%)
With Ekeler going down, Jackson got more snaps on Sunday. He played a season-high 39 percent of the snaps. However, he averaged just 1.5 yards per carry on his six attempts and had a total of 21 scrimmage yards on eight touches. While Kelley should get the majority of the workload with Ekeler out, Jackson has been productive in the past. Before this season, Jackson averaged 5.1 yards per carry on his 79 attempts. Assuming the Chargers don’t add anyone to their running back room, Jackson should see enough work to warrant an add in 14 or more team leagues.
J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team (6.4%)
While Antonio Gibson is the guy to own in Washington, McKissic has led the team’s running backs in snap percent in three of four games this season. McKissic has played at least 45 percent of the snaps in every game this season. Furthermore, he leads the backfield in targets with 17; good for fourth-best on the team. McKissic has at least four targets in three of four games this season and has 12 total over the last two weeks. Furthermore, McKissic has back-to-back games with more than eight PPR fantasy points, and in deeper leagues, he could turn into a bye week filler.
D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns (0.1%)
Obviously, Kareem Hunt benefits the most with Chubb out. However, the Browns used both Johnson and Dontrell Hilliard in their win over the Cowboys. Both backs played about 20 percent of the snap, but Johnson was much more productive with his snaps. Johnson had 13 carries for 95 yards (7.3 yards per carry), while Hilliard had five carries for 19 yards (3.8 yards per carry). Before Sunday’s game, Johnson had played a few snaps this season while Hilliard didn’t see the field till this week. The Browns have ran the ball enough this season to make Chubb and Hunt weekly starters. While Johnson won’t be a weekly starter, in deeper leagues, he should offer some FLEX appeal with the bye weeks starting.
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