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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 2


After months of drafting and reshaping rosters, the long-awaited return of NFL matchups has finally occurred. This was the first opportunity to witness game action in any form, due to the absence of preseason contests. It was also the initial chance to evaluate your running backs as they performed during their opening day matchups. Some of you might be extremely satisfied with the production that your backs delivered in Week 1.

However, others might have lost confidence in the runners that are contained on your rosters, after experiencing disappointment in their ineffective performances, or the limitations of their workloads. Regardless of why you might be considering your waiver wire options, this article is designed to help you uncover the best backs that remain available as we enter planning for Week 2.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners for fantasy GMs that are struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find news updates and data-fueled analysis that is designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Premium articles, rankings, projections, 15 lineup tools and daily Premium DFS research/tools including our Lineup Optimizer, Research Station and so much more! Sign Up Now!

 

Running Back Leaderboard

Week 1 Rushing Leaders Team Attempts Yards YPC TD
Clyde Edwards-Helaire Kansas City 25 138 5.5 1
Ezekiel Elliott Dallas 22 96 4.4 1
Christian McCaffrey Carolina 23 96 4.2 2
Adrian Peterson Detroit 14 93 6.6 0
Josh Jacobs Las Vegas 25 93 3.7 3
Austin Ekeler LA Chargers 19 84 4.4 0
Malcolm Brown LA Rams 18 79 4.4 2
David Johnson Houston 11 77 7 1
Kareem Hunt Cleveland 13 72 5.5 0
Joe Mixon Cincinnati 19 69 3.6 0

 

Frontrunners - Week 2 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options 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.

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars 

56% rostered

Robinson routinely gashed opposing defenses at the FCS level, accumulating 5,218 all-purpose yards and 46 touchdowns during his four seasons at Illinois State. He also exploded for 1,899 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground last season, then joined Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent. Even after the departure of Leonard Fournette, he was buried below Ryquell Armstead and Devine Ozigbo on the depth chart. But he performed impressively throughout training camp. and confiscated lead back responsibilities for the Jaguars in Week 1.

Robinson was the only Jacksonville back to register a carry during the season opener, and easily led the team in attempts (16), and rushing yardage (62). He also generated 28 yards on his lone reception and provided an enormous incentive for Doug Marone and Jay Gruden to keep him highly involved in the attack. Ozigbo (hamstring) and Armstead (COVID-19) will remain sidelined for multiple games, and their prolonged absences will cement Robinson’s role during the upcoming weeks. Despite a recent surge in interest by fantasy GMs, Robinson is still available in 44% of all leagues. But this will be the final week in which anyone can locate him on their waiver wires.

 

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers  

11% rostered

The transformed Charger offense was unveiled in Week 1 following an offseason of uncertainty concerning Austin Ekeler’s workload, and the competition for backup duties between Kelly and Justin JacksonJackson’s lingering hamstring issue deprived him of critical training camp reps while presenting Kelly with the pathway to overtake him on the depth chart. Kelly took full advantage of his opportunities against Cincinnati, and his proficiency supplies the incentive for fantasy GMs to seize the gifted rookie while he is still available.

He accrued 60 rushing yards and a touchdown with his 12 carries (5.0 per attempt), while Jackson was not a factor during the matchup (2 carries/4 yards/2.0 per attempt). Kelly has successfully navigated the challenge of reduced offseason preparation and appears to have secured LA’s RB2 responsibilities behind Ekeler. His ability to function as a power back should also help him sustain an ongoing role near the red zone. This enhances his status as an appealing option for fantasy GMs on the Week 2 waiver wire.

 

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

20% rostered

Ongoing speculation regarding how rushing attempts would be interspersed between third-year back Marlon Mack and promising rookie Jonathan Taylor provided a source of intrigue entering Week 1. But Mack’s non-contact injury impacted the Colts’ touch distribution while propelling Indy’s pass-catching specialist into an integral role. Hines confiscated two first-half touchdowns, and ultimately produced 73 total yards on 15 touches. That includes his 45 yards as a receiver, as Hines collected a team-high eight receptions.

Indianapolis running backs accumulated 20 carries, with Taylor accruing a team-best nine attempts. He also produced 67 yards on six receptions, and his responsibilities as both a rusher and receiver are destined to increase. Mack’s torn Achilles tendon has ended his season, while assuring that both Taylor and Hines will be critical resources during the Colts’ remaining matchups. Hines is a proven receiving weapon and can remain efficient during any involvement as a rusher. He is currently available in a whopping 80% of all leagues and should be included among your primary targets this week.

 

In The Running - Week 2 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

 

Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams

25% rostered

The Rams entered the post-Gurley era by deploying a timeshare between promising rookie Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, and six-year veteran Malcolm Brown on Sunday Night. Akers has the ability to perform adeptly in a three-down role, and should eventually rise atop the depth chart. But even though he is easily the most appealing component in the reshaped backfield, that will not preclude Sean McVay from utilizing multiple backs.

It also does not diminish the numbers that Brown assembled during the matchup with Dallas, as he accumulated 110 total yards on 21 touches. That included his production on the ground, as he amassed 79 yards and two touchdowns. Henderson has been contending with a hamstring injury, which was a factor in his limited usage and production (3 attempts/6 yards).

But Brown provides a steady veteran presence, and McVay appears committed to supplying him with an ongoing role for the foreseeable future. This should be of interest to anyone who is attempting to locate an early-season flex option.

 

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

43% rostered

Kenyan Drake performed adequately with his 16 attempts in Week 1, as he rushed for 60 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. But Edmonds garnered more touches than had been anticipated (9) and capitalized by assembling 45 total yards and a touchdown. This does not alter Drake’s status as Arizona’s primary back. But it does reinforce the recommendation that Edmonds should be added by anyone who already has Drake on their rosters.

It also creates standalone value for Edmonds. who had exceeded eight touches in just four games prior to the Cardinals' season opener. However, Edmonds has repeatedly provided enticing glimpses of his capabilities. This includes his potential to explode for substantial yardage when he was briefly elevated into feature back responsibilities last season (150 total yards/3 touchdowns in Week 7). Edmonds provides Kliff Kingsbury with a home-run threat, while also supplying fantasy GMs with a highly productive RB1 if Drake is sidelined for any reason.

 

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

48% rostered

The second-year back was a mainstay in this column throughout 2019 and remains cemented within the select group of premier insurance policies at the running back position. He capitalized on his opportunities during Minnesota’s disappointing Week 1 matchup, by generating 80 total yards on 10 touches. That includes the 50 yards that he attained on just six rushing attempts (8.3 yards per attempt). He also captured all four of his targets (30 receiving yards) during a performance that was consistent with his favorable outings as a rookie.

Dalvin Cook is entrenched as the Vikings lead back, in the aftermath of his 5-year contract extension. But Mattison has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to flourish with an extensive workload if Cook is unable to perform at any point during the season. This should compel anyone who used a first-round pick on Cook to protect their investment. Mattison also supplies other fantasy GMs with an RB1 for their lineups if Cook becomes unavailable.  

 

Dark Horses - Week 2 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.

Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions 

45% rostered

Anyone who needed to extract a player from their roster might have considered dropping Peterson following his release by Washington. There was also a legitimate reason for concern that his presence in Detroit would create an unwanted committee in the Lions’ backfield, while collectively reducing the ceilings for newcomer D’Andre Swift, Kerryon Johnson, and the 35-year old Peterson. But his outlook has improved substantially after the Lions’ Week 1 matchup with Chicago.

He easily led Detroit’s backfield in attempts (14), and rushing yardage (93), and captured all three of his targets for 21 yards. Kerryon Johnson and second-round selection D’Andre Swift combined for a modest 10 carries and 22 yards on the ground. Swift’s touch total should increase as the season progresses. But Johnson’s opening day usage and recent injury history (14 missed games) have sent his stock into a rapid descent. Johnson’s declining touch total, and Peterson’s promising performance, should also allow Peterson to retain a consistent weekly role. This presents fantasy GMs with an effective flex option.

 

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs

28% rostered

Williams confiscated Kansas City’s RB2 responsibilities during training camp and remains firmly entrenched in that role. It was conceivable that Williams might procure a workload that was comparable to first-round draft pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire during Kansas City’s season opener since the matchup with Houston would be Edwards-Helaire’s professional debut. But the newcomer performed on 66% of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps, accumulated 25 rushing attempts, and bolted for 138 yards. Williams was relegated to 34% of the snaps while manufacturing 30 total yards on nine touches.

Williams’ Week 1 output was disappointing for anyone who started him as a flex (9 touches/30 total yards). However, the one-week sample size does not alter his firm status as the backup to Edwards-Helaire. He also retains the potential to function as the third-down back in Andy Reid’s explosive attack and to attain goal-line carries. Williams also supplies an insurance policy for fantasy GMs that invested a first-round pick on Edwards-Helaire and would become an RB1 if the rookie becomes unavailable during the year. This sustains his presence among the week’s targets on your waiver wire.

 

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers

13% rostered

Much has occurred within the NFL since 2017 when Dalvin Cook’s torn ACL elevated McKinnon into a sizable workload for Minnesota. McKinnon generated a career-high 570 rushing yards as a Viking, and also finished 12th among backs in receiving yards (421) that season. This prompted his desire to operate as an RB1, and San Francisco eventually signed him to a $30 million contract in 2018. But he experienced protracted recoveries from two season-ending knee injuries which had placed him below Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman on the 49ers’ depth chart.

However, that will not deter Kyle Shanahan from utilizing McKinnon as a component in his backfield during any given contest. That became evident during San Francisco's Week 1 matchup with Arizona, as he amassed six touches against the Cardinals. He also produced 44 total yards and also generated a receiving touchdown (5-yard reception). McKinnon’s involvement could create a nightmarish committee for fantasy GMs. But it would also vault McKinnon from the outermost region of irrelevance into consideration as a flex option.

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure a running back with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Duke Johnson, Houston Texans 

43% rostered

The first five years of Johnson’s career have provided a blend of sustained efficiency and mystifying limitations in his usage. Johnson averaged 80 targets, 63 receptions, and 580 receiving yards from 2015-2017, and finished among the top 15 in targets (62) and receiving yards (410) during his first year in Houston.

But his snap count has never surpassed 53% during his five seasons and was limited to 47.8%.in 2019. This process continued in Week 1 even before Johnson encountered his ankle injury. He manufactured just 14 yards on five carries (2.8 yards per attempt) and was targeted only once. David Johnson was deployed extensively, while accumulating 14 touches, and accruing 109 total yards. 77 of those yards were assembled on the ground, while he averaged an impressive 7.0 yards per attempt.

Bill O’Brien will remain intent on utilizing David Johnson as Houston’s workhorse back. But there is no guarantee that he would assign the same workload to Duke Johnson if David Johnson becomes unavailable for any reason. Duke Johnson’s ankle issue could also keep him sidelined for this week’s home opener against Baltimore. These factors supply your incentive for dropping him if you need to bolster other areas of your roster.

 

Ryquell Armstead, Jacksonville Jaguars

 16% rostered

The rising fortunes of Robinson hardly presented the scenario that fantasy GMs envisioned when they invested in Armstead. The 5’11”, 220-pound back was the presumed backup to the now-departed Fournette throughout the offseason. This appeared to provide the pathway toward an extensive workload, which fueled the interest in selecting Armstead. But when the Jaguars jettisoned their former starter, Robinson became the primary beneficiary. While the newcomer was capitalizing on his opportunity to perform during training camp, Armstead’s availability was reduced drastically by two extended absences, due to placement on the COVID-19 list.

Armstead’s timeline for a return is uncertain, while his stock has steadily declined as Robinson has commandeered lead back duties. If Armstead is occupying a slot on your roster, he cannot provide any assistance to any lineup challenges that you might encounter. There is also no assurance that he can become a viable resource in the foreseeable future. This presents the ingredients for roster removal.

 

Devonta Freeman, Unsigned Free Agent

13% rostered

The number of backs that are clearly droppable will expand as we progress into the regular season. This will occur as ineffective performances or unwanted injuries will prompt fantasy GMs to drop these runners. But if you are planning on adding one of the backs that have been discussed in this article, removing Freeman is an effective method for clearing roster space. He has not resurfaced in a new environment after eschewing an offer from Seattle in May and failing to arrive at a deal with Jacksonville last week.

The six-year veteran did finish 20th in point per game scoring (PPR) last season while finishing 10th among backs in targets (70), and eighth in receptions (59). However, he only averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per attempt as a rusher and has not elicited significant interest on the market. Where or when he will reemerge remains uncertain. But Freeman’s name cannot be found on an NFL roster and there is no reason for him to be included on yours.



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The warning signals get brighter by the week since we have more data to work from. The larger the sample size the easier it is for us to connect the dots from the latest trends. Football is a game of small samples and many variables, making it one of the hardest sports to predict. How... Read More


How to Value Clyde Edwards-Helaire with Le'Veon Bell in KC

Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Jonathan Taylor? Coming into the season this was the biggest question for fantasy GMs, both dynasty managers who were thinking long-term and redraft managers who wanted to know who would be better for this season. There were many different theories and believe me when I say, both sides thought they were 100%... Read More


NextGen Stats - Quarterback Breakdowns and Takeaways

It's been a month since the last time we took a look at our beloved quarterbacks. Numbers are numbers, and numbers don't lie. You can twist them, but looking at them objectively, numbers say that no matter what, rushing the ball is almost always a worse option than passing it in today's game. That's why... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 6

This series continues into its sixth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. In Week 6, we saw performances such as Ryan Tannehill throwing for 364 passing yards, the Houston Texans running backs combining for 66 rushing yards, and the New... Read More


Tape Tells All: D'Andre Swift's Week 6 Performance

Welcome to another edition of Tape Tells All. I've been thinking of rebranding as just TAPE. All-Caps like that. Probably wouldn't be a good idea for SEO purposes, right? Anyways, this week we'll be discussing Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift. Swift set a lot of career highs this week, with bests in carries... Read More


Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Week 6 was like the 2020 of fantasy football weeks. All those great matchups meant nothing, those studs let you down, and your bench likely went crazy. The good news is that we didn't have any season-ending injuries to running backs or games canceled due to COVID, so in retrospect maybe we shouldn't complain. The... Read More


FAB Bidding - Week 7 Waiver Wire Targets

Whether it's injuries, bye-week blues, or simply poor performance, we've got the waiver-wire cure...but it just might cost you! Alongside our famous waiver wire pickups list and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Budget (FAB). In... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 7 Lightning Round

Week 6 was relatively healthy and had no coronavirus delays, so let's just take a moment to bask in that. That said, we still saw Miles Sanders (knee) and Zach Ertz (ankle) go down, while Mark Ingram (ankle) has a bye to get healthy. Week 7 byes are Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami, and Minnesota. Let's get... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


More Recent Articles

 

Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More