As we continue into the season, the waiver wire for running backs becomes barer and barer and the replacements off the waiver wire become less intriguing and useful.
However, we all could use running back help, and the deeper the league, the deeper you need to reach onto the waiver wire to find help just to fill in for injuries or bye weeks. Here are a few names to consider that might be available off the waiver wire in your leagues. There are a few deep-league dart throws for the deepest of formats as well.
Damien Williams, RB, Chicago Bears
David Montgomery went down in week four with a knee injury. Early indications suggest he avoided a season-ending injury but it does seem as though Montgomery will miss some time at the very least. It appears four or five weeks is the expectation.
He is currently the eighth-best pass blocker among running backs (per PFF) and this comes with a high floor in PPR leagues. This is very important for a struggling offense to have the added pass protection as well as the benefit of his pass-catching abilities. He appeared to be getting phased out a little more each week but even with that happening, he still leads the Bears running backs in receptions (8) and the PPR floor now comes with what should be added touches as a rusher. There is a path to short-term relevance for running back-needy teams as we enter the bye weeks.
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Kenneth Gainwell continues to push for more touches and the snap rate could start creeping towards more of a split. Gainwell consistently sat between 31%-35% usage rate but that bumped up to 39.19% in week 4.
In week four we saw Gainwell, in fewer snaps, have just one less touch (nine compared to ten for Miles Sanders) and in the red zone, Sanders had the edge in carries (three to one). But Gainwell had the edge in red zone targets (three to one). Essentially the usage was very similar.
Miles Sanders did get the one touch in the green zone so Sanders still has the edge for the potential for short-yard touchdowns. Jaylen Hurts is the only other player to have a rushing attempt in the green zone for the Eagles this season. He is the biggest threat to running backs down there but at least it is not a three-headed monster.
Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots
With James White out for the year, that pass catching role is up for grabs and it appears that Brandon Bolden is the next man up. J.J. Taylor appeared in line to at least split this opportunity but a fumble in the last game may have ended that. As you can see, the usage of Bolden was similar to what White was getting in the first two weeks of the season.
Bolden should only be considered for PPR leagues as a flex or bye week option in a pinch or in your deeper formats if you are hurting for help.
Darrell Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
With Darrell Williams it is interesting that in the two weeks we have Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH) thrive are also the two weeks we have seen the highest snap rates for Williams.
- Week 3 Snap%: 49.1%
- Week 4 Snap%: 35.8%
Williams is also getting a lot of work in the red zones and near the goal line. He has one more rush attempt than CEH the last two weeks in the red zone and the same amount of targets as him in the red zone. Williams also has the two money zone carries over the last two weeks as well. Again, this is with snap rates averaging around 15% lower each week. This equates to Williams receiving high-value touches and these are the type of touches you want if you are chasing fantasy points.
Alex Collins, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Chris Carson has proven that staying healthy is an issue. He even exited week three with an injury. This has allowed Alex Collins to creep into the picture. Although he has yet to out-snap Carson, we have seen his snaps go up each of the last three weeks.
- Week 2: 11.11%
- Week 3: 26.42%
- Week 4: 39.29%
We did see four of Collins’ 10 carries come in the fourth quarter as well. Although Collins is gaining playing time, I do not think he is a huge factor in the future playing time of Carson and Collins is no more than a handcuff in my opinion as we enter week 5. This cuff, however, is the clear cut next man up if there is an aggravation of an injury or a new injury altogether.
Deep League Dart Throws
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The name of this section says it all. Here are a few names to consider if you are desperate in a deeper format or have room to stash a player or two. These breakdowns won’t be as in-depth. This is a list of names and quick hitting analysis.
Samaje Perine, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Mixon left late in week 4 with a sprained ankle and Samaje Perine appears next in line for touches. We see how the Bengals have led on a single back for their games to this point and it includes a heavy workload at that. Perine should be the first in line for the majority of this workload and it also appears to be a short-term injury. If more news comes out that Mixon will miss or is likely to miss this week then Perine jumps up from a dart throw add. He is on the fringe as it is.
Kyle Juszczyk, FB, San Francisco 49ers
I never thought I would see the day I would recommend Kyle Juszczyk in a waiver wire article but here we are. I did mention we would aim to cover deeper formats. Juszczyk is the best option for pass protection and appears to be the preferred passing option out of the backfield as well. He was the only running back or fullback who received a target in week four for the 49ers. As long as Mitchell and others are out, we could see Juszczyk remain usable in the deepest of PPR leagues. Oh and here is a fun stat too.
Jeremy McNichols, RB, Tennessee Titans
We really saw the Titans struggle on defense yet again and this was against the Jets. In this shoot-out with New York, McNichols was able to grab 12 targets and brought in eight of them for a catch. With the primary pass catchers out in week four, McNichols had a season-high 38 snaps on passing plays. He ran a route on 84.2% of said plays. This type of utilization could repeat itself while Julio Jones and A.J. Brown remain out.
Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago Bears
This is simply a player to be grabbed in deeper formats if Damien Williams is rostered. He will likely get work on earlier downs but the size of the role could be minimal. However, if they prefer to keep Williams in the third down, pass-catching role, this opens up a lot of early-down work. I mean, we are looking for dart throws here and he fits the bill.
David Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
Not sure what to make of it but David Johnson led the team (among running backs) in snaps, red zone touches, and overall touches. This backfield is a mess, but maybe there is some gas left in the tank here. I just wouldn’t bank on it.
Rodney Smith, RB, Carolina Panthers
We are at the biggest dart throw of the week. If Christian McCaffery (CMC) plays this is a wasted add but we saw Smith get the second-most snaps among running backs on the team (37.14%) and did not get a single carry. BUT he did in fact have five targets and converted all five for catches. Again, this is only a very, very deep league add and it has to be PPR at that.
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