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Better late than never is the theme for this week. We’ve been pumping up waiver wire running backs for nine weeks now and in recent weeks some of these guys have really delivered. Karlos Williams has been mentioned multiple times this year in this space and went off in week 9. Antonio Andrews is taking over the backfield in Tennessee and was mentioned as far back as week 4 during the Titans’ bye week. And in week 7, we talked about the strange RB dynamic in Green Bay and it turns out James Starks may be the guy to own in that backfield. All three have been delivering, as well as our normal slew of bye week fill-ins that have been up to the task. The good news is, nobody has listened to me yet and these guys are still very much available!
Each week, Jake’s article will aim to highlight running backs that you should consider targeting on your league’s waiver wire. I’ve split these players up into three tiers from most desirable to most desperate. Additionally, I’ve included players at the bottom of this list that I would be comfortable cutting as I don’t see them contributing in a major way this season.
Cream of the Crop Running Backs for Week 10 Waiver Wire
These are running backs that I would add no matter what if they are available on your waiver wire. These players have a chance to be starters and weekly contributors to their NFL teams.
Karlos Williams (RB, BUF) - 47% owned on Fleaflicker
Listen, Shady McCoy has looked pretty good since he has come back, but he left on Sunday with yet another injury, this time to his shoulder. McCoy insists that he could have come back in to the game, but rather than inserting the banged up McCoy, Rex Ryan turned to rookie Karlos Williams. Williams once again impressed when given opportunity, going for 110 yards on just 9 rushed and finishing with 2 touchdowns in the process.
Week 9 was Williams’ first action since suffering a concussion against the Giants in week 4 and it looks like the Bills did the right thing in holding Williams out this long and letting him come back ready and strong. Williams now has 5 touchdowns on the season in 5 games played and is averaging a staggering 6.6 yards per carry, leading the league in that category by more than 0.5 yards. Even if McCoy is playing, we’ve seen Williams have success early in the season playing in the backup role. I think Rex Ryan wants to pound the rock. Williams will remain relevant regardless of McCoy’s status in week 10 and beyond.
Player A (RB, See below) - 40% owned on Fleaflicker
Let’s do a little game of blind resume.
Player A has 25 carries for 160 yards, 9 catches for 97 yards, and 3 total touchdowns in his past three games.
Player B has 20 carries for 51 yards, 3 catches for 26 yards, and 1 total touchdown in his past three games.
Who would you rather have? Player A quite obviously right? More touches, better production, it’s a simple answer. Well, Player A is James Starks and player B is first-round fantasy draft pick Eddie Lacy. The Packers are struggling a bit with two straight losses and while the division still isn’t really in question, they are going to need to go with what is working as they head toward the playoffs. James Starks is working. Eddie Lacy isn’t. Sometimes you just need to take things at face value.
Antonio Andrews (RB, TEN) - 40% owned on Fleaflicker
I’m going to continue to thump my chest on Andrews a bit. As mentioned in the opening, I’ve touted this guy since week 4 during the Titans’ bye. I’ve continuously called him a version of the 2013 Zac Stacy, who was very fantasy relevant by the way. The facts are this, Antonio Andrews is the lead back on a developing offense. He’s gotten 39 touches over the past two weeks and is averaging almost 100 total yards per game.
I’m frustrated that the Titans threw to Delanie Walker from the two for a TD on Sunday because had they given it to Andrews, the bruising back who has the potential to be very effective at the goal line, he would have had a great day. Regardless, this is likely the last week you can grab him in most leagues. Andrews has New Orleans, Carolina, and Jacksonville the next three weeks, all of whom ranked as below average fantasy rush defenses entering week 9.
Honorable Mentions: N/A
Wait and See Running Backs for Week 10 Waiver Wire
These are running backs highly available on the waiver wire who you should consider stashing if you have room:
Shaun Draughn (RB, SF) - 1% owned on Fleaflicker
Perhaps the most available pickup of the week, Draughn was the lead back in San Francisco in Carlos Hyde’s absence. Draughn grabbed 20 touches, turning them into 96 total yards in a surprising win over the Atlanta Falcons. Popular week 9 pickup, Kendall Gaskins was ineffective with his 7 carries so I think coming out of the bye the 49er’s go with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach and stick with Draughn assuming Hyde remains hampered with his foot injury. At the very least, Draughn is worth a pickup and a trade offer to the Hyde owner.
James White/Brandon Bolden (RB, NE) - both 19% owned on Fleaflicker
As you can see from the identical ownership percentages, fantasy owners don’t know who they like better between these two backs. Well, that will change this week as I expect both will be picked up quite often in the wake of Dion Lewis’ knee injury that will cost him the rest of the season. Both Bolden and White are capable pass catchers that can fill the Lewis role to some extent, but it was Bolden who got the call in week 9 after Lewis went down. Bolden converted 4 targets into 3 catches, 27 yards, and a touchdown which I expect will make him the higher priority pickup for most owners. However, I’m not so sure that’s how it’s going to play out. White is the more explosive player and I think Belichick will give the talented back a chance.
Honorable Mentions: Andre Williams (RB, NYG) - 38% owned, Matt Jones (RB, WAS) - 50% owned
Hail Mary Running Backs for Week 10 Waiver Wire
These are desperation plays who shouldn’t be starting for you. The injury bug, bye week troubles, or something else needs to be affecting your team to add these players:
Ahmad Bradshaw (RB, IND) - 13% owned on Fleaflicker
Well, he scored this week so that’s something. This is very clearly Frank Gore’s job. However, I still think Bradshaw could carve out a role similar to when he was thriving last season as the pass catching back. Remember, Bradshaw was able to rack up 8 total TDs last season, 6 of which came through the air, in just 10 games before going down with injury. Even after an impressive win over the Broncos, I expect that the Colts will come back from their week 10 bye and continue to play from behind meaning that Bradshaw could be on the field quite a bit down the stretch run.
Honorable Mentions: Kendall Gaskins (RB, SF) - 4% owned