Prioritizing the Wire (Week 14): Which Running Backs Are The Top Names To Target?

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Already preparing to raid the Waiver Wire after Week 14? Let’s take a look at the running back options who may be available (owned in less than 60% of ESPN leagues) and prioritize who you should be targeting and who is better left for someone else:

  1. Lynn Bowden – Miami Dolphins
  2. Jeff Wilson – San Francisco 49ers
  3. Ito Smith – Atlanta Falcons
  4. DeAndre Washington – Miami Dolphins
  5. Tony Pollard – Dallas Cowboys
  6. Trayveon Williams – Cincinnati Bengals

1) Lynn Bowden – Miami Dolphins

Bowden only got 1 carry for 2 yards, but he emerged as a pass catching machine turning 9 targets into 7 receptions and 82 yards. He stepped up, with both Davante Parker and Jakeem Grant being forced out with leg injuries. The severity of those injuries are not yet known, but what happens if they are unable to play in Week 15?

Obviously there’s risk here, as he’s not getting many carries so his touches may only come in the passing game. The upside is there, making him worth stashing, but whether or not you use him won’t be able to be determined until later in the week.

2) Jeff Wilson – San Francisco 49ers

Wilson seemingly shared touches with Raheem Mostert, though we can’t forget that Mostert missed time with an injury and was the much better runner overall:

  • Raheem Mostert – 14 carries for 65 yards (4.6 YPC)
  • Jeff Wilson – 11 carries for 31 yards (2.8 YPC) & 1 TD

That said Wilson has shown significantly more this season and there could be enough touches for both backs to be productive in Week 15 against a porous Dallas defense. The Cowboys entered the week having allowed the second most rushing yards to RB (1,638). That could put Wilson on the FLEX radar, depending on your situation.

3) Ito Smith – Atlanta Falcons

While Smith’s production wasn’t great, it was better than Todd Gurley’s:

  • Ito Smith – 11 carries for 42 yards (3.8 YPC)
  • Todd Gurley – 6 carries for 19 yards (3.2 YPC)

Gurley has now had 8 carries or fewer in three straight games, and it’s possible Smith is ready to get a much bigger role (over his past three games he has 143 yards over 31 carries). He draws Tampa Bay in Week 15, who has allowed the sixth fewest points per week to opposing RB entering the week (and the fewest rushing yards, at 614, though Dalvin Cook did pick up 102 rushing yards in Week 14).

Without the guarantee of touches and with the tough matchup, he’s a tough player to trust.

4) DeAndre Washington – Miami Dolphins

Washington led the Dolphins in touches, as expected, but the production simply wasn’t there as he turned 13 carries into 35 yards (2.7 YPC). The opportunities only came due to Salvon Ahmed (shoulder injury), Myles Gaskin (COVID-19) and Matt Breida (COVID-19) all being sidelined. If any of the three returns it’s likely Washington’s opportunities disappear, especially given the poor performance.

5) Tony Pollard – Dallas Cowboys

Pollard is becoming more than just a handcuff for Ezekiel Elliott:

  • Ezekiel Elliott – 12 carries for 48 yards
  • Tony Pollard – 11 carries for 39 yards

Pollard also added 2 catches for 9 yards and 1 TD. Of course, barring an injury it’ll be hard to envision Pollard getting enough touches to be trustworthy (Elliott is going to remain a significant part of the game plan, when healthy) though it’s not impossible and he’s worth stashing in deeper formats.

6) Trayveon Williams – Cincinnati Bengals

With Giovani Bernard struggling (3.3 YPC), the Bengals finally opted to try some of their alternatives in the backfield. While a big deficit may have also played a role, it’s notable and could be a sign we’ll see increased roles moving forward. The production wasn’t terrible:

  • Trayveon Williams – 12 carries for 49 yards (4.1 YPC)
  • Samaje Perine – 10 carries for 32 yards (3.2 YPC)

Williams also added 3 catches for 14 yards. Before we get excited, however, let’s keep in mind that the Bengals draw a Pittsburgh defense that entered the week allowing the second fewest points per week to opposing RB. Maybe he gets some increased touches, but with fantasy titles on the line that’s not a gamble we’d want to take.

Sources – NFL.com, ESPN

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