Prioritizing the Wire (Week 2): Which Running Backs Are The Top Names To Target?

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Already preparing to raid the Waiver Wire after Week 2? Let’s take a look at the running back options who may be available (owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues) and prioritize who you should be targeting and who is better left for someone else:

  1. Joshua Kelley – Los Angeles Chargers
  2. Darrell Henderson Jr. – Los Angeles Rams
  3. Dion Lewis – New York Giants
  4. Myles Gaskin – Miami Dolphins
  5. Jerick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers
  6. Frank Gore – New York Jets
  7. Mike Davis – Carolina Panthers

Joshua Kelley – Los Angeles Chargers

While Kelley wasn’t spectacularly productive on the ground, he was a major part of the offense once again:

  • Rushing – 23 carries for 64 yards
  • Receiving – 2 catches (on 3 targets) for 49 yards

His longest run was 7 yards, but he out-touched Austin Ekeler 25 to 20. With Justin Herbert stepping in at QB, would it be surprising to see the running backs remain the focal point of the offense? Kelley has 35 carries over the first two games, and he’s looking like a potential QB2 for most weeks.

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Darrell Henderson Jr. – Los Angeles Rams

There had already been rumblings of an increased role, but after Cam Akers was forced out early with a rib injury there was no question that he’d get an opportunity. How well he took advantage of it is what the big surprise was:

  • Darrell Henderson Jr. – 12 carries for 81 yards and 1 TD
  • Malcolm Brown – 11 carries for 47 yards

Henderson had a 40 yard run, which obviously bolstered the overall numbers, though he also added 2 catches for another 40 yards. A former third round pick, this performance should solidify his role in the committee with the potential to emerge if Akers is out for any length of time. The upside is higher than some others on this list, which puts him towards the top.

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Dion Lewis – New York Giants

The fear is that Saquan Barkley has torn his ACL, which would leave him out for the season. That would leave Lewis as the likely favorite to carry the load for the Giants, with Wayne Gallman his handcuff and perhaps a veteran addition during the week.

Lewis didn’t do much with his opportunity after Barkley’s injury, turning 10 carries into 20 yards and 1 TD (though he added 4 receptions for 36 yards on 5 targets). While he operated as a backup last season, in 32 games for the Titans in 2018 and 2019 Lewis combined for 726 yards on 209 carries (3.5 YPC) and just 1 TD. The opportunity is going to put him on radars, but he’s simply not a running back to blow your FAAB or waiver priority on.

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Myles Gaskin – Miami Dolphins

Gaskin shared the carries with Matt Breida in Week 2 against a difficult Bills defense, and he was the slightly more productive runner:

  • Myles Gaskin – 7 carries for 46 yards (6.6 YPC)
  • Matt Breida – 7 carries for 37 yards (5.3 YPC)

Gaskin also added 6 catches for 36 yards. Most expected Jordan Howard to be the one to share time with Brieda, but that’s clearly not the case (Howard had just 5 carries for 4 yards). Howard is a TD vulture, but would it be shocking for Gaskin to ultimately emerge as the leader in this backfield?

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Jerick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers

McKinnon proved he was finally healthy after breaking a 55-yard run, though his potential value will be tied to the health of Raheem Mostert. The early word is that Mostert’s knee injury isn’t severe, though we won’t know for sure until the results of an MRI are known. That said, even if Mostert were to miss time McKinnon would be forced to share time with Tevin Coleman (as opposed to getting the full extent of the carries).

McKinnon is going to be the pass catching back, regardless of who’s healthy, so in PPR formats there’s value. Still, in traditional leagues the upside is capped.

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Frank Gore – New York Jets

The Jets are so void of offensive talent that there was no doubt that Gore would step in and take on a huge workload. Unfortunately he didn’t deliver, albeit in a tough matchup against the 49ers, as he turned 21 carries into 63 yards. Bell could return in another two weeks, depending on his recovery from his hamstring injury, and La’Mical Perine looked good in his limited opportunities (3 carries for 17 yards). Gore is a potential short-term FLEX, but that’s about it.

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Mike Davis – Carolina Panthers

Davis proved that he could handle Christian McCaffrey’s role in the passing game, stepping in for 8 receptions and 74 yards. That said, if McCaffrey is healthy there simply aren’t enough opportunities for Davis to make an impact. What we learn about McCaffrey’s injury could significantly alter where Davis fits on this list, but for now he should be viewed as nothing more than a handcuff.

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Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

9 COMMENTS

  1. What’s up Professor? My league allows for an IR spot. If Golladay returns this week who would you drop to make the move? Antonio Gibson, Darrel Williams, Joshua Kelley or Jalen Reagor? This is PPR if it matters and I don’t have Ekeler or Edwards-Helaire. Thanks for your time

  2. Hi, Prof. Looks like RB Mike Davis is going to be the top waiver wire add this week, with Christian McCaffrey set to miss more than 4 weeks at the very least. Question is how much % FAAB is worth spending on getting him? Thanks.

  3. 14 Team 1/2 PPR.

    RB’s: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Nyaim Hines, Leonard Fournette, Latavius Murray and Tony Pollard. Last week I used first waiver on priority on Nyiam Hines, so i’m pretty much at the bottom. However I have been surprised on “must add” that remain over waivers are over. Is there anyone I currently have that you think is dropworthy or status quo for now?

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