Week 5 is a tough week for fantasy owners of highly drafted running backs, with Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin and Alfred Morris all on a bye, as well as the promising Le’Veon Bell. To make matters worse, injuries to C.J. Spiller, Darren McFadden and Fred Jackson mean that owners everywhere will be scrambling to pick up the best available waiver wire options.
Unfortunately, at this point in the season there is not much to choose from. If Bilal Powell or Willis McGahee is still available in your league, they would be the two most obvious guys to grab. However, that is rather unlikely for most us.
That means we have to look deeper, and we start with Danny Woodhead. Woodhead is filling a Darren Sproles like role for the San Diego Chargers, and his combined rushing and receiving totals make him a solid replacement. He is not likely to have a monster game, but he is the safest bet to see a reasonable amount of touches.
Next on the list is Rashad Jennings, who will be McFadden’s replacement if he can’t play Sunday. Jennings is not very good and neither are the Oakland Raiders, but they don’t have anyone else to run the ball, and Jennings could put up decent numbers on volume alone.
Jonathan Franklin is a solid option, and he was very productive in his last outing. It remains to be see how he and Eddie Lacy will split the carries, so there is certainly some risk involved there. However, the Green Bay Packers have a tendency to stick with hot hand regardless of contract or draft status, so they may be content to let Franklin handle the bulk of the work.
If you have to dig really deep, two names to consider are LeGarrette Blount and Andre Ellington. The New England Patriots’ backfield is a mess from a fantasy perspective, but Blount was their most effective back last week. He is also a good goal line back, and is the most likely of the Patriots’ RBs to score, which is a huge boost to his value.
Rashard Mendenhall has been completely ineffective in 3 of his 4 games, and the Arizona Cardinals should give Ellington more touches. Starting him is a very risky play, and it is probably a week or two early. However, if you’re desperate he’s your best bet on a roll of the dice.
It’s a tough week for owners, but smart management of the waiver wire will help you make it through.