Doug Martin is out for several weeks, the Vikings forgot they had Adrian Peterson to hand the ball to, Arian Foster has a hamstring issue, and fantasy owners are left scrambling for solutions and searching for answers. When the Houston Texans who have had so much running back depth in the past are looking for help at the position, you know things are thin.
Even in such a scarce market, there are some nice finds on the waiver wire for week 8. Here’s a quick look at my top 7 who are available in over 50% of ESPN leagues. The ESPN ownership percentage is in parentheses for each selection and all scoring references are to ESPN standard scoring. If your league scores differently, adjust accordingly.
If you have a team-specific question drop it in the comments at the bottom of the page or find me @ZT_Sports on twitter, and I’ll do my best to help you out with your roster calls.
1. Mike James-Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0.1%)
The Bucs have their bye behind them, a rookie under center, and a loss in every game they’ve played. They’ll need to run the ball effectively as they try to replace Doug Martin who is out for several weeks-possibly the season. The next back in line is rookie Mike James. James looked solid going for 45 yards on 11 carries and catching three passes on Sunday after Martin left the game. This week he’s in a tough matchup on Thursday night against Carolina, but he’s definitely playable since he’ll get a heavy workload going forward especially if he shows the spark he did on Sunday.
2. Zac Stacy-St. Louis Rams (10.2%)
About the only other main feature-back on waiver wires is Zac Stacy who has taken over for an ineffective Daryl Richardson and been a solid addition to the Rams backfield. Last week, he had 87 all-purpose yards and a touchdown and has been getting more involved in the passing game. With Sam Bradford sidelined, Stacy will be looked to even more to carry the offense. Without question, he’d be on top of this list if he was in a good matchup this week, but unfortunately for him he plays Monday Night against Seattle. He’s only a desperation play in that matchup, but things get better for him after the Rams bye in week 9 so grab him if you can.
3. Roy Helu-Washington Redskins (37.5%)
Helu had a monster game Sunday vulturing three TDs and getting 11 carries for 41 yards. The last three weeks, he’s had over 40 yards rushing each game and has also been involved in the passing game. Alfred Morris is firmly entrenched as the ‘Skins #1 back, but Helu is getting enough work to be a fantasy consideration. He most likely won’t match that production again this season unless Morris misses gametime, but he’s worth a flex flier if he keeps getting goalline carries. Mike Shanahan likes to keep us all guessing with his running backs as usual.
4. Mike Tolbert-Carolina Panthers (16.9%)
Another goalline back earning a bigger chunk of the backfield rotation is Mike Tolbert. Tolbert finished this week with 36 yards on a season-high 13 carries. He has three touchdowns in the lsat two games and four in the Panthers’ last four. DeAngelo Williams value is fading, but Jonathan Stewart’s return is getting closer, so ride Tolbert while you can. This week he and Carolina have a quick turnaround as they play the Bucs Thursday Night.
5. Peyton Hillis-New York Giants (1.9%)
If you didn’t watch the Monday Night Football game, congratulations. The only fantasy relevant thing that happened was the emergence of Hillis as the Giants best back for now. He finished with 36 yards and a touchdown on the ground and five catches for 45 more yards. The Giants offense still struggled, though, and this week they have to take on the Eagles this week. With a bye in week 9 and many other options hopefully returning soon for New York, Hillis is just a one-week plug in against the woeful Eagles defense as long as Brandon Jacobs remains limited by his hamstring injury.
6. Donald Brown-Indianapolis Colts (6.2%)
Brown and the Colts are on a bye this week, but he’s starting to carve out a bigger role in the Colts offense as Trent Richardson continues to adjust. Last week against Denver, Brown had 11 carries to Richardson’s 14 and added three catches for 42 yards while Richardson wasn’t targeted at all by Andrew Luck. Although the touches were evenly split this week, expect Richardson to get more and more work going forward. Brown still has shown his value as a change of pace and third-round back making him a low-end flex option when the Colts come back from their bye after this week.
7. Khiry Robinson-New Orleans Saints (0.7%)
Robinson has worked his way into the Saints rushing rotation and had his best game right before New Orleans bye last week. He took seven carries for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots week 6 and has shown he can make plays when he gets touches. The question with Robinson is if he’ll get those touches with Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and maybe Mark Ingram still in the mix.
This list of RB’s is part of my weekly waiver wire focus. If you need further help constructing your team, check out my top ten waiver wire picks of the week as well as my top waiver targets at each of the following positions: QB, WR, TE, D/ST.