It’s crunch time in fantasy football with the regular season coming to a quick close. Coming into week 12, there are some teams adjusting their backfield rotations meaning some backs are picking up fantasy value. If you’re scouring the waiver wire, here are eight options to consider who are available in over half of ESPN leagues as of Tuesday night.
1. Bobby Rainey-Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2.2%)
Rainey exploded to the top of this list by brutalizing the Falcons in week 11. Atlanta’s defense isn’t anything special, but Rainey made them look foolish running for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns while taking a third trip to the end zone on one of his two receptions. In week 12, the Bucs face the Lions in Detroit on the turf. Detroit tends to get into high-scoring contests but usually allow most of their yards through the air. Looking ahead to the fantasy playoff weeks, Rainey has favorable matchups in week 14 (Buffalo Bills) and week 16 (St. Louis Rams). He’s definitely worthy of your top waiver pick this week although there still isn’t much of a track record. He’s a great flex play this week and could even sneak in as a RB2.
2. Chris Ogbonnaya-Cleveland Browns (7.7%)
Ogbonnaya is emerging as a solid option. This week, he ran for 69 yards on eight carries and had 30 yards on six catches despite a costly fumble. He should keep getting more work since Willis McGahee looks to be spent while Ogbonnaya is surging. He gets the receptions to be a PPR flex play already and could be part of the new-look, Jason Campbell led Browns attack. Cleveland takes on the Steelers this week and the Jags next week which makes Ogbonnaya a nice pickup and play for the next two weeks in your flex spot.
3. Rashad Jennings-Oakland Raiders (43.7%)
Jennings had another huge game as the main running back for the Raiders running for 150 yards and a long touchdown of 80 yards. He had a couple catches for -2 yards, but remained involved in the passing game even with Matt McGloin under center. This week, the Raiders face the Titans defense which has allowed the sixth most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, so pick him up on the chance he gets the full workload. If he has to share time, that will obviously hurt his value, but he’s still worth flex consideration.
4. Donald Brown-Indianapolis Colts (7.8%)
Brown is definitely emerging as a flex option despite being mired in a backfield timeshare with Trent Richardson. He’s been the better back lately and looked effective this week against the Titans. He rushed for a pair of touchdowns and 80 yards on 14 carries and had an additional catch for 14 yards. This week he faces the Cardinals who allow the second-fewest points per game to opposing RBs.
5. Antone Smith-Atlanta Falcons (0.1%)
Smith had one carry for eight yards before this week against Tampa when in garbage time he took two carries for 88 yards and a rushing touchdown. Atlanta’s rushing game has been so bad that Coach Mike Smith has promised that Smith will get some carries as they look for anyone who can step in as a playmaker. He’s a flier pickup, but it’s not as if he’ll have to wrench playing time from an established running back.
6. Brian Leonard-Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7.6%)
If you can’t get Rainey, you can go the other direction and pick up Leonard who will split time with him going forward. He gets most of the third down work and has at least four catches in three of his last four games. I don’t think Rainey will be quite as effective as he showed in week 11 which could result in more work for Leonard making him worth a look in deep PPR leagues.
7. Dexter McCluster-Kansas City Chiefs (3.5%)
McCluster is still hit or miss, but does keep getting plenty of looks in the KC passing game. He had five catches in Denver week 11 for 53 yards. He’s more of a receiver than a RB, but if your league still qualifies him as a back, he can be a valuable PPR pickup.
8. Jonathan Stewart-Carolina Panthers (4.3%)
Stewart didn’t get much work against New England only getting four carries for 10 yards. That’s the downside of his spot in a rotation in Carolina, but he’s the freshest who should get more carries as the season continues winding down. He’s a speculative pickup whose upside is limited by the timeshare, but there is potential there against Miami that has struggled stopping opposing RB’s lately.
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.