Death, taxes and injuries to your starting fantasy football running back are the only universal constants. The last couple years especially feel like we have had to turn to the waiver wire to replenish our stock of RBs, which led to the rise of the zero RB strategy. However, a key component of that strategy is being able to stream and pluck talent off the waiver wire, and with much of the league on their second (or third) starting running backs, it’s incredibly difficult to continue to find production off the waiver wire. Just like the eleven previous weeks of our sleeper running backs, these are owned in 50% or fewer of Yahoo! Leagues, as well as one running back owned in fewer than 10% of leagues for deeper leagues.[embedit snippet=”jeff-ads”] [embedit snippet=”jeff-ads”]
Wendell Smallwood (45% owned) versus Green Bay
This is a pure handcuff situation for Ryan Mathews owners, or for people who are exceptionally desperate. Ryan Mathews is yet to practice this week, so if he is unable to go on Monday Night Football, it would be Smallwood taking over as the lead back.
Darren Sproles was removed from the injury report so that Smallwood won’t have the backfield all to himself, but he is worth a shot. If you don’t own Mathews, he probably isn’t worth the risk. The Packers were one of the league’s best run defenses earlier this year, but injuries have taken their toll, and they’ve given up almost 300 yards rushing and four scores over their last two games.
Kenneth Dixon (28% owned) versus Cincinnati
If I put him here enough times, it will come true, right? Dixon is getting an increasingly large share of the snaps in Baltimore, but the run game has just been a mess. Still, this is a play to get ahead of the next round of waiver wire additions. He’s free in over 70% of leagues, and is more of a scoop-and-stash play this week. The Bengals are middling against running backs, so a neutral play might be just what the Ravens need to properly evaluate which of their two backs will get the load of the work going forward.
Damien Williams (4% owned) versus San Francisco
You can’t go broke picking against the 49ers defense this season, and after Danny Amendola pulled off the deep sleeper touchdown last week. Williams could only get a handful of touches this week, but a handful of touches might be all Williams needs. The 49ers have allowed double-digit points to every backup running back they’ve faced without NaVorro Bowman except against the Cardinals, who ride or die with David Johnson. It’s a bleak situation in the San Francisco defense, and the Miami run game will have the 49ers losing their minds, and you will be reaping all the benefits.