Monday, December 21, 2020

Week 16 Fantasy Football RB Waiver-Wire Rankings

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short and/or long term.

With this being Championship Week (in most fantasy leagues), our focus with this week's waiver-wire column will be Week 16.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire. Of course, your league's size and settings could significantly impact whether these players (or better options) are available in your particular league(s).

Due to our 50% cutoff, players such as Le'Veon Bell (53%) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (56%) are excluded from our Week 16 waiver-wire rankings. That said, they could be viable options for those that need running back help, if available in your league.

With Clyde Edwards-Helaire (hip, ankle) departing Sunday's game early, it's expected that CEH will miss some time. While Bell hasn't exactly flourished on his opportunities within the Kansas City Chiefs' high-powered offense, he should lead the backfield in touches over the final two weeks of the regular season.

Splitting work with Raheem Mostert, who departed the game with an ankle injury, Wilson Jr. led the backfield in usage (16 carries and four targets) and has now scored in back-to-back games. If Mostert is unable to go in Week 16, Wilson should handle the bulk of work (although you can never be 100% certain with Kyle Shanahan calling the plays) and ranked in the RB2 range.

With that said, here are some running back waiver-wire options to consider heading into Week 16 (Yahoo! % rostered in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by our preference to add.]

1. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (45%)

What an impressive performance by Pollard!

With Ezekiel Elliott (calf) ruled out before the game, Pollard seized the opportunity as lead back despite having a difficult matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Pollard rushed 12 times for 69 yards and two touchdowns and he caught six-of-nine targets (both team highs) for 63 yards.

The second-year back has generally looked more explosive than Elliott this season and his 28.2 (half-PPR) fantasy points is a season-high for the backfield. If Elliott misses another game, Pollard will remain a viable starter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16 even though it'd be another challenging matchup.

2. Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens (44%)

Mark Ingram was a healthy scratch in Week 15, which made it clear (before the game) that the top two backs are J.K. Dobbins and Edwards. Of those two backs, the order is also clear -- Dobbins and then Edwards.

That said, Edwards had a six-game high in touches (11). Edwards has either 70-plus scrimmage yards and/or a touchdown in eight of his past nine games. During that nine-game stretch, he has finished outside the top-30 weekly running backs (half-PPR) only twice (and one of those performances was an RB31 finish in Week 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers).

While the New York Giants have played better than preseason expectations, they have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Of course, they have allowed the third-most receptions (84) and receiving yards (676) to opposing running backs this season, which provides an even better matchup for Dobbins.

3. Salvon Ahmed, Miami Dolphins (34%)

Ahmed was tremendous in Week 15 with 23 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown. He added a five-yard reception on three targets and a two-point conversion. Although not consecutive due to missed games, Ahmed has 63 touches for 291 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in past three games played.

If Myles Gaskin (reserve/COVID-19 list) returns in Week 16, however, it's likely that Ahmed takes a backseat to his former Washington Huskies teammate. If Gaskin doesn't return in Week 16, I'd slot Ahmed after Pollard (if Zeke is also out).

Whether it's Gaskin, Ahmed or another Dolphins running back, however, the team gets a favorable Week 16 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

4. Lynn Bowden Jr., Miami Dolphins (27%)

While Ahmed dominated carries, injuries to the team's pass-catchers have made Bowden a highly-targeted player. The hybrid RB/WR had six catches for 37 yards on seven targets in Week 15 after a 7/82 performance the week before. Heading into Monday Night Football, Bowden is tied with Alvin Kamara for the most targets (16) to a running back over the past two weeks.

While Ahmed's role will be impacted by the return (or not) of Gaskins, Bowden's role will be impacted by the return (or not) of DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki and/or Jakeem Grant.

5. Sony Michel, New England Patriots (19%)

Damien Harris (ankle) was out in Week 15 and Michel had 10 carries for 74 yards and added an eight-yard reception against the Miami Dolphins. If Harris is out in Week 16, Michel would be a very low-end flex option against the Buffalo Bills. Even so, the presence of Cam Newton -- 11 of the team's 19 rushing touchdowns -- gives the TD-dependent Michel a low floor.

+ More Fantasy Football Waiver-Wire Advice Heading Into Week 16:

Note: Week 16 will be our final waiver-wire column of the season, but we will post weekly rankings in Week 17.

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