After what feels like an eternity, NFL football is finally back. Months and months of devoted research, analysis, and data crunching has once again proven useless by the cruel hand of the fantasy football gods. Now, if you’re looking to improve your running back depth, you’ll need to check the waiver wire for guys like Nyheim Hines, Joshua Kelley, and Malcolm Brown.
Note that in order to be eligible for this list, the player needed to be available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues. Obviously, there is variation from league to league, so there is a chance that a better player is currently available on your league’s waiver wire.
Nyheim Hines, Joshua Kelley Highlight Fantasy Football Week 1 Running Back Waiver Wire Claims
It turns out that Frank Reich wasn’t lying when he said this was going to be a backfield by committee. Nyheim Hines had a big role in the offense even before Marlon Mack went down to injury. Now that he’s down, Hines is a weekly lock for the flex spot.
Jonathan Taylor is going to lead this backfield, but it’s not going to be a one-man show. Hines is still an above-average pass-catcher, and Philip Rivers loves to target his running backs. Hines should be a lock for 5-10 targets every week and should see an additional 5-10 carries on a weekly basis. He may not be the most talented player in the league, but this volume ensures that he’ll be a reliable play on a weekly basis.
Austin Ekeler received a giant payday in the offseason, but the Los Angeles Chargers seemingly still want to use a committee approach to the backfield. Rookie running back Joshua Kelley completely leapfrogged Justin Jackson on the depth chart, finishing the game with 12 carries for 60 yards and one touchdown. Ekeler, by comparison, had 19 carries for 84 yards along with just one target in the passing game. Kelley also received the majority of the goal-line touches.
For the time being, Jackson is probably nothing more than a low-ceiling flex play. However, he’s clearly the primary backup to Ekeler and should be rostered in all formats. He has some standalone value but could be a week-in, week-out start if Ekeler goes down.
Undrafted free agent James Robinson earned the starting spot in the offseason, and his Week 1 performance means that he should have a lock on the job moving forward. The running back didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but he still saw 16 carries for 62 yards. The next-closest player on the team was quarterback Gardner Minshew, who recorded five scrambles for 19 yards.
This volume alone ensures that Robinson will have fantasy value on a weekly basis. There’s literally no other competition for touches, and he will eventually find the endzone. The lack of passing work puts a clear cap on his ceiling, but he should be a solid flex play with RB2 upside when he finds the endzone.
I know, nobody wants to play Adrian Peterson in 2020. However, he’s clearly the leader of Detroit’s backfield and should see a heavy workload for at least the next few weeks. During the season opener, the future Hall of Famer recorded 93 yards on 14 carries for a healthy 6.6 yards-per-attempt. He did this despite joining the team just earlier this week.
Amazingly enough, it’s hard to imagine anyone eating into Peterson’s workload. Kerryon Johnson just isn’t the guy he once was, as injuries clearly took away what once made him special. D’Andre Swift, meanwhile, is still getting up to speed in the offense and dropped what would have been the game-winning touchdown. Matt Patricia is definitely the type of coach to punish a player for that type of mistake, so Peterson should have a safe, reliable workload for the next few weeks. He definitely won’t deliver too many RB1 performances, but he can be a steadying presence at the end of the roster.
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