We're always looking for league-winning potential at running back on the waiver wire, but when we find it in the Fantasy playoffs, it hits differently. You've outlasted half (or more) of your league mates to get here, and you've probably already got a pretty good squad to have made it this far. So, adding a high-value running back could be exactly what puts you over the top, and the good news is, you'll have less competition for that player than usual.
Rashaad Penny looks like he could be that player this season. At least, he did on Sunday. Even with Alex Collins back from his injury, Penny was the lead back against the Texans, rushing 16 times for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns, which went for 32 and 47 as he showcased his explosiveness. Penny had just one target in the game, which is a disappointment, but he played 58% of the snaps and even led the running backs with a 48% route share.
Which is all to say, Penny was the clear lead back for the Seahawks. No other running back played more than 23% of the snaps or had higher than a 28% route share Sunday. For a while, it seems like that's what the Seahawks wanted him to be once Chris Carson got hurt, but Penny's own trouble staying healthy continued to sabotage him, and there's a chance that will crop up as an issue for him again. But Penny is healthy right now and it looks like he's going to get the kind of work that should make him a viable starting option at running back down the stretch, with the chance for a breakout run.
It's also worth talking about Austin Ekeler's ankle injury and what it might mean for the stretch run. Ekeler went down in the third quarter and had to be helped off the field. He got the ankle taped up and tried to run on it on the sidelines but was ultimately unable to return to the game.
It's not clear exactly what happened, but the fact that Ekeler was unable to return has to at least raise questions about whether he'll be able to play with the injury in Week 15. Ekeler is one of the main engines of this offense, so his absence leaves a big hole -- for the Chargers and in your Fantasy lineups.
The problem is, the Chargers don't necessarily have a clear replacement in the wings. Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley largely split work in Ekeler's absence, with Jackson rushing for 35 yards on nine carries, while Kelley had 33 on 10. Each also had one target.
In their respective time in the NFL, Jackson has probably flashed a bit more upside overall, but he's also had a lot of trouble staying healthy. Of course, so has Kelley, and he's averaging just 3.2 yards per carry while Jackson is at 5.0 overall. In all likelihood, they'll split work, and whichever gets more passing game work or goal-line looks will end up being the better option for Fantasy. But I'm not sure we'll have a good sense of which one is likely to see those more valuable touches, creating a situation where I'm not sure you can really trust either for Week 15 against the Chiefs. At least, not as anything more than an RB3. Penny would be a priority over both, though I'm not sure there are any other running backs on waivers this week who will be better options.
Here's who else we'll be looking to add in Week 15:
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BAL Baltimore • #12
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Sunday's game was a strange one for the Ravens, with Lamar Jackson being forced out early with an ankle injury and the Ravens trailing 24-6 at halftime. However, Tyler Huntley (more about him later) nearly led them to a dramatic come-from-behind win, and he did it with a heavy dose of Bateman, who put together the finest game of his career. Bateman set new career highs in catches and yards and played 64% of the snaps (including 75% of the pass plays), his highest mark since Week 11. Bateman is still, at best, the No. 3 target in this passing game, but they've been more pass-heavy than ever before this season, so there's been room for him if he can step up. He did that Sunday, and there's upside worth chasing here down the stretch.
DET Detroit • #14
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
The absence of D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson really seems to have helped St. Brown's value, as he has 12 targets in consecutive games after having just 14 in his previous three games combined. And St. Brown really needs that volume, seeing as he hasn't averaged better than 9.1 yards per catch since Week 10. We'll see if Swift and Hockenson are going to play in Week 15, but if not, St. Brown will probably be a pretty useful streamer.
Nico Collins WR
HOU Houston • #12
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Collins had just 18 catches for 228 yards in the first 10 games of his career, but he's someone I've been eyeing to see if he could potentially make a late-season push, and his play -- and especially his role -- Sunday was promising. He caught five of 10 targets thrown his way for 69 yards, and hopefully, that's just the start of a strong run to close out the season. Especially in Week 15 with a great matchup against the Jaguars on the way.
Jeff Wilson RB
SF San Francisco • #30
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Wilson didn't have a particularly impressive Fantasy game Sunday, but that's at least in part due to the fact that the 49ers just didn't run the ball very much, only 23 times in 41 attempts. Of course, he also had to split carries with Deebo Samuel, who had another eight for 37 yards and a touchdown, but the good news is, JaMycal Hasty didn't see a single carry in this one. If Elijah Mitchell remains out, Wilson should be the clear lead back against the Falcons in Week 15, and will probably be a fringe RB2 for that matchup. If you can't get Penny, I would say Wilson is the No. 2 priority at running back.
BAL Baltimore • #2
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
If you need a QB for Week 15, Huntley is actually kind of interesting. The Ravens ran largely the same system with Huntley as they do with Jackson, and while Huntley isn't as good as Jackson as either a passer or a runner, in all likelihood, he did end up with 21.3 Fantasy points against a Browns defense that has been pretty tough this season. He'll face another tough matchup against the Packers if he starts in Week 15, but Huntley's rushing ability could make him a viable No. 2 QB.
DET Detroit • #48
Age: 25 • Experience: 1 year
Craig Reynolds -- We expected Godwin Igwebuike to step up and lead the Lions backfield with D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams out, but it was actually Reynolds who rushed for a team-high 83 yards on 11 carries, while Igwebuike had just 25 yards on eight carries. Reynolds also had two catches on two targets, while Igwebuike surprisingly had no targets. Reynolds probably wouldn't be much more than an RB3 if Williams and Swift are out in Week 15, but he's worth adding just in case his role does end up being bigger than expected.
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