Running Backs: Working The Waiver Wire Part II
We are back to help you add significant value to your fantasy roster for the stretch run of the season. These backs are unlikely to be available in free agency, but they will come at a discount on draft day, giving them extreme value as they could lead you to the promised land with favorable late-season matchups.
Ray Rice (BAL): Maybe he gets suspended (my money would be on him being on the active roster before the end of September), maybe he doesn’t, but either way he figures to be part of the Ravens at this point in the season, and potentially well-rested. The addition of the gritty Steve Smith should only help the run game, as he is a viable chain-mover and a well above average blocking receiver. From 2011-2012, Rice averaged nearly 5 yards per touch against the Steelers, numbers that were produced versus a stout run defense, something Pittsburgh no longer has. Between the Steelers and Titans, more than 3,600 rushing yards and 39 rushing touchdowns were allowed in 2013, statistics worth salivating over for a RB that is still just 27 years old and one season removed from being considered an elite fantasy option.
Week 9 @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 10 vs Tennessee Titans
Stevan Ridley (NE): The Patriots are going to run the ball and run the ball effectively; that’s just what they do. Shane Vereen is the most talented of the backs, but he tends to assume the pass-catching role, and while that helps the offense, it still leaves the primary ball carrying duties to Ridley, and I don’t view the mediocre running backs behind him on the depth chart as major threats. Ridley has battled injuries and untimely fumbles, but don’t lose track of the fact that he has reached pay dirt 20 times over the past two seasons (30 games) while averaging a respectable 15.6 carries and 4.4 yards per carry. Three of the four opponents New England faces this month allowed at least 4.5 yards per carry and 14 rushing scores last season, with the Lions (who will be flying back from the West Coast prior to this game) being the lone exception. The Pats are going to possess the ball and score points, so when you consider the questionable health of every pass catcher on this roster, Ridley’s ceiling is as high as you’re going to find among running backs not ranked as a starter in standard leagues.
Week 11 @ Indianapolis Colts
Week 12 vs Detroit Lions
Week 13 @ Green Bay Packers
Week 14 @ San Diego Chargers
Trent Richardson (IND): How bad was this guy last season? That being said, it shouldn’t completely undo the fantasy goodness that he provided owners with just one short season ago (1,317 yards and 12 touchdowns in 15 games) in an offense that was much less potent than the 2014 Colts project to be. The Texans will be an improved bunch, but they figure to focus on getting after Andrew Luck, thus opening holes for Richardson if he can break the initial push. Their aggressive nature should also play into the hands of a shortened passing game, potentially hinting that Richardson could see his fair share of targets, thus increasing his ceiling. I expect a nice performance in Week 15, and if you’re lucky enough to advance to the Fantasy Super Bowl, there is no defense I’d rather oppose than the Dallas Cowboys. Don’t overlook the fact that Richardson will not have to battle any weather concerns in these December games, something that could prove to be as much of an advantage as anything down the stretch.
Week 15 vs Houston Texans
Week 16 @ Dallas Cowboys