This has been a pretty big week for adding running backs on the fantasy football waiver wire, with Eddie Lacy unlikely to play, Steven Jackson out for two to four weeks and Trent Richardson being traded to the Indianapolis Colts.
The question is, do the top players added this week deserve a start, or should you stash them for now? Can you trust these backups (and one veteran free agent who just signed with the Cleveland Browns), or should you look elsewhere?
You ask. I answer. Let's break down the top four waiver additions in ESPN leagues this week.
Note: All stats derive from standard scoring leagues.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
Additions: Added in 71.8 percent of ESPN leagues.
Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals, allowing 9.5 points to opposing running backs in ESPN standard-scoring leagues.
Analysis: In my weekly analysis of the waiver wire, I wrote that only Lacy owners should rush to add Starks. In my weekly roundup of interesting stats for fantasy owners, I wrote that Starks has rushed for more than 100 yards in his career just once, and that came Sunday. Plus, he has a tough matchup against the Bengals. I don't think I have any other articles to plug, so I'll get to the point—for most owners, starting Starks shouldn't be an option. His upside is really limited. For Lacy owners, however, it's probably a must. I'm going to assume the majority of you who picked him up did so as a handcuff.
Verdict: START for Lacy owners. SIT for everyone else.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets
Additions: Added in 19.8 percent of ESPN leagues.
Matchup: Buffalo Bills, allowing 14.5 points to opposing running backs in ESPN standard-scoring leagues.
Which Jets running back would you rather own?
Analysis: Over two games, Chris Ivory has 22 carries for 69 yards and no touchdowns, while Powell has 25 carries for 77 yards and a score. Most people who watch the Jets will tell you that Ivory looks better, but thus far Powell has the slight advantage in fantasy production. Generally, a running back by committee is something worth avoiding. That becomes even more true when neither running back is that great and are stuck on a pretty poor offense in general.
Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons
Additions: Added in 8.6 percent of ESPN leagues.
Matchup: Miami Dolphins, allowing 12.5 points to opposing running backs in ESPN standard-scoring leagues.
Analysis: Not only is this a tough matchup, but Jacquizz Rodgers was the next man up for the Falcons Sunday (he had 15 touches after Jackson went down) and should be used more prominently than Snelling. One would guess Snelling would be the goal-line option, so you could get lucky with a vulture touchdown from him, but for now he seems like a better stash play in case Rodgers underwhelms Sunday.
Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns
Additions: Added in 6.6 percent of ESPN leagues.
Matchup: Minnesota Vikings, allowing 29.0 points to opposing running backs in ESPN standard-scoring leagues.
Analysis: McGahee has signed with the Browns, and he expects to play Sunday. From Jeff Darlington of NFL.com:
Willis McGahee passed his physical, team sources tell me. He is now a member of the Browns.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) September 19, 2013
McGahee plans to play Sunday, source close to McGahee tells me. I don't know the team's plan -- but that's McGahee's hope and expectation.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) September 19, 2013
Look, I don't want to tell you to start a player on a shoddy offense who was signed mid-week. I really don't. But chances are, some of you are in deep leagues and may be deciding between players like McGahee and Ivory, Snelling, Powell or a Pittsburgh Steelers running back. Frankly, for those folks, he's a decent play this week.
Verdict: START for owners in really deep leagues desperate for a running back. SIT for everyone else.
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