Back City, chick, Back Back City, chick. Rushes of 10, 10, 20 and 50, chick. Those other owners don't know who they're messing with.
It's running back pickup week here at numberFire. With the injury bug hitting the NFL backfields hard this past weekend, this might just be the most crucial waiver-pickup week you'll see in the latter half of the season. At least one or two, if not more, of these running backs can be solid contributors down the stretch. And to top it off, I've included a few wide receivers to look at as well, although that group won't make nearly as much noise on the wire this week.
There are some guys that should have been already picked up (why hello there, Marcel Reece and Danny Amendola) that you will want to grab if your league's a little slow on the trigger. But these are the best of the guys available currently in most leagues.
Top 6 Fantasy Football Waiver Pickups for Week 12
RB Ronnie Hillman - Denver Broncos
Week 11 Fantasy Points: 5
Leagues Owned: 0.9%
With Willis McGahee And His 30-Year Old Body out for six to eight weeks, it's the rookie's chance to shine. Well, chance to shine with sunglasses on; current indications are that Hillman will split time with Lance Ball in the backfield.
But of the two, Hillman is the higher-upside play, especially given the past data we have to go on from so far this season. Most carries in last week's game (12) after McGahee was sidelined? Hillman. Most carries overall this season (almost doubled)? Hillman. Slightly better yards per carry average (3.8) and NEP per rush (-0.21)? Hillman. More big play ability, with three 20+ yard rushes as compared to his competitor's zero? I think you know the answer.
Especially with a favorable schedule coming up - bottom half of the league defenses in Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Oakland over the next three weeks - Hillman can provide some serious spark to the offense and potentially become a solid RB2 heading into the fantasy playoffs.
RB Beanie Wells - Arizona Cardinals
Week 11 Fantasy Points: N/A
Leagues Owned: 47.9%
La'Rod Stephens-Howling finally broke out for a spectacular game for the Cardinals this past weekend. In fact, he ended the week with 18 Fantasy Points (FP), the second-most of any running back in the entire league. And with that performance, he will probably... lose his starting job to a returning Beanie Wells.
While Wells has been out since Week 3, he returns from the injury report this week to a backfield that looks dramatically different from when he left. There is no more Ryan Williams to compete with for carries; Williams remains out for the entire season. And while LSH may retain some carries by virtue of his game this past Sunday, the Cardinals' history with Wells and persistence on giving him carries over Stephens-Howling for the past, well, forever sure indicates which direction they will look to go.
Wells may be an incredibly inefficient back - his -0.37 NEP per rush on 29 carries is one of the worst marks in the league - but quantity over quality makes him a solid choice to be picked up. And the Cardinals' immediate schedule does not hurt either, with weaker St. Louis, New York Jets, and Detroit defenses over the next three weeks.
RB Jalen Parmele - Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 11 Fantasy Points: 8
Leagues Owned: 0.1%
He may not have the long-term sustainability of Hillman or Wells, but if you're looking for guaranteed carries for just this one week, Jalen Parmele is your man. With Maurice Jones-Drew out at least one more week while recovering from injury, the offense has shifted away from Rashad Jennings and directly into Parmele's hands.
Sunday's game against the Texans should provide some solid insight into what to expect from Parmele. His 24 carries were the fifth-most of any running back in Week 11, but I wouldn't take too much stock in that singular figure considering the number of plays the Jaguars ran. The QB Who Isn't Blaine Gabbert (Chad Henne) threw the ball 33 times against the Texans, and the Jaguars threw the ball in total on 55% of their offensive plays. What should encourage you more, then, is what Parmele accomplished on those 24 rushes: his 80 yards on the ground were the most for any single back against numberFire's No. 2 defense since the Texans' Week 4 game against Chris Johnson and the Titans.
And boy, does the schedule break down perfectly for Parmele this week, as well as next week if MJD still can't go. This week's opponent, the Titans, currently hold numberFire's No. 27 overall defense. Next week's opponent, the hapless Bills, are dead last in defensive efficiency.
RB Bryce Brown - Philadelphia Eagles
Week 11 Fantasy Points: 3
Leagues Owned: 0.3%
Just like Parmele, he's not much more than a one-week handcuff, but struggling teams and especially LeSean McCoy owners should make a beeline directly towards Brown's name on the waiver-wire this week.
Thanks to Andy Reid's general incompetence (the 1832627th time that phrase has been said this season), McCoy suffered a mild concussion at the end of the this past week's game while down 31-6 at the end of the fourth quarter. You have to love leaving your best player in for a meaningless situation. McCoy is currently listed as questionable for next Monday's game, and he will likely be a game-time decision for the 3-7 team.
But the opportunity could prove fruitful for Brown, who has only carried the ball 32 times in his rookie season but has seen success on those carries. Although the Eagles only carried the ball on 31% of their offensive plays against Washington, I would expect a heavy dose of the running game against a weaker Carolina run defense. The Carolina D has allowed 16.56 NEP more than expectation against running plays so far this season while allowing 12.09 points less than expectation for passing plays this year.
WR Justin Blackmon - Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 11 Fantasy Points: 29
Leagues Owned: 44.6%
Another week, another Jaguars receiver. While I still think last week's recommendation Cecil Shorts The ThirdTM can be a solid contributor to your fantasy team - and he did have 14 FP and six targets in this game, after all - all of the attention is going to shift to the other Jaguars receiver, Justin Blackmon.
Here's the deal with Blackmon and why I think he can contribute. Remember last week, when I argued for Shorts over fellow Jaguars receiver Laurent Robinson on the basis of plays actually on the field? Well in Week 10, Shorts played 69 of 70 plays, while Robinson played 57 of 70 plays. But here's the rub: Blackmon also played 69 of 70 plays in that game, he just didn't receive the targets with Gabbert.
With Chad Henne at QB, however, Blackmon finally returned to Oklahoma State Part Deux. His 13 targets only finished fourth among Week 11 receivers, but the opening of the Jacksonville offense allowed him to go for an unreal 33.7 yards per catch on seven receptions.
Even if Gabbert becomes healthy, I don't see the Jaguars making a move away from their top-ten rookie now that he's proven his meddle in the Jacksonville offense. And just as I was arguing for Parmele, the upcoming schedule sets up perfectly for a Jaguars offensive explosion the likes of which we haven't seen since the Mark Brunell days.
WR Danario Alexander - San Diego Chargers
Week 11 Fantasy Points: 21
Leagues Owned: 4.5%
I talked about him last week in this space, so I'm not going to take up too much of your time. If you were part of the 4.4% of people that heeded my advice last week, congratulations. If not, lean in a little closer so I can (gently, of course) slap you upside the head and tell you what you're missing.
With 11 targets this week, representing over a quarter of Philip Rivers' throws, Alexander has clearly become the #1 target in San Diego. Previous #1 receiver Malcom Floyd only had six looks on the day (he now has not had more than seven in five straight games), while previous starter Robert Meachem only had two looks his way. Perhaps more importantly, Alexander is consistent with his opportunities: his current 68% catch rate on the season leads all Chargers non-backs. Especially when compared to Meachem's laughable 47% catch rate, Alexander has proven his worth in Powder Blue Land.
While the upcoming Baltimore-Cincinnati-Pittsburgh AFC North trifecta may not provide Alexander the best matchups, they should still be enough to keep him relevant. Especially this late in the season, he's one of the rare pickups who can provide both quantity and quality to help your fantasy team immediately.
Guys You Won't See:
Colin Kaepernick: Solid against a strong defense, but I would not trust him to keep the job when Smith comes back. I'd want that assurance before picking him up this late.
Bilal Powell: Shonn Greene still had 18 carries to his 11 and for intents and purposes should not be considered more than a handcuff.
Julian Edelman: May see a slight uptick in targets with Gronkowski out, but still a clear #3 WR behind Welker and Lloyd.
Davone Bess: If I expanded this list to seven, he would probably be the next target, but for now, the Miami offense is just too inconsistent.
Dwayne Allen: You might get one more week of value out of him against Buffalo, but Coby Fleener's due back any day now. Not the consistent Gronkowski replacement you need.
Who I would pick up this week, in order (with auction waiver $, assuming a $100 spending limit)
1. Hillman ($25)
2. Wells ($20)
3. Alexander ($16)
4. Parmele ($13)
5. Blackmon ($12)
6. Brown ($10)