This week’s waiver wire article is all heavy on backup running backs. When scouring the waiver wire, you should be looking to add players who are only an injury away from a significant role. Wide receivers don’t typically fit this bill because even when a wide receiver goes down to injury, his targets can be distributed among many other receivers, running backs and tight ends. When a running back goes down, his touches are usually not distributed to more than one or two other players.
You can hold onto these players and hope that the become outliers. Or you can flip them for late-round picks or FAAB it’s all profit since all it will take to acquire them is the roster space. The choice is yours.
Dontrell Hilliard RB – CLE
Duke Johnson was finally granted his freedom from the Cleveland Browns which leaves them woefully thin at the running back position. The Browns Thursday preseason game against Washington gave us an idea of who Johnson’s replacement will be as the backup running back until Kareem Hunt returns from suspension. Dontrell Hilliard had nine rushing attempts compared to D’Ernest Johnson’s five. More importantly, Hilliard was targeted six times while Johnson saw zero targets. Further confirmation that Hilliard is the new backup came from clevelandbrowns.com’s Anthony Poisal who stated that Hilliard is poised to be the Duke Johnson replacement.
In eight games with Freddie Kitchens calling plays last year, Duke Johnson averaged 9.62 points per game, per FFStatistics Player Split tool. Among running backs who played at least nine games last year that would have ranked as the RB37 over a full season.
Jeremy McNichols RB – TEN
Remember when the dynasty community was fawning over McNichols before the 2017 NFL Draft? He then landed in Tampa Bay which was an excellent landing spot, though he fell to the fifth round in doing so. He was unable even to make the roster and has since bounced from San Francisco to Indianapolis and now the Titans. In the Titans first preseason tilt, McNichols took eight carries for 44 yards, ripping off a 37 yarder in the process.
While preseason stats should be taken with a grain of salt, McNichols also had an excellent training camp. With Derrick Henry unable to practice due to an ankle injury that has him in a walking boot, McNichols has gotten the second-most snaps with the Titans first team in training camp. Travis May also notes that McNichols has had the second most practice reps of the running backs rostered by the Titans. If Henry isn’t ready to go week one or re-aggravates the ankle, McNichols will slide into the power back role for the Titans.
#Titans RB snaps through five fully charted recent practices.
Lewis clearly the guy with no Henry. McNichols is the backup. Fluellen makes the team as a FB/HB hybrid if healthy. Barnes possible cut when Fluellen returns to 100%. #TitansCamp #TitanUp #NFL #NFLPreseason pic.twitter.com/7rTyVFDizz
— Travis May (@FF_TravisM) August 12, 2019
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Myles Gaskin RB – MIA
After a college career that saw Gaskin exceed 1,000 touches, he fell to the seventh round in a bit of a surprise. Concerns about his size, he stands just 5’9″ and weighs only 205 lbs., and his 965 rushing attempts in college contributed to his fall. If you’re looking for a long-term option, Gaskin is not your guy. But the Miami backfield is not settled which could allow Gaskin to carve out a role. Kenyan Drake is the most talented RB on the roster, but can’t seem to earn the trust of the Dolphins’ coaching staff which has allowed Kalen Ballage, who is objectively bad at being a running back, to threaten him for the lead back role.
Gaskin might have the most complete skill set of any of the Dolphins running backs considering he also is a capable receiver and averaged nearly 20 (19.66 to be exact) receptions in his final three years with Washington. In the Dolphins first preseason game, he rushed for 13 yards on six attempts (and admittedly terrible 2.2. YPC) and also contributed with three receptions for 19 yards.
Preston Williams WR -MIA
If not for a checkered college career, Williams would not have gone undrafted in the NFL Draft. Williams transferred and also had a domestic violence incident during his college career. At 6’4″ and 210 lbs. Williams has the size you want from your wide receiver and has decent speed as well. During OTAs, Williams was a superstar garnering praise from coaches and reporters covering the Dolphins. His stellar preseason continued with four receptions and 97-yard game in the Dolphins first preseason game last Thursday.
Late round and undrafted wide receivers are usually a complete fade for me due to the low hit rate, but I’m willing to make an exception in this case. Talent was not the reason Williams went undrafted. His 1,345 receiving yards last year at Colorado State that landed him a 90th percentile dominator rating in college is evidence of that. The Dolphins lack a legitimate WR1 and Williams could easily slide into that role.
Above stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com
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