Fantasy football waiver wire: 5 running backs to target in standard leagues for Week 17

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

A few running backs went down on Sunday and there could be some openings in Week 17. Here are five players fantasy owners might want to use.

Week 17 is just a different animal compared to most weeks in fantasy football. There are a lot of guys who are just rolls of the dice and teams in the playoffs just never seem to play things straight.

Running backs are hurt more often than any other skill position since they're tackled all the time, so teams are more apt to take them out of harm's way than other players. If you're not sure about your guy, here are five that could help you this week and are available in many leagues.

Michael Cox (owned in 0 percent of leagues)

The Giants lost yet another running back with Andre Brown going down with a concussion injury. Brown will have to go through the league's mandated concussion protocol and there's certainly a chance he misses the game against the Redskins.

The G-Men are down to their sixth-string running back and that's Michael Cox. He saw two carries late in the game after Brown went down and figures to be the starting tailback.

The Redskins have a terrible defense, so there is a nice opportunity for Cox to get some carries. The only other back the Giants used outside of Brown was Bear Pascoe -- a tight end turned full back.

The full workload and the great matchup make him a low-end RB2 this week.

Edwin Baker (owned in one percent of leagues)

The Browns are quickly becoming Baker's team. He carried the ball 17 times against the Jets, rushing for 64 yards with two receptions for 12 yards. It was also the second game in a row in which he's scored a touchdown.

Baker came out of the blue in Week 15 with a total of 12 touches and he's basically the featured back with Chris Ogbonnaya only getting work on obvious passing downs.

It's not going to be a friendly matchup for Baker this week. He and the Browns will welcome a Steelers team hoping to get into the playoffs. Although, the Steelers are hardly unbeatable and are not the team that fantasy owners have been scared of lately. They've given up a ton of points over their last three, averaging 31.6 points per game to teams like the Packers in Week 16.

Baker is a low-end RB2 this week, but still has some upside since he's probably one of just 20 guys that will see a featured workload on Sunday

James Starks (owned in 16 percent of leagues)

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, but coach Mike McCarthy said it was no worse than the one he suffered back in November.

The Packers are likely going to at least hold him out of practice this week, so fantasy owners are going to have to pick up Starks without the guarantee of him starting. That said, they will get a great matchup against a Bears team that has been terrible lately, so it's worth the risk. The Philadelphia Eagles almost ripped off 300 rushing yard on Sunday Night Football and they currently sit dead last in rushing yards allowed. Their defense isn't healthy at almost any level, so Starks could be a beast.

If Lacy can't go, Starks would be a high-end RB2 this week.

Dennis Johnson (owned in 25 percent of leagues)

The Texans lost Deji Karim for the season to a broken collarbone, but they're not guaranteed to have Johnson either. He suffered a hip injury and could miss Week 17. Chances are the team won't be announcing anything on Johnson until after the team's initial injury report on Wednesday.

In other words, fantasy owners will have to pick up Johnson more on a leap of faith than anything else. The good news is they get a nice matchup against the Tennessee Titans. The Texans beat Tennessee back in Week 2 and the Titans are reeling on defense with plenty of holes all over their from seven.

Johnson could be an RB2, so go ahead and add him, then you can just cut him if the injury is serious.

Darren McFadden (owned in 62 percent of leagues)

The Oakland Raiders are likely going to be looking at a timeshare, but they were giving McFadden most of the work in the red zone. Ball security hasn't really been much of an issue and he should continue to see a nice chunk at tailback, especially near the goal line.

DMC only saw four carries and had just one reception against the Chargers on Sunday, but that might be on the upswing this week. The Broncos will come to town for Week 17 and Oakland will likely have to pass quite a bit to hang with them. McFadden is an adept pass catcher, so he might be able to reel in four or five balls.

He'll be a decent PPR play as more of a flex, but it's hard to get too excited about him. This is more of a reminder to not play Rashad Jennings this week.


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