The bye weeks are here, and that means fantasy owners have to pay even more attention to the waiver wire. With your stud players starting to get weeks off, making the right waiver moves can make the difference between a deep playoff run or missing out entirely.
This week, the running back position is shaken up yet again with some key injuries. In addition, the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles are on bye, so owners have to find a replacement for Eddie Lacy and Ryan Mathews (who is injured anyway). Let's take a look at the top waiver options at running back this week, all owned in 50 percent or less of Yahoo! standard leagues.
Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears (24 percent)
Jeremy Langford was flopping as the lead back even before suffering a sprained ankle in Week 3. With Langford expected to miss at least one game, somebody has to step up in Chicago's moribund offense, and the rookie Howard is as good a bet as any. Howard took over as the starter following Langford's injury and finished with 45 yards on nine carries. With Ka'Deem Carey also injured, there should be few committee concerns with Howard. He'll be a borderline flex option against the Detroit Lions.
Dwayne Washington, Detroit Lions (23 percent)
The Lions fell behind early and never got a real chance to establish the ground game, but it's good news for Washington that he still saw some decent run. He got 10 carries for 38 yards and did much better between the tackles than Theo Riddick (10 carries, 9 yards). Washington is the established goal line back and will have touchdown upside against the Bears defense.
Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins (16 percent)
Miami's backfield has devolved into a mess of a committee with Arian Foster out, but if you have to pick one Dolphins player, make it Drake. Although Jay Ajayi scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime, Drake finished with more snaps (27), carries (nine), and yards (37). With a Thursday night road game against the Cincinnati Bengals this week, Drake is more of a bench stash to monitor than a recommended starter.
Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles (one percent)
The Eagles went to a full-blown committee when Ryan Mathews hurt his ankle on Sunday, and the rookie Smallwood benefited. Darren Sproles will be a popular waiver add after popping off for a 73-yard touchdown, but Smallwood dominated carries with 17 and finished with 79 yards, splitting even snaps with Sproles (24). With the Eagles on bye this week, fantasy owners will have to watch Mathews' health before inserting Smallwood into their lineups, but he's the Philly running back to own for now.
Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (less than one percent)
Shane Vereen got the start with Rashad Jennings out, but he tore his tricep and is done for the season. That leaves Darkwa as the next man up after rushing for 53 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries last week. Darkwa isn't an inspiring talent on paper, but the opportunity will be there if Jennings has to miss another week. The biggest thing going against Darkwa is his matchup, with the Minnesota Vikings defense playing on Monday night. Darkwa is only a desperation dart throw if your lineup is ruined by injuries.