The 2017 NFL season has hit the halfway point and things are just starting to heat up in the fantasy football world. Unfortunately, the injuries are also piling up once again.
The big injury to monitor at running back is Leonard Fournette. He picked up an ankle injury in Week 7, and despite some early optimism that he could play, the Jacksonville Jaguars sat him on Sunday. The good news is that Fournette should be close to 100 percent after the Jags’ Week 8 bye, so fantasy owners can sit tight on him.
In addition to the injuries, we’ve got a whopping six teams on bye this week — the Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, and Tennessee Titans. That’s a lot of players fantasy owners will have to account for not having in their lineups.
Between the injuries and bye weeks, it’s an incredibly thin waiver wire pool in Week 8. Let’s go over the best (or at least most palatable) running back options available in 50 percent or less of Yahoo! leagues.
Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings (41 percent)
It looks like Murray has forced his way into a full-blown committee in Minnesota. He piled up 118 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, while Jerick McKinnon turned 17 touches into just 57 total yards. McKinnon has shown flashes of huge potential in the past, but for whatever reason he’s never been able to fully secure his spot as a feature back. McKinnon is still useful in PPR leagues as the passing-down back, but Murray has entered the flex conversation as the Vikings continue pounding the rock with their quarterback situation unsettled.
Matt Forte, New York Jets (30 percent)
Still showing signs of life at age 31, Forte is eating into Bilal Powell’s workload once again (he’s also eclipsed Elijah McGuire, whose brief fantasy window has closed with Forte healthy). Last week he put up 82 total yards on 12 touches, and in the two weeks since coming back from injury, Forte has 13 catches. He’s a legitimate PPR asset once again, even though the Jets’ offense is still hard to trust. Forte at least gets a good matchup with the Atlanta Falcons this week.
Dion Lewis, New England Patriots (30 percent)
Lewis took his turn on the Patriots’ backfield merry-go-round, getting the start and finishing with 14 touches for 82 total yards. We still have no real idea who’s the top back to own in New England’s backfield, especially with Rex Burkhead back from a rib injury. However, it looks like Lewis has supplanted Mike Gillislee, who’s been a non-factor in recent weeks.
Jalen Richard, Oakland Raiders (11 percent)
Marshawn Lynch’s one-game suspension opens the door for Richard, though he still has to contend with DeAndre Washington for snaps. A 2016 undrafted free agent, Richard has emerged as a big-play threat, averaging 4.5 yards per carry on 35 carries this year. However, he’s relatively unproven as a lead back and Washington won’t be going away anytime soon, so this could quickly turn into a bad committee and the Buffalo Bills are an imposing matchup. Richard carries flex upside, but the floor is pretty low this week.