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Fantasy football waiver wire: Best running backs available in Week 12

The bye weeks are finally over and the playoffs are just around the corner.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The fantasy football season is officially in its stretch run. The bye weeks are finally over and owners can gun for the playoffs without needing to worry about replacing their stud players. The regular season only has two or three weeks left (depending on league settings), so now’s the time to clinch a playoff spot.

The biggest injury news at running back was the lost of Washington’s Chris Thompson, who suffered a broken leg on a gruesome-looking play. It’s a devastating end for Thompson, who was enjoying a true breakout season. It’s also another blow to Washington, which is dealing with a massive injury crisis at the moment.

In other news, Leonard Fournette tweaked his ankle again, though he’s expected to keep playing through it. Don’t be surprised if T.J. Yeldon spells him a lot more going forward.

So with that all out of the way, let’s look at the top running back waiver options, owned in 50 percent or less of Yahoo! leagues.

Danny Woodhead, Baltimore Ravens (49 percent)

Making his return from a Week 1 hamstring injury, Woodhead was once again involved in the passing game, making five catches for 21 yards. It’s similar to the role he played in the season opener before suffering the injury that landed him on IR. Now healthy again, Woodhead should be owned in all PPR leagues, and he’ll be an RB2/flex player going forward. He also makes Javorious Allen dropable in all formats.

Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears (46 percent)

Despite an exciting September, Cohen was inexplicably phased out of the game plan with just eight touches in between Weeks 7-10. The Bears decided to use him again last Sunday, and he responded with 59 total yards and a touchdown on 13 touches. It’s hard to tell if this was a fluke (he still played just 31 snaps and didn’t see the field on the Bears’ final drive) or the new plan going forward, but if Cohen has regained his role as Jordan Howard’s change-of-pace back, then he might be back on the flex radar.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (36 percent)

Largely left for dead by fantasy owners, the 30-year-old Stewart hit rock bottom with two fumbles in Week 9. He bounced back last Thursday with his first 100-yard game of the season, and is still getting plenty of touches as the Panthers’ main runner between the tackles. He’s still a touchdown-or-bust player, but with the Panthers’ running game coming to life, Stewart might be worth giving another chance. He gets the New York Jets next.

Samaje Perine, Washington (35 percent)

Well, it’s all down to Perine with Rob Kelley and Thompson done for the year. He was pretty bad filling in for Kelley earlier in the season, but Perine’s stock recovered after 117 yards and a touchdowns on 23 carries against the New Orleans Saints. Washington doesn’t have any serious competition for Perine left on the roster, so expect him to get fed as much as he can handle as the team clings to fading playoff hopes. Perine has RB2 upside against the New York Giants this week.

Top waiver wire targets for Week 12