It seems this year more than ever, there is a gigantic gap between the have and have-nots regarding every position except for wide receiver. Stashing backups for running back have become more important than ever. Jamaal Williams (RB4), Giovani Bernard (RB7) and Chase Edmonds (RB8) all had at least 18 half-points per reception (PPR) league points this week. The next closest running backs who were drafted in the Top 3 rounds are Derrick Henry (RB13), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB15) and James Conner (RB18). They had 14.2, 12.8, and 12.6 fantasy points which is significantly lower than the basic backups.
Todd Gurley (RB3) and Alvin Kamara (RB5) seem to be the safest remaining options left in the fantasy football running back landscape. Of course, these stats can be cherry-picked but the point stands that stashing running backs was more important than ever this year. It is important to trade whatever wide receiver assets you can to secure a safe running back.
In terms of breakouts, Leonard Fournette (RB21) finally cracks this list. The receiving usage (6 receptions for 47 yards) helps his case a lot moving forward as Ronald Jones rarely catches passes. He will start where he was drafted as a low-end RB2 with the potential to move up now that he is healthy. Jeff Wilson (RB1) would have been a breakout star but he is now injured. JaMycal Hasty (RB26) is the ultimate boom-or-bust running back for the next few weeks. Jerick McKinnon (RB97) is clearly not trusted but Tevin Coleman may be back to steal touches. The 49er backfield is very unpredictable.
Carlos Hyde is worth an add in many leagues until Chris Carson is healthy. If Carson misses 1-2 games, Hyde would be an immediate start no matter the team. The New York Giants backfield is a mess across the board now and Wayne Gallman (RB17) is nothing more than an emergency play moving forward. Lamical Perine (RB16) falls in the same category as an emergency fill-in. He can be trusted a bit more than any Giants running back. Perine is running more than twice the number of routes as Frank Gore.
The Arizona running back situation becomes one that is so up in the air with the Kenyan Drake injury and not enough people are talking about it. Chase Edmonds (RB8) was a FLEX start before and is now a weekly starter. Major questions come into play when analyzing Chase Edmonds. Edmonds was given the workhorse role once last year with 23 rushes and four targets. He proceeded to get injured the very next game and otherwise was never given over eight touches in all 24 games in his career. His rookie season and last season he received the same 3-7 carries he does now. His passing game usage has increased each year though. He has two games with eight rushes in his career and one with seven rushes. All other 21 games he had six or fewer rushes including this year. It is doubtful that Edmonds goes back to the one game of 23 rushes as Arizona learned its lesson. If Arizona thought he needed more, he would have played ahead of Kenyan Drake or seen more than six carries this season. So, the hidden waiver wire add this week is Jonathan Ward or Eno Benjamin.
Jonathan Ward was also the only one who played any sort of snaps last week. Both running backs have significant rushing and receiving stats behind them. Eno Benjamin plays more like Le’Veon Bell in terms of rushing style while Jonathan Ward plays more like Aaron Jones. Benjamin might be behind Ward because of his weakness of dancing in the backfield too much instead of just hitting the assigned hole like Ward does. Watch for reports coming out later in the week but at least one should be rostered this upcoming week. Either could end up having a significant role.
With the large discrepancy in running back, the flip side is the ability to find wide receivers in any round of the draft or on the waiver wire. Besides Davante Adams (WR2), Michael Thomas (?), Deandre Hopkins (WR8) or Julio Jones (WR24), no wide receiver will automatically return value each year. Tyler Boyd (WR6) and Keenan Allen (WR13) have been safe options that are under-drafted each of the last three years.
With Chris Godwin out again in Week 8 after undergoing thumb surgery, Scott Miller (WR7) becomes a player who can be started. Who would have thought Nelson Agholor (WR10) would turn into a stud the last few weeks? Maybe it is a match with Derek Carr throwing with less velocity and more touch compared to Carson Wentz. Either way, both are adds for the next week to plug in during bye weeks. Miller is not quite Breshad Perriman of last year but he could be a solid asset with the other receivers constantly missing time. Tyrell Williams returned surprising value last year with less targets and a worse situation. Agholor seems to be a better version of Williams as of right now who functioned as a WR3 last year.
In terms of more well-known players, Tyler Lockett (WR1 with 45.5 points) had about the best game one could expect. It is more important to note that DK Metcalf (WR75) received the attention in coverage from Patrick Peterson and is therefore considered the No. 1 receiver. This is important to keep in mind for other teams that are top heavy in coverage. Seattle have the Los Angeles Rams twice, Arizona and Philadelphia, which fit the bill. Christian Kirk (WR12) should have been traded for a while ago as he continues to steal the receiving touchdowns for this team. In the right matchups, this team has been in the Top 3 in terms of offensive plays run. Also, Kirk was on the field for 79 percent of the snaps this week.
Davante Adams (WR2) and A.J. Brown (WR4) are back again after missing a lot of time. This will take away the ceiling and the floor for the other receiving options on their teams. The other two Green Bay receivers finished WR52 and WR97 for the week. Robert Tonyan (TE28) and Jace Sternberger (TE19) also lost their ability to be started. Both Tennessee tight ends finished outside the Top 30. Corey Davis (WR31) was saved by a touchdown but had 35 yards otherwise. He has seen a steady stream of targets (eight, five, six, ten) but has a very low ceiling each week. Similar to last year, Adam Humphries (WR81) takes the backseat once A.J. Brown is active. He is an easy drop now while Brown is active.
Tight end is nothing short of an ugly landscape. As stated last week, Rob Gronkowski (TE2) can now be trusted as a weekly start. Harrison Bryant (TE1) cannot be trusted quite yet as his two touchdowns and 35-yard catch inflated his 56 total yards. Harrison Bryant (TE1) but not David Njoku (TE12) is worth a waiver add if your team is in a pinch with the bye weeks. Do not expect high end production but he is passable while Austin Hooper is out. Richard Rodgers (TE6) is just a product of the Philadelphia offense but expect one of the starters back next week. Gerald Everett (TE7) continues to have streaming value as long as Tyler Higbee is out. The whole tight end landscape is about streaming outside of the Top 5. Monitor injuries weekly as this is the biggest indicator of production it seems. Jared Cook (TE8) was an indicator of this. Eric Ebron (TE15) fell massively down rankings as now Diontae Johnson is back.
On the quarterback front, Tom Brady (QB3) and Joe Burrow (QB4) received a massive boost in rank recently. Justin Herbert (QB1) already cemented himself as a top option. Weeks 8 and 13 will be his only challenges remaining. Tom Brady has had at least 35 passing attempts in every week except against Green Bay (blowout). The touchdowns have been rising in recent weeks as chemistry is built with new wide receivers and Rob Gronkowski. This defense is giving him the ball back constantly and now having Leonard Fournette as a pass catcher only helps. The quarterbacks for Jacksonville were helped out as he had 76 catches for 522 yards last year; Tom Brady now benefits from this along with the addition of Antonio Brown. Joe Burrow is still mostly a streamer in certain matchups as he has as many games with no touchdown passes (three) as games with multiple (three). Week 8 is another start week against Tennessee before he is a good sell.
Daniel Jones is starting to become the fantasy asset many drafted him to be. Having Sterling Shepard back is massive for him. His schedule will soon start to lighten up as well after Week 8. Besides Week 5 against Dallas, his rushing totals have been: 49, 45, 74 and 92 yards in the past five weeks. If you have the space, stash him this week as he will likely be picked up next week. He is the perfect end-of-season quarterback with matchups against Cincinnati, Seattle, Arizona and Cleveland. Last year from Weeks 8-16 he was No. 5 in points per game in quarterbacks who played at least three games.