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Week 3 is not filled with many must-have players, but there are always a few that can pay off when you least expect it. The best free agent pickups are acquisitions that wreak a higher return than what was invested. This week has a few of those type of players. Fantasy football free agency is very much like stocks, buy low now, and potentially sell high (trade) down the road. Being proactive and opportunistic usually leads to positive outcomes. It may not look like it now, but you may want a few of these players in your lineup sooner than you think. With that said, here are the top 15 running back pickups in week 3.
Raheem Mostert (FAAB: $15)
This is surely the best acquisition you can make in the running back department in week 3. Mostert showed off his versatility against the Bengals, posting 83 rushing yards, 63 receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown. With Tevin Coleman out, the 5th year back has taken advantage of the opportunity. Coleman may miss multiple games, which means Mostert will continue to be a flex worthy start until he returns. It is rare to find a player on the waiver wire who can start immediately. When you do find that player, you have to eat the FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Bid), and improve your squad leading up to your week 3 matchup.
Jaylen Samuels (FAAB: $12)
Samuels’ value is completely dependent on the availability of starting running back James Conner. If Conner is out, the NC State product will take over the reigns for the time being. Samuels’ contributed in the pass game last year, collecting 26 receptions for 3 touchdowns as a distant backup. There is not much known outside of that to determine how well he will succeed as a starting running back. However, opportunity is everything, and it’s not often found on the waiver wire. I’d pickup Samuels if I had a roster spot at my disposal. I wouldn’t start him this week, but he could prove to be a valuable asset if Conners misses extended time.
Peyton Barber (FAAB: $18)
The Buccaneers starting running back finally showed why he was named the starting running back. After being outperformed by Ronald Jones II in week 1, Barber left no doubt about who should be playing after week 2. The 4th year back was given 23 carries for an impressive 82 yards and a touchdown. In a very offensively challenged Thursday night showdown with the Panthers, Barber was one of the few bright spots in the game. He should be the workhorse going forward, which makes him a potential flex start going forward as well. He looks to have the highest floor amongst the players on the list, for the simple fact that he should receive consistent opportunity.
Carlos Hyde (FAAB: $12)
They keep trying to write him off, but he keeps having something else up his sleeve. Within the last 2 years, Carlos Hyde has been on 5 different teams. He’s had injuries and lack of production, all while creeping closer to that 30th birthday, which isn’t so celebratory for a running back. Regardless, after being cut and then picked up just a week before game 1, Carlos Hyde is a starting running back for the Houston Texans. He had an impressive Texans’ debut, with 83 yards rushing. Hyde then followed that up with a 90 yards performance this last weekend. It’s important to point out that he received 20 carries against the Jaguars too. He has shown to be the early down back for the Texans, which yields a lot of opportunities. He isn’t PPR friendly, he only has 1 target and catch through 2 games. However, rushing yards and goal line carries make Hyde a compelling flex play with potential to become a RB2 in the future.
Ito Smith (FAAB: $8)
Smith has shown flashes of being a very productive back in the league. In a limited role, he managed to rush for 315 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. This season, he is working still as a backup, however it is almost a timeshare split with Devonta Freeman. In week 1, Freeman out snapped Smith just 27-25. Additionally, Freeman is not running well as he has only totaled 41 yards with 19 carries of work through 2 games. Smith was able to pop off a big gain last game against the Eagles, showing the speed that Freeman lacks. The roles are unlikely to change soon, but Smith is worthy of a roster spot in case things do.
Jamaal Williams (FAAB: $1)
The Green Bay running back is a nice grab on the waiver wire due to his pass catching ability. In a Rodgers’ led offense, you never know who’s week in maybe next to get in the scoring act. Williams was able to find the end zone in week 2 after a very unproductive 2019 debut. His ceiling is quite low due to the fact he is the backup to Aaron Jones. Jones’ excelled in week 2, so there is no reason to believe Williams’ role will grow for the time being. He is simply a player you add to stash in case of a Jones injury, other than that, he will not provide much week-to-week fantasy value.
Frank Gore (FAAB: $8)
The ageless wonder is back at it again with the Buffalo Bills. Gore out-touched the other Bills’ backs even though it looked apparent that Devin Singletary is the best playmaker of them all. It’s clear that the coaching staff trusts the 36-year old veteran as he was given 19 carries in their last game. He was able to take advantage of the touches, rushing for 68 yards and a touchdown while catching 2 balls as well. I’d assume Bills’ rookie Devin Singletary will continually receive more opportunity, but until that happens, Gore is a desperation flex play in week 3.
Alexander Mattison (FAAB: $3)
The backup running back for the Minnesota Vikings will have to wait his turn in order to hold any fantasy value. Mattison is sitting behind Dalvin Cook, who may be playing the best football of all the running backs in the game right now. Mattison has shown signs of a good runner, shaking free for 49 yards on just 9 carries in his NFL debut in week 1. He only save 4 carries this past week, but still was able to earn 25 yards in the limited role. Any sort of value for Mattison will come if Cook were to miss anytime. He looks to be a difference maker, but the young rookie will have to wait for a shot to prove himself in a bigger role.
Darren Sproles (FAAB: $1)
Sproles’ is a PPR friendly player, who should be active in Philly’s pass offense on 3rd downs. Sproles’ received a healthy dose of touches in his season debut with 12. However, in week 2 he received an abysmal 2 touched for just 5 yards. The Eagles’ running back committee has shown to produce not one quality fantasy player. Philadelphia was just ranked 30th in the run last season, and those struggles seem to be transferring over in 2019. For PPR purposes, Sproles may prove to be the best back of the 3, but I wouldn’t expect consistent play out of any of the 3.
C.J. Anderson (FAAB: $2)
The backup Lions’ running back has seen a tale of 2 games. In the season opener, Anderson saw 11 carries for 35 yards. In week 2, the veteran only saw 5 attempts for just 8 yards. The Lions’ are spreading around carries this season, making him difficult to imagine anyone other than Kerryon Johnson having fantasy value. However, if Johnson were to miss time, Anderson is next in line. After seeing what he did when Gurley went down last season, it is without question Anderson has the ability to perform if given the opportunity. I’d stash him on my bench and wait to see how the season plays out.
Gus Edwards (FAAB: $1)
The Baltimore running back found a lot of success last season when elevated into the starting role. Edwards came on strong with a whopping 718 rushing yards last season, with an average yards per carry of 5.2. He has proven he can play, but Edwards finds himself behind off season signing Mark Ingram II. Ingram’s presence, limits Edwards’ role quite a bit. After seeing 17 carries in the first game in an absolute blowout of the Dolphins, he only recorded 3 carries in a much more competitive game with the Cardinals. The lack of touches is a bad sign moving forward. He is worth a stash just in case Ingram misses time, because Jackson and the rest of Baltimore’s offense look to be quite explosive the rest of the year.
Kalen Ballage (FAAB: $0)
Ballage worked as the backup to Kenyan Drake this weekend. He had a very poor performance against the New England Patriots in week 2. Other than recording just 12 total yards, he also bobbled a pass that resulted in a pick six for the Patriots. He also dropped another ball in the contest. Fortunately for Ballage, his role should not change just yet. After getting blown out twice at home to start the season, the Dolphins will most likely be facing large deficits the remainder of the season. With that said, everyone should get a chance to play, which will give Ballage a chance to salvage his poor effort against New England. I wouldn’t recommend adding him right now, but I would keep an eye on his situation in case he becomes more involved.
Jordan Wilkins (FAAB: $0)
The Colts’ backup popped off a 55 yard gain in week 2’s narrow victory over the Titans. He was the lift the Colts needed, on a day when Mack couldn’t find any running room. I don’t expect his role to suddenly expand, Mack is the clear cut lead back in Indianapolis. However, he should at least see a hand full of carries going forward after this past performance. There is no need to add him, but again, he is someone to keep a lookout for, in case he continues to see the ball.
Mark Walton (FAAB: $0)
You may have never heard of this name before, and I don’t blame you. He is the third string running back for the Miami Dolphins. In the midst of the misery which was week 2 against New England, Walton had 3 carries go for 15 yards. He also added a catch for 12 yards.That’s nothing to write home about, but that alone should give him more opportunity after the performance second string Kalen Ballege had against New England. No one in the Miami backfield has claimed the No. 1 role, which leaves someone like Walton always a chance to potentially make a splash.
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