Running back is the most volatile position in fantasy football. Injuries and ineffectiveness can result in starters losing their jobs, and it’s a near lock that at least one virtually unknown runner – if not several – will emerge as a fantasy stud this season.
Here are three running backs going undrafted in many fantasy leagues who have a chance to be this year’s waiver-wire hero.
Average draft position (ADP) data courtesy of FantasyPros and is based on 12-team leagues with standard scoring.
Jonathan Williams, Bills
The Patriots poached restricted free agent Mike Gillislee from the Bills this offseason, making sophomore runner Williams the backup for LeSean McCoy. McCoy will turn 29 this season and has battled soft-tissue injuries recently, so it’s not a stretch to suggest Williams will see significant action and perhaps even start games in 2017. Considering the Bills’ run-blocking prowess, that makes him a player every fantasy owner needs to consider drafting late or adding to their watch list.
DeAndre Washington, Raiders
The Bay Area is buzzing after Marshawn Lynch’s unretirement, but let’s not forget that the last time we saw Beast Mode on an NFL field he was hurt and largely ineffective. Lynch seems to be rejuvenated, but it’s unprecedented for a 31-year-old running back to produce RB1 value after a year away from football. If Lynch gets hurt or can’t recapture his old magic, Washington is next in line for carries behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.
Branden Oliver, Chargers
Remember him? In 2014, Oliver landed on the radar of fantasy owners after injuries in the Chargers’ backfield made him the starter for seven games. He returned good value in those starts, but missed the entire 2016 season with an Achilles injury and fell out of mind for most fantasy owners. Now healthy, and with Danny Woodhead no longer a Charger, Oliver’s behind only Melvin Gordon on the depth chart. Considering Gordon has missed at least two games due to injury in each of his first two seasons, we could be seeing more of the forgotten Oliver in the near future.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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