By Jack Thomason-
(CBS) Running backs, running backs, running backs.
Trying to find week to week consistent performers at the position is as difficult as finding a needle in a hay stack. This week though, we have four options that could be a full-time, lead back for their club going forward. Now is the time to strike! Whether you have been waiting patiently at the top of your league’s waiver priority (which I would never suggest) or you’ve been sitting on bidding dollars, get after these top backs. They may carry you to a title or save your middling team’s season. Here are your top 10 waiver adds for week 8 with an eye on 10- or 12- team leagues.
1. Jerick McKinnon (RB, Minnesota Vikings) — Still available in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues, McKinnon owns the top spot in this waiver article once again. Prior to Sunday, over the last five contests, the Bills had allowed only 47 yards per game and no touchdowns to opposing running backs. McKinnon carved up the stout Buffalo’s stout defense on 19 carries en route to 103 yards and added two receptions on four targets. Matt Asiata played sparingly, registering seven touches for 37 total yards. It’s clear McKinnon is the back to own now and in the future. In a time where consistent fantasy running backs are hard to find, McKinnon will be an RB2 moving forward in all league formats.
2. Bryce Brown (RB, Buffalo Bills) — Yes, Brown has been inactive every game this year, but Fred Jackson is expected to miss four weeks (groin) and C.J. Spiller (collarbone) may end up on injured reserve. This is the moment Brown supporters have been waiting for. He is a raw but supremely talented back. He has an issue with bouncing too many runs outside, but he’s excellent in the pass game and brings a size/speed combination that rivals Adrian Peterson. To give you an idea, 2012 LeSean McCoy owners likely remember when he got hurt right before the fantasy playoffs. Brown stepped in and in his first two starts, he racked up 43 carries, 347 yards, four touchdowns and chipped in another eight receptions for 25 yards. The uncertainty of how this backfield will be split up is the only reason he is listed as No. 2 on this list.
3. Tre Mason (RB, St. Louis Rams) — Another running back to round out the top three. With the position being so fickle and hard to find consistency, a guy who goes off for 18 carries, 85 yards and a touchdown against a tough Seattle defense is a must-add. Mason led the backfield with 27 snaps, but you must realize he will give you zero in the passing game. He struggles in pass protection, and that’s Benny Cunningham’s role, but Mason is far and away the most explosive player in the Rams backfield. In games that the Rams are down big, there’s cause for concern that his playing time will diminish due to his pass game woes.
4. Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, New York Giants) — Beckham Jr. played 100 percent of the Giants’ offensive snaps Sunday. He was moved all over the formation while hauling in four receptions on six targets. An explosive playmaker with strong hands, Beckham Jr. totaled 34 yards and two touchdowns. Eli Manning is quickly building a rapport with the young rookie, and that bodes well for Beckham’s fantasy status as the season progresses.
5. Denard Robinson (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars) — Toby Gerhart is officially a bust. Last week, we thought Storm Johnson might emerge, but that didn’t work out. On Sunday, Denard Robinson carried the mail 22 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. Finally, a Jaguars running back has come through, even if we have to keep in mind that the Browns were allowing five yards per carry and 145 rushing yards per game. The good news is coach Gus Bradley has confirmed this is Robinson’s job moving forward. The bad news is the offensive line is still brutal. Temper expectations about Robinson’s effectiveness going forward. Miami’s tough run defense will be a good gauge of what we can expect.
6. Doug Baldwin (WR, Seattle Seahawks) — Percy Harvin was traded to the New York Jets last week. That left top wide receiver duties open to Baldwin, and he didn’t disappoint. Catching seven of a career-high 11 targets, he went for 123 yards and a touchdown. Baldwin is a very good player who doesn’t need touches to be manufactured the way Harvin did. Russell Wilson is a premier quarterback, and any receiver that has his eye will benefit moving forward. That looks to be Baldwin, which makes him a WR3 with upside.
7. Andrew Hawkins (WR, Cleveland Browns) — In five of six games, he’s been targeted nine times or more. The aberration was Week 6, when he received two targets. Hawkins has only one game with fewer than five receptions or 70 yards this season. That makes him a great PPR play and a standard league WR3. He may not be the flashiest play, and he doesn’t score touchdowns, but he’s consistent.
8. Anthony Dixon (RB, Buffalo Bills) — I’m not excited about this pickup, but you must be prepared for anything that may happen in the Bills backfield. Dixon has been the No. 3 running back all season. When Jackson and Spiller went down, he toted the rock 13 times for 51 yards while catching three of four targets for another 15 yards. He isn’t exciting, nor is he flashy, but he is a plodder who will get the tough yards. Dixon believes he will be the feature back and has been waiting for this opportunity. The possibility that he could be is why he must be on the list. That and the fact the Bills have used two backs in their offense all season.
9. Allen Robinson (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars) — Since becoming a starter in Week 3, Robinson has no fewer than seven targets and four receptions in a game. The Jaguars have taken the training wheels off of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles and are allowing him to throw downfield. A big-bodied receiver with great speed, Robinson is the beneficiary. He did miss on a couple vertical chances that were contested on Sunday, but Jacksonville is set on getting their most talented receiver the ball.
10. Benny Cunningham (RB, St. Louis Rams) –– He will play in the passing game due to his ability to pass protect and his receiving skills. I mentioned earlier that Mason’s role depends on the Rams’ lead or lack thereof. Well, Cunningham would be the beneficiary if they are playing from behind. He had two carries for only three yards Sunday but caught all five of his targets for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Just missed: Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Jonathan Stewart, Jonas Gray, Stevie Johnson, Kenny Stills, Gavin Escobar and Charles Clay.
Jack Thomason was the winner of 670 The Score’s Bud Light Fantasy Expert Contest and is the co-host of Fantasy Streamers. Follow him on Twitter@jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.