Ladell Betts. Ron Dayne. Pierre Thomas. Michael Bush.
If these names look familiar, they led many fantasy football owners to league titles the past few seasons. The thing that they all have in common is they were all late season waiver wire additions that paid off in a huge way.
I’ve looked ahead at every NFL team’s schedule for the remainder of the season and found these backup running backs that could join that illustrious list of fantasy football playoff studs.
If any of these players are on waivers in your league, pick them up immediately. If some of these players aren’t available on the waiver wire, you should be able to acquire them for very little prior to your league trade deadline. I’ve listed all their matchups from Week 10 to Week 16 to also show some great matchups leading up to your playoffs. For some owners on the cusp of making the playoffs, a few of these players could give them an edge in a key matchup to be in position to worry about whom to start in the fantasy football playoffs (Weeks 14, 15 and 16 in many league formats).
Without further adieu, here are the best backup running backs the remainder of the season that should be available in many fantasy football leagues. Each player is ranked in order based on talent, opportunity, and remaining playoff schedule.
Beanie Wells – Arizona (Owned in 64.9% of Leagues)
SEA, @STL, @TEN, MIN, @SF, @DET, STL
Beanie Wells has the easiest remaining schedule out of all of these running backs. Wells has some great matchups versus Seattle, St. Louis and Tennessee leading up to his playoff run. In the fantasy football playoffs he will feast on San Francisco, Detroit and finally the Rams in Week 16. Wells can be had very cheap right because the perception is the Cardinals cannot run the ball effectively. Wells has averaged over 5 yards per carry his past few games, and it is only a matter of time before he relegates Tim Hightower to a third down option with Hightower’s fantastic hands out of the backfield. Wells must learn to pick up the blitz better to increase his playing time, and he has struggled to do so early this season. All of these players listed are lottery tickets, but if this one hits they payoff will be greater than any of the other backup running backs I’ve listed here. Wells will be a key contributor to many championship winning teams as a RB2 or strong flex option down the stretch.
Mike Bell – Saints (Owned in 67.3% of Leagues)
@STL, @TB, NE, @WAS, @ATL, DAL, TB
Mike Bell has seen his play slip in recent weeks as Pierre Thomas has been surging ahead of him. If the Thomas owner in your league does not also have Bell on their roster, grab him now while you can. The Saints only have three potential tough games the remainder of the season against New England, Atlanta, and Dallas. New Orleans draws the Buccaneers twice, St. Louis and Washington so Bell is worth owning in any league format. Pierre Thomas also had a similar role to Bell for the past several seasons, and after untimely injuries to both Reggie Bush and Deuce McAlister, Thomas led many owners to fantasy football titles. Thomas has struggled with minor injuries, so it is not out of the question he may miss some time and Bush has proven he cannot carry the load of a NFL running back. Stash Bell away, if for any reason than having a fantastic title game matchup with Tampa Bay.
Chester Taylor – Vikings (Owned in 50.1% of Leagues)
DET, SEA, CHI, @ARI, CIN, @CAR, @CHI
Chester Taylor doesn’t get much playing time thanks to a guy named Peterson. If you haven’t heard Mr. Peterson is pretty good, and the Vikings are looking like a lock to make the playoffs so far. If you are in a shallow league, Taylor may be on your waiver wire and is worth a pickup in any format. The Vikings may decide to limit Peterson’s carries later in the season to save him for the NFL playoffs. The Vikings have some great matchups in Week 15 and 16 with the Panthers and Bears respectively and Taylor could be a viable option in your lineup those weeks.
Justin Forsett – Seahawks (Owned in 1.5% of Leagues)
@ARI, @MIN, @STL, SF, @HOU, TB, @GB
With the release of Edgerrin James, Forsett has been the primary backup to Julius Jones for Seattle. Aside from the matchup with the Vikings in Week 11, it appears to be smooth sailing for the Seahawks for the remainder of the year. Jones had a tough time getting started against the Lions last week, and only a rushing touchdown saved his day from being abysmal. If the losses keep mounting for Seattle, Forsett is a good bet to get some late season starts so the coaching staff can see what they have for the future at the position.
Bernard Scott – Bengals (Owned in .70% of Leagues)
@PIT, @OAK, CLE, DET, @BAL, @SD, KC
Bernard Scott is the first of my extreme long shots to have any fantasy value the remainder of the season. Cedric Benson is on pace for over 390 carries, so Marvin Lewis will want to rest him at some point. Scott would be a good bet to get some additional carries, and should Benson miss any time it would be Scott getting the bulk of the work and not Brian Leonard.
Willis McGahee – Ravens (Owned in 72.8% of Leagues)
@CLE, IND, PIT, @GB, DET, CHI, @PIT
Willis McGahee hasn’t been seen in the box score much lately with the emergence of Ray Rice. McGahee was a touchdown vulture for the first part of the season, so it stands to reason that he could have some good games against the weaker teams on their schedule like Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. He should be the handcuff if you own Rice at this point, but we’ve seen that the Ravens like run the ball even more when the weather gets colder.
Kolby Smith – Chiefs (Owned in .40% of Leagues)
@OAK, PIT, @SD, DEN, BUF, CLE, @CIN
Kolby Smith would be ranked higher on my list if the Chiefs had a better offensive line. If you look at the matchups, Smith could be useful as an emergency starter versus Oakland, San Diego, Buffalo and Cleveland. Jamaal Charles will get the first crack at the feature back job with the departure of Larry Johnson, but Smith has proven he can carry the load in the past when given the opportunity.