It may feel weird to experiment at running back in Week 17, but if your RBs have been beset by injuries, poor performance or a role change, you may have no choice. With that in mind, here are five running backs with under 50 percent rostership in traditional fantasy football leagues that managers can consider picking up for Week 17.
AJ Dillon, Packers (8 percent)
Next up — at Bears
Green Bay unwrapped this rookie two days after Christmas, and he shined on Sunday night versus the Tennessee Titans. Dillon powered his way to 124 yards — more than doubling his season output — and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Aaron Jones is currently dealing with toe and hip ailments while Jamaal Williams was inactive in Week 16 because of a quad injury. As long as Williams is out, the Packers will probably give Dillon double-digit touches against Chicago. It’s not the best matchup, but any player getting that kind of workload in this Packers offense is obviously worthy of adding in all leagues.
Gus Edwards, Ravens (40 percent)
Next up — at Bengals
The Gus Bus has been rolling right along over the past month. He has accumulated double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games. In Week 16, with Mark Ingram scratched and J.K. Dobbins fell by a chest injury for most of the second half, Edwards gained 122 total yards on a season-high 17 touches. If Dobbins can’t suit up against Cincinnati, Ingram would likely be active, but Edwards should move into a lead-back role. That would make him a solid RB2 against a Bengals defense that was most recently run over by David Johnson for 128 yards on only 12 carries.
Malcolm Brown, Rams (19 percent)
Next up — vs. Cardinals
Brown looks like the last man standing in the Rams’ backfield as Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson are both dealing with high-ankle sprains. Henderson will reportedly be placed on IR while Akers’ Week 17 status is up in the air. Brown hasn’t accomplished much on the ground since scoring a couple of touchdowns in Week 11, but in a game where L.A. will be sans Jared Goff, a run-heavy game plan would make sense. Brown would be at the center of that plan against a Cardinals team that didn’t very little to slow down Jeff Wilson Jr. last week.
Samaje Perine, Bengals (2 percent)
Next up — vs. Ravens
Don’t expect Perine to duplicate his 136-yard, two-touchdown showing from Week 16. For one thing, the Ravens’ run defense is a much tougher foe than whatever the Texans are doing on defense these days. Also, the workload share in this backfield can swing suddenly; Perine had just four carries in Week 15 while Giovani Bernard took on 25. Gio was still heavily involved at Houston — 23 touches, 131 scrimmage yards — but Perine was Cincy’s best rusher. As long as he gets off to a good start against Baltimore, he should see double-digit carries. He is a decent receiver as well, and at 240 pounds, he’s the man the Bengals call upon most often at the goal line.
Dare Ogunbowale, Jaguars (8 percent)
Next up — at Colts
If you’re looking for someone with a more certain workload, Ogunbowale is an option. He handled all but two of the carries by Jacksonville’s running backs in Week 16 and all but four of the total touches. He racked up 71 yards on the ground on 14 totes and caught three passes for seven yards versus the Bears. The Colts are a middle-of-the-road run defense, one that has given up a lot of receptions to running backs recently. With James Robinson possibly done for the year, it appears Dare will at least be given enough opportunities to succeed in this matchup.