Chris Carson did not play in the Seattle Seahawks’ loss to the Rams last Thursday night. In his absence, Alex Collins was the primary back, making him a top priority on the Week 6 waiver wire. How should fantasy football managers approach Collins this week?
Alex Collins is a top Week 6 waiver wire target
Any starting running back in the NFL is worth a spot on fantasy rosters. Collins’ Week 5 usage suggests he can be a viable fantasy starter for as long as he remains in the starting role.
What type of usage can we expect from Alex Collins?
Fantasy managers best remember Collins during his run in Baltimore in 2017. That season, he was the clear feature back for the Ravens. Here is a surprising little nugget about Collins. In Week 5, he played 71% of the Seahawks’ offensive snaps. That is the highest snap share of his career.
That’s incredibly encouraging usage and the primary reason why Collins should be highly sought-after on the Week 6 waiver wire.
Last week, Collins carried the ball 15 times for 47 yards while adding 2 receptions for 25 yards on 3 targets. He won’t be the most efficient player, but that usage puts Collins in weekly RB2 territory.
There is an added wrinkle stemming from Russell Wilson’s injury
It’s quite the coincidence that the top two running back waiver wire adds — Collins and Devontae Booker — both saw their quarterbacks go down in Week 5. The bad news for Collins is Russell Wilson’s torn finger tendon is going to sideline him for a minimum of a month and possibly as long as 6-8 weeks.
Collins’ value as the lead RB in a Geno Smith-led offense is obviously going to be lower than it would if Wilson remained at the helm. The downgrade from Wilson to Smith lowers the overall productivity of the Seahawks’ offense, which naturally lowers Collins’ ceiling.
How aggressive should fantasy managers be to acquire Collins off the waiver wire?
As always, the price you pay to acquire Collins is relative to need. With bye weeks beginning in Week 6, the overall quality of fantasy starting lineups is about to dip. Accordingly, the value of someone like Collins increases.
Decide how valuable Collins is to your fantasy lineup
If you roster an injured starting RB like Chris Carson, David Montgomery, Saquon Barkley, or Clyde Edwards-Helaire, you need to be extra aggressive in targeting Collins. You should absolutely be willing to burn the No. 1 waiver priority on Collins, as well as a large percentage of your FAAB.
If you don’t have a need at running back, Collins is still worth pursuing — but don’t go all out to acquire him as if your season depends on it.
We don’t know how long Chris Carson will be out
Pete Carroll loves him some Carson. If and when Carson returns, this will once again be his backfield. Maybe Carson won’t dominate touches like he previously did, but Collins won’t have weekly RB2/flex value with a healthy Carson.
Here’s the thing about Carson, though — his injury sounds pretty serious. He’s dealing with what’s been described as a chronic neck injury, but something he can manage. I pose this question — are we sure he can manage it?
Carson truly is week-to-week. The famously upbeat and overly positive Carroll said on Saturday that it’s “too early to tell” if Carson will be ready for Week 6. That’s not what you want to hear, even if it had come from a coach with a more even-keeled demeanor. Coming from Carroll, that might as well be an emergency declaration.
By the sounds of it, Carson is likely to miss Week 6. If he can’t return for Week 7, it’s very plausible that the Seahawks elect to play it safe and hold Carson out in Week 8, allowing him to rest through the team’s Week 9 bye. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to get anything definitive prior to waivers clearing on Wednesday morning.
What is Collins’ immediate outlook?
Seattle’s next three games are against the Steelers, Saints, and Jaguars. Additionally, their next two games are in prime time (Sunday night and Monday night). That could put fantasy managers in the precarious situation of having to guess Carson’s status well before game time.
If Collins is active, fantasy managers can confidently fire him up as a low-end RB2. In addition to clearly being Seattle’s primary runner, it’s extremely encouraging that Collins was in the game while the Seahawks attempted to mount a last-minute comeback. That enabled Collins to see a few dump-offs, padding his fantasy stats.
What should you do before waivers clear Wednesday morning?
I see this playing out one of two ways. Either Carson misses a couple of games and then returns to mostly his previous role, or his injury is more serious than the team is letting on and he misses the remainder of the season. The mere potential of the latter warrants erring on the side of aggression when targeting Collins on the Week 6 waiver wire.
As of this moment, I prefer Booker to Collins for teams in need of a short-term solution. However, I’m certain Barkley will return no later than Week 11. That means Booker has an expiration date on his value. On the other hand, Collins has the chance to be the starter for the remainder of the season while also providing some immediate relief.
Collins is rostered in just 37% of Yahoo leagues. Expect that number to be over 90% on Wednesday. If you are in need of a running back to start this week, Collins is easily worth a 20-30% FAAB bid. Go even higher if you are willing to roll the dice that Carson gets shut down for the remainder of the season.