All offseason, NFL fans, Philadelphia Eagles fanatics, and fantasy football managers were curious how the running back room would shake out for the reigning NFC champions. With a fantastic offensive line and weapons all over the offense, the player who shines in the Eagles’ run game could be a big producer this season.
The Eagles acquired Rashaad Penny in free agency and traded for D’Andre Swift on Day Three of the 2023 NFL Draft. But did it turn out to be a running back already rostered on who was the top guy all along? Let’s find out if Kenneth Gainwell is a player you should be targeting on the waiver wire in your leagues.
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Should Kenneth Gainwell Be a Fantasy Waiver Wire Add in Week 2?
The Eagles’ 25-20 Week 1 victory against the New England Patriots was an up-and-down affair. Philadelphia jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the game before having to hold on late to secure the win.
Editor’s Note: Gainwell is currently trending towards not being able to play on Thursday Night Football.
While the game being a nail-biter was a surprise to many, fantasy managers were also surprised to find that Kenneth Gainwell was the leading ball carrier for the Eagles.
The team ran the ball 25 times on Sunday, and 14 of these carries belonged to Gainwell. Nine carries were credited to QB Jalen Hurts, while Swift and Boston Scott both accounted for one carry for three yards each and Penny was a healthy scratch in the contest.
This has to mean that Gainwell is the top back in Philadelphia, right? An argument could be made. The Eagles may spread rushes across a few players, but they typically stick with a top guy. Last season, Miles Sanders led Eagles running backs in carries every game of the regular season. He occasionally had fewer attempts in a game than Jalen Hurts, but the Eagles frequently kept giving their top RB carries.
Still, Sanders — who was a more renowned prospect coming into the NFL than Gainwell — only eclipsed 20 attempts in a game three times last season and only had over 15 attempts in a game seven times. The Eagles don’t tend to give any running back a bell-cow amount of work in this offense.
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But is Gainwell worth a waiver wire bid? In short, yes. Gainwell had over 50% of the Eagles rushing touches on Sunday and averaged nearly four yards a carry. If this is going to continue, he’ll be a strong option in a Flex slot for your teams.
Sanders ended the 2022 season with 1,269 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. If Gainwell is taking that role over, he is worth quite a bit of your waiver budget. But for now, I am playing the bid for Gainwell’s services a little more conservatively. Swift and Penny are still talented backs rostered on this offense and could see an increase in usage.
I am willing to bid around 10% of your waiver budget on Gainwell in leagues where FAAB is used. In priority waiver systems, I think Gainwell is worth a bid as well and likely better than many of the other options available this week.
While some of the other free agents were able to succeed in Week 1 with other players out, Gainwell was able to have a solid week with all of the Eagles’ running backs at Philadelphia’s disposal. That may say a lot for the trust Philly has in their third year back.
It is worth noting though that Gainwell missed practice early in Week 2 with a rib injury. There is a chance that he could miss action this week with a short turnaround due to a Thursday night matchup with Minnesota. Still, I believe he is still worth targeting on waivers. The injury should not be long-term.