Wayne Gallman probably isn’t someone most fantasy football managers have thought a lot about in 2021. But after Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson suffered an injury against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10, Gallman became the club’s workhorse. With Patterson’s status for Thursday Night Football up in the air, is Gallman worth a claim on the waiver wire?
Wayne Gallman’s fantasy outlook depends entirely on Cordarrelle Patterson’s injury
In the first half of Sunday’s game, Patterson sprained his ankle severely enough that he was forced to cede running back touches for the remainder of the contest. All told, Patterson played only 15 offensive snaps, handled 4 rush attempts, and received 2 targets. His last offensive opportunity came with 12:14 remaining in the second quarter.
In Patterson’s stead, Gallman — not Mike Davis, who entered the year as Atlanta’s primary RB — handled the majority of the touches. He played 23 offensive snaps and was heavily involved on nearly all of them. Gallman parlayed 15 carries and 2 targets into 76 total yards. Davis, meanwhile, played 20 snaps but rushed only 4 times for 18 yards while receiving 1 catch-less target.
Initial reports indicated that Patterson was likely to miss a few weeks after spraining his ankle. Zero RB-truthers everywhere were devastated as their king would be forced to temporarily lay down his sword. But lo and behold, Patterson practiced in a limited capacity on Tuesday. A limited practice doesn’t tell us much, but the mere fact that Patterson was involved at all is a good sign.
The Falcons face the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football, so Patterson is facing an extremely tight turnaround to get healthy. If Patterson is able to play, you can’t start Gallman on TNF. But if Patterson can’t go, the prospect of claiming Gallman on the waiver wire and playing him Thursday becomes more palatable.
Gallman was a lead back in 2020
Gallman has been called into duty as an injury replacement as recently as 2020. Last season, the former fourth-round pick started 10 games for the Giants in relief of Saquon Barkley. From Week 7 onward, Gallman handled 132 carries for 606 yards (4.69 ypc) and scored 6 touchdowns. He wasn’t much of a factor in the receiving game (just 16 targets and 11 receptions) but finished as a top-24 RB six times in PPR scoring.
In New York, Gallman had to fight off Alfred Morris for opportunities. He’d have to do the same with Davis on Thursday, although it doesn’t seem like Atlanta’s coaching staff has much use for the veteran. The Falcons signed Davis to a two-year, $5.5 million contract in the offseason. Yet, he hasn’t seen more than 9 carries since Week 5. His snap share has steadily decreased, from 75% in Week 1 all the way down to 37% on Sunday.
Should you claim Gallman on the waiver wire?
The Patriots present an interesting matchup for opposing running backs, and specifically, for the Falcons. While New England gives up only the 20th-most fantasy points to RBs, they are susceptible to receiving backs. They’ve allowed the second-most receiving yards and the fourth-most receptions to opposing RBs.
Sounds like a great matchup for the receiver-turned-running back Patterson, right? But if C-Patt doesn’t play, Sunday’s usage seems to indicate the Falcons will roll with Gallman. However, he’s never been much of a receiver. Remember when I told you Gallman finished as at least an RB2 six times last season? He found the end zone in five of those games, and in the one contest where he didn’t score, he rushed for 135 yards.
If Gallman is to succeed in fantasy against the Patriots, he’s almost surely going to need to score a touchdown. Unfortunately for him, New England has only given up 2 rushing touchdowns the entire season, the fewest in the NFL.
Can Gallman be an RB2 on Thursday? Sure. Any lead running back is in starting consideration for fantasy if they receive enough volume, and everything points to Gallman taking over in Atlanta if Patterson is sidelined. But I’m worried that Davis will hang around enough in the receiving game to make Gallman nothing more than a middling RB3, at best.