Running Back Handcuff Rankings: Week 11 (2019 Fantasy Football)
Every week, I’ll be reviewing the league’s top-15 running back handcuffs and providing a ranking, an explanation for that ranking, and Yahoo ownership. These rankings are based on the league-winning upside that each of these players possesses should the starter ahead of them miss time, including the potential workload they could carry.
Some disclaimers about these rankings: Austin Ekeler is technically a handcuff, though he’s likely to remain involved enough to provide starter-caliber value some weeks, so he won’t be included here. Ditto Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber. Latavius Murray qualifies as a handcuff, and he earns a top spot thanks to two big weeks without Alvin Kamara. Guys like James White, who occupy the receiving-back role, will not be included, as they carry value independent of the starter.
This week’s batch of handcuffs features more movement than in past weeks. Kareem Hunt remains the leader here after his productive debut, and the top five haven’t changed. However, Darrell Henderson drops to the bottom of the barrel here following a Malcolm Brown return, a Falcons back makes his handcuff rankings debut, and Wayne Gallman moves up thanks to some questions surrounding Saquon Barkley’s health. It’s been another exciting week of football, so let’s get to it!
1. Kareem Hunt (CLE): 71% owned
Hunt had an impressive Cleveland debut Sunday, as he turned 11 touches into 74 yards, staying particularly involved in the passing game with seven receptions on nine targets. Hunt’s talent is well-documented, as he won the rushing crown as a rookie in 2017 and tore through the league with some impressive play as a runner and a receiver in Andy Reid’s system. In 27 career games, Hunt has averaged 110.6 yards per contest and totaled 25 touchdowns. He’s a sure-fire league-winner if Nick Chubb goes down, and it looks like he’ll have some immediate flex value in PPR leagues even with Chubb on the field.
2. Latavius Murray (NO): 85% owned
Murray has enormous upside if Alvin Kamara goes down. Without Kamara (knee/ankle) in the lineup for Weeks 7 and 8, he compiled a ridiculous 307 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns while operating as a three-down back, showcasing his ability to handle a substantial workload and achieve weekly RB1 status. He split carries evenly with Kamara in Week 10, though it was the latter who led the charge in the receiving game. If he became the lead back, Murray could reasonably see 25-30 touches per game.
3. Jamaal Williams (GB): 79% owned
Williams earns his fourth consecutive top-five selection in the handcuff rankings, thanks to his massive potential should Aaron Jones miss any time. His involvement in a potent Packers offense means a huge opportunity would be available if Aaron Jones didn’t play. He and Aaron Jones each received 13 carries in Week 10, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Williams handle a three-down workload if he were the full-time starter.
4. Kenyan Drake (ARI): 83% owned
Drake stayed heavily involved in the Cardinals’ offense in Week 10, even with David Johnson back. Drake out-touched and outgained DJ, while Johnson lost a costly fumble in the contest. Johnson looked sluggish and out of sorts in the game and it’s clear he shouldn’t be on the field right now. Drake shredded an elite 49ers defense to the tune of 162 total yards and a touchdown in his Week 9 Cardinals debut and he added 16 touches in Week 11. If given the reins of the Arizona backfield, he could be lethal for the rest of the season, as evidenced by his solid contributions through two weeks in the desert.
5. Jaylen Samuels (PIT): 85% owned
Samuels struggled in Week 10, though, he still got 17 touches in the contest, including 14 carries out of the backfield. If James Conner continues to miss time, Samuels is a solid play given the voluminous role he’s occupied thus far. He stays in the top five this week.
6. Alexander Mattison (MIN): 29% owned
Mattison falls just outside of the top five here, but he continues to play efficiently with his small workload in relief of Dalvin Cook. Without Cook, Mattison would theoretically operate as a bell-cow for a high-scoring Minnesota offense. He’s one of the best handcuffs available, and his ownership is steadily creeping up.
7. Raheem Mostert (SF): 4% owned
He’s faded into the background with Tevin Coleman back in action, but the 49ers love to run the ball, and Mostert would be in line for a huge workload and fringe-RB1 status if given a starting job in this backfield. Let’s not forget the upside Mostert possesses. In Weeks 2 and 3, Mostert totaled 230 total yards and a touchdown on 28 touches while splitting time with Matt Breida. Having missed time due to injury already, Coleman isn’t a lock to be healthy for the rest of the season and Matt Breida is constantly banged up. Mostert would be an every-week play if there were injuries on the depth chart ahead of him.
8. Tony Pollard (DAL): 13% owned
Pollard would be a weekly starter if Ezekiel Elliott missed time. He has the advantage of playing behind a fantastic offensive line on a team that loves to run the ball. Pollard has busted off some highlight runs in the little action he’s seen and he should be treated as a ready-to-go RB2 if given a starter’s workload.
9. Wayne Gallman (NYG): 5% owned
Saquon Barkley got X-rays on his ankle following Week 10’s loss and it appears he isn’t quite 100% right now. Gallman is a highly-useful handcuff who could have some huge games if given a starting nod in the Giants’ offense. With Barkley still dealing with the residual impact of his early-season high-ankle sprain, Gallman could be in for some more work sooner than later.
10. Rashaad Penny (SEA): 31% owned
Penny offers a good level of upside as a starter should Chris Carson miss any time in the future. The first-round pick is a great handcuff to own, but he’s far from elite at this point. Penny has fallen to a very low-usage role in Seattle’s offense, but he looked good in Week 8 with eight carries for 55 yards. He saw just four carries for 12 yards in Week 9, but he’s a top-10 handcuff option nonetheless.
11. Ryquell Armstead (JAC): 1% owned
Leonard Fournette has been incredible this season and he’s been given an enormous amount of touches in Jacksonville’s offense. If he were forced out of action for any reason, Armstead would enjoy a massive bump in touches and return weekly flex value. Jacksonville had Week 10 off, so there’s nothing new to report on the rookie handcuff.
12. Brian Hill (ATL): 2% owned
Hill makes his way into the top 15 after a decent Week 10 showing as the Falcons’ lead back. Ito Smith was placed on IR earlier in the week and Devonta Freeman checked out with a foot injury. Hill produced 71 total yards and scored a touchdown. He could be a big value moving forward with very little competition for touches out of the backfield.
13. Gus Edwards (BAL): 9% owned
Edwards provided flex value as Baltimore’s starter last season, thanks to his bruising rushing style and heavy volume. Edwards is ahead of Justice Hill on the depth chart and he would likely be the top back if Mark Ingram had to miss time. Baltimore’s run-first offense certainly benefits Edwards’ outlook as a handcuff option.
14. Darrel Williams (KC): 5% owned
Williams was barely involved in Week 9, though he’s been spectacular when given a chance. He went for 165 yards and two touchdowns from Weeks 3 and 4 with Damien Williams out due to a knee injury, showing his ability to catch out of the backfield and run the ball between the tackles. If Damien Williams or LeSean McCoy are forced to miss any time, Darrel will see an increased role once again.
15. Darrell Henderson (LAR): 29% owned
Henderson falls significantly this week, as he was out-touched by Malcolm Brown upon Brown’s return to the field in Week 10. The Rams’ rushing attack has been volatile this season and Brown’s presence throws a wrench into Henderson’s outlook, dropping Henderson down to No. 15 in this week’s rankings.