Running Back Handcuff Rankings: Week 14 (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 the player’s Yahoo ownership. These rankings are based on the league-winning upside each player 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 been heavily involved and highly productive even with Melvin Gordon back in action, so he won’t be included here. Kareem Hunt has been removed from these rankings for that same reason. Hunt has unsurprisingly played well in four games as a Brown this season, and the former rushing champ should be treated as an every-week flex moving forward. Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber are locked into a timeshare, so neither of those players will be mentioned, either. Guys like James White, who occupy the receiving-back role, will not be included, as they carry value independent of the starter.
The top two players in the rankings haven’t changed since last week, though Raheem Mostert jumps into the top three, Gus Edwards is on the rise, and Benny Snell is elevated thanks to another hefty workload. We’re another week older and
hopefully another week wiser. Let’s jump into our handcuff rankings ahead of Week 14!
1. Latavius Murray (NO): 68% owned
Murray has crept up on Alvin Kamara as of late, earning more of an even timeshare in terms of carries out of the backfield. Kamara is the preferred receiving back, limiting Murray’s overall upside. In Week 13, Murray recorded just four carries for a meager two yards, though he’s shown his enormous upside in a handful of games this year. He’s still a handcuff, as the Saints have chosen not to give him the “Mark Ingram role” of years past, and he’s the top option yet again.
2. Jamaal Williams (GB): 72% owned
Williams remains at No. 2 this week thanks to his huge upside 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. Williams out-gained Jones by more than double in Week 13, despite seeing one fewer touch.
3. Raheem Mostert (SF): 13% owned
Mostert exploded for 154 scrimmage yards on 21 total touches in Week 13, gashing a sound Baltimore defense repeatedly throughout the afternoon. Matt Breida could be back in Week 14, but after Tevin Coleman saw just six touches in Week 13, Mostert may be the preferred option moving forward, regardless of health. He enjoys the upside of playing on one of the league’s best offenses that utilizes a run-heavy scheme. Mostert vaults into the top three this week.
4. Tony Pollard (DAL): 13% owned
Pollard would be a weekly starter if Ezekiel Elliott missed time. Regardless, Pollard has been staying involved with the offense in the passing game as of late. 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 limited action he’s seen, and he should be treated as a ready-to-go RB1/2 if given a starter’s workload. He remains a top-five option.
5. Alexander Mattison (MIN): 23% owned
Mattison 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, though he remains dangerously under-owned. Minnesota plays on Monday Night Football in Week 13.
6. Kenyan Drake (ARI): 79% owned
Drake handled all of Arizona’s running back touches in Week 11 since David Johnson was active and saw no touches. He also operated as the lead back in Week 13, despite DJ’s “clean bill of health.” Johnson may not be the lead back any longer, and Drake could be removed from these rankings next week if named the starter. For now, Drake is primed for a huge role if Johnson is officially ruled inactive at any point for the remainder of the season.
7. Rashaad Penny (SEA): 18% owned
Penny burst back onto the scene in Week 12 to remind the football world why he was drafted in the first round. He racked up 129 rushing yards on 14 carries, including a 59-yard touchdown scamper. Chris Carson fumbled yet again and ended the game with just eight carries. Penny would be a huge value to fantasy owners if given workloads like this on a weekly basis. Seattle takes the field on MNF in Week 13.
8. Gus Edwards (BAL): 9% owned
Edwards provided flex value as Baltimore’s starter last season, thanks to his bruising rushing style and heavy volume. He 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. Baltimore continues to roll after beating San Francisco in Week 13.
9. Benny Snell (PIT): 5% owned
Snell scored his first NFL touchdown in Week 13 and operated as the lead back for the second straight week. He went for 98 rushing yards on a healthy 21 carries in Week 12. James Conner (shoulder) is about ready to return to the field, but Snell looks like the handcuff to own in the Steel City.
10. Nyheim Hines (IND): 29% owned
With Marlon Mack (hand) on the shelf indefinitely, Hines has been elevated to the No. 2 job in Indy’s backfield. Over the past three weeks, Hines has scored twice and is approaching deep-league flex value opposite Jonathan Williams. If Williams is injured, Hines could be a huge value.
11. Darrel Williams (KC): 5% owned
Williams scored in Week 13 while splitting touches with LeSean McCoy in relief of the injured Damien Williams (ribs). Darrel has been big this season when given the 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 continues to miss time, Darrel makes a respectable flex play, though he could be dealing with an injury of his own which is worth monitoring.
12. Ryquell Armstead (JAC): 2% 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.
13. Malcolm Brown (LAR): 5% owned
Now fully healthy after dealing with an ankle issue, Brown has operated as the change-of-pace to Todd Gurley since his return in Week 11. Meanwhile, rookie Darrell Henderson recorded his first touches since Week 10. It looks like Brown is the preferred backup to Todd Gurley.
14. Ty Montgomery (NYJ): 2% owned
Monty would likely be in for a substantial workload if Le’Veon Bell missed time for any reason. He’s shown plenty of upside in the passing game in his time with the Packers, and he could be a highly-productive asset for fantasy owners.
15. Wayne Gallman (NYG): 4% owned
Gallman was huge in his one-game stint as the starting running back for the G-Men and should be in for a similar workload if anything happens to Saquon Barkley. Barkley has been struggling on the reeling Giants’ offense as of late, however, and Gallman’s upside isn’t nearly what it was earlier in the year. He still makes the top-15 list but remains at the bottom.