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Running Back Handcuff Rankings: Week 6

by Jason Kamlowsky | Featured Writer
Oct 13, 2020

Invest in Chase Edmonds now before the window to do so is closed.

It’s graduation day for the handcuff report as Kareem Hunt is officially off the list and Mike Davis leaps to the head of the class. This week we have one handcuff who is going to get all the work in Minnesota as well as a couple of players who we can look at speculatively.

We start with Davis, who has been nothing short of spectacular in his three weeks as a starter. Without giving away too much information from the blurb below, Davis is performing like the best running back in football right now. He’s been a saving grace for anyone who had Christian McCaffery and is one of the best stories of the early NFL season. He’s also a poster child for why the running back position is so devalued but that is a topic for Twitter so drop me some comments with how you feel about the “running backs don’t matter” movement.

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Tier 1 – These running backs would be elite options in the event of an injury.

1. Mike Davis (CAR)
In three starts since Christian McCaffery went down, Davis has finished as the RB10, RB7, and RB1. He’s been arguably the most consistent running back in football over that time and if you were smart enough to add him as a waiver wire priority, you’ve probably done well. The Panthers made Davis one of just two active running backs yesterday so they clearly trust him. With McCaffery looking like he’s going to miss a couple more weeks, fire Davis up as the top handcuff and an RB1 across all formats.

2. Alexander Mattison (MIN)
If you played it right, the fruits of the handcuff labor have paid off for Dalvin Cook owners. Mattison came on for an injured Cook and rushed for 112 yards in handling 23 touches. He looked like the every-down back I’ve been touting him to be over the past few weeks so I hope you invested in him before now. With Cook looking likely to miss at least a week and the Falcons, Packers, and Lions on the upcoming schedule, Mattison will be the slam-dunk waiver priority add this week. He’s an RB1 in season long and will be the chalk in DFS against Atlanta.

3. Chase Edmonds (ARZ)
I can’t state this any more clearly: Now is the time to grab Chase Edmonds. He has a secure passing game role (18 receptions in five games) and he is getting work inside the 20. He had 92 total yards and once again found the end zone in looking much more decisive on runs than Kenyan Drake. With each passing week, it is getting harder to see a scenario where this does not turn into a committee and in a PPR, Edmonds is probably more valuable at this point anyway. If you’ve waited, don’t make the mistake of trying to jump on the train after it has left the station. Invest in Edmonds now before the window to do so is closed.

4. Justin Jackson (LAC) and Joshua Kelley (LAC)
It might be time to anoint Justin Jackson as the sole handcuff in this backfield. He was by far the most impressive Chargers running back on Monday night showing good burst in racking up 94 total yards. He also chipped in five receptions and made Joshua Kelley look largely irrelevant. If you read the article and paid attention last week, you probably got Jackson for next to nothing. Enjoy the production while Ekeler is out.

5. Latavius Murray (NO)
Murray continued to be involved in the offense last night getting at least 10 total touches for the fourth time in five games. Once Michael Thomas is back, Murray’s touch floor could shrink considerably so I will stop short of saying he is an every-week RB3 but Sean Payton likes to spread the wealth and Murray has a definite Red Zone role. It goes without saying that if you have Kamara you should have Murray on your roster.

6. Tony Pollard (DAL)
With Dak Prescott’s gruesome injury, the Cowboys might now have the look of a run-first team that would seemingly benefit Pollard’s fantasy prospects. Like Edmonds, I think scooping Pollard this week makes a lot of sense. He had a season-high eight touches against the Giants so we will need to monitor his usage moving forward. If he is going to get between 8-12 touches a week, he would settle in as a standalone flex play. Grab him now before the mad rush to get him comes.

7. Jamaal Williams (GB)
Williams slides up despite the Packers enjoying their bye week. Davante Adams should be back in Week 6 so we will have to see what that does to Williams’s usage. Regardless, he’s a great handcuff to Aaron Jones, especially in PPR leagues.

8. Jerick McKinnon (SF)
It was a comically bad day for the entire 49ers offense in getting smacked by Miami. For now, I’m moving McKinnon down based on his limited involvement Sunday with Raheem Mostert back and dominating the snap share. McKinnon was given just three touches and played on 24% of the snaps, which is especially concerning because the game script worked in his favor. Mostert is the best running back on this team and McKinnon will only be playable in the event of an injury.

9. J.K. Dobbins (BAL)
Call it a hunch – which, it is because I have no data to back this up – but I think Dobbins is going to emerge in the next few weeks. Baltimore faces some stiff run defenses (Steelers, Patriots, Colts) in the coming weeks so it would make sense to try and attack them in space. Oh, and Dobbins can do things no other back on the roster can:

Mark Ingram is dust and the Ravens need playmakers. While Dobbins has inherited a supped-up version of the Justice Hill role in the offense, I wouldn’t give up on him just yet.

10. J.D. McKissic (WFT) – PPR Special
Hear me out on this one: McKissic is fourth among running backs in targets so far this season. He has 16 receptions in his last three games and he has a few things working in his favor, namely that the WFT will be playing from behind in most games. The Washington offense doesn’t have a ton of options so McKissic should continue to see a snap share between 40-50%, playing almost exclusively on passing downs. It’s not as rock-solid as the other names in the top-10 but you could do worse as a PPR-flex play.

Tier 2 – These running backs may not win you your league but they would be a solid option if they ended up the starter.

11. Rams Backfield
Sean McVay says Cam Akers is going to get a bigger workload moving forward so if you believe this isn’t hollow coach speak, you know what to do. Still, it was Darrell Henderson who led the backfield with 18 touches for 68 yards and a touchdown Sunday so you can’t drop him. I would approach the Rams backfield like this: If Akers is out there, try and add him – Same for Henderson. If you have either one rostered, hang on to them. Malcolm Brown is a drop for me at this point, although he may resurface at some point to score two touchdowns and troll everyone during the late games.

12. Patriots Backfield
With the Patriots on an unexpected bye week due to COVID-19, we will leave them here for another week. With Sony Michel on IR, it would seem Damien Harris will get the bulk of the early work with James White getting most of the third-down opportunities. Rex Burkhead will find a way to be sprinkled in as well. It’s a messy situation in trying to nail down who will get what but Harris is probably the safest of the three from a pure “role-in-the-offense” perspective.

13. Brian Hill (ATL)
Most people will look at Todd Gurley’s big day Sunday and write off Brian Hill. I look at Gurley’s workload and see an opportunity for Hill on the horizon. There is a good chance Gurley breaks down at some point and with Atlanta’s season all but over, we could see some increased chances for Hill to be involved. He still managed to get eight touches and averaged 6.5 YPC against a porous Carolina run defense so the potential is there. I’ll stop short of calling him a stash but he is one Gurley injury from being relevant.

14. Zack Moss (BUF)
As of this writing, Moss is listed as questionable for tonight’s game in Tennessee. The two extra days should help him get on the field, though Devin Singletary has thrived in his absence. When Moss does eventually return it will be interesting to see how involved he is. I’d hold for now.

15. D’Andre Swift (DET) and Kerryon Johnson (DET)
The Lions were another team with a bye week so Swift and Johnson hold their place for now. The feel around Lions’ beat writers is that Adrian Peterson has earned his spot in getting 20-carries a game so we may be a little further away from Swift getting 8-10 carries than we think.

16. Pittsburgh Backfield
Benny Snell lead the backups in carries with seven and Anthony McFarland somehow only was given two touches. Oddly, the Steelers also had designed runs to two wide receivers on five different plays Sunday. James Conner is the clear lead back here but if I had to stash someone it would be Snell.

17. D’Ernest Johnson (CLE)
With Nick Chubb going to IR, Kareem Hunt was unleashed getting 21 touches and scoring a touchdown in the Browns’ win over Indianapolis. Hunt looks like a league-winner but it also makes Johnson the actual handcuff in Cleveland now. For his part, he had eight carries for 32 yards, most of which came on a 28-yard run he ripped off in the second half. Johnson would probably be in line for 15 carries but not much pass game work in the crushing event of Hunt going down. If I picked him up last week, I’d keep him stashed.

Tier 3 – This group has running backs who could be in for major workloads in the event of an injury. They could end up winning you a week in a pinch.

18. Darrel Williams (KC)
19. Nyheim Hines (IND)
20. Giovani Bernard (CIN)
21. Devontae Booker (LV)
22. Dion Lewis (NYG) and Wayne Gallman (NYG)
23. Boston Scott (PHI)
24. Matt Breida (MIA)
25. Royce Freeman (DEN)

Darrel Williams has a pulse, as faint as it might be. Don’t run to pick him up but just keep him in mind. Every time Nyheim Hines gets a carry, I cringe but such is the Colts offense, which has been out of sync all season. Jordan Howard was a healthy scratch on Sunday so Matt Breida is your likely handcuff to Myles Gaskin.

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Jason Kamlowsky is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @JasonKamlowsky.

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