Running Back Handcuff Rankings: Week 7 (2020 Fantasy Football)
Not great – but we are undeterred with the handcuffs.
While we didn’t have any major injuries, the wear and tear of the NFL season is beginning to show in a big way as Week 6 saw no less than three starting running backs leave with injuries. All is not lost, however, as we jump back on the Boston Scott crazy train and we also welcome Jerick McKinnon and Gio Bernard back to fantasy relevance. Here is how I would prioritize this week:
Even if we get news Mixon is in prior to the FAAB/Waiver runs, I would still put in a modest bid on Bernard while probably aiming slightly higher at Boston Scott. Also, I revamped the format a bit in that we will be discussing the top-15 handcuffs and I also give you some low-owned players to think about grabbing. Hopefully, that will help those of you who are in leagues where the primary handcuffs are already taken.
*These running backs would be startable options in any format in the event of an injury.
1. Mike Davis (CAR) – Yahoo: 92%, ESPN: 98%
Here is all you need to know about Mike Davis: He got 20 total touches yesterday and scored a touchdown and he underperformed relative to expectations. The Panthers offense never really got out of first gear in the loss to Chicago but Davis still managed 10+ fantasy points for the fourth straight game. With Christian McCaffery looking at a Week 8 return, we get one more week of Davis against the Saints. Enjoy it while you can.
2. Jerick McKinnon (SF) – Yahoo: 67%, ESPN: 72%
Raheem Mostert is going on the IR giving McKinnon the chance to get 15-plus touches over the next month. When Mostert went down in Week 3, McKinnon racked up 38 touches in just over six quarters and he responded with over 170 yards and two touchdowns. McKinnon was active in the passing game as well so if we trust the usage, McKinnon could be a shoo-in RB2 with a ceiling for more. If you held onto McKinnon even after Mostert came back you will be rewarded over the next few weeks.
3. Justin Jackson (LAC) – Yahoo: 46%, ESPN: 51%
Jackson is still available in almost 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues, making him a prime target this week if you have lost Miles Sanders. I prefer Jackson to Joshua Kelley for several reasons (mainly that I think Jackson is actually good), but his involvement in the passing game is the biggest reason why. That role in this Chargers offense is worthy of RB2 consideration on its own. This week he gets a matchup against a Jaguars team that was just shredded by Detroit and has been charitable to receiving backs this year.
4. D’Andre Swift (DET) – Yahoo: 75%, ESPN: 82%
Swift looked terrific on Sunday with 123 total yards and two touchdowns. On the surface, this looks like a situation where there might be a changing of the guard but I am going to throw some caution at you. Swift only played 38% of the snaps, identical to his Week 5 usage, so while the production was there he didn’t see the field much more than he had previously. Beware Matt Patricia here because he has a penchant for playing the veteran running back (see: Blount, LeGarrette). Swift is the best option for the Lions – Hopefully, Patricia realizes it.
5. Phillip Lindsay (DEN) – Yahoo: 68%, ESPN: 76%
A mea culpa of sorts on Lindsay: He had been out due to injury so I had not been recommending him as a handcuff. Then the perfect storm of Melvin Gordon news (DUI/injury) and Lindsay getting cleared to play in Week 6 happened after the article was posted. Lindsay would have slotted in comfortably at #5 last week, right behind Mattison, Edmonds, and Jackson. As it is, Lindsay showed yesterday that he is capable of being a starting running back churning out 101 yards rushing on 23 carries against the Patriots. He didn’t get any pass game involvement but the touch count in a positive game script was encouraging nonetheless. With Gordon’s outlook looking a little cloudy at the moment, Lindsay should be owned across all formats.
6. Giovani Bernard (CIN) – Yahoo: 5%, ESPN: 4%
Joe Mixon left the game on Sunday with a foot injury which makes Bernard an intriguing option for Week 6. Dating back to 2017, Bernard has played well in Mixon’s absence. In six games when given 60% of the snaps, he has racked up over 19 fantasy points per game and caught 27 passes. If Mixon is out this week, Bernard is a must-start option in PPR and would be a bet-on-volume flex play in standard leagues.
7. Boston Scott (PHI) – Yahoo: 14%, ESPN: 10%
Miles Sanders has already been ruled out for this week so here we go again with Boston Scott. The Eagles get the Giants on Thursday so there is a glimmer of hope Scott will be a top-20 running back, especially in a PPR league. Scott played great down the stretch filling in for Sanders last season scoring 82 fantasy points across his final four games so the potential is there. There is some downside here as Scott was a bust in Week 1 and the Eagles’ offense has had a hard time finding its footing so far. Still, the Giants represent a get right spot of sorts, and on a short week with very little usage to heal up from on Sunday, Scott could be a nice PPR value.
8. Latavius Murray (NO) – Yahoo: 64%, ESPN: 57%
Murray is on a bye this week so he will hold his place on the list. The Saints have tough matchups with Chicago, Tampa Bay, and San Francisco in three of their next four so the sledding could be tough for him.
9. Alexander Mattison (MIN) – Yahoo: 86%, ESPN: 96%
Mattison was one of the biggest disappointments of the week only receiving 11 touches in what should have been a cherry spot. The Vikings got down 30-7 which meant Mattison wasn’t given much work but he didn’t help himself either. He had a -1.49 rush yards over expected attempt as the Falcons loaded the box and dared Kirk Cousins to beat them (Spoiler Alert: He couldn’t). With the Vikings on a bye week and Dalvin Cook getting what amounts to three weeks to heal up, Mattison will likely be relegated to backup duties for the foreseeable future.
10. Chase Edmonds (ARZ) – Yahoo: 74%, ESPN: 82%
Kenyan Drake ran wild last night against Dallas, throwing some cold water on the idea Chase Edmonds will be getting more work soon. Drake handled 20 carries and was still getting work late in the game which was odd considering Edmonds’s usage the previous two weeks. Everything had been pointing towards Edmonds being more involved so this might have been Kliff Kingsbury’s way of trying to get Drake untracked in a good matchup. I still believe Edmonds will be involved – especially in the passing game – but we have to temper expectations for now.
11. Tony Pollard (DAL) – Yahoo: 23%, ESPN: 27%
Pollard handled 12 touches last night (two receptions) but it was a blowout and Ezekiel Elliott fumbled twice early on so I’m not sure we can glean too much from that. Given Andy Dalton‘s limitations and their horrendous defense, it would make sense for the Cowboys to become more of a run-oriented offense. This would potentially mean more work for Pollard but the feasibility of such a plan might be hard to execute if they can’t stay out of their own way. Regardless, I’m still holding onto Pollard if I have Zeke or a deep bench.
12. Jamaal Williams (GB) – Yahoo: 25%, ESPN: 34%
In another odd turn of events, Williams was out-touched by AJ Dillon and only received one target Sunday in Tampa Bay. Dillon’s involvement is the most concerning thing here because up to Sunday he had barely been involved. Williams did have a solid 51% snap share so it isn’t all bad news but Dillon’s usage is worth monitoring moving forward.
13. J.K. Dobbins (BAL) – Yahoo: 61%, ESPN: 62%
Mark Ingram injured his ankle Sunday but the Ravens get a Week 7 bye and it sounds like there is an outside chance he could be back against Pittsburgh in Week 8. Gus Edwards looms and we will have more on him at the bottom of the column. Regardless, Dobbins had season-highs in snaps (30) and touches (11) in Week 6, which is encouraging for his outlook. I am staying optimistic with Dobbins because I believe in his talent and hopefully the bye week gives the Ravens a chance to figure out how to get him more involved.
14. J.D. McKissic (WFT) – Yahoo: 14%, ESPN: 33%
I’m still in on McKissic as a legitimate PPR option and he even led Washington in rushing on Sunday which was a nice bonus. The WFT has some tasty matchups for running backs coming up (Cowboys, Giants, Lions) and I would recommend McKissic as a shoo-in Flex play in a PPR league. You could do much worse than grabbing a guy who plays on a team that will be playing from behind with a quarterback who loves throwing to his running backs.
15. Zack Moss (BUF) – Yahoo: 53%, ESPN: 50%
Moss was eased back in last night, playing just 11 snaps and getting five carries. The best news for Moss is that Devin Singletary looked mediocre so the door might be cracked a bit for Moss to be more involved. It was encouraging that he touched the ball on almost half the snaps he was in on.
Messy Situations to Avoid
Rams Backfield (LAR)
Last Week Sean McVay said Cam Akers was going to get a bigger workload. He got one snap on Sunday against San Francisco. Darrell Henderson is the lead back right now but after that, it is anyone’s guess. I’d have a hard time cutting Akers but amid all the bye weeks it might be hard to justify keeping him.
Patriots Backfield (NE)
Games like the one on Sunday are a big reason why I avoid the New England running backs. Damien Harris (6), Rex Burkhead (5), and James White (4) all had ineffective carries and while White managed eight receptions, it is hard to bank on that from week-to-week. Unless I was desperate, I wouldn’t roster anyone from the Patriots backfield.
La’Mical Perine (NYJ) – Yahoo: 20%, ESPN: 19%
Perine played a season-high 58% of the snaps on Sunday so despite getting just seven carries, there are some signs of life here. It is tough to recommend any Jets’ skill player but Perine is fairly low-owned and could end up with a reasonable workload.
Ty Johnson (NYJ) – Yahoo: 1%, ESPN: <1%
Another New York Jet recommendation, Johnson had only three carries on Sunday but gained 42 yards and had a really nice 34-yard carry. The Jets seem intent on getting Frank Gore 15 touches every week but Johnson was reasonably effective in a brief stint with Detroit last year.
Devontae Booker (LV) – Yahoo: 1%, ESPN: <1%
Booker played on 21% of the snaps against Kansas City and had seven carries for 62 yards. He is averaging over 7 YPC on the season and he’s been valuable in the passing game throughout his career. If Josh Jacobs goes down, he is an RB2 in PPR formats.
Jeremy McNichols (TEN) – Yahoo: 1%, ESPN: <1%
McNichols has quietly played 38% of the snaps the last two weeks and received 17 touches in that time. He was ultra-productive in college and ran a 4.49 at the combine so he is a legitimately good athlete. Most people assumed it would be Darrynton Evans, not McNichols, who would be the handcuff for Derek Henry but so far McNichols has the job.
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