Running Back Handcuff Rankings: Week 8 (2020)
Not a terrible week for the handcuff report as Giovani Bernard, Boston Scott, Chase Edmonds, and Jamaal Williams all popped off for RB1 numbers. We also hit on Lamical Perine as he got significant work in New York. We did whiff on Jerick McKinnon (who didn’t?) and Justin Jackson but this is a forward-thinking article so here we go for Week 8.
Edmonds is about to be a league winner with Kenyan Drake looking like he will be out for a couple of weeks. Carlos Hyde shows up again this week as well, although he has a tender hamstring to monitor. If Miles Sanders sits out against the Cowboys, we can hop back on the Boston Scott death train for ride. Choo Choo!
My biggest buy of the week is Zack Moss, who saw his highest snap share of the season. Devin Singletary has been largely ineffective now for three weeks and if the Bills plan on going anywhere in the playoffs, they will need a sufficient ground game. Moss has a chance to be that guy and I would try to get in before the cost is too prohibitive.
*These running backs would be startable options in any format in the event of an injury.
1. Chase Edmonds (ARZ) – Yahoo: 63%, ESPN: 55%
Put Edmonds on the rocket ship because he is about to be 95% owned. After Kenyan Drake went down with an ankle injury, Edmonds asserted himself as the alpha in this backfield piling up 140 total yards and seven receptions. With Drake out, Edmonds immediately enters backend RB1 discussions in PPR and will be a solid RB2 in standard leagues. He is already highly owned but the writing has been on the wall for a few weeks now. He’s the priority add and if you can, the guy to blow your FAAB budget on.
2. Mike Davis (CAR) – Yahoo: 93%, ESPN: 98%
After sitting at the top spot for the last three weeks, Mike Davis finally had a fantasy dud. The fact it came in a premium offensive environment is disappointing but if you scooped Davis a month ago you’ve got quite the bang for your FAAB budget buck. In Christian McCaffery’s absence, Davis has 284 yards rushing and 37 receptions for 233 yards receiving. He has four combined touchdowns and has been a PPR RB1. With McCaffery looking close to returning, we are left wondering what to do with Davis. If you roster McCaffery, I think he is a pretty clear hold. If not, I would be trying to trade him to the McCaffery owner even if it is at a bargain. Getting something at this point is better than nothing and his real value will be with those who have CMC on their roster.
3. Jamaal Williams (GB) – Yahoo: 64%, ESPN: 78%
Williams shined on Sunday in the absence of Aaron Jones, going over 100 total yards and a touchdown against the Texans. It was great news that Williams out-touched A.J. Dillon 23-5 and, in the process, cemented his role as the true handcuff to Jones. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Williams has been his ability to stay involved in the Packers offense even after they spend a 2nd Round pick on Dillon. Sunday was his third game this season of double-digit touches and even if Jones is back healthy this week, one would think Williams will be involved enough to be a standalone flex play. He’s a hold for right now.
4. Philip Lindsay (DEN) – Yahoo: 72%, ESPN: 66%
Is Lindsay the handcuff to Melvin Gordon or is Gordon the handcuff to Lindsay? It is fair to ask that question after Sunday’s game where, despite leaving with a concussion, Lindsay had 79 yards rushing on just nine carries. Lindsay looked like the better back, following blocks and hitting open cutback lanes where Gordon looked dusty and indecisive. Gordon also had two costly fumbles so if Lindsay can clear concussion protocol, he will be involved enough to warrant RB2/Flex consideration.
5. Giovani Bernard (CIN) – Yahoo: 59%, ESPN: 69%
There are already whispers that Joe Mixon might miss Week 8 against the Titans which would once again line up Gio Bernard for a decent workload, albeit in a tough matchup. Bernard was having a solid fantasy day handling 13 carries and four receptions even before a last-minute touchdown catch gave him a 20-point PPR performance. With Joe Burrow consistently attempting 38+ pass attempts per game, Bernard should come with a rock-solid floor but the ceiling of an RB1 in PPR leagues. Fire him up again this week if Mixon is out.
6. Carlos Hyde (SEA) – Yahoo: 12%, ESPN: 7%
Chris Carson went out with a foot injury in the second quarter Sunday night and Hyde stepped up gaining 76 total yards on 18 touches. Hyde played 41 snaps after Carson got hurt, dwarfing the snap share of both Travis Homer (16) and DeeJay Dallas (12). Hyde did have his hamstring tighten up on him late in the game so it is worth monitoring that this week but he could be in line for at least 12-15 touches with room for more. Depending on the severity of Carson’s injury, Hyde could be more than a one-week starter and he could be a cheap way to get a piece of the Seahawks offense.
7. Boston Scott (PHI) – Yahoo: 69%, ESPN: 67%
If you only looked at the box score, you would want to overvalue Boston Scott based on his performance against the Giants. 92 total yards and a touchdown will get it done on any week but looking closer we see that his night was boosted by the 18-yard touchdown catch with 40 seconds left. It might make sense to hold Miles Sanders out with the Eagles having a Week 9 bye and, in that scenario, Scott would be an RB2 lock with room for more in a cream cheese matchup against Dallas.
8. Jerick McKinnon (SF) – Yahoo: 82%, ESPN: 92%
Oh, that tricky Kyle Shanahan. Apparently, the “plan” was for McKinnon to get limited action last week, although he conveniently left that part out and hoodwinked fantasy owners in the process. Jeffrey Wilson went nuts with 120 total yards and three touchdowns but went down with a high ankle sprain so for now, it looks like McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty will share the backfield. It should also be noted that Deebo Samuel will also be out for a couple of weeks so that opens up some work as well. That said, McKinnon should be considered a flex play due to Shanahan’s unpredictability with regards to his backfield’s usage.
9. Latavius Murray (NO) – Yahoo: 64%, ESPN: 68%
Murray continues to get double-digit touches, making him one of the rare handcuffs who is getting enough work to warrant RB2/Flex consideration without an injury. The best thing about Murray is the work he is getting inside the Red Zone, meaning he could pop for a multiple touchdown game in any week. Of the handcuffs who are currently in a situation where the starter is healthy, Murray is as valuable as any of them in a standalone role.
10. Alexander Mattison (MIN) – Yahoo: 49%, ESPN: 67%
It sounds like Dalvin Cook will be back this week which relegates Mattison to the backup role in Minnesota. He will still get some work – he was averaging seven touches a game even with Cook healthy – but not enough to warrant even Flex consideration. We will have to see how much meat is on the running backbone in Minnesota moving forward. Mike Zimmer is a proud man and I think he will continue to trying to win games even into December, meaning Cook will get his usual workload.
11. D’Andre Swift (DET) – Yahoo: 91%, ESPN: 95%
I tried to throw some cold water on Swift last week after his massive performance against Jacksonville and it appears I was more right than wrong in doing so. All is not lost, however, as Swift played a season-high 45% of the snaps and scored another touchdown in leading the Lions backfield with 13 touches. Matt Patricia continues to be one of the most difficult coaches to nail down in terms of running back usage so it looks like unless Adrian Peterson goes down, Swift is going to be in an ugly timeshare. This is a LeGarrette Blount 2.0 situation and, predictably, it is holding back a pretty good offense.
12. Zack Moss (BUF) – Yahoo: 46%, ESPN: 41%
If you even remotely need running back help, buy Zack Moss this week. This might be the last chance you can get him before he is 90% owned. Want proof? He played a season-high 47% of the snaps against the Jets in a close game the Bills absolutely needed to win. Want more? Devin Singletary played a season-low 54% of the snaps. Could this have been a “hot hand” situation? Maybe. But Moss looked terrific on Sunday and if continues to be involved in the passing game it will only strengthen his case to be a bigger part of the game plan for the Bills.
13. J.K. Dobbins (BAL) – Yahoo: 54%, ESPN: 51%
Coming off the bye week, we have some questions about Dobbins from a usage standpoint that should be answered in short order. Will his role be expanded as the Ravens cross the midway point of the year? Will he continue to be a change of pace back who can pop for a big play but is otherwise unusable? The Ravens have a tough matchup against Pittsburgh this Sunday so the sledding won’t be easy either way. Still, Dobbins is the most explosive running back on Baltimore’s roster so hopefully, this is the week he gets unleashed.
14. Tony Pollard (DAL) – Yahoo: 20%, ESPN: 24%
Without Dak Prescott the Dallas offense looks horrific so despite Pollard getting nine touches on Sunday, we should probably temper expectations for the entire unit. Pollard would still be a viable RB2 if Ezekiel Elliott were to go down but the ceiling is far lower than it was with Prescott running the show.
15. Chargers Backfield (LAC)
Joshua Kelley out-touched Justin Jackson 17-10, but that was with Jackson popping up the injury report with a knee issue late in the week. There are red flags here because Jacksonville should have presented a cherry matchup but neither back popped off the page. The combination of the two was certainly solid as they totaled over 100 yards and 10 receptions between them but we want that type of production from one back. This offense is running through Justin Herbert so while I’d hold Jackson for now, if he throws up a dud this week he is worth cutting.
La’Mical Perine (NYJ) – Yahoo: 17%, ESPN: 18%
Adam Gase gave up play-calling duties Sunday and Perine was in on 70% of the snaps and had a career-best day with 53 total yards and a touchdown. Imagine that. Perine should be more involved moving forward, and although the Jets offense caps his ceiling a bit, we will take double-digit touches.
Travis Homer (SEA) – Yahoo: 1%, ESPN: 1%
Homer should get the first crack at touches should Hyde and Carson both go out and he would be my preferred option in that case. Last year in Week 17 he handled 17 touches for 92 yards so he’s done it before. Put in a modest bid tonight or tomorrow night.
JaMycal Hasty (SF) – Yahoo: 22% , ESPN:7%
When Hasty sees the field, he is getting the ball in his hands. He played on just 23% of the snaps on Sunday but got 10 touches. With the 49ers down to just him and Jerick McKinnon, he could make for a sneaky flex play in the coming weeks.
Deejay Dallas (SEA) – Yahoo: 1%, ESPN: 1%
The rookie out of Miami was turning heads in camp and how he might get a few more opportunities with Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde banged up. This is the longshot of longshots but Dallas could see some goal-line opportunities to enhance his upside.
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