Running Back Handcuff Rankings: Week 10 (2020)
The handcuff report had a quiet week with Chase Edmonds disappointing and Justin Jackson getting hurt on the first play of the game. This has led to some new names popping up in the top 10, but as always, this is a forward-thinking article. On to Week 10.
I’ve removed Phillip Lindsay, J.K. Dobbins, and Wayne Gallman, as it appears they all have a firm grasp on their role as a starter. Lindsay is still in an ugly timeshare with Melvin Gordon and is not getting as many snaps per game, but he is doing far more with his opportunities. It’s just a matter of time before Lindsay gets more work. Either way, he started on Sunday, so his place on the list has become redundant.
This week, Mike Davis re-enters the chat as Christian McCaffery nurses a shoulder injury, and Duke Johnson looks like he will get a chance at a revenge game against the Browns. We also have a Kalen Ballage sighting and a low-rostered receiver longshot who might be a featured running back on Sunday.
*These running backs would be startable options in any format in the event of an injury.
1. Chase Edmonds (ARI) – Yahoo: 94%, ESPN: 94%
Edmonds received 96% of the snaps and a massive 28 touches on Sunday. While the final stats (78 total yards, three receptions) were underwhelming, the process was sound. If Kenyan Drake is still out, Edmonds is a must-start even in a tough matchup against Buffalo. I would even go out on a limb and predict he finds the end zone at least once.
2. D’Andre Swift (DET) – Yahoo: 92%, ESPN: 92%
Swift gained 97 yards on 16 touches Sunday, further proving that Matt Patricia is really bad at this. Swift only played 40% of the snaps, so his production is all the more impressive given he can’t get on the field half the game. Imagine a world where he was given a true bell-cow workload. We could be looking at one of the game’s premier running backs. For now, we will settle for 15 touches per week, but I may have to adjust as to whether or not he actually belongs on this list in the season’s final two months.
3. Zack Moss (BUF) – Yahoo: 74%, ESPN: 57%
This might be the last week Moss finds his way onto this list. He was the lead back on Sunday, playing 56% of the snap and out-touching Devin Singletary 11 to five. The Bills are still struggling to find consistency in the running game, but it appears as if Moss will receive a chance to get it going moving forward. If Buffalo plans on contending in January, Moss will need to have a bigger role. I’ll remove him from the list if the snap share continues to improve. He should be rostered in all formats.
4. Duke Johnson (HOU) – Yahoo: 39%, ESPN: 27%
David Johnson is in the concussion protocol, which may give Duke Johnson a chance at the feature role against the Browns. Duke Johnson responded well on Sunday with 73 total yards and a rushing touchdown in 81% of the snaps. Even in a supporting role, he has always been a PPR threat, and this Sunday represents a revenge narrative of sorts. Fire him up this week as an RB2 regardless of format, with a bump in PPR.
5. Mike Davis (CAR) – Yahoo: 80%, ESPN: 73%
I said last week it was a good run for Mike Davis, but Christian McCaffery’s Week 10 status is in doubt after suffering a shoulder injury on Sunday. We’ve been all over Davis in this column, and we are going to go right back to the well. Although Carolina has a tough matchup against Tampa Bay, Davis managed to haul in eight passes for 74 yards against the Bucs in relief of an injured McCaffery back in Week 2. He’s as low-rostered as he has been in weeks, so you know what to do if you need running back help.
6. Tony Pollard (DAL) – Yahoo: 25%, ESPN: 35%
I’m pushing Pollard up the board based on some anecdotal evidence that makes me believe the Cowboys could limit Ezekiel Elliott’s workload down the stretch. Pollard was in on 32% of the snaps and got 10 touches on Sunday, averaging a robust 6.3 yards per carry. The fact he played so much in a game that was close throughout may have had something to do with Elliott’s bulky hamstring, but it’s encouraging nonetheless. With the Cowboys having their bye week, many managers who picked Pollard up in anticipation of Elliott possibly missing Week 9 will likely drop him. I would make him a speculative add if you have room on your roster.
7. Kalen Ballage (LAC) – Yahoo: 9%, ESPN: 5%
Justin Jackson got hurt on the first play of Sunday’s game, and Ballage got the bulk of the work. He managed to have a solid fantasy day, rushing for 69 yards on 15 carries and scoring a touchdown. This is a murky backfield with Joshua Kelley and Troymaine Pope still in the equation, but Ballage has the size (6’2″, 228 pounds) and speed (4.6 40 time) to be an intriguing add. It seems the Chargers might be souring on Kelley, and with Pope nursing his own injury, Ballage is my preferred target.
8. Matt Breida (MIA) – Yahoo 25%, ESPN: 30%
After seeing Jordan Howard gain 19 sloth-like yards on 10 carries, it seems Myles Gaskins left a bigger hole than people realize. Enter Matt Breida, who is the best running back left on the roster. He missed last week with a hamstring injury, but with the Dolphins looking like they could factor into the AFC playoff picture, I would bet on Breida relegating Howard to a gameday inactive. Salvon Ahmed could also play a role, but Breida should get a decent amount of work this week if he’s able to play.
9. Jamaal Williams (GB) – Yahoo: 60%, ESPN: 60%
Williams will be relegated to backup duties with Aaron Jones back but should still retain a 10-touch role, mostly in passing situations. We have seen Williams perform as an RB1 with Jones out, so he is worth the roster spot in the short term.
10. Latavius Murray (NO) – Yahoo: 59%, ESPN: 50%
Murray continues to see usage, getting 12 touches and playing 40% of the snaps against Tampa Bay. There is little doubt Murray would be in line for an 18-22 touch role if Alvin Kamara were to go down, so there is value here. He should be a borderline flex play each week with RB2 upside due to his red-zone role.
11. Alexander Mattison (MIN) – Yahoo: 35%, ESPN: 42%
It’s becoming clear the Vikings are going to do two things: be competitive down the stretch and run the football. Mike Zimmer is a smart man, and he knows his best chance is to saddle up Dalvin Cook and let him eat. Mattison should still get his customary six-eight carries, but his real value is as Cook’s primary handcuff. Despite a disappointing game in his lone cameo as a starter, Mattison still offers tremendous upside in a run-first offense in the event of a Cook injury.
12. Giovani Bernard (CIN) – Yahoo: 51%, ESPN: 55%
Bernard should go back to operating behind Joe Mixon, but he will continue to be one of the best handcuffs in fantasy due to his raw usage and passing game role. If you roster Mixon, Bernard is a must-have coming off the bye week.
13. Devontae Booker (LVR) – Yahoo: 2%, ESPN: 1%
Booker looked sharp on Sunday, averaging 8.5 yards per carry and outgaining Josh Jacobs. Since the Raiders only ran 50 plays, Booker’s 26% snap share only netted him 13. Yet he made the most of them. We’ve seen the Raiders give Jacobs some monster usage this year, so Booker would potentially be in line for a big role in the event of an injury.
14. J.D. McKissic (WAS) – Yahoo: 52%, ESPN: 51%
McKissic gets a big boost from Captain Checkdown Alex Smith taking over as the starter. McKissic played 83% of the snaps Sunday, and he will operate as the safety blanket for Smith moving forward. Antonio Gibson will get the bulk of the early-down work, but with Washington likely to be trailing, McKissic is a PPR flex play.
15. Anthony McFarland/Benny Snell (PIT)
I’m putting both Steelers running backs here, as they would both be involved in the event of an injury to James Conner. McFarland only played eight snaps Sunday, but had five touches. Pittsburgh clearly wants to get him involved when in the game. Snell has seen his playing time decrease in recent weeks (only five offensive snaps Sunday), but I have a hard time believing McFarland would handle 15+ touches if Conner went down. It would likely be more of a 50/50 split with McFarland getting passing-down work to go with some early-down touches. Add McFarland in 14-team leagues or deeper.
Salvon Ahmed (MIA) – Yahoo: 1%, ESPN: 1%
Ahmed played 46% of the snaps on Sunday and rushed for 38 yards on seven carries. Breida is more likely to lead the Dolphins in carries, but Ahmed could carve out a role if he keeps popping 5.6 yards per carry.
Chris Thompson (JAC) – Yahoo: 6%, ESPN: 5%
Although James Robinson is the clear lead back in Jacksonville, Thompson can be considered somewhat of a McKissic-lite. He is an adept pass-catcher who would be a flex option in PPR leagues if Robinson got hurt.
Cordarrelle Patterson (CHI) – Yahoo: 5%, ESPN: 4%
Patterson could be in line for some backfield work if David Montgomery can’t get out of the concussion protocol. Matt Nagy has tried to scheme ways to get Patterson the ball each week, and his speed makes him a big-play threat if he can get into space. This is the dart throw of dart throws for Week 10.
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