Running Back Handcuff Rankings: Week 12 (2020 Fantasy Football)
We are changing things up this week for the handcuff report. With season’s starting to wind down and playoff positioning becoming the focus, we are going to dive into some players who are slightly less obvious than normal.
I did not do rankings this week as I feel at this point you know where I stand on most of the highly owned guys. We have the obvious and highly owned guys to start out with and work our way to some 1% owned running backs who could be deep-league targets. It is better to start adding some of these handcuff lottery tickets to your roster now (specifically the guys in the lower owned sections of this article) so you aren’t trying to jockey for waiver wire position or scrape whatever is left of your FAAB to get them later one.
*These guys should be rostered and probably are on over 80% of teams. If they aren’t, scoop them up.
Salvon Ahmed (MIA)
Ahmed is the clear lead dog in Miami getting 85% of the snaps on Sunday and converting his 17 touches in 74 yards. His work in the passing game gives him a bump in PPR leagues but with the Jets, Bengals, and Chiefs coming up he could be a league-winner across all formats.
Kalen Ballage (LAC)
Ballage continues to see insane usage getting 23 touches on Sunday including seven receptions. He’s playing almost 70% of the snaps and it is fair to wonder if Austin Ekeler’s return will cut into Ballage’s workload. He’s a bet-on-volume RB2 with a ceiling for much, much more until Ekeler does come back.
Mike Davis (CAR)
Played on 73% of the snaps in handling 21 touches and scoring two touchdowns Sunday against the Lions. If McCaffery is out, Davis is a lock and load RB1.
Giovani Bernard (CIN)
Joe Burrow going down may help Bernard’s stock in the passing game from a usage standpoint but there are some red flags. Samaje Perine has quietly chipped into the snap share and while Bernard is still dominating touches (over 68% on Sunday), the efficiency could suffer in Burrow’s absence. I am still starting him because volume is king but I am tempering expectations.
Jamaal Williams (GB)
Williams split the snaps evenly with Aaron Jones on Sunday but only got 30% of the team’s touches. We’ve seen what Williams can do if Jones misses time though so he is a nice lottery ticket.
Latavius Murray (NO)
Murray out-snapped and out-touched Alvin Kamara on Sunday which could be a theme with Taysom Hill at quarterback. Sean Payton is the best in the business at altering the game plan to fit his personnel and the matchup so while he can mitigate some of Hill’s limitations, it will ultimately mean fewer targets for Kamara. Murray will continue to be a touchdown-dependent RB2/Flex and if Kamara misses will be a league winner.
Alexander Mattison (MIN)
Mattison isn’t getting any work behind Dalvin Cook but we’ve seen him get the lion’s share of touches when he’s had this backfield to himself. I have Cook on three rosters and have him locked up with Mattison on two of those.
Carlos Hyde (SEA)
Hyde handled 70% of the snaps and had 16 carries Thursday which elevated him to the main handcuff for Chris Carson. The Seahawks obviously trust Hyde more than the other options on the roster so for as long as Carson is out, Hyde is the guy to own.
Lower-Owned Handcuffs/Must Adds – Get these guys this week.
Gus Edwards (BAL)
With JK Dobbins and Mark Ingram both on the COVID-reserve list, Edwards will handle the bulk of the work on Thanksgiving. He played well against Pittsburgh in Week 8 (87 yards and a touchdown) and without much competition, he should be the top waiver pickup this week.
Tony Pollard (DAL)
Pollard showed off his impressive burst Sunday scoring on a 42-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Despite playing around 20% of the snaps, Pollard is getting 6-8 touches every week so if Zeke Elliott misses time, he is an RB1 with a bullet.
Devontae Booker (LV)
Booker only played 24% of the snaps Sunday night but he is the clear handcuff to Josh Jacobs which makes him an intriguing target. Booker’s versatility in the passing game would seem to help his cause for PPR purposes and the Raiders get the Falcons, Jets, and Chargers in three of their next four. If Jacobs gets hurt, Booker is going to win some leagues.
Brian Hill (ATL)
Hill played more snaps than any other Atlanta running back, including Todd Gurley on Sunday. If this is something where Gurley is wearing down as the season goes on, Hill could be in line for some nice workloads in December. Probably better to get in now before the rush.
James White (NE)
White isn’t a true handcuff because his role is mostly that of a passing down back but with Rex Burkhead getting injured, this might open up for him a bit. If White can take on the change-of-pace role for the Patriots, he is a borderline RB2 in PPR leagues. Cam Newton loves throwing to his running backs and White is one of the best receiving backs in football. The floor here can be low, but he has a 15+ point ceiling as well.
J.D. Mckissic (WFT)
McKissic isn’t a true handcuff because his role is secure but he isn’t 80% owned yet and that feels like a mistake in PPR leagues. Antonio Gibson landed on the injury report so he might be worth kicking the tires on even in standard leagues.
Cam Akers (LAR)
I liked what I saw out of Akers last night and we now have two straight weeks where his snap share and touch count were out of whack. He has 19 total touches the past two weeks as the Rams are making it a point to get him the ball when he’s in the game. Could we see a late-season breakout from Akers? It’s possible and he has the talent and draft pedigree for it to happen.
Anthony McFarland (PIT)
The more I think about how Pittsburgh is playing, the more I think Anthony McFarland – not Benny Snell – would be the back to own if James Conner goes down. The Steelers are throwing the ball more now than they were early in the season and McFarland would be the best bet to lead the backfield in touches with that being the case. Jaylen Samuels would be the dart throw pickup for me over Snell in PPR leagues as well.
Peyton Barber (WFT)
If Antonio Gibson misses time, Barber will get 15 carries. Book it. It isn’t a sexy play but if you want volume and touchdown upside, Barber is your guy.
Justice Hill (BAL)
We touched on Gus Edwards but we may finally get a Justice Hill week with the COVID situation in Baltimore. This isn’t the best week for this to happen as the Ravens play Thursday in a tough matchup and there are no Week 13 byes to dilute the player pool. This is a 14+ team PPR league dart throw.
Samaje Perine (CIN)
The snap share for Perine is creeping up and he has a red-zone role. This is a thin play because he will get virtually no work between the 20s and his pass game involvement is minimal but in deep standard leagues, he is worth an add.
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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.