Running Back Handcuff Rankings: Week 9 (2020)
A solid week for the handcuff report with hits on some usual suspects (Jamaal Williams, Gio Bernard), Zack Moss‘s stock taking off, and DeeJay Dallas being a guy worth rostering. Jerick McKinnon was a bust, but, as always, this is a forward-thinking article so on to Week 9.
Wayne Gallman enters the rankings after a solid performance Monday night and J.K. Dobbins is one of the week’s biggest risers after going over 100 yards against Pittsburgh. As we progress through the season we need to be looking at some low-owned dart throws as well so welcome to the list of longshots, Troymaine Pope.
My biggest buy of the week is D’Andre Swift coming off a miserable performance against Indianapolis. He saw a season-high snap share and we might be seeing him emerge as the starter in Detroit.
*These running backs would be startable options in any format in the event of an injury.
1. Chase Edmonds (ARI) – Yahoo: 81%, ESPN: 84%
With reports that Kenyan Drake‘s injury might not be as bad as first thought, I am bumping Edmonds down a couple of notches. Should Drake miss time, which I believe is likely for at least Week 9, Edmonds is a surefire starter. Edmonds was already playing 41% of the snaps so with Drake potentially out of the way, Edmonds should be in for a massive workload. Deploy him with confidence for as long as Drake is out, and maybe longer.
2. Philip Lindsay (DEN) – Yahoo: 65%, ESPN: 68%
At some point, the Broncos are going to ignore the financial obligation to Melvin Gordon and make Phillip Lindsay the starter. Until then, we can appreciate one of the league’s most underrated running backs on the handcuff report. Lindsay sparked the Broncos comeback with a scintillating 55-yard touchdown run on Sunday as part of an 83-yard performance. He played 29 snaps to Gordon’s 36 but received just seven touches. However, if he keeps popping, Vic Fangio isn’t going to have a choice but to give him the ball 12-15 times a game. That is probably Lindsay’s sweet spot anyway, but only giving this man seven touches is a fireable offense. Let him eat.
3. Zack Moss (BUF) – Yahoo: 55%, ESPN: 43%
Moss was my top buy before Week 8 and I hope you were able to grab him. He carried the ball 14 times for 81 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, getting the goal line work and out-snapping Devin Singletary 31-29. Moss’s usage inside the Red Zone is encouraging and he has scored three touchdowns to Singletary’s one despite missing two games due to injury. Moss should continue to get work for the Buffalo offense that needs to establish a ground game to have a chance at being a factor in January. If you missed last week, don’t make the same mistake again.
4. J.K. Dobbins (BAL) – Yahoo: 68%, ESPN: 58%
Is this aggressive on Dobbins? Maybe, but I would rather be overweight on a guy with his talent in a run-first offense. I said heading into Week 8 that we would get some answers about Dobbins and his role moving forward. With Mark Ingram out, Dobbins played a season-high 66% of the snaps gained 121 yards from scrimmage. Gus Edwards was still plenty involved, which makes some sense given that Dobbins is a rookie and still learning. Outside of that, there is no reason Dobbins shouldn’t be prominently involved moving forward after averaging 7.53 yards per carry. If you have held onto Dobbins this long, congratulations: It seems as if your patience will be rewarded.
5. D’Andre Swift (DET) – Yahoo: 92%, ESPN: 95%
Nothing about Sunday was a positive for the Detroit backfield as they accounted for a meager 29 yards in getting stomped by the Colts. The news for Swift isn’t all bad, however, as he saw a season-high 62% snap share and Adrian Peterson played a season-low 20% of the snaps. Some of this was due to game script but Peterson saw his snaps decrease for the fifth straight game. There is clearly a changing of the guard in Detroit and assuming Swift takes over full time by Thanksgiving, his time on this list is drawing short.
6. Jamaal Williams (GB) – Yahoo: 83%, ESPN: 94%
Williams went over 100 total yards for the second consecutive game in Aaron Jones‘s absence. He logged 64 snaps, dominating the backfield even as the Packers had to play from behind which capped his production a bit. Williams was also vultured by Davante Adams at the goal line or else his day would have been fantastic. It is fascinating to see the Packers give Williams the workhorse role seeing as where they have never really committed to that with Jones. Williams should still be in line for some work as a flex play even with Jones coming back from injury assuming he doesn’t have to sit out due to being a close contact of AJ Dillon, who tested positive for COVID-19. (Check out the low-owned longshots for more on the GB backfield.)
7. Justin Jackson (LAC) – Yahoo: 57%, ESPN 83%:
Justin Jackson got 20 touches for 142 yards on Sunday and I feel comfortable making him the main handcuff for the purpose of this exercise. Joshua Kelley continues to be involved, although Sunday he was out-touched by Troymaine Pope (more on him later) and it looks like he might be sliding down the depth chart. The Chargers did their best to sit on a second-half lead and were overly generous with their running back touches in the process. Jackson was the primary beneficiary of that and he is the best bet to continue to lead this backfield while Austin Ekeler is out.
8. Giovani Bernard (CIN) – Yahoo: 72%, ESPN: 88%
After scoring 20 PPR points in Week 7, Bernard had 18 touches for 88 total yards and two touchdowns in a tough matchup against the Titans. That makes Bernard one of the best waiver wire pickups of the season and it’s this type of shot in the arm that can keep a fantasy team alive for December. The Bengals have a Week 9 bye so Joe Mixon is likely to get back on the field but Bernard’s contributions kept many of us in the hunt. I wouldn’t be quick to drop him as he has been playing around 40% of the snaps this year.
9. Mike Davis (CAR) – Yahoo: 90%, ESPN: 97%
It was a good run for Mike Davis but with Christian McCaffery back, I am betting he will be mothballed for now. I am not buying Matt Rhule saying the Panthers will try to get Davis and McCaffery involved. McCaffery is one of the few running backs who play 95% or more of the snaps when healthy. If you still roster Davis, he is a hold for now but if McCaffery looks like his old self he will be a likely drop for owners who don’t have CMC. Still, Davis gave us over 600 yards of total offense and six touchdowns filling in more than admirably for fantasy’s top asset.
10. Latavius Murray (NO) – Yahoo: 62%, ESPN: 66%
Murray was largely ineffective against Chicago on Sunday with just 31 yards on 11 touches. He played a season-low 24% of the snaps and never got going despite being one of the few healthy weapons left in the Saints offense. Murray is still worth rostering because of his 10-touch floor but it will take an injury to Kamara for him to be a difference-maker.
11. Alexander Mattison (MIN) – Yahoo: 43%, ESPN: 59%
Mattison was not needed much on Sunday as Dalvin Cook tore through the Packers defense accounting for over 200 yards and four touchdowns. The Vikings will continue to play hard down the stretch and Mike Zimmer will likely ride Cook seeing as where he is their best weapon. This will relegate Mattison to scraps making him droppable on teams that don’t have Cook rostered.
12. Wayne Gallman (NYG) – Yahoo: 24%, ESPN: 24%
I typically finish this article after the Monday Night Football game to see if any injuries happen that would need to be discussed here. While there was nothing of that sort last night, I did see Wayne Gallman consistently getting positive yards in a tough matchup with the Buccaneers. Once again, volume is everything for running backs and Gallman made the most of his 13 touches with 52 yards and a touchdown. I am hesitant to recommend too many pieces of the Giants offense but at this point in the season, we are looking for anyone who is available and getting any type of workload. Gallman fits that bill and while I am wary of the Giants signing Alfred Morris off the street and giving him eight carries, Gallman carried the load in the second half.
13. Tony Pollard (DAL) – Yahoo: 19%, ESPN: 22%
The good news? Pollard got nine touches Sunday night and turned them into 64 yards. The bad news? He only played on 22% of the snaps, the lowest since Dak Prescott got hurt. Dallas was in the game late into the fourth quarter so it was no surprise that Zeke Elliott had his highest snap share (78%) in almost a month. Pollard will continue to see 7-10 touches a game and there is an outside shot they could rest the high-dollar Elliott down the stretch giving Pollard the chance to play a full complement of snaps. This is a situation to monitor over the next month.
14. DeeJay Dallas (SEA) – Yahoo: 25%, ESPN: 19%
Go DeeJay, cause that’s my Deejay! A week after recommending him as a low-owned longshot, Dallas scored two touchdowns in a blowout win over the 49ers. He dominated the snap share over a hobbled Travis Homer and received a whopping 23 touches. Opportunity is everything for running backs and despite the modest yard per attempt numbers (he averaged just 2.52 yards per touch), Dallas got the ball near the goal line and was able to convert. Chris Carson could return as soon as next week but whoever lines up for Seattle should be productive playing next to likely MVP Russell Wilson. With Carlos Hyde likely out again, Dallas will be the handcuff for another week.
15. Boston Scott (PHI) – Yahoo: 76%, ESPN: 92%
Scott didn’t hit paydirt this week but did hit his PPR floor with 9.9 points, although the performance felt hollow against the Cowboys defense. Like most running backs, Scott was viable on volume alone but with a bye week coming up and Mile Sanders getting healthy, he won’t have much more than an ancillary role.
Troymaine Pope (LAC) – Yahoo: 1%, ESPN: 1%
Pope was signed to the active roster last week and he out-snapped Joshua Kelley 25-21 against Denver. He came out of nowhere to get 15 touches and responded well with 95 total yards, all but eight of which came in the second half. He should be a speculative add this week.
JaMycal Hasty (SF) – Yahoo: 42%, ESPN: 62%
We are going back to the well with Hasty as he led the 49ers in touches on Sunday. Tevin Coleman played in a limited role which could be expanded as he gets his legs under him but Hasty is a good bet to once again lead this backfield on Thursday. He doesn’t fit the “low-owned” bill anymore but I can’t rank him in the top-15 either.
Tyler Ervin (GB) – Yahoo: 1%, ESPN: 1%
This one hinges on Jamaal Williams’s availability after he was deemed a close contact of AJ Dillon, who tested positive for COVID-19. If Williams is out, Ervin could be in line for a decent workload. If Aaron Jones misses, Ervin would have a 15-touch floor on Thursday against a banged-up 49ers team. This is a tough situation to monitor, but adding Ervin could be a savvy (and cheap) move.
Anthony McFarland Jr. (PIT) – Yahoo: 1%, ESPN 1%
Shocker special here as the Steelers travel to Dallas after a physical game with the Ravens. McFarland might see increased touches to lighten James Conner‘s load a bit. His 4.3 speed means all he needs is a seam to break a long run.
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