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Running Back Handcuff Report: Week 7 (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Jason Kamlowsky | @JasonKamlowsky | Featured Writer
Oct 21, 2021
Rashaad Penny

It was the end of the quarter for me at school, so the Handcuff Report is late this week. You’ve already made your waiver runs, so I won’t spend time on that.

I want to touch on the situation in Cleveland for tonight. D’Earnest Johnson popped last year in a Week 4 matchup with Dallas turning in 13 carries for 95 yards. I’m inclined to think he will get at least 12-15 touches tonight, but the Browns are a mash unit at the moment on offense, so I’d temper expectations.

Demetric Felton could be the better back to have tonight, especially if Teddy Bridgewater starts for Denver (he’s trending in the right direction). If the Browns find themselves behind in the second half, Felton should soak up most of the usage as Case Keenum’s security blanket, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him post the better score in a PPR format.

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Arizona – Starter: Chase Edmonds, Handcuff: James Conner

The Cardinals romped over the Browns so, and it was a game script-friendly matchup for Conner, who received 55% of the snaps. Unfortunately, Edmonds was a little banged up, so it should come as no surprise that he was limited here. Still, Conner has carved out a nice role for himself. While he’s still too touchdown-dependent for me, he will be in the top-10 of handcuffs this week.

Atlanta – RBBC: Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson

The Falcons were on Bye this week, so it will be interesting to see if Patterson’s usage continues. Hopefully, they spent the week figuring out more creative ways to get him involved.

Baltimore – RBBC: Ty’Son Williams, Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, Le’Veon Bell

This week, an ugly split in Baltimore with a 9-9-8 touch distribution for Freeman, Murray, and Bell, respectively. It is hard for me to recommend any of these three, although Freeman and Bell are likely available in your league. I’d probably favor Freeman since the Ravens don’t use their running backs much in the passing game.

Buffalo – RBBC: Devin Singletary, Zack Moss

Weird night for the Buffalo offense against Tennessee. Singletary and Moss evenly split 20 touches, though neither of them looked great. Moss played 55% of the snaps, but Singletary is still the “starter.” Better days are ahead, so don’t jump ship.

Carolina – Starter: Christian McCaffery, Handcuff: Chuba Hubbard

Hubbard played on 65% of the snaps and found the paint, but it was a disappointing day for the Panthers’ offense. Despite their 28 points, they only scored two touchdowns and didn’t sustain a drive until late in the fourth quarter. Hubbard is the guy to have here, but it’s worth noting Royce Freeman played 35% of the snaps. 

Chicago – Starter: David Montgomery (On IR), Handcuffs: Damien Williams, Khalil Herbert

Williams ended up on the COVID-list, so Khalili Herbert capitalized and rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown. Williams should be back this week, but I’d assume Herbert will still have a significant role.

Cincinnati – Starter: Joe Mixon, Handcuff: Samaje Perine

With Samaje Perine on the COVID-list, Mixon ripped off 153 total yards and a nifty catch-and-run touchdown. He only played 62% of the snaps, but this was a blowout, and the Bengals were trying to preserve him a bit. Chris Evans got in the endzone on a nice play in the first half, and he’s a name to tuck away as a deep flier. 

Cleveland – Starter: Nick Chubb, Handcuff: Kareem Hunt

Nick Chubb missed the game, which theoretically lined up for Hunt to see massive volume. He managed to amass 17 touches despite an injury, but now it appears both backs are out Thursday. That leaves D’Earnest Johnson and Demetric Felton to share the backfield. Johnson has produced in limited action before (13 carries for 95 yards in Week 4 last season) and is the priority add here.

Dallas – Starter: Ezekiel Elliott, Handcuff: Tony Pollard

Zeke had a good PPR day with 18.2 points, but the story here is that he played a whopping 71% of the snaps. Pollard still got 13 touches, though, as the Cowboys seem intent on getting him involved. So he’s a hold for me.

Denver – RBBC: Melvin Gordon III, Javonte Williams

Another week with a roughly 50-50 split for snaps and touches here. Maybe I’ve been too quick to want to put Gordon out to pasture, but this is a challenging situation for fantasy relevance. You almost have to hold either back if you have them because an injury would give them high-upside RB2 appeal. I’m still in on Javonte as the back to have.

Detroit – Starter: D’Andre Swift, Handcuff: Jamaal Williams

Swift once again went over 70% snap share, but the big news is that he out-touched Williams 18-5. Swift is game script-proof and has a 12-point floor in PPR leagues. There aren’t many backs I’d rather have. As for Williams, he’s a hold, but he might not be a flex play much longer if he continues to cede so much work.

Green Bay – Starter: Aaron Jones, Handcuff: A.J. Dillon

Jones went over 100 total yards again and found the endzone despite only playing 59% of the snaps. AJ Dillon handled 11 carries for 59 yards, and he is creeping into Flex consideration. He should not be on your waiver wire.

Houston – Starter: Mark Ingram II, Handcuffs: Phillip Lindsay, David Johnson

The Texans continue to muddle their way through the season with a three-back rotation that is touchdown-dependent for a beneficial day. Mark Ingram continues to be the lead back as he got 20 touches (two receptions) for 81 total yards. David Johnson played 43% of the snaps (Ingram was at 44%), so I think he’s worth monitoring and, possibly, picking up in PPR leagues.

Indianapolis – Starter: Jonathan Taylor, Handcuffs: Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack

The Jonathan Taylor redemption tour continued on Sunday as he ripped off 145 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He played 65% of the snaps after a big game on Monday, which is the best sign for his outlook. They could have limited him with the cupcake matchup, but he was in for his full complement of snaps.

Jacksonville – Starter: James Robinson, Handcuff: Carlos Hyde? Dare Ogunbowale?

Jacksonville got in the win column in London, and James Robinson played 85% of the snaps on his way to 101 total yards and a touchdown. He continues to be one of the best values in fantasy.

Kansas City – Starter: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (On IR), Handcuff: Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon

Darrell Williams registered 23.9 PPR points and handled 72% of the snaps on Sunday, proving that Andy Reid is a running back whisperer. If he continues this type of production, CEH might have a hard time getting his job back. Williams is a must-own, and Jerick McKinnon floats into handcuff territory.

Las Vegas Raiders – Starter: Josh Jacobs, Handcuffs: Kenyan Drake, Peyton Barber

The Raiders bounced back in Denver and once again leaned heavily on Josh Jacobs, who handled 17 touches. Kenyan Drake posted the bigger box score, getting into the end zone twice and totaling 72 yards. Unfortunately, Drake is an enigma who may never reach his potential.

Los Angeles Chargers – Starter: Austin Ekeler, Handcuff: Who knows?

Tough day for the Chargers’ offense as they came east and got pummeled in Baltimore. Ekeler is the lead back, but Joshua Kelley continues to carve out more snaps. Figuring out the handcuff here may take a decoder pin and a treasure map.

Los Angeles Rams – Starter: Darrell Henderson, Jr., Handcuff: Sony Michel

Don’t read anything into Michel getting nine carries. Henderson played 82% of the snaps and is getting volume and Red Zone opportunities. He is an RB1 for the rest of the year. 

Miami – Starter: Miles Gaskin, Handcuff: Malcolm Brown

I hope you were able to offload Gaskin after his big Week 5. I am close to moving Miami in RBBC-territory after a week where Brown, Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed split snaps in a 36%-36%-27% share. Miami might be the biggest mess of a backfield in the NFL right now.

Minnesota – Starter: Dalvin Cook, Handcuff: Alexander Mattison

Dalvin Cook got 31 touches and played 74% of the snaps in an overtime win against Carolina. When Cook plays, he is a top-3 back. If he’s out, Mattison is an RB1 as a handcuff. You want a piece of this offense as it is one of the more underappreciated in the league.

New England – Starter: Damien Harris, Handcuff: Rhamondre Stevenson 

Harris was a victim of the game script as he only played 48%, but he still rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown. Stevenson managed to get a 33% snap share, which was encouraging. New England’s backfield is always unpredictable, but I think Stevenson is worth looking at as an add.

New Orleans – Starter: Alvin Kamara, Handcuff: Tony Jones, Jr. (Injured)

The Saints had a much-needed bye week. The Saints signed Ryquell Armstead with Jones going on IR, so there is a name to tuck away in the event of a disaster with Kamara.

New York Giants – Starter: Saquon Barkley, Handcuffs: Devontae Booker

Booker stepped right into a 72% snap share and 16 touches. He failed to score, which left him short in the box score, but opportunity is everything. Continue to fire him up for as long as Barkley is out.

New York Jets – Starter: Michael Carter, Handcuffs: Ty Johnson, Tevin Coleman

It will be interesting to see if Michael Carter is used more coming off the bye. I’d be picking him up if he’s available and you have a roster spot.

Philadelphia – Starter: Miles Sanders, Handcuff: Kenneth Gainwell

So we are at the part of the article where Miles Sanders played 83% of the snaps and out-touched Kenny Gainwell 11-1. I would be inclined to drop Gainwell if I needed a roster spot, especially considering Sanders isn’t exactly getting bell-cow usage himself.

Pittsburgh – Starter: Najee Harris, Handcuffs: Benny Snell, Jr., Kalen Ballage

Harris trails only Derrick Henry in touches across the season’s first six weeks. If the Steelers had a stronger offensive line, he would be a top-3 running back, but he will push to finish in the top-5 with this type of volume. 

Seattle – Starter: Chris Carson, Handcuff: Alex Collins, Travis Homer, Rashaad Penny

Collins had a terrific night Sunday, going for 101 rushing yards and a touchdown. He isn’t of much use in the passing game, and he got banged up, but he looks good for this week. The back I am more intrigued by here is Penny, who should return against the Saints. Penny fits the mold of a three-down back more than any other healthy running back they have. I’ve added him in a few leagues, and he’s worth a flier.

San Francisco – RBBC: Elijah Mitchell, Kyle Juszczyk, Trey Sermon

The 49ers were on a bye, but I’d be looking to pick up Jeffrey Wilson in the next ten days. He has a mid-season target date to come off IR and is well-worth the flier.

Tampa Bay – Starter: Leonard Fournette, Handcuff: Ronald Jones

Lenny got bell-cow usage against Philadelphia with 28 touches (six receptions!!!) for 127 yards and two touchdowns. I don’t think it was a flawed process to pass over him during draft season because we weren’t sure he would be the starter, but he’s been fantastic.

Tennessee – Starter: Derrick Henry, Handcuff: Jeremy McNichols

I’m running out of things to say about King Henry. He single-handedly kept Tennessee in the game Monday night and eventually led them to victory. He will be the #1 drafted player next year, barring catastrophe.

Washington – Starter: Antonio Gibson, Handcuff: J.D. McKissic

McKissic benefited from a favorable game-flow as he racked up 19 PPR points while Gibson was held to 44 rushing yards. We saw this last year where McKissic began to eat into the touch-share, so while he won’t replicate his 2020 numbers, he’s going to be a factor.

Handcuff Rankings

1. Darrel Williams (KC) – A big game in his first week as the starter, Williams will save a lot of teams who need running back help.

2. Chubba Hubbard (CAR) – 17 touches and scored a touchdown. Carolina has been an oasis for running back usage with Matt Rhule.

3. Devontae Booker (NYG) – 72% snap share will get it done every time. 

4. Alexander Mattison (MIN) – Has ceded work to Dalvin Cook but should still be rostered. 

5. A.J. Dillon (GB) – I’m moving him based on two things: Standalone value even without a starting job and the potential for 17-20 touches if Aaron Jones goes down.

6. Khalil Herbert/Damien Williams (CHI) – Putting them both here because I’d assume a split in workload if Williams is back this week. If Williams is out, I’d have Herbert in my top-5.

7. Alex Collins (SEA) – Should get a lot of early-down work, but Rashaad Penny’s return concerns me.

8. Tony Pollard (DAL) – Still involved in the offense and would be an RB1 if Elliott goes down.

9. James Conner (ARZ) – Hard to ignore what he’s done, although he is still a little too touchdown-dependent for me. The trouble is, he’s scoring touchdowns every week.

10. Jamaal Williams (DET) – If he will get 4-5 touches instead of 12-14, his luster fades.

11. Browns Running Backs – Chubb? Injured. Hunt? Injured. D’Earnest Johnson and Demetric Felton, come on down. There is a path to Johnson posting a good game tonight, but I’d bet against it. Still, the volume should be there.

12. David Johnson (HOU) – Cautiously moving him up, especially in PPR leagues. He could be helpful by Week 10.

13. Sony Michel (LAR) – 18% snap share in a blowout is concerning, but we know what we get if he starts. 

14. Kenneth Gainwell (PHI) – I’m unsure what to make of his usage the past two weeks. Maybe he’s falling out of favor. On the other hand, perhaps Nick Sirianni is nuts.

15. Rhamondre Stevenson (NE) – Increased snap share Sunday. I’d tread lightly because of Belichick but put him on your radar.

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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.

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