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Running Back Handcuff Report: Week 8 (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Jason Kamlowsky | Featured Writer
Oct 28, 2021
David Johnson

This week brought us some injury news with Miles Sanders looking doubtful, Josh Jacobs and Nick Chubb trending in the right direction, and Khalil Herbert making a statement.

Let’s start with the situation in Philadelphia, where Sanders is unlikely to play, leaving Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott as the primary beneficiaries. Gainwell was in on 51% of the snaps Sunday, with Scott getting 33%, but Scott found the end zone. We’ve seen Scott be useful before (across Week 7 and 8 last year, he had 32 touches for 170 yards and a touchdown), but he was a gameday inactive a couple of times this season, so his usage Sunday was a little surprising. However, Gainwell has looked good in spot duty, and he was the priority add where he was available.

Most of the public will assume that Gainwell will get the lion’s share of the work this week, but I’d monitor the beat writer reports on that. Scott was enough of a factor on Sunday to suggest to me that the Eagles have some comfort in the familiarity there. The matchup with Detroit is about as cherry as it gets, so I wouldn’t hesitate to roll out either guy if I was running back-needy. I guess that Gainwell posts a 55% snap share with between 12-15 touches while Scott gets a 35-40% snap share and gets 8-12 touches. If the Eagles get out to a sizable lead, Scott may post the better box score.

As for Las Vegas and Cleveland, both starters should be good to go. That leaves Kenyan Drake and D’Ernest Johnson as capable backups, but both should garner enough work to be flex-worthy in some leagues. Johnson, in particular, could assume a Kareem Hunt-Esque 12-15 touches and pop for a touchdown.

In Chicago, Herbert has been tremendous over the past two weeks despite the lack of anything resembling a passing game. So keep rolling him out this week against a San Francisco defense that just got touched up by Jonathan Taylor.

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Arizona – Starter: Chase Edmonds, Handcuff: James Conner

This situation is not great for fantasy. Edmonds got 69% of the Week 7 snaps but was outscored by Conner in PPR and Standard formats due to the latter finding paydirt. You can’t drop either back if you have them rostered, but they eat into each other’s weekly production. 

Atlanta – RBBC: Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson

Due to Davis getting 60% of the snaps, I will leave this as a committee for one more week. That will change, however, if Patterson out-touches Davis 16-4 again. Patterson looks to be one of the best waiver wire additions of the season.

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

It feels weird to type this, but I wouldn’t want any of the backs in this offense. Baltimore is a mess on the ground, and I’d instead take a shot on someone like Chris Evans

Buffalo – RBBC: Devin Singletary, Zack Moss

Bye week for the Bills. I’d speculate that Moss is the lead back coming out of the bye, but we will see.

Carolina – Starter: Christian McCaffery, Handcuff: Chuba Hubbard

Another tough week for the Panthers on offense as they got smoked in New York. Chuba Hubbard remains the top option here, but Royce Freeman had a 45% snap share on Sunday. Christian McCaffery’s return looms in Week 9, so Hubbard’s usefulness could be running low.

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

Khalil Herbert did the unthinkable and rushed for 100 yards against Tampa in a 30-point loss. Weird. When David Montgomery returns, Herbert is a big-time dynasty target. As for the here and now, Herbert had a 77% snap share, but that was with Williams fresh off of COVID leave. I’d guess Herbert will still dominate early downs with Williams getting sprinkled in.

Cincinnati – Starter: Joe Mixon, Handcuff: Samaje Perine

It was close to a 50-50 split for snaps on Sunday, but with the Bengals getting a big lead, it made sense. Mixon’s absence of a pass-game role is concerning – and a bit odd given his insight there – but this is a talented offense. I’m bumping Perine up the handcuff list this week as he looks capable in a backup role. Chris, as mentioned earlier, Evans is a deep-league target.

Cleveland – Starter: Nick Chubb, Handcuff: Kareem Hunt

D’Ernest Johnson was a revelation on Thursday with 164 total yards and a touchdown. Nick Chubb returned to practice Monday, but I’d be surprised if Johnson doesn’t get 10-12 touches on Sunday regardless. If you picked him up, I’d consider firing him up again.

Dallas – Starter: Ezekiel Elliott, Handcuff: Tony Pollard

Another team is on a Bye. Elliott should be fresh coming out of the off week, and this offense will continue to hum. Both backs are usable.

Denver – RBBC: Melvin Gordon III, Javonte Williams

Gordon out-snapped Williams (58%-42%), but the touch distribution was identical, and Williams had a receiving touchdown. Both of these guys are low-floor RB2’s but as I keep saying: Target Williams. He has a chance to be a league-winner down the stretch.

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

Williams has essentially disappeared in the passing game, making his floor much lower. After only playing 29% of the snaps, he’s a touchdown-dependent Flex. As for Swift, he’s making a solid case to be the RB1 in PPR dynasty leagues. If he continues to play 75% of the snap share, the sky is the limit.

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

Jones had a 72% snap share but accounted for just 39 total yards on 11 touches. He’s due for a three-touchdown game soon, and with Devante Adams and Allen Lazard looking unlikely to suit up on Thursday, this could be the game. Dillon only played 23% of the snaps, but I think he will see plenty of touches for an injury-depleted offense this week.

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

I said this last week, and I will repeat it: If you’re up against it for a running back in a PPR league, David Johnson is worth a look. He played 54% of the snaps on Sunday and posted 10.2 PPR points. So you should roster him in those formats.

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

It’s happening. Taylor played on a nice 69% of the snaps Sunday and got 21 total touches for 110 yards and a touchdown. So he’s finally getting the workload that he should, and he’s now second in the league in rushing if you hung in there, congratulations.

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

Jacksonville was off this week. James Robinson is good. Water is wet.

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

Darrell Williams dominated snaps (64%), but the Chiefs couldn’t get much going offensively. I believe in Williams’s short-term outlook, but Jerick McKinnon is definitely the next man up, and I’d be here for that.

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

Jacobs went out in the first quarter, which led to Kenyan Drake’s 79 total yards and a touchdown. Peyton Barber was inactive for the game, so that skews Drake’s usage a bit. Jacobs looks like he will be okay for this week, but Drake is the backup that has the bankable usage here. Barber is usable but know he won’t have any role outside of an injury.

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

Chargers catch a much-needed week off after the debacle in Baltimore. I saw on Twitter where Ekeler was recommended as a sell-high candidate. I’d need something like Darrell Henderson or Joe Mixon plus a receiver to entertain that, and even then, I’m not sure I’d move off of him.

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

Henderson disappointed from a box score perspective (64 total yards and no touchdowns), but he played 88% of the snaps. He is an RB1 for the remainder of the season and should pile up touches.

Miami – Starter: Miles Gaskin, Handcuff: Malcolm Brown, Salvon Ahmed

A week after every running back on the roster had at least 30% of the snaps, Myles Gaskin scored 19 touches and scored a touchdown. He played on 63% of the snaps, which is excellent because he should get that workload. However, I still don’t trust what Brian Flores is doing here, so we could see Malcolm Brown play on 60% of the snaps this week.

Minnesota – Starter: Dalvin Cook, Handcuff: Alexander Mattison

The Vikings caught a bye week at the right time as Cook had a chance to rest up. He should be locked and loaded for his typical 20-25 touches and is one of the only backs who could challenge Derrick Henry for the overall RB1 position.

New England – Starter: Damien Harris, Handcuff: Brandon Bolden in PPR

Harris only played 46% of the snaps but still managed 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He’s the early-down guy but is Brandon Bolden stepping into a James White type role? He had six receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown and was an RB1 in PPR leagues. He is worth a look in deeper formats.

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

Alvin Kamara is the entire Saints’ offense at this point. He had 30 touches (10 receptions) for 179 yards and a touchdown. He’s a monster of a back whose production would be impossible to replicate if he gets hurt.

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

Booker topped an 80% snap share and scored, which made him a solid RB2. If he scores a touchdown, you’ll be satisfied. If he doesn’t, you’ll be disappointed. 

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

Carter got 72% of the snaps coming off the bye week and went over 100 total yards with eight receptions. He should be locked in as the starter and workhorse moving forward.

Philadelphia – Starter: Miles Sanders, Handcuff: Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott

I touched on this at the top, but I think the masses will flock to Gainwell here. I’m excited for that in a vacuum, but we have to take the context that is Boston Scott into account. I see a 50-50 split incoming.

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

Hopefully, Harris took the bye week to rest up because he will get 450 touches this year.

Seattle – Starter: Chris Carson (On IR), Handcuff: Alex Collins, Rashaad Penny

Penny stepped into a snap share that was roughly even with Alex Collins, but he was ineffective with six carries for nine yards. Collins had 15 carries, so his workload was healthy, but, like Baltimore, I’m not sure this will be a backfield worth investing in.

San Francisco – Starter: Elijah Mitchell Handcuff: JaMycal Hasty, Jeffrey Wilson?

So, maybe Elijah Mitchell was worth all that FAAB money? A 100-yard game against a tough Colts run defense should solidify his standing. I still think Wilson is worth a speculative add, but Mitchell is the guy here.

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

Fournette handled 17 touches for 90 yards and scored a touchdown as he remains the starter in a loaded offense. After the game was well out of hand, Ronald Jones got some work, but he’s a non-factor here barring an injury.

Tennessee – Starter: Derrick Henry, Handcuff: Jeremy McNichols

Henry didn’t eclipse 100 yards, but he had more passing touchdowns than Patrick Mahomes. Not a lot he can’t do.

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

Gibson out-touched McKissic 16-8 despite playing fewer snaps. It will take Gibson getting into the end zone for him to be serviceable at the moment. For his part, McKissic could be a factor in games where Washington is trailing, which seems likely to happen most weeks.

Handcuff Rankings

*Gainwell was the priority add, but if Boston Scott is available, go scoop him up.

1. Khalil Herbert (CHI) – 77% of the snaps and a 100-yard day against the Bucs. He’s the lone bright spot for the Bears at the moment.

2. Alexander Mattison (MIN) – Just a Dalvin Cook injury away from being an RB1. Moves ahead of Hubbard for that reason.

3. Chubba Hubbard (CAR) – Hubbard might be turning into a pumpkin in short order with CMC coming back in Week 9.

4. Darrel Williams (KC) – 64% of the snaps last week despite the minimal production. Jerick McKinnon is someone I’d keep tabs on here too.

5. Devontae Booker (NYG) – Steady, if unspectacular. The Giants offense has shown signs of life and gets Kansas City this week. 

6. A.J. Dillon (GB) – Could see more work this week with the Packers dealing with COVID-related issues.

7. Tony Pollard (DAL) – If he stays involved out of the bye week, I’ll move him into my top-5.

8. Philly Backs – Am I nuts to prefer Boston Scott to Gainwell this week?

9. D’Earnest Johnson (CLE) – Should still get some run this week even if Nick Chubb is back. Lower expectations, though.

10. James Conner (ARZ) – Red Zone role in one of the best offenses in the NFL. If Chase Edmonds gets hurt, Conner is a legitimate RB1.

11. Sony Michel (LAR) – Like Conner, Michel would have ample opportunity on a great offense if Darrell Henderson goes down.

12. Alex Collins (SEA) – 15 carries in an ugly loss. Rashaad Penny had a nearly identical snap share, though. 

13. Jamaal Williams (DET) – Snap share is dwindling, and he isn’t getting catches. Stock is way down, barring an injury.

14. David Johnson (HOU) – I am still in on Johnson in PPR leagues, and I would have him rostered in 12+ team leagues.

15. Brandon Bolden (NE) – I’m intrigued if he assumes the James White Role. Belichick trusts him.

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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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