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Running Back Handcuff Report: Week 11 (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Jason Kamlowsky | @JasonKamlowsky | Featured Writer
Nov 18, 2021
Ty Johnson

It’s hard to believe, but we are entering Week 11 of the NFL season. That means many of you are starting to get ready for the fantasy playoffs, so now is the time to start stocking up on handcuffs like a ground squirrel preparing for winter. I revamped the article, so after the rundown of all 32 backfields, I give you players who should be rostered based on league size. Some potentially valuable pieces are around 10% rostered (Samaje Perine, Wayne Gallman) that hopefully, you can get ahead of the field.

I think it is important to note that this part of the fantasy season is every bit as important as draft night. Finding a starting running back – especially if you add them before an injury – on the waiver wire who can produce a 4th Round pick or higher can be a league winner. So start scavenging your league’s waiver and see who is out there.

You never know when the next Jaylen Samuels will pop up out of nowhere to push you over the top in your league. If you recall, Samuels was a league winner in 2018 – especially on Yahoo, where he had TE eligibility and was a cheat code. Some people were able to add him a few weeks before he was thrust into a 15-touch role, and he paid huge dividends. This year, guys like Perine, Gallman, or even Gio Bernard could do the same.

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Arizona – Starter: Chase Edmonds (On IR), Handcuff: James Conner

Conner managed to get there in the box score with a touchdown, but it was an underwhelming day for a back who played 82% of the snaps. Conner has managed to make himself an RB2 with upside while Edmonds is out on IR, but he is still touchdown-dependent. 

Atlanta – RBBC: Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, Wayne Gallman

Patterson has an ankle sprain and looks unlikely to play Sunday. That leaves Gallman, who played 43% of the snaps against Dallas, and Mike Davis to shoulder the load against New England. Gallman makes for a speculative add based on potential workload.

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

I removed Bell as he was released yesterday and is dust. Freeman played 58% of the snaps against the Dolphins and finished with 13 touches for 58 yards. It’s a bankable workload, but it would be irresponsible to suggest that this will be anything but an ugly timeshare with Murray coming back this week.

Buffalo – Starter: Zack Moss, Handcuff: Devin Singletary

Zack Moss led the way with 48% of the snaps after clearing concussion protocols late in the week. The Bills didn’t need him to shoulder much of the workload in a blowout, but he’s the lead back here. I wouldn’t want to play Devin Singletary unless I had to at this point. It also appears Matt Breida would have a role, small as it might be.

Carolina – Starter: Christian McCaffery, Handcuff: Chuba Hubbard

How good is Christian McCaffery? In a game where he only played 59% of the snaps, he still got 23 touches (10 receptions) for 155 yards. He is a cheat code in PPR, and if his snap share increases (it should), he will show everyone why he was the 1.01 this year.

Chicago – Starter: David Montgomery, Handcuff: Khalil Herbert

The Bears had a bye week, but Montgomery had 15 touches in his return Week 9, so he’s safely back in the circle of trust. However, Khalili Herbert is worth rostering after showing he can handle a similar workload as the feature back.

Cincinnati – Starter: Joe Mixon, Handcuff: Samaje Perine

The Bengals had a bye week, which is good for Mixon to get freshened up for the stretch run. Perine should be rostered across all leagues as he would inherit 12-15 touches if Mixon is hurt.

Cleveland – Starter: Nick Chubb, Handcuff: Kareem Hunt (On IR), D’Ernest Johnson

Johnson had a solid game Sunday, especially in a PPR with seven receptions to go with 157 total yards. He was the only Browns’ player to show up Sunday, and he’s going to make himself some money down the line. Hunt is close to being back, and Chubb should be good to go this week, but I’d hold onto all three backs here if I had them.

Dallas – Starter: Ezekiel Elliott, Handcuff: Tony Pollard

A wonky game script made this a 49-42% split between Elliott and Pollard on Sunday, but this is Zeke’s backfield. He’s back to scoring touchdowns near the goal line, and the Dallas offense is humming. Pollard remains one of the top handcuffs in fantasy.

Denver – RBBC: Melvin Gordon III, Javonte Williams

Williams had a 57% snap share to Gordon’s 43%, which isn’t what we’ve become accustomed to seeing. The split in carries makes this tricky, although Gordon seems to have the touchdown equity between the two. Williams has one of the better ceilings in dynasty leagues, but for 2021, this isn’t a great spot.

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

A whopping 33 total touches for Swift and a 93% snap share as the Lions had nothing to speak of in the passing game. He probably won’t see that volume moving forward, but he could be an elite back in a better offense. If you want to know where I’m at here, I traded Dalvin Cook for Swift and Michael Carter last week in a keeper league.

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

The story of the weekend is that Jones has an MCL sprain and will miss 1-2 games. That leaves Dillon with the potential for a monster workload. After carrying (literally) the Packers to victory Sunday with two touchdowns and 124 total yards, Dillon might be a league winner.

Houston – RBBC: Phillip Lindsay, David Johnson, Rex Burkhead?

Houston had a bye, but you’d hardly notice. I want so badly for DJ to be relevant for the last month, but this offense is so bad it probably won’t happen. 

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

Taylor is getting full-blown bellcow snap share at this point (84% on Sunday), and his touch counts are following suit. He went over 100 yards again and has turned this into his backfield. As long as Frank Reich decides to keep this up, Taylor will be a top-3 back to finish the year.

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

The usage Robinson is seeing in the passing game boosts his floor, and he’s still scoring touchdowns. He’s one of the more underappreciated running backs in the league, and I’d be looking to buy in dynasty leagues.

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

I told you two weeks ago to try and trade for Williams, and I hope you listened. Derrick Gore was a thing for all of one-half of football, but overreactions are commonplace among fantasy players. Williams had over 100 yards receiving Sunday night and has looked better than CEH in his absence. Keep riding the wave.

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

This is a messy backfield right now. Jacobs and Drake were both ineffective Sunday night, and with the Raiders seemingly falling apart, I wonder how useful they will be. Drake seemed to be carving out a nice role before Sunday, but he only got six touches against the Chiefs. I’ve never been a Jacobs believer, and I’m out on this offense in general.

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

This was another subpar performance for a Chargers offense that is underachieving. The good news is that Ekeler handled 71% of the snaps and 14 touches while also finding paydirt on a receiving touchdown to salvage his day. His receiving role will keep him in the RB1 discussion, but his handcuff is still hard to say. I’d probably scoop Larry Rountree if he’s available.

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

Oof. A disaster of a night for the Rams, who got smoked by the 49ers in a game that wasn’t close after kickoff. Henderson had been ceding work to Michel, but it’s hard to get a gauge on things with this one. Michel should be rostered in all formats and could have standalone value even without a Henderson injury.

Miami – Starter: Miles Gaskin, Handcuff: Salvon Ahmed, Patrick Laird

Gaskin got 61% of the snaps in Week 10, which is great. The problem is, he’s inefficient, and unless he has a blowup game, he’s going to be a low floor/ceiling combo. The Dolphins get the Jets and Giants in three of their next four games, so there’s hope. At this point, you have to keep rolling him out if you have him.

Minnesota – Starter: Dalvin Cook, Handcuff: Alexander Mattison

Cook had an 82% snap share and totaled 27 touches on Sunday in a big win against the Chargers. He will continue to be a top-5 option at the position, and with the Vikings in the thick of the NFC playoff picture, Minnesota will use Cook heavily down the stretch. He still isn’t as big a presence in the passing game as we want, but 25+ touches will get it done every week.

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

I may as well copy and paste this, with some tweaks: Don’t look now, but New England is up to their old tricks: Use a hammer running back (Harris/Stevenson) to control the clock, sprinkle in a veteran receiving back (Bolden), and use no-name receivers to win. Stevenson stepped in for an injured Damien Harris, finished with 20 carries for 100 yards, and scored a touchdown. The challenge here is to figure out how this backfield plays out with everyone healthy, which has been the case for a long time in New England.

New Orleans – Starter: Alvin Kamara, Handcuff: Mark Ingram

Kamara missed Week 10, but Ingram filled in well with over 100 total yards and a touchdown. Were it not for the missed extra points, New Orleans might have snuck away with a win, and Ingram would have been a big reason why. He’s going to have standalone value independent of Kamara’s status.

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

Can we get Saquon back this week? Yes? No? Maybe so.

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

Only 52% of the snaps for Carter on Sunday, but he got 20 touches and continues to be a threat in the passing game. If you held onto him through the early portion of the schedule, you’ve got yourself a rock-solid RB2. If I had the roster spot, I would want to roster Ty Johnson – especially in PPR leagues.

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

Nick Sirianni has somehow revived Jordan Howard while also managing to keep Boston Scott relevant. He’s done this while splitting the snap share among the three backups in almost a 33-33-33% split with Miles Sanders out. Both Scott and Howard have averaged better than 5.0 YPC, so the Eagles have been getting it done on the ground. It looks like Sanders is set to return this week which will add another layer here. Despite the production, on the whole, I’m avoiding this backfield for fantasy purposes. 

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

The Steelers are going to ride Harris until the wheels fall off. He got 30 touches Sunday as he was their main means of moving the ball. This offense is putrid, but Harris has been the lone bastion of hope all season. 

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

I was wrong about Penny gaining relevance as Travis Homer has become the main passing down back. To his credit, Collins has managed to be the early-down back here. Each week the Seahawks lose makes the idea of Carson coming back looking less and less likely. There’s no sense in risking a neck injury for a 3-6 team. Collins should continue to see 12-15 touches.

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

Mitchell has a broken finger and could miss Week 11 in Jacksonville. That would make Wilson a handcuff darling. I don’t think it is a stretch to think he could get 20 carries – especially if Hasty remains out. I’d assume they will scheme touches to Deebo Samuel again as well, but the 49ers have traditionally been a run-heavy team, and the matchup with the Jaguars presents a good chance for 40+ rushing attempts.

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

Tampa Bay looked terrible Sunday, but Fournette was used heavily in the passing game getting eight receptions. He salvaged his day and ended up as a PPR RB1. I think Gio Bernard is worth a stash in PPR leagues as I’m not sure if Ronald Jones would have a role even if Fournette got hurt. I can see the Bucs going pass-heavy if that happened with Brady using short passes to Bernard in space as a run play. 

Tennessee – RBBC: D’Onta Foreman, Adrian Peterson, Jeremy McNichols

The Titans signed Foreman off the street, but he has looked reasonable so far. He and Peterson seem to be splitting the early-down snaps (35% for Foreman, 33% for Peterson), but Foreman has shown some decent bursts. If he’s still available, he should be on your roster.

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

If you knew Gibson would get 26 touches against Tampa Bay, congratulations. You’ve got a gift and should play the lottery. In all seriousness, positive game scripts are going to be good for Gibson. Negative game scripts, not so much. Theoretically, this week should present the opportunity for it to be a Gibson week. That means McKissic will get 15 touches. We like to have fun here.

Handcuff Rankings

Should Be Rostered in 10-teams or less

  1. Tony Pollard (DAL) – 75% Rostered
  2. Alexander Mattison (MIN) – 55% Rostered
  3. Chubba Hubbard (CAR) – 48% Rostered
  4. Devontae Booker (NYG) – 58% Rostered
  5. Khalil Herbert (CHI) – 32% Rostered
  6. Mark Ingram (NO) – 77% Rostered
  7. Alex Collins (SEA) – 45% Rostered

*AJ Dillon, Kareem Hunt, and Darrel Williams also slot in here but are 90% Rostered or more.

Should Be Rostered in 12-Teams or less

  1. D’Earnest Johnson (CLE) – 72% Rostered
  2. Sony Michel (LAR) – 31% Rostered
  3. Jordan Howard (PHI)/Boston Scott (PHI)
  4. Rhamondre Stevenson (NE) – 58% Rostered
  5. Ty Johnson (NYJ) – 18% Rostered
  6. Devin Singletary (BUF) – 72% Rostered
  7. Jamaal Williams (DET) – 39% Rostered
  8. Wayne Gallman (ATL) – 11% Rostered
  9. Devonta Freeman/Latavius Murray (BAL)

The Rest

I would rank these backs who are widely available in this order – They might be worth a stash depending on your bench:

  1. Samaje Perine (CIN)
  2. Kenyan Drake (LV) – PPR/Peyton Barber (LV) – Standard
  3. J.D. McKissic (WFT) – PPR
  4. D’Onta Foreman (TEN) 
  5. Carlos Hyde (JAX)
  6. David Johnson (HOU)
  7. Gio Bernard (TB) – PPR
  8. Salvon Ahmed (MIA)
  9. Kallen Ballage (PIT)
  10. Ronald Jones (TB)

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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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