Running Back Handcuff Report: Week 5 (2022 Fantasy Football)
Another week, another rash of injuries at the running back position. Javonte Williams is done for the year with a torn ACL, and Cordarrelle Patterson had a procedure on his knee Monday, putting him on the IR. Alvin Kamara was also inactive Sunday, leaving us with Mark Ingram and Latavius Murray to shoulder the load in the New Orleans backfield.
Let’s start in Denver and the loss of Williams. Melvin Gordon would theoretically be the starter moving forward, but his ball security issues are real. Nathaniel Hackett effectively went away from Gordon on Sunday after Williams got hurt and gave Mike Boone 65% of the snaps. I was set to make this write-up mostly about Boone and his role, but then the Broncos signed Murray off the Saints’ practice squad on Monday, further muddying the waters.
If I had to guess, Gordon will get another crack at the starting role, with Boone being featured heavily on passing downs and Murray as insurance. To me, Boone has the most value here. He was getting carries in Week 3, so this isn’t like him being in the game was a sole product of Williams getting hurt. With him playing on passing downs (which should continue – neither Gordon nor Murray excel there), he provides the best opportunity to capture upside outside of a goal-line role.
In Atlanta, things are a little less cloudy. Tyler Allgeier is going to be popular, which makes sense. He had some steam in the preseason and got the majority of the snaps in Week 4. However, it remains to be seen how he is used in the passing game, and the Falcons haven’t thrown much to their running backs (11 targets in four games). If you are putting in a claim or bidding FAAB here, understand that there are paths to disappointment for Allgeier, and we can’t just assume he will be Patterson-lite. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be added. Just know he probably isn’t going to put up a stat line like Jamaal Williams.
As for Caleb Huntley, he had one career carry before Sunday but finished with 56 yards and a touchdown. He will probably be used primarily in short-yardage situations with the chance to be on the field inside the 10-yard line. The Falcons rank in the top-five of the NFL in rushing yards and attempts, however, so there is plenty of meat on the bone. Huntley is the lesser known entity of the two and is worth a waiver claim if you need running back help.
James Conner played 67% of the snaps, finishing with 18 total touches for 77 yards. He doesn’t look as explosive as he did in Week 1, but he got all six snaps inside the 10-yard line. Benjamin (14%) and Williams (20%) are both moderately involved, each one eating into the snap share of the other. This offense looks clunky, but with DeAndre Hopkins coming back in a couple of weeks, they should get going.
Patterson’s knee acted up as he was limited to just six snaps in the second half. It’s unfortunate because he was on the way to having a decent fantasy day, but the Falcons put him on IR Monday. Tyler Allgeier played 44% of snaps and had 104 total yards on just 11 touches. The bigger story here is Caleb Huntley, who had 10 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown on just a 22% snap share. With Patterson out, Allgeier will get the first crack at things, but Huntley will be involved. I’d lean Allgeier in a PPR, with Huntley being the standard league preference.
Welcome back, J.K. Dobbins. He bumped his snap share up to 52% and finished with 17 touches for 63 yards and two first-half touchdowns. He should play more as he continues his comeback from an ACL tear. Kenyan Drake was a healthy scratch for the second week in a row. That leaves Justice Hill (34% snap share) as the official handcuff here. He continues to work on passing downs, playing 8/15 third down snaps. He did suffer a hamstring injury, so that could put Drake back on the radar.
Singletary got a season-high 87% of the snaps, finishing with 96 total yards on 15 touches. Buffalo trusts him more than James Cook and Zack Moss, neither of whom factored into things Sunday. Making matters worse, Cook had a bad drop in a spot where the Bills were trying to score before halftime. I still can’t quit Cook, but his mistakes will keep him from getting consistent playing time. Singletary is a strong buy right now.
If it weren’t for Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers wouldn’t have an offense. He put fantasy teams on his back yesterday, playing 86% of the snaps despite a late-week quad injury popping up. While the rushing output was paltry, he finished with nine receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. McCaffery’s receiving day could have been even bigger were it not for him having to stay in and block so often. This Panthers team is a mess right now, and if CMC goes down, I don’t care for any backups.
If you started Khalil Herbert, you’re probably a little disappointed in light of what he did in Week 3. He finished with 101 total yards but didn’t find the end zone and was barely involved in the passing game despite playing 13/14 third-down snaps. Still, the process here was sound, and I’d bet on Herbert outproducing his Week 4 stat line 75% of the time, given the same circumstances. He shouldn’t be available in any league.
Joe Mixon’s 28 touches and 84% snap share were a bit surprising after he limped around to end Week 3. I thought Samaje Perine would be used more, but it was obvious the Bengals knew this was a game they had to have, hence the workload for Mixon. The issue here is that Cincinnati is still having a hard time moving people up front on offense. You aren’t benching Mixon, but it would be nice if the production matched the volume because he would be smashing. Either way, he’s a bell cow.
Wash, rinse, repeat from Cleveland in Atlanta this week. Chubb handled 55% of the snaps and went over 100 yards rushing with a touchdown. Hunt played 49% of the snaps and was the primary passing down back. Hunt continues to see snaps inside the 10 because Cleveland is spreading defenses out near the goal-line. A name to keep on your radar is D’Ernest Johnson, who would be a capable fill-in if there was an injury here.
It was a weird day for Dallas on Sunday. Cooper Rush only threw 27 passes, but the Cowboys didn’t run the ball effectively either. This is more a function of the Commanders’ inability to get anything going offensively, and the pace of the game was so slow. Still, averaging 2.1 YPC isn’t going to get you there for Dallas. Ezekiel Elliott did get 21 touches for 81 total yards, but his touchdown dependency makes it hard to feel good about it. As for Tony Pollard, he was even worse, averaging less than a yard per touch.
Williams suffered an ACL tear in the second half so he lost for the season. After the injury, Boone played 65% of the snaps and got almost all the passing-down work. Gordon had another fumble, so maybe Denver is just sick of that. I think this will be a timeshare as I don’t think Boone can handle 15-20 touches every week, but he should be on the waiver radar. If Hackett has legitimately soured on Gordon, Boone could be a fine 12-team option with receiving upside to boot. Of course, they also just signed Murray off the Saints practice squad, so this might be one big barrel of ugly as well.
Detroit is the Coors Field of fantasy football. Williams had a monster day with 108 yards rushing and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 51-yard scoring romp in the third quarter. Now, we can look at this from a couple of different angles. One school of thought would be to look at his day without the long touchdown run. Leaving that out, he was solid but not spectacular. The other way to look at it is to say that Williams is a dude, and this game environment produced exactly what we thought it would. As with most things in life, the reality is somewhere in the middle. Williams is legitimately good, and big plays are unpredictable. Start him if you’ve got him while D’Andre Swift is out.
Another 50/50 split for the Packers Sunday. Aaron Jones went over 100 yards rushing and is averaging 6.8 YPC. He played on 10/15 third downs, but the receiving work was minimal (three receptions, five yards). A.J. Dillon was used as the between-the-tackles thumper, getting 17 carries for 73 yards. This is a true timeshare, although I am leaving Jones as the starter. He seems to have more touchdown upside than Dillon right now.
The Texans only had 14 rushes, but Dameon Pierce handled them all. His 75-yard touchdown in the first half was impressive as he pulled away from the Los Angeles secondary easily. He also had six receptions, so he had some serious PPR juice yesterday. Rex Burkhead continues to be the primary third-down back, and he also found paint yesterday on a receiving touchdown. Pierce’s rookie of the year hopes are very much alive right now.
Every week it seems like I am saying the buy low on Jonathan Taylor. And every week his stat line is worse than the week before. Now he has an ankle injury ahead of a Thursday night game against Denver. Many people will flock to Nyheim Hines, but Deon Jackson would probably be the early down option. The Colts have never used Hines in a three-down role, and I can’t see that changing now. Hines would certainly have flex appeal, but if you pick him thinking he’s getting 20 touches, you will be disappointed.
Unsurprisingly, it was tough sledding for the Jaguars on the ground in Philadelphia. The prevailing school of thought with the weather would have made this a James Robinson game. However, he never got going with the Jaguars playing from behind, and this was a near 50/50 snap split. I am encouraged with Travis Etienne’s usage this week, and I’d be looking to buy him where I could.
There is a lot to unpack here with CEH looking legitimately good Sunday night in a brutal matchup. If you’ve held him, keep riding with him as he got 21 touches, and his value is tough to gauge fairly. You probably won’t get the return you should unless someone is willing to overpay drastically. Isiah Pacheco runs like he will get cut if he doesn’t rip off a 10-yard gain with each carry. He is a sneaky good add who will go overlooked this week with the injuries we have.
Josh Jacobs continues to be a Bronco Killer, finishing with a career-best 177 total yards and a touchdown. The matchup here wasn’t great, but the Raiders made him the offense’s focal point. Jacobs had an 89% snap share and was on the field for 8/14 third downs, which is encouraging for his usage. I still believe Zamir White is a hold, but if you need a running back and you can get one of the waiver additions mentioned above, I wouldn’t blame you for cutting him.
Los Angeles Chargers – Starter: Austin Ekeler, Handcuff: RBBC
Houston was the perfect salve for Austin Ekeler, who scored three touchdowns on 21 touches. He only played 57% of the snaps as they are managing his workload. This could be a situation where he has an increase in playing time in the second half of the season and carries teams to championships. Sony Michel and Joshua Kelley continue to split the remainder of the snaps behind Ekeler, but I’m not sure I’d be interested in them outside of deeper leagues.
The Rams got smoked Monday night, and playing from behind led to Darrell Henderson getting 60% of the snaps. He was in for all of the passing game work (which was most of the 2nd half), but he hardly showed up in the stat sheet. For his part, Cam Akers looked awful and ceded carries to Malcolm Brown inside the 10-yard line. Maybe we can chalk this up as a bad night for the Rams, but they need more out of Henderson and Akers if they want to stay in the NFC race.
I am moving the Dolphins to a committee, but we could be amid a Raheem Mostert takeover. He played 73% of the snaps Thursday, a season-best for Miami running backs. He finished with 81 total yards and got you 10 PPR points while taking three of five snaps inside the 10-yard line. Chase Edmonds found the end zone, but he may be falling out of favor here as he isn’t even playing on passing downs. Keep an eye on this one.
Dalvin Cook’s snap share was down (68%), but with the shoulder injury and the travel to London, that shouldn’t be a surprise. He still got 22 touches and was in for 10/14 third down plays. His shoulder injury will probably linger, but it sounds like it’s something he’s been dealing with for years. I’d be holding onto Mattison because I think it is inevitable that Cook misses a game or two this year, even if the Vikings decide just to give him a week off. Their division is a two-horse race, and I can see them resting Cook down the stretch if they pull away.
Rhamondre Stevenson out-snapped Damien Harris (55%/45%) and got all the third down work, but this was a 50/50 split of the workload. With Bailey Zappe likely starting this week, I’d assume both backs will again be heavily involved. Harris is more touchdown dependent than I’d want for a running back on my roster, but in standard leagues, he has value. I am still rolling with Stevenson everywhere I’ve got him and think his arrow continues to point straight up.
Welcome back to our old friend, Murray, who was elevated from the practice squad when Kamara was a surprise inactive. He and Mark Ingram split snaps (44% for Murray, 47% for Ingram), but it was Murray who found the end zone. He looked crisp, which could be a function of it being October and not going through the rigors of training camp. The Broncos just signed him off the Saints practice squad, so we have that fly in the ointment as well. Either way, at some point, we need to consider the possibility that Kamara’s injury and reduced receiving role make him an RB2. His ADP was nicked because of legal concerns, but at this point, it’s fair to wonder if he will even return value from when he was a fourth or fifth-round pick.
Say it with me: Saquon Barkley, RB1. The Giants didn’t have a quarterback for the fourth Quarter on Sunday. No worries, just put Saquon in as the Wildcat QB and put the game in his hands. He had 33 touches for 162 total yards, meaning he was 50% of the Giants’ total offense from Sunday. If it weren’t for Daniel Jones scoring two rushing touchdowns, we might be talking about one of the best fantasy days of all time. Ride the wave.
Big day for the Jets on Sunday as they won in Pittsburgh for just the secnd time in franchise history. Breece Hall started the takeover of the backfield with a 67% snap share and the game-winning touchdown. Hall got five of five snaps inside the 10, which is a really good sign. On the flip side, troubling news for Michael Carter, who is now deferring to Hall on most passing downs as well. The window to buy Hall is probably slammed shut.
This Philadelphia offense is in smash mode right now, and not even the poor conditions could slow them down. Miles Sanders was the beneficiary of a run-heavy game plan by the Eagles, getting 27 carries for 134 yards and scoring two touchdowns inside the red zone. He is thriving with Jalen Hurts running the zone read, and he’s been a surprise, but his production is legit. Kenny Gainwell continues to mix in, and I think we can safely assume he is the RB2 here.
Things are going to get worse in Pittsburgh before they get better. Kenny Pickett taking the reigns of the offense should be a net positive, but they have a tough stretch of games coming up. Najee Harris isn’t being used in the passing game at all and he looks slow. I’m not going to go crazy here and say Jaylen Warren is the best back on the roster, but he’s got explosiveness that Harris doesn’t right now. The best-case scenario is that Pickett turns the offense around, Harris gets 20+ touches and the Steelers can salvage the season over the next few weeks. I am skeptical that happens, however, so if you have Harris – buckle up. It might get bumpy.
I said this last week: “Rashaad Penny will have a couple of games this year when he pops and reminds us why he was once a highly touted prospect.” We got one of those games Sunday as Penny rolled over the Lions to the tune of 151 yards and two touchdowns. His 68% snap share was healthy, and he is getting bell-cow usage right now. If Geno Smith can continue to improve, this Seattle offense might not be as bad as originally thought. I’d fire up Penny as an RB2 until further notice. As for Walker, he played 35% of the snaps, but probably needs an injury to be relevant. Don’t give up on him, however, because Penny’s got a long history in that realm.
San Francisco thumped the Rams Monday night, with Jeffrey Wilson handling the bulk of the work. He had 74 yards and a 32-yard touchdown run where it looked like he was shot out of a cannon. Wilson has looked really good early on and has been a quality replacement for Elijah Mitchell. In a fascinating twist, Tevin Coleman and not Jordan Mason backed up Wilson last night. Mason is a drop, but I wouldn’t be looking to pick up Coleman just yet either.
Bad news for Leonard Fournette, who saw his snap share drop to just 59% on Sunday night. He finished with negative yards rushing but did have seven receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown in a game where Tampa Bay didn’t try to run the ball. Rachaad White played more than he has in any other game this year, scoring a rushing touchdown and adding a five for 50 receiving line of his own. Despite a fumble on the opening kickoff, Tampa Bay still got him involved, so that was a positive. I am holding White where I have him, anticipating his role growing.
Oh, yes. Vintage Derrick Henry was on full display Sunday in Indianapolis. Henry ran over the Colts for 114 yards and a touchdown while adding 3/33 through the air. I think they will continue to make him involved in the passing game, even on early downs. Hilliard played on nine of 12 third downs, so Henry’s five targets were legit and not just a function of the Titans being in third and long. If the Titans can get rolling, the AFC South is wide open, which means plenty of Henry moving forward.
Oddly, the Commanders ran for 142 yards and averaged 5.3 YPC as a team on Sunday. Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic and Jonathan Williams each had at least 40 yards rushing, though, so the division of labor was ugly. Now we hopefully get Brian Robinson back, putting Gibson’s role in peril. McKissic was on the field for 54% of the snaps and all of the passing downs, so his spot here is secure. It might not happen this week, but I would look for Robinson to become the early-down hammer with McKissic as the passing game back in the longer term.
- A.J. Dillon (GB)
- Alexander Mattison (MIN)
- Tony Pollard (DAL) – Bad week but still the most explosive player here.
- Kareem Hunt (CLE)
- Rachaad White (TB) -Movin’ on up.
- Broncos Backfield – Wonder what to make of Gordon with Mike Boone and Latavius Murray. All three are in this area for me.
- Jaylen Warren (PIT) – Continues to eat into Najee’s workload.
- Samaje Perine (CIN)
- Justice Hill (BAL)
- Dontrell Hilliard (TEN)
- James Cook (BUF) – He’s got more juice than Moss.
- Rex Burkhead (HOU)
I’m leaving Allgeier, Huntley, Boone, and Murray off this week. They are all in committee territory and were mentioned above.
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