We start the Week 5 handcuffs with a simple question: Who is Jaleel McLaughlin?
He could be the top waiver pickup this week, but aside from that, he’s the NCAA’s all-time leader in rushing yards. McLaughlin did enough in the preseason to earn a spot on Denver’s 53-man roster despite being an undrafted rookie out of Youngstown State. On Sunday, he out-touched Samaje Perine, turning 10 touches into 105 yards and a touchdown on his way to 19.4 PPR points.
Javonte Williams exited Sunday’s game with a hip injury, leaving Perine and McLaughlin to shoulder the load in the second half. Conventional wisdom says Sean Payton will use both backs, but McLaughlin showed some burst on Sunday that the Broncos have been lacking. The biggest downside to him is his size (5-foot-7, 187 pounds), so it is unlikely he gets more than 10-12 touches. Still, that would make him Flex-worthy in most formats. I would also be putting Perine back on the radar because he was Denver’s preferred option in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
Projecting for this week, I believe this will be a 60/40 snap-split in favor of Perine. The matchup of the Jets is beatable on the ground, as they are giving up 148 rushing yards per game. With Williams being questionable, I would make sure that I had claims in for both healthy Denver running backs.
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Fantasy Football Running Back Handcuff Rankings (Week 5)
- Devon Achane (MIA) – At this point, I don’t know if he even qualifies, but he’s very good.
- Chuba Hubbard (CAR)
- Jahmyr Gibbs (DET)
- Elijah Mitchell (SF)
- Zack Moss (IND)
- Zach Charbonnet (SEA)
- Jaylen Warren (PIT)
- Samaje Perine (DEN)/Jaleel McLaughlin (DEN)
- Tyjae Spears (TEN)
- Roschon Johnson (CHI)
- Starter: Miles Sanders
- Handcuff: Chuba Hubbard
Chuba Hubbard played on 54% of the snaps Sunday, evenly splitting 32 touches with Miles Sanders. It might be a touch too early to panic about Sanders’ role in the offense, but of greater concern is Carolina’s inability to get anything going offensively. They rank 25th in the league with 282 yards per game, a number that is skewed by the 372 yards they had in Week 3 in Seattle. If this turns into a committee, neither running back is viable as much more than a dart-throw RB2/Flex.
- Starter: Khalil Herbert
- Handcuff: Roschon Johnson
Chicago gave Khalil Herbert a bell-cow role, and he responded, rushing for 103 yards and adding a receiving touchdown on a 79% snap share. Could the Bears be showcasing Herbert for a trade? It’s possible, although he is on a rookie deal, making him a cost-efficient option already. I still like Johnson a lot as a backup, and I don’t trust Chicago to fully commit to Herbert every week. It’s hard to trust the Bears offensively, and they very well might be the worst team in the league.
- Starter: Jonathan Taylor
- Handcuff: Zack Moss
Taylor is due back to the Colts on Wednesday, and he is expected to make his season debut this weekend. Zack Moss has been a capable fill-in, and the thought for some would be to try and shop him to the Taylor owner. Putting a valuation on Moss could be challenging, but there is still a chance Taylor doesn’t play a down of football for Indianapolis this year. That makes it a difficult scenario to navigate. So, if you are trying to sell high, understand that Moss could end up with as many weeks as an RB1 for the Colts as Taylor does.
New Orleans Saints
I said last week to anticipate a 70% snap share for Alvin Kamara, and sure enough, he played 75% of the snaps. In one of the most Kamara-esque performances of all time, he had 13 receptions for 33 yards as Derek Carr was unable to push the ball downfield. While I wouldn’t anticipate him getting that type of receiving volume each week, Kamara makes for a nice RB2 start this week in New England.