Week 1 and 2 Handcuff Reports hit on Raheem Mostert, Jamaal Williams, Chris Thompson and Rex Burkhead, so far this season. Handcuff values can fluctuate on a week-to-week basis and injuries are not the only influencers. Efficiency, usage and fumbling issues are additional indicators that can influence the rise of a ‘handcuff.’ The Week 3 Handcuff Report highlights a number of RB situations that need to be monitored heading into week 4 of the NFL season. Enjoy!
Week 3 Offenders
New York Giants
The consensus #1 overall fantasy pick, Saquon Barkley, left Sundays game early and was later seen walking around on crutches in a walking boot. Per ESPN Adam Schefter, the Giants early diagnosis is a high-ankle sprain and Barkley will undergo MRI testing on Monday to further evaluate. 49ers RB Tevin Coleman suffered a high ankle sprain in week 1 and is shelved for 4-6 weeks, unless Barkleys MRI yields a different diagnosis we can expect a similar timetable to return for Saquon. Wayne Gallman will be a popular name on waivers this week as the clear backup to Saquon Barkley, but I warn spending a high waiver priority or blowing FAAB budget on Gallman. Other viable options are available on waivers. The last time Gallman exceed 40 rushing yards in a game was the 2017 season. He was serviceable in his first season in the NFL (2017) operating in a true RBBC, averaging 4.3 yards per carry for 476 yards on 111 attempts. Hoping Gallman can replace Barkley’s production will leave you with a broken heart. Expect the Giants to lean on rookie QB, Danny Dimes, to lead this team while Saquon is out. Daniel Jones showed his youth, athleticism, and ability to scramble on Sunday leading a comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If Barkley’s ankle is more serious, I would not be surprised to see the Giants make a transaction at the running back position.
Before spending your waiver priority or taking a large withdrawal from your FAAB budget (< 5%), look to see if other options are available on your waivers. Frank Gore is still available in more than 50% of leagues on ESPN and over 40% in NFL/Yahoo. Rex Burkhead, who led NE in snap % in week 3, is available in over 70% of ESPN/NFL/Yahoo leagues. Pending tonights MNF matchup, Chris Thompson is averaging 12.5 PPR points per game, and is available in over 48% of ESPN leagues, over 56% of Yahoo leagues, and over 68% of NFL leagues. I would also consider KC Darrell Williams, if Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy continue to be hobbled by injuries. Replacing a fantasy talent like Saquon Barkley from waivers is nearly impossible, fantasy seasons are ruined because of injuries to studs like Barkley. Try leveraging a trade if you have depth elsewhere on our roster or hope that Barkley’s time table to return is quicker than expected.
New England Patriots
James White was ruled out Sunday because of his wife in the hospital expecting their child (reported by ESPN Adam Schefter). White will cut into Burkhead snaps when James returns. In a game where Sony Michel was expected to dominate touches, Burkhead led this backfield in snap % (74% to Michels 28.6%) and outproduced Michel. Burkhead took 11 attempts for 47 yards, a TD, and 6 catches on 7 targets for 22 yards (18.9 PPR points). Compared to Michels sickening 9 carries for 11 yards, 1 target, and a day-saving goal line TD. Burkhead leads this backfield in snaps through 3 weeks of the NFL season, 106 snaps to Michels 75. Burkhead will fluctuate in New Englands RBBC, but should be consider a top RB add this week for owners lacking depth at the position. Burkhead is available in over 70% of ESPN/Yahoo/NFL leagues.
A mid round fantasy draft pick, Rashaad Penny was sidelined this week with a hamstring injury. There is a chance league-mates bailed on Penny and dropped him to waivers after being ruled out this week and putting up a dud in week 1. Chris Carson owners need to aggressively target Penny in a trade while his value remains relatively low, for now. Carson is having a bad case of the fumbles, coughing up the ball an unprecedented 4 times this season (losing 3). Carsons confidence is in a fragile state and Rashaad Penny looked good in week 2. Penny impressively took 10 carries for 62 yards (6.2 YPC), and scored a tuddy all while Carson had to watch on the sideline, in a healhty timeout for his fumbling woes. Available in ~32% of ESPN/NFL and 38% of Yahoo leagues, make sure to double check your waivers for Penny this week. Or look for trade targets, this could turn into a similar situation as Nick Chubb in Cleveland last year. Chubb usurped Carlos Hyde after the first 4-5 weeks of the season. Carson owners beware.
After forcing fantasy owners to increase their anxiety meds, Marlon Mack missed practice Wednesday and Thursday of last week before returning in limited fashion on Friday. His questionable designation remained until game time, but Mack rewarded fantasy owners. Posting 74 yards and a TD for 16.8 PPR points. Jordan Wilkins was an after thought, on the field for only 10% of the Colts offensive snaps. Marlon Mack owners are presented with a window of opportunity to grab their handcuff. We have seen calf injuries linger like hamstrings and cause players to be sidelined for multiple weeks. Mack’s future practice reports might mirror week 3 and cause a lot of angst for owners when Mack ends up as a game time inactive. Having Wilkins as your insurance policy in a run efficient offense will pay off if Mack misses time. In deeper leagues, he is a name to consider as a bench stash. In 12-team leagues with 7 or less bench spots, don’t waste the waiver claim unless you own Mack.
Watch list candidates for now, but Ito Smith left early and did not return in Sundays bout against the Colts with a concussion. Monitor Smith’s progress this week to see if he is able to clear the NFL’s concussion protocol and return to practice. If not, Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison will be interesting names to watch. Devonta Freeman failed to produce the first two weeks of the season, but was able to redeem himself Sunday taking 16 carrels for 88 yards and score. Freemans job is safe, but an aging veteran coming off a season long injury is at risk of breaking down as the season wears on.
Darrel Williams led the Kansas City backfield in touches and efficiency with Damien Williams sidelined (knee) and veteran LeSean McCoy limited (ankle) in week 3 against the Ravens. McCoy was able to score two touchdowns on Sunday, but was obviously hobbled by his ankle throughout the game. Damiens absence and McCoys ankle paved the way for Darrels 9 carries – 62 yards (6.2 ypc) and 5 receptions on 5 targets for 47 yards. Neither Damien Williams nor McCoy’s injuries are currently long term threats to their availability, but both situations need to be monitored. Darwin Thompson was an afterthought on Sunday (4 car for 8 yds, 0 targets) and is merely a speculative stash in deeper formats. Darwin is a candidate for release, if Damien and McCoy are able to move on from their current injuries. Keep in mind, Damien has never handled a full starting RB workload and McCoy is an aging veteran with a history of recent injuries. Darrel Williams remains a bench stash, and Darwin is an end of season watch list candidate.
Jamaal Williams remains a premium handcuff and is on the verge of stand alone flex value in full point PPR leagues if his usage continues in Green Bay. Williams led this backfield in snaps % (61%) over Aaron Jones (39%), and out touched Jones (14 to 11 total touches), surprisingly after Jones’ explosive performance in week 2. Jones still remains the top back to own in Green Bay, but HC Matt LeFleur’s sentiment to “even up” (reported by Packers beat Ryan Wood) touches between these backs should instill some level of fear into Jones owners. Williams should be a top waiver add in most formats heading into week 4.
Raheem Mostert is a weekly flex play in a fantasy running back friendly offense. Even though Mostert was 2nd in RB snaps in week 3, he was more efficient with his touches. Taking 12 carrels for 79 yards, boasting a healthy 6.6 yards per carry. Tevin Coleman’s return from a high ankle sprain looms, and will impact the fantasy value of everyone in this backfield. Mostert and Matt Breida are both sell candidates as Colemans return nears. Jeff Wilson Jr. is a low upside add even though he vultured goal line touches for a 2nd week in a row. Wilson does not see the field enough to instill confidence in starting lineups, unless in super deep leagues where praying for him to fall in the end zone for a 3rd consecutive week is the only hope.
Justin Jackson remains a handcuff in deeper formats or for RB desperate owners until Melvin Gordon returns. Jackson has been efficient with his touches, averaging a healthy 7.9 yards per carry but is not seeing the field (30% snap rate) or touching the ball enough (6.0 touches per game) to be consider flex worthy.
Up For Release
I warned about Ty Montgomery being a trap add last week, following Le’Veon Bell ‘s shoulder scare, but more so because of this offenses’ inability to move the ball under 3rd string quarterback Luke Falk – paired with a brutal rushing schedule. If and when Sam Darnold can return, Ty might become someone to consider for our benches but not any time in the near future. Monty should be released to waivers in most fantasy formats.
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