As we mark the halfway point of the NFL season, many fantasy football outlets are performing mid-year reviews. While reflecting on early season analysis can be beneficial, I know you are more concerned about who to start this week for your starter that is on bye and what is going on with the multiple backfield injuries. This is what I am here to give you…
At this point in the season, the waiver wire is like a scrap yard. Everything has been picked over multiple times and we are left with mostly junk. We can find diamonds in the rough, ie. Nick Chubb- if lucky, later in the season but most of these plays have been sniffed out. We have a lot of names this week that can be considered handcuffs in larger leagues, for deep benches or if you are stuck in a desperate situation. In smaller leagues or if you have a short bench, I look at these players as a one-time bye week ‘dart throw’ fill in. Someone that isn’t worth keeping on your roster long term but they hold just enough value, based off opportunity alone, that you can get a return while they fill in for a week. The key to this story is opportunity. Lastly, keep an eye on your players that have byes in week 9. If you have the bench flexibility, the savvy move is to get ahead of your bye and not rely on your leagues waiver priority next Wednesday.
Alright, let’s jump in to the Bad Boyz of Week 8.
- Nick Chubb- I have been beating the drum on Chubb since week 5 and now we are at a point where he is no longer a handcuff. Old news now, but Carlos Hyde has been shipped off to Jacksonville leaving Chubb as the lead dog in the pound. His backfield-mate, Duke Johnson Jr., becomes the handcuff to own in Cleveland. The Browns keep teasing about getting Johnson more involved in the offense and lining him up out wide but we have yet to see this take off. Only 1 carry and 4 targets last week. Johnson is worth a bench spot as this backfield thinned out with Hydes departure.
- D’Onta Foreman- I put Foreman on our ‘wanted list’ recently but after researching further he is not worth a roster spot at this time. A source of mine, in the Houston market, has informed me that Foreman has gained some weight while rehabbing and the coaching staff is not pleased with the shape he is in. Pushing his time-table to return outside of fantasy relevancy. It is safe to drop him unless we hear anything different. Alfred Blue remains the handcuff for Lamar Miller owners.
- Latavius Murray- I can’t decide which situation is worse for fantasy owners. Dalvin Cook in Minnesota or Leonard Fournette in Jacksonville. I lean towards the later. At least in Minnesota the handcuff is obvious. I’ve been writing about Murray since the pre-season so I’ll spare you the long blurb about one of the most obvious handcuff situations in the league. Dalvin Cook is expected to be out until, at least, after Minnesotas bye week. Murray will still hold value when and IF Dalvin returns. Keep him on your rosters now that the Vikings run game is alive. Murray has 241 yards on 42 touches with 3TDs over the last two weeks.
- Austin Ekeler- Ekeler was one of the hottest names on the wire at the beginning of the season but has since faded. Hopefully Melvin Gordon owners were able to scoop Ekeler up as league-mates gave up on rostering him. Gordon was sidelined last week for their London game. Apparently, the Chargers intentionally sat Melvin to avoid his hamstring from lingering. He is expected to be back in full after their bye this week. It is a hamstring injury and we have seen this show before with Fournette, Cook, and the list goes on. Keep Ekeler on your roster as we head down the stretch.
- Chris Ivory- Posted 106 yards on 19 touches last week after LeSean McCoy left the game with a concussion. McCoy is still in concussion protocol but was spotted at practice today. Keep an eye on the practice report Friday. Ivory is dealing with a minor injury of his own but is not expected to miss time. Unlikely, but if both backs sit out then Marcus Murphy is the back to own in Buffalo.
- Doug Martin and Jalen Richard- Another tandem we have been writing about since earlier in the season. Marshawn Lynch showed signs of beast mode this season but he is 32 years old and his body broke down on him. Lynch was placed on the injured reserve, queuing up opportunity for Martin and Richard. All reports coming out of Oakland point to Martin as the feature back with Richard operating as the primary passing and 3rd down back. Last week, I leaned towards Richard over Martin in PPR leagues and I still stand by that until we see game action. I imagine Oakland playing from behind, as we close out the season, which favors Richard over Martin. Even with Martin as the “feature back,” Richards stands to get an increased opportunity with Lynch out. A deep league sneaky add is Deandre Washington. For now, it is hard to trust anyone on the Raiders offense.
- Nyheim Hines- Marlon Mack missed practice on Thursday with an ankle injury after showing up on Wednesday for a limited practice. Late additions to the injury report always scare me. This is different from the hamstring that kept him out earlier this season. This is a big one to monitor on Friday. After a huge performance last week, Mack was primed for another juicy matchup against the Oakland Raiders. Luckily, if he does sit out, we have seen this backfield play out before. Hines was starting to make his name before Mack returned and he is the back to fire up in PPR leagues.
- TJ Yeldon- After the acquisition of Carlos Hyde, TJ Yeldon now resumes his role as the backup running back in Jacksonville. He still carries handcuff value until Fournette returns. Leonard is still expected back after their bye next week. After acquiring Hyde, I question how confident Jacksonville feels about Fournette’s return. If he ends up returning, Carlos Hyde will be a must owned handcuff. Tough matchup for both Yeldon and Hyde this week going up against a stout Eagles run defense.
- Raheem Mostert- I admitted completely whiffing on the 49ers backfield last week but we have another name to put in cuffs in San Fran. Averaging 7.68 yards per carry and out touching Alfred Morris 23 to 9 over the last two weeks, Mostert has inserted himself as the handcuff to own for Breida owners. Breida missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with an ankle injury. Shanahan said they would be more careful about rushing Breida back out on the field. With Breida trending towards the bench Sunday, Mostert is a viable bye week fill in going up against the Arizona Cardinals bottom of the barrel run defense. Sneaky cheap DFS play if Breida misses, $3,800 on DraftKngs.
- Ronald Jones- Tampa Bay’s backfield is one to avoid until they are able to show any sort of life. Excluding QB and WR rushing stats this backfield is averaging less than 60 yards a game and only 1 rushing touchdown on the season from a running back. Peyton Barber missed practice on Wednesday and was limited Thursday with an ankle injury. If he is able to practice again on Friday, I expect Barber to suit up. Even if Barber is active, the Bucs might be inclined to shake things up to get something going in this backfield. RoJo is a speculative add in deeper leagues or RB desperate rosters.
- Kenjon Barner- Sony Michel left Sundays game with, what looked like, a gnarly knee injury. Michel dodged a bullet after avoiding any structural damage to his knee. He is doubtful to play on Monday and the Patriots have yet to make any RB acquisitions, leaving Barner in line for an increased work load. James White is obviously the lead dog with Michel out but Belichick is a master of utilizing the talent on his roster. Barner received 10 carries after Michel exited the game and I can see him receiving another 10-15 carries on Monday night. Worth a flier for your bye week fill in and if Michel continues to miss more time.
- Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon- We find Bilal Powell on the injured reserve this week and Isaiah Crowell is fighting his own foot/ankle injury. A full participant in practice this week, Crowell finds himself atop the depth chart in New York. McQuire and Cannon are a pure upside stash for later in the season. Cannon receives the biggest boost this week but keep an eye on Elijah McGuire. He is eligible to return in week 9 and could find himself in a similar role to Powell, splitting the starting job with Crowell.
- Devontae Booker- Another backfield not worth getting too excited about but needs to be addressed. Royce Freeman missed practiced on Wednesday and Thursday. Booker is another speculative add out of desperation. He will have a shot to show the coaching staff if he is worthy of more work. A decent matchup against the Chiefs defense that has given up the 2nd most fantasy points to the running back position in PPR formats. Even though the Broncos will likely play from behind, Bookers production will be one to watch. Check back next week to see if we release him or keep him in cuffs.
- Kapri Bibbs- Adrian Peterson might just carry an injury designation the rest of the season. The Redskins are showing us that they are handling him with care. Keeping him out and limited in practice earlier in the week. Nothing I can find concerns me about his availability this week. Chris Thompson is still ‘day-to-day’ with a rib and knee injury. Thompson was limited this week and is expected to practice in full Friday. If he does not suit up, Bibbs will step in to Thompsons 3rd down role. Bibbs racked up a touchdown and 56 yards on 6 touches last week with Thompson out. Keep an eye on the injury report Friday and the inactive list on Sunday.
Unfortunately, we have too many backs getting banged up and ending up on IR. As we enter the last half of the season and head in to colder weather grabbing your RB handcuff is even more important. I’ll keep tweeting any breaking RB injury news from now through Sunday. Follow me on twitter to stay plugged in.
Cheers and good luck in your games this weekend!