Was it just me, or were running backs pretty disappointing during the first week? It could just be me. My weekend consisted of a bachelor party and watching the games at a bar in New Jersey on Sunday sandwiched between two three-hour flights. Sure, there were good performances, but overall it left me feeling validated that I targeted wide receivers in the early rounds over running backs whenever possible. Anyway, here we are with the week two handcuff, which I guess is technically the first full handcuff report. If you didn’t already know, I will be writing the handcuff report this year, and it should be available every Wednesday morning. With this being the first week of games, we will have to try and determine which performances we can expect to see repeated and which ones we are less likely to see repeated on a regular basis.
Those of who you took David Johnson early are feeling pretty good right now. Those of you who took Todd Gurley are probably feeling slightly less good. If you grabbed a bunch of talent in the first few rounds and then snatched up C.J. Anderson and Ameer Abdullah, you probably won your matchup this week. But those guys are all RB1s, and we hate them here because we are more worried about the scrubs who can steal some points in the coming weeks.
Okay, here we go…
Cardinals: David Johnson – Not much to see here. David Johnson dominated the touches, and Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington. Neither of those guys is worth anything right now unless there is an injury, at which point I would guess Johnson is the first guy up.
Falcons: Devonta Freeman / Tevin Coleman – This was a pretty even split, which was not unexpected. The best case scenario here is for you to have both of these guys and see how things shake out, but it might be too late for that if you didn’t draft both. I think Freeman will be the better option over the course of the season, but both have valuable and are playable right now.
Ravens: Justin Forsett / Terrance West / BLAHHHHH – Who had Forsett in the pool for most likely to get cut, get resigned, and then lead the team in rushing week one? This backfield is gross as it is right now, and Javorius Allen would have likely gotten some touches if he wasn’t out on Sunday. I would stay away from this backfield for a few weeks unless we see a shift in the workload.
Bengals: Jeremy Hill/ Giovanni Bernard – Sunday was not a big rushing day for the Bengals, although they did have to play the Jets. We should see much better weeks from both backs, and, like Freeman and Coleman, in an ideal world, you would own both of them to handcuff each other. We would like more consistent production from both backs, as many Hill owners from last year got burned when they took him as a RB1 and got burned.
Browns: Isiah Crowell / Duke Johnson – The Browns running backs are about as exciting as everything else about the Browns (read: they’re not). However, this is a situation worth watching next week, now that we know RGIII is on the IR. I wouldn’t start either of these two next weeks, but I am interested to see what the workload looks like.
Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott / Alfred Morris – Elliott owners are probably not crazy about the numbers above, but he did salvage the day with a nice touchdown run. Morris played about as much and as well as you could expect, but he is pretty much only injury insurance right now.
Broncos: C.J. Anderson / Devontae Booker – This one is a real bummer for me. I’m high on Booker and thought he could steal some touches going forward. But he played pretty poorly and also lost a fumble. And to make matters worse for me (and Booker, I guess), C.J. Anderson looked great. It’s only one game, but consider my heart broken. I’m going to hold out hope for another week or two and see if he bounces back.
Lions: Ameer Abdullah / Theo Riddick / DeAndre Washington – This Lions team was a fantasy running back gold mine on Sunday. Hell, even Washington got himself one yard and one touchdown (much to the chagrin of Abdullah and Riddick owners). Washington is not owning right now, but Abdullah and Riddick both had great days. Neither is a RB1, of course, and there will be some weeks where one or both disappoints because of this timeshare, but Sunday was a great start for both of them.
Colts: Gore – No real need to mention the situations of the Packers and Texans here. Both are pretty clear for now. Starks is an injury stash only. As for the Colts and Gore, their running game looked pretty meh. And they play the Broncos next week, so none of their running backs are great plays.
Jaguars: T.J. Yeldon / Chris Ivory / Denard Robinson – Many Yeldon owners probably tossed him into the lineup on Sunday once we found out Chris Ivory wasn’t going to play. And while his YPC was AWFUL, he did add four catches and punch in a touchdown. Ivory is now out of the hospital, but he is not exactly a sure thing to play next week. Yeldon is only worth starting next week if Ivory is definitely out. If Yeldon continues to average less than two yards per carry, expect the workload to shift to Ivory when he is healthy.
Chiefs: Jamaal Charles / Spencer Ware / Charcandrick West. ALL HAIL SPENCER WARE, GOD OF THE HANDCUFFS. Those of you who were fortunate enough to grab Ware and bold enough to start him last week were rewarded with the numbers you see above. Charles will be back at some point, but enjoy Ware while he is gone. Even when Charles is back, I would hold onto Ware to see how things shake out for a while. The Chiefs will likely ease Charles back as long as Ware is producing like this, and even then Ware may get his touches.
Rams: Todd Gurley / Benny Cunningham – The bad news is that the Rams looked bad, and Todd Gurley didn’t have much room to run. The good news, if you can stomach me telling you there is any good news about the 5ish points your 1st round running back put up in week 1, is that he got all but two of the touches to the running backs. He didn’t put up any stats, but at least the Rams are using him like a true bell cow. Now, you just have to hope that they develop some kind of offense around him so that he isn’t running into a crowded box every week ʘ‿ʘ.
Patriots: LeGarrette Blount / James White. It’s always hard to rely on Patriots running backs on a weekly basis, but Blount owners got their 70 yards and touchdown. White owners in PPR leagues got five catches and forty yards, but hopefully, you didn’t have to start him.
Jets: Bilal Powell – I thought we would see more of Bilal Powell on Sunday, and I think we will on most weeks. Maybe I will end up being wrong, but I can’t see the Jets giving 30 touches to a running back over 30 all year. Then again, who knows. They gave him $12 million over three years, so it isn’t like he is some long term and expensive investment. Still, while Forte is the clear number 1, I think we will see a more balanced split going forward. That should be especially true this week because they play on Thursday night. If Powell is available on waivers and you are looking for a handcuff or running back depth, go and grab him.
Raiders: Latavius Murray / Other Guys – Latavius Murray led the way with 45 snaps and 14 carries, which was expected (if not more carries), but four other guys all getting snaps and touches was pretty surprising. Murray was only in the game for 62% of the team’s offensive snaps, and none of the other guys was on the field for more than 16% (FB Olawale). The frustrating part for fantasy is that not only did Murray not get as many touches as we would like, but there also isn’t a clear handcuff at this point. Washington was the popular choice coming into the season, but we are going to have to keep an eye on this running back situation going forward.
Eagles: Ryan Mathews / Darren Sproles – Sproles owners will not be happy with the Ryan Mathews workload and the touches by Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood. You likely grabbed Sproles hoping for a split closer to 60/40 for Mathews and Sproles under new head coach Doug Pederson, so seven touches–with only 2 catches–is a disappointing start. I think we will see more of Sproles going forward, and he is still worth stashing, but this was a disappointing start. It may be that the Eagles opted to lean on Mathews with a lead, so perhaps Sproles is in for more catches going forward. He was on the field a ton during the game, he just didn’t get many touches.
Chargers: Melvin Gordon / Danny Woodhead – Those numbers are pretty much what Gordon and Woodhead owners were looking for when drafting a few weeks ago. The Chargers losing Keenan Allen for the year is not great news for either of their values, though.
49ers: Carlos Hyde / Shaun Draughn – That Chip Kelly offense, brah. Hyde looked great on Monday night. Draughn kind of didn’t, but he did get nine touches and a touchdown. If Hyde continues to play this well, there may not be many touches left for Draughn. But Chip Kelly does run an offense that requires the backup running back to spell the starter pretty often, so he may be someone worth watching as we go forward. Probably not next week against the Panthers, though.
Seahawks: Christine Michael / Thomas Rawls. It came out late last week that Christine Michael was going to start over Thomas Rawls, at least for week one. But Rawls still played a bunch, which was good news for Rawls owners like me who were ready to walk into traffic. These two are going to share touches for the time being and possibly the entire season unless one starts having more consistent success than the other. This is another situation where you’d like to own both and wait it out. Easier said than done, unfortunately.
Titans: DeMarco Murray / Derrick Henry – Hard to gauge much here since they were playing the Vikings. Murray looked better than he did last year in Philly, I guess? And he caught two touchdowns, so Murray owners at least got some points yesterday. Henry didn’t have much success, but he is still a nice guy to stash for now.
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