As seasoned fantasy football managers already know, creating a roster deep enough to withstand the weekly onslaught of injuries suffered by fantasy RBs is one of the keys to having a successful season. 

Josh Jacobs, Darrell Henderson and Dalvin Cook were just a few of the RBs who were inactive in Week 3. The situation surrounding Cook’s game time status is one that new fantasy football players can learn from: monitor weekly practice reports and any player news that comes out on game day, and make sure to have a backup plan. The Vikings kept fantasy managers who roster Cook hanging for a while before officially announcing that he was out, but Cook hadn’t practiced all week and early game day reports suggested that Cook was unlikely to play. Fantasy football managers who roster Cook and his handcuff, Alexander Mattison (171 total yards and six catches in Week 3) were rewarded handsomely.

Mattison exemplifies what this column and the accompanying handcuff grid is all about. He and Cowboys RB Tony Pollard are two of the best RB handcuffs in fantasy football. Both are talented enough to be an RB1 on just about any NFL team and both can be used by fantasy football managers to protect their first round RB investments. Here’s some other RB news to take note of:


With Bill Belichick’s favorite pass catching back James White out indefinitely (hip subluxation) the Pats worked out Ito Smith, Ryquell Armstead, Dontrell Hilliard and Artavis Pierce earlier this week. As this article is being written none of those RBs have been signed yet but Belichick will be busy retooling his backfield leading up to Sunday’s game against Tom Brady’s Bucs. Brandon Bolden led the Patriots backfield in snaps played in Week 3 due to Damien Harris’ pass protection limitations. J.J. Taylor, who can be an effective runner and pass catcher, could play a bit more in Week 4. Or perhaps, rookie RB Rhamondre Stevenson, who has been inactive since his Week 1 fumbling and pass protection issues, might get a second chance to have a role in the Pats backfield this week. Like many rookies he’s experiencing some growing pains but did lead the NFL with 217 yards and five rushing touchdowns in the three preseason games. 


Perhaps the Patriots might look to the trade market for RB help. The Colts are said to be seeking to trade 25-year-old RB Marlon Mack. Mack rushed for 1091 yards in 2019 but missed most of last season due to a torn Achilles tendon. Mack has been an adequate pass catching back in his pro career but unfortunately, his pass protection skills have been a bit underwhelming. While almost every NFL team could use some depth at the RB position, the 49ers, Rams, Panthers and the Ravens all seem like potential landing spots for Mack. The NFL trade deadline isn’t until November 2nd so there is no rush for the Colts to make a deal, but should they move Mack, Jordan Wilkins, who’s been relegated to playing special teams snaps, could see an increased role in the Colts’ backfield. Mack was inactive in Week 3 in part because the Colts wanted to have an extra active QB available due to Carson Wentz’s injured ankles.


Christian McCaffrey’s hamstring injury obviously looms large for managers who roster him, but the fact that the Panthers have decided not to place him on the IR (at least for now) could be looked at as cause for optimism. Fantasy managers who had the foresight to roster Chuba Hubbard, McCaffrey’s handcuff, should be pleased with his Week 3 performance (4.73 YPC and three catches for 27 yards). Royce Freeman, who is a good pass catching back, should also have a role in the Panthers’ backfield with McCaffrey sidelined. The Panthers could also decide to elevate Rodney Smith from their practice squad in order to add depth to their backfield. 


Injuries To Keep Track Of Heading Into Week 4

49ers Backfield 

If Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) is out again, Trey Sermon should be the 49ers’ primary back but keep an eye out for Jacques Patrick.

Chris Carson, Seahawks

Monitor Carson’s hamstring injury. Alex Collins and Travis Homer could have an expanded role if Carson is limited.

Josh Jacobs, Raiders

Peyton Barber is clearly Jacobs’ (ankle) handcuff.

Darrell Henderson Jr., Rams

If Henderson (ribs) is out again in Week 4, Sony Michel, who did a good job picking up the blitz in Week 3, should get most of the early down work in the Rams’ backfield. As this article is being written Henderson does have a chance to play in Week 4.