Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb and Christian McCaffrey are just some of the NFL’s top RBs who’ll be unavailable this week with six teams on a bye. Fantasy football managers will certainly have their work cut out for them as they attempt to set lineups featuring fantasy relevant running backs (RBs) whose potential snap counts, receiving targets, and carries give them the best chance to win their weekly matchups in Week 9.

We’ve adjusted our RB handcuff grid to reflect some changes to the composition of backfields who were involved in trades that included RBs this week. Also, as usual, we’ll identify a few RBs who might see increased or decreased opportunities this week. We’ll also examine some backfields that are in flux and analyze their recent and potential future RB usage in an attempt to project how their RBs will be utilized moving forward.



NFL Week 8 Running Back Usage Report

Los Angeles Rams

With the Rams unable to move Cam Akers before the NFL’s trade deadline on Tuesday and the team averaging 3.3 YPC (31st worst in football), their backfield has been a group effort in futility so far this season. Whether or not Akers plays another snap for the Rams remains to be seen, but it appears that Darrell Henderson should, at least temporarily, be considered their primary back. Head coach Sean McVay explained that Ronnie Rivers got the start ahead of Henderson because he was experiencing early game breathing issues related to the flu. Rivers averaged 5.0 YPC in five seasons for Fresno State and was pretty good at catching balls out of the backfield, but he averaged just 2.6 YPC in Week 8. Henderson has also underwhelmed this season and is only averaging 3.9 YPC. Malcolm Brown has averaged just under 15 snaps per game over the past two weeks, but he’s been ineffective, and only averaged 2.08 YPC during that time period. With Kyren Williams (ankle) potentially making his NFL debut in Week 9, Henderson might not hold on to the Rams’ RB1 slot for too long. The Rams are hoping that Williams, who was expected to have a big role in the Rams’ backfield before suffering a high ankle sprain, could help jump start their rushing attack. If by chance Williams is still available on your league’s waiver wire, he might be worth stashing due to his potential upside. 

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have a Week 9 bye but their potential backfield utilization in the coming weeks just got a lot murkier with the addition of Chase EdmondsMelvin Gordon played a higher percentage of offensive snaps (56%) than Latavius Murray (44%) in Week 8, but Murray had more carries (14) than Gordon (9). Both only averaged just over three yards per carry, and that leaves the door open for Edmonds to potentially steal some of their playing time. Edmonds has never been a starter in his five-year NFL career and with the way that head coach Nathaniel Hackett has been managing his backfield, it’s probably going to take an injury to either Gordon or Murray for him to have a primary role in the Broncos’ backfield. Edmonds is likely to drain some of their fantasy value by taking a few carries and catching some passes out of the backfield but unless he suddenly gets hot, he’s likely to have a similar role to the one that he had with the Dolphins. Unfortunately, his fantasy value has not improved as the result of this transaction. 

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins tweaked their backfield composition by trading away Chase Edmonds and trading for Jeff Wilson Jr. Wilson Jr.’s fantasy value took a big hit when the 49ers traded for Christian McCaffrey and hasn’t really improved much now that he’s Raheem Mostert’s handcuff. Wilson Jr. has a direct path to a role as the Dolphins’ RB1 but as long as Mostert is healthy, it appears he’ll still be the team’s primary back.

Dallas Cowboys

With Ezekiel Elliott sidelined in Week 8 due to a knee injury, his handcuff, Tony Pollard, had himself a day. He rushed for 131 yards on 14 carries (9.36 YPC) and scored three TDs. Unfortunately for those fantasy managers rostering Pollard, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested that Elliott will remain the team’s lead back as long as he’s healthy. Pollard averages 13.1 PPR fantasy points per game (FPPG) compared to Elliott’s 11.1 FPPG this season, but Jones cited Elliott’s skill as a pass protector as being a key factor in his continuing to play the majority of snaps among Cowboys RBs. The other thing we were able to confirm last Sunday is that should Elliott be unavailable for a prolonged period of time, rookie Malik Davis will likely serve as Pollard’s handcuff. 

Atlanta Falcons

Tyler Allgeier, who has TDs in each of his last two games and Caleb Huntley, who is averaging 4.6 YPC on the season have done a good job while Cordarrelle Patterson has been on the IR (knee) since Week 5. However, Patterson is eligible to come off of the IR this week and once reinstated, he’s likely to step right back into his role as the Falcons’ primary back. Prior to his injury Patterson played an average of just under 62% of the Falcons’ offensive snaps. Allgeier was inactive in Week 1, but averaged eight carries per game between Weeks 2 and 3 and would likely have a larger role than Huntley once Patterson is activated from the IR. 

Buffalo Bills

The Bills shuffled their backfield by trading for pass catching specialist Nyheim Hines and sending Zack Moss and a conditional 2023 sixth-round draft pick to the Colts. Hines should see a slight uptick in his fantasy value by playing in the Bills’ high-powered offense. Devin Singletary’s overall fantasy value might take a slight as a result of the trade. He is second on the team with 23 receptions, but with Hines averaging 3.6 catches per game this season, Singletary might not get as many opportunities to play on passing downs moving forward. Moss hasn't played a snap since Week 5 and provides the Colts’ backfield with a depth piece. Deon Jackson will continue to function as Jonathan Taylor’s handcuff. Taylor, who has had a disappointing season thus far, should see a slight increase in pass catching opportunities moving forward.

New Orleans Saints

With Mark Ingram expected to miss up to four weeks due to a grade 2 MCL sprain, Dwayne Washington will likely fill his role as the Saints’ change of pace back and Alvin Kamara’s handcuff. However, the versatile Taysom Hill had 10 carries in Week 8 and already has 39 on the season. With Ingram sidelined, when Kamara needs a break, the Saints may opt to utilize Hill more often than Washington when they want to try to move the ball on the ground. 

Baltimore Ravens

Keep an eye on Gus Edwards progress as the week progresses. He’s dealing with a hamstring injury. If he’s unavailable in Week 9 Kenyan Drake will likely be the busiest RB in the Ravens’ backfield. 


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