When it comes to the fantasy football running back position many fantasy managers usually and understandably prefer rostering young backs whose bodies haven’t been subjected to the years of wear and tear that goes hand in hand with the position. Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson was a perennial first round pick in preseason drafts and while he has enjoyed a fine season, he’s fantasy football’s over RB 16 thus far based on his 14.4 PPR fantasy points per game average. On the other hand, there have been some veteran running backs that have remained fantasy relevant and been able to carry a full load this season. Many of us have been expecting 31-year-old Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert to slow down as the season has progressed but all he’s done is lead the league with 14 rushing touchdowns. Mostert is fantasy football’s RB 5 on the season, averaging 18 PPR fantasy points per game. Speaking of veteran running backs, over the next few weeks a 28-year-old running back that you probably know very well will get to show us what he’s got left in the tank as he likely takes over as his team’s lead back. We’ll cover that situation and identify a few other backfields that deserve your attention in this week’s RB Handcuff Report.

Handcuffing Your Running Backs

When you handcuff your RBs in many instances you’re:

  • Protecting your early round investment
  • Buying into and trusting that your RB’s team will continue to make running the football a priority 
  • Figuratively taking out insurance against an injury prone RB or one who has a good chance of losing his job if he doesn’t perform well

Atlanta Falcons

As we mentioned earlier, Bijan Robinson may not be living up to the high preseason expectations that some fantasy managers had for him, but he has provided good and consistent season long fantasy production. Second year Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier, who rushed for 1035 yards last season, has had a larger role in the team’s offense this season than some had expected and that has helped in limiting Robinson’s overall fantasy production. However, Allgeier’s role in the Falcons’ offense has been declining over the past few weeks and at the same time, Cordarrelle Patterson’s role has been increasing over the same period. In his first nine games of the season Allgeier played an average of 37% of the Falcons’ per game offensive snaps. In Patterson’s first six games of the season, (he was inactive for the first three games of the season), he played an average of just over 15% of the Falcons’ per game offensive snaps. Over the past three games Patterson’s per game average has increased to 29% while Allgeier’s per game average has decreased to 24%. Robinson’s per game snaps played percentage hasn’t changed. Despite his increase in snaps played percentage Patterson still isn’t fantasy relevant, but Allgeier had some fantasy value in deeper leagues, (especially during bye weeks) and is averaging close to eight PPR fantasy points per game on the season. 

New England Patriots

Rhamondre Stevenson is expected to miss the next several weeks due to an ankle injury, leaving Ezekiel Elliott as the Patriots’ lead back for the rest of the fantasy football season. Over the past three weeks the Pats have become a run first team, keeping the ball on the ground at the sixth highest rate in football, so Elliott should have plenty of opportunities to provide weekly fantasy production in the RB2 type range moving forward. JaMycal Hasty and Ty Montgomery, a hybrid RB/WR, will be backing up Elliott in Week 14. The Patriots may also choose to elevate running back Kevin Harris from their practice squad ahead of the Patriots’ Week 14 matchup. Hasty, being a pure running back, should probably be considered Elliott’s handcuff moving forward.

Tennessee Titans

As this article is being written Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has confirmed that the soon to be 30-year-old Derrick Henrywho was removed from Sunday’s game against the Colts due to a head injury, is not in the league’s concussion protocol. This is great news for fantasy managers who specifically roster Henry in order to take advantage of his seemingly annual strong finishes to his fantasy football seasons. In his final four games of the 2022 season Henry rushed for 460 yards (5.05 YPC) and scored three touchdowns. His season ended early in 2021 but Henry rushed for 710 yards and scored five touchdowns in his final four games of the 2020 season. It’s looking like he’ll play in Week 14, but if Henry is suddenly inactive Tyjae Spears would function as the Titans’ primary back.

Houston Texans

Dameon Pierce’s usage ticked back up in Week 13, as he logged the most carries he’s had (15) since Week 5 when he had 20. His 38% offensive snaps played percentage nearly doubled last week’s 18%. He scored a touchdown but only averaged 2.73 YPC last week, which is just under his disappointing 2.96 YPC for the season. Devin Singletary, who had been the Texans’ lead back while Pierce was injured, saw his offensive snaps percentage cut almost in half to 46% in Week 13. He played 82% of the Texans’ offensive snaps in Week 12. Singletary has been the more effective back, averaging 4.10 YPC on the season. If this new running back utilization trend continues Pierce should have more opportunities come his way in the coming weeks however, in fantasy football opportunities do not always lead to above average fantasy production.