Who would have thought that as we head into the Fantasy Football playoff semifinals that Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams and Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert would provide league winning fantasy production. There weren’t many fantasy football managers who expected Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard to establish himself as a top 15 fantasy running back (RB14 over the past five weeks) for fantasy football managers’ playoff run either. When it comes to the fantasy football running back position you never know what to expect on a weekly basis. For instance injuries to their teams’ primary backs made Ty Chandler (PPR scoring RB5 in Week 15), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB9) and Zamir White (RB12) fantasy viable in Week 15 and there are a few other backs that, depending on Week 16’s injury report, might be worth starting in Week 16 if you’re in a pinch. We’ll identify a few of those running backs and point out some 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

Baltimore Ravens

With Keaton Mitchell’s season over after he suffered a torn ACL, Gus Edwards will almost certainly function as the Ravens’ primary early down back for the rest of the season. Justice Hill will likely resume his role as the teams’ passing down back. Like every Ravens running back, Edwards will be competing against QB Lamar Jackson for carries, but Edwards is averaging 11.2 PPR fantasy points per game. That’s some pretty good production even though he’s only caught 11 catches on the season and that per game average includes four games in which he’s logged single digit carries. Edwards has been good at finding the end zone and has 11 rushing touchdowns on the season.

Los Angeles Chargers

It’s tough to figure out if a team is allowing a player to play more snaps than usual in a lopsided game like last Thursday night’s Raiders vs. Chargers game because of a change in strategy or because the game is essentially over, and the team doesn’t want their regular starters suffering a major injury. However, with the whispers that the Chargers were going to be using a committee approach to managing their backfield and Austin Ekeler practically begging the Chargers to find a better running back option based on his miserable 2.82 YPC average over the past four weeks, the fact that Isaiah Spiller logged a season high 15 carries in Week 15 isn’t all that surprising. Spiller played 37% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps in Week 15, more than doubling the 18% he played the prior week. Spiller only averaged 3.13 YPC in Week 15, and while opportunity doesn’t necessarily lead to fantasy production, when you’re a running back, it can sure help. Ekeler had only five carries and averaged just 1.80 YPC on his way to playing a season low 40% of the Chargers’ offensive carries in Week 15. 

Indianapolis Colts

We’re all going to have to carefully watch the Colts’ injury report as kickoff for Week 16 approaches. Jonathan Taylor, who has missed the last three games as he recovers from surgery to his thumb, has a chance to be active for the Colts’ matchup against the Falcons. If Taylor is inactive, we’ll have to check in on Zack Moss status. He injured his shoulder and was removed from his Week 15 contest against the Steelers, but his X-ray came back negative and there is a chance that he might play in Week 16. If Moss is a no go, we might see Trey Sermon and Tyler Goodson splitting carries this week. Sermon led Colts running backs with 17 carries for 88 yards (5.2 YPC) in Week 15. Goodson was effective as well, rushing 11 times for 69 yards (6.3 YPC). 

Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s been somewhat of a seesaw battle for playing time between Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris this season and Harris has usually won the battle. However, in Week 15 Warren played twice as many snaps (40) as Harris did (20) and while Harris had slightly more carries (12) than Warren (10), Warren was the more effective back (4.0 YPC vs. 2.8 YPC for Harris). With the Steelers falling way behind the Colts in their week 15 matchup, game script led to more reps for Warren, who as the Steelers’ passing down back caught five balls on the afternoon. We should probably expect a return to a more equal distribution in snaps played percentage moving forward, but with the Steelers’ weak offensive line it’s going to be hard to trust either one of the Steelers’ running backs.

Atlanta Falcons

Tyler Allgeier continues to eat into Bijan Robinson’s playing time, logging his most carries (14) since Week 7. Allgeier’s snaps played percentage increased for a second straight week. He played 50% of the Falcons’ offensive snaps, just behind Robinson’s 58% share. Allgeier had twice as many carries than Robinson, who ran the ball seven times and averaged just 1.6 YPC. Things got so bad for Robinson that at one point of Week 15’s snore fest against the Panthers he was actually out in front and blocking for Cordarrelle Patterson near the goal line. Things didn’t get much better for Robinson later on when Robinson lost a fumble on his final carry of the game. Falcons running backs do have good matchups against the Colts and Bears coming up but which of their backs can benefit from those matchups isn’t as clear as we hoped it would be when so many of us were busy drafting Robinson in the first round of preseason fantasy football drafts back in August.