As we head into fantasy football championship week, there’s a chance that Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert, who is tied with San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey for the most touchdowns scored by a player at the running back position (21), may be unavailable. If Mostert is inactive in Week 17, De’Von Achane and possibly even Jeff Wilson could see a significant increase in playing time. In recent weeks injuries have helped to make backup running backs like Las Vegas Raiders running back Zamir White and New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott among the leaders in fantasy production from the position. We’ll identify a few other running backs who have had to take a lead role in their team’s backfield as a result of injuries 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

Chicago Bears

The Bears’ backfield continues to be one of the most volatile in fantasy football. It seems that Khalil Herbert has reinserted himself as the teams’ primary back with his big time Week 16 performance. With D’Onta Foreman inactive due to a personal matter Herbert played had a 56% offensive snaps share rushing the ball 20 times for 112 times (5.60 YPC). Roschon Johnson played 46% of the Bears’ offensive snaps but he only ran the ball nine times for a respectable 37 yards (4.1 YPC). Head coach Matt Eberflus commented on his noticing an increased burst of speed from Herbert in practice prior to Week 16’s matchup against the Cardinals and it showed up in his on the field performance. The Bears feature a run first offense and while it seems that Eberflus sometimes utilizes a hot hand approach in utilizing his running backs, with Herbert apparently 100% healthy after suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him for five weeks earlier this season, he could be a value play for the rest of the season. Bears running backs have a tough matchup against the Falcons in Week 17 but a favorable one against the Packers in Week 18.

Baltimore Ravens

As we alluded to last week, Gus Edwards has a nose for the end zone, scoring his 12th TD of the season in Week 16. He carries the ball on 60.7% of Ravens RBs running plays from within the five-yard line. Justice Hill had 10 carries compared to Edwards’ nine in Week 16 and as expected he was the Ravens’ passing down back.  

Minnesota Vikings

Alexander Mattison returned to action in Week 16 but as reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero he wasn’t fully healthy and his playing time was limited. Mattison (ankle) had just two carries and played just nine percent of the Vikings’ offensive snaps. As the Vikings’ lead back in Week 16 Ty Chandler only rushed for 17 yards on eight carries, but he did score a touchdown. Vikings running backs have an excellent matchup against the Packers for championship weekend. The Pack have given up the 12th most PPR fantasy points per game this season. 

Kansas City Chiefs

With Isiah Pacheco exiting the Chiefs’ Week 16 contest against the Raiders due to a concussion and Jerick McKinnon being placed on injured reserve Clyde Edwards-Helaire is likely to function as the Chiefs’ primary back in Week 17 against the Bengals. With Pacheco inactive due to a shoulder injury in Weeks 14 and 15 Edwards-Helaire had modest results (76 yards rushing, 3.17 YPC, 6 catches for 93 yards and a receiving TD), however the Chiefs play the Bengal in Week 17, and they’ve given up the fifth most rushing TDs (12) to running backs this season.  La’Michal Perine would be Edwards-Helaire’s handcuff if Pacheco does not clear the NFL’s concussion protocol in time for Week 17’s kickoff.

Washington Commanders

With Brian Robinson sidelined due to a hamstring injury in Week 16, Chris Rodriguez enjoyed a breakout game in which he tied his season high for carries (10) and rushed for 58 yards (5.8 YPC). He scored two touchdowns, and he recorded a season high snaps played percentage of 39%. It was the third straight week that his snaps played percentage increased. Rodriguez only has 51 carries on the season, but he has a robust 4.84 average YPC. Antonio Gibson also scored a touchdown, and he led Commander running backs in Week 16 with a 44% snaps played percentage but he had one less carry than Rodriguez and it was the second straight week that his snaps played percentage decreased. As the Commanders passing down back Week 17 game script may favor Gibson over Rodriguez based on their matchup against the 49ers. The 49ers have given up the second fewest rushing yards to running backs on the season but are tied for giving up the fifth most receptions to running backs (83). With the Commanders likely playing from behind in Week 17 Gibson may be more in play against the 49ers.