Staff Playbook: Handcuffs to Add for the Playoffs

Taken Away in Handcuffs? Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs) and the QB List Staff tell you which RB handcuffs to add for the fantasy playoffs.

Welcome to the QB List Staff Playbook Series. Every week throughout both the season, we will conduct a staff survey, asking multiple fantasy analysts to share their insights on some of fantasy football’s most pressing questions. Essentially, we’re sharing our “playbook” with you, revealing the hard choices and strategic moves we would make to stay ahead of the competition.

This week, the QB List Staff was asked which RB handcuffs you should look to add now for the playoffs:


Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs): Alexander Mattison, RB (MIN)

Reasoning: Among rookie runners, Alexander Mattison is fifth in rushing yards with 394, just 43 shy of Miles Sanders‘ total despite having 17 fewer attempts. Mattison’s 4.8 Yds/A is tied for second with Josh Jacobs behind only Devin Singletary (5.6) among rookie rushers with at least 20 attempts. Playing on a run-first team with one of the league’s best lines in 7th in Adjusted Line Yards, Mattison is arguably fantasy’s most valuable handcuff. He’s only 26% owned in Yahoo leagues, and that’s borderline inexcusable given how often handcuffs become league winners with injuries to starters this late in the year. Last year, Mattison forced the third-most missed tackles of any draft-eligible running back in the FBS, and that hard-nosed rushing ability has translated to the NFL:

If there is a knock on Mattison, it would be that he isn’t much of a threat as a pass-catcher. For that reason,  I would also add Dallas running back and preseason sleeper Tony Pollard to this list:

Ezekiel Elliot has 328 carries over his last 16 games. If he was forced to miss time, Pollard’s dual-threat skills would make him an immediate RB1 candidate.



Mike Miklius (@sirl0inofbeef): Gus Edwards, RB (BAL)

Reasoning: If you own Mark Ingram and are playoff-bound, it is unforgivable for you not to own Gus Edwards. Right now, the Ravens are on pace for over 3,000 rushing yards this season. Baltimore has shown a lot of faith in three rushing weapons: Mark Ingram, Lamar Jackson, and Gus Edwards. Edwards already averages six carries per game over his last five outings, and this would likely balloon if Ingram were to go down. I believe Edwards would become an immediate RB1 if he became the lead dog, and he would likely average 15+ carries per game. Grab him now instead of lamenting a blown season. He’s a far more athletic back than many realize:



Brandon Miller (@BrandonMillerFB): Rashaad Penny, RB (SEA)

Reasoning: I don’t always handcuff as responsibly as I should, but when I do, it’s usually with RB handcuffs who carry some standalone value. Rashaad Penny had, by far, his best game of the season (and possibly his career) in Week 12 with 14 carries for 129 yards and a TD. There’s no guarantee that Penny will continue to get a similar workload moving forward, but we know the Seahawks want to pound the rock and starter Chris Carson has landed in HC Pete Carroll’s doghouse before due to intermittent fumbling issues throughout his career.

Although he was Seattle’s first-round pick in 2018 (27th overall), we have yet to see Penny in a feature back role, but he has shown well when provided sufficient opportunities. In the nine career games where Penny has received eight or more carries, he has a combined 88 rushes for 566 yards (6.4ypc) and three touchdowns. I’m not ready to anoint Penny as a weekly Flex just yet, but the fact we’re even talking about it being a possibility shows the potential he would have if his role continues to grow or if he usurps Carson as the starter. With Carolina and Arizona on tap in Weeks 15-16, the fantasy playoff schedule sets up favorably as well. If you’re still trying to make playoffs, Minnesota and the Los Angeles Rams aren’t quite as easy in terms of matchups, but Penny is adept at making something out of nothing.




David Fenko (@velcronomics): Ryquell Armstead, RB (JAX)

Reasoning: In the three years of Leonard Fournette’s career, he has averaged just under 11 games started per season, which is an important figure since the Jaguars season is 11 games old and he’s still on the field. The injury history for Fournette is riddled with soft-tissue injuries (hamstring strains, bruises, and ankle sprains) and players with a history of soft-tissue injuries tend to see recurrences of them throughout their career (the injury-prone label comes from somewhere). So far, Ryquell Armstead has only seen 30 touches on the season – but much like Fournette, when he’s on the field he’s seeing touches at a roughly 38% of snaps. In limited work, Armstead is outscoring Fournette on a per-touch basis (0.72 fantasy points per touch to 0.57). Given the usage so far, if Fournette were to suffer another injury, it looks like Armstead will slot in as 1A without missing a beat.


Have a question? Want to know more? Click the Twitter handle of any writer above to reach out directly. We’re always happy to help out and talk football!

(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

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