2021 Fantasy RB Handcuffs Chart: Find sleepers, key backups for your top running backs
Information about 2021 Fantasy RB Handcuffs Chart: Find sleepers, key backups for your top running backs
RB handcuffs are a necessary evil in fantasy football. Running backs get hurt (or wind up on the COVID list) far too often to not have an insurance policy, especially if they were one of your early-round picks. Knowing a team’s depth chart and having a player’s backup ready to insert into your lineup is a great way to keep your team on track. It’s not a bad idea to acquire one or two handcuffs of backs who aren’t even on your team. You never know when a sleeper will emerge and vastly outproduce his 2021 preseason ranking thanks to increased playing time.
To illustrate how important handcuffs can be, take a look at Christian McCaffrey and Mike Davis in 2020. McCaffrey suffered several injuries throughout the season and played just three games, opening the door for Davis to take over. In Weeks 3-16, Davis was the No. 6 overall running back in PPR formats. McCaffrey owners who didn’t have Davis were kicking themselves, as they lost the assumed No. 1 overall pick for most of the year and had to try to piece together a replacement from other teams. People who picked up Davis got a bargain-bin RB1. It might have been bad luck to lose McCaffrey for most of the season, but covering yourself from an injury standpoint is just smart practice.
As mentioned above, you don’t have to have a team’s starting running back to see value in their handcuff. In a league where you draft Ezekiel Elliott and Miles Sanders, Tony Pollard and Kenneth Gainwell are definitely going to be more attractive to you, but you should consider them even if you don’t have Elliott and Sanders. Even without injuries to the starters, Pollard and Gainwell could have flex values.
Some handcuffs present more value than others, so take that into consideration in your draft. Pollard and Gainwell offer considerably more upside than guys like Samaje Perine and Salvon Ahmed. Just as with starting running backs, the quality of the No. 2 RB matters, too, as well as other factors, such as receiving skillset and red-zone acumen. You don’t need to reach for the low-end handcuffs. They’ll be available in the last few rounds.
We’ve already seen the likes of Pollard, Alexander Mattison, and Jamaal Williams flash when given a more significant role in an offense, so they’re among the more attractive handcuffs. Unknowns, such as Chuba Hubbard and Jeremy McNichols, are often sitting on the waiver wire unless it’s a deep league. As always, monitor injury situations and snap counts weekly, and be ready to strike things are trending in the wrong direction.
2021 Fantasy RB Handcuffs
|Arizona Cardinals||C. Edmonds/J. Conner||Jonathan Ward||Eno Benjamin|
|Atlanta Falcons||M. Davis/C. Patterson||Wayne Gallman||Committee|
|Baltimore Ravens||Latavius Murray||Le’Veon Bell||Devonta Freeman|
|Buffalo Bills||Zack Moss||Devin Singletary||Matt Breida|
|Carolina Panthers1||Chuba Hubbard||Royce Freeman||Committee|
|Chicago Bears2||Damien Williams||Khalil Herbert||Committee|
|Cincinnati Bengals3||Samaje Perine||Chris Evans||Committee|
|Cleveland Browns||Nick Chubb||Kareem Hunt||D’Ernest Johnson|
|Dallas Cowboys||Ezekiel Elliott||Tony Pollard||Corey Clement|
|Denver Broncos||M. Gordon/J. Williams||Damarea Crockett||Committee|
|Detroit Lions||J. Williams/D. Swift||Jermar Jefferson||Committee|
|Green Bay Packers||Aaron Jones||AJ Dillon||Kylin Hill|
|Houston Texans||Mark Ingram||P. Lindsay/D. Johnson||Committee|
|Indianapolis Colts||Jonathan Taylor||Nyheim Hines||Marlon Mack|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||James Robinson||Carlos Hyde||Dare Ogunbowale|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Clyde Edwards-Helaire||Darrel Williams||Jerick McKinnon|
|Las Vegas Raiders||Josh Jacobs||Peyton Barber||Kenyan Drake|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Austin Ekeler||L. Rountree III/J. Jackson||Joshua Kelley|
|Los Angeles Rams||Darrell Henderson||Sony Michel||Jake Funk|
|Miami Dolphins||Malcolm Brown||Myles Gaskin||Salvon Ahmed|
|Minnesota Vikings||Dalvin Cook||Alexander Mattison||Ameer Abdullah|
|New England Patriots||Damien Harris||Brandon Bolden||J.J. Taylor|
|New Orleans Saints||Alvin Kamara||Dwayne Washington||Committee|
|New York Giants||Saquon Barkley||Devontae Booker||Gary Brightwell|
|New York Jets||Michael Carter||T. Coleman/T. Johnson||La’Mical Perine|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Miles Sanders||Kenneth Gainwell||Boston Scott|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Najee Harris||Benny Snell Jr.||Kalen Ballage|
|San Francisco 49ers4||Elijah Mitchell||Trey Sermon||Kyle Juszczyk|
|Seattle Seahawks5||Alex Collins||D. Dallas/T. Homer||Committee|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Leonard Fournette||Ronald Jones||Giovani Bernard|
|Tennessee Titans6||Derrick Henry||Jeremy McNichols||Khari Blasingame|
|Washington Football Team||Antonio Gibson||J.D. McKissic||Jaret Patterson|
1 = Panthers starter Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) is expected to be out until at least Week 6. He will be the starter when he returns.
2 = Bears starter David Montgomery (knee) is out until at least Week 8. Backup Tarik Cohen (knee) is out for at least the first six weeks of the season. Montgomery will start when healthy, and Cohen will be the primary receiving back when he returns.
3 = Bengals starter Joe Mixon (ankle) is “day to day” and could miss Week 5. He will be the starter when he returns.
4 = 49ers backup JaMycal Hasty (ankle) is out until at least Week 6. Backup Jeff Wilson Jr. (knee) will be out until Week 7. Hasty and Wilson are likely to return as backups.
5 = Seahawks backup Rashaad Penny (calf) is out until at least Week 7 and starter Chris Carson (neck) is out until at least Week 6. Carson will be the starter when he returns, and Penny will likely return to the primary handcuff role when he comes back.
6 = Titans backup Darrynton Evans (knee) is out until at least Week 5. It’s unclear if he will be the primary backup or third-stringer when he returns.