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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’tย 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,ย 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,ย 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,ย 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.

2021ย Fantasy RB Handcuffs

Team Starter Handcuff Two-Deep
Arizona Cardinals C. Edmonds/J. Conner Jonathan Ward Eno Benjamin
Atlanta Falcons Cordarrelle Patterson Mike Davis Wayne Gallman
Baltimore Ravens1 Devonta Freeman Le’Veon Bell Ty’Son Williams
Buffalo Bills Z. Moss/D. Singletary Matt Breida Committee
Carolina Panthers2 Chuba Hubbard Ameer Abdullah Royce Freeman
Chicago Bears3 Khalil Herbert Damien Williams Ryan Nall
Cincinnati Bengals Joe Mixon Samaje Perine Chris Evans
Cleveland Browns4 Nick Chubb D’Ernest Johnson Demetric Felton
Dallas Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Tony Pollard Corey Clement
Denver Broncos M. Gordon/J. Williams Mike Boone Damarea Crockett
Detroit Lions J. Williams/D. Swift Jermar Jefferson Committee
Green Bay Packers Aaron Jones AJ Dillon Kylin Hill
Houston Texans P. Lindsay/D. Johnson Scottie Phillips Rex Burkhead
Indianapolis Colts Jonathan Taylor Marlon Mack Nyheim Hines
Jacksonville Jaguars James Robinson Carlos Hyde Dare Ogunbowale
Kansas City Chiefs5 Darrel Williams Jerick McKinnon Committee
Las Vegas Raiders Josh Jacobs Kenyan Drake Peyton Barber
Los Angeles Chargers Austin Ekeler Justin Jackson L Rountree III/J. Kelley
Los Angeles Rams Darrell Henderson Sony Michel Buddy Howell
Miami Dolphins Myles Gaskin Salvon Ahmed Duke Johnson Jr.
Minnesota Vikings Dalvin Cook Alexander Mattison Kene Nwangwu
New England Patriots Damien Harris Brandon Bolden J. Taylor/R. Stevenson
New Orleans Saints Alvin Kamara Mark Ingram Ty Montgomery
New York Giants6 Devontae Booker Gary Brightwell Eli Penny
New York Jets Michael Carter Ty Johnson Tevin Coleman
Philadelphia Eagles7 B. Scott/J. Howard Kenneth Gainwell Committee
Pittsburgh Steelers Najee Harris Kalen Ballage Benny Snell Jr.
San Francisco 49ers Elijah Mitchell JaMycal Hasty Trey Sermon
Seattle Seahawks8 Alex Collins Rashaad Penny D. Dallas/T. Homer
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Leonard Fournette Ronald Jones Giovani Bernard
Tennessee Titans9 Adrian Peterson Jeremy McNichols Khari Blasingame
Washington Football Team Antonio Gibson J.D. McKissic Jaret Patterson

1 = Ravens starter Latavius Murray (ankle) is out until at least Week 9. He will likely return the lead role in the committee when he’s healthy.

2 = Panthers starter Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) is out until at least Week 9. He will be the starter when he returns.

3 = Bears starter David Montgomery (knee) is out until at least Week 9. Backup Tarik Cohen (knee) is out until at least Week 9. Montgomery will start when healthy, and Cohen will be the primary receivingย back when he returns.

4 = Browns backup Kareem Hunt (calf) is out until at least Week 11. Hunt will return to a high-usage “backup” role when he’s healthy.

5 = Chiefs starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee) is out until at least Week 9. He should return to the starter’s role when healthy.

6 = Giants starter Saquon Barkley (ankle) is out until at least Week 8. He will be the starter when he returns.

7 = Eagles starter Miles Sanders (ankle) is out until at least Week 12. He will be the starter when he returns.

8 = Seahawks starter Chris Carson (neck) is out until at least Week 10.ย Carson will be the starter when he returns.

9 = Titans starter Derrick Henry (foot) is out until at least Week 15, likely longer. He will be the starter when he returns.



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