No one really likes running back handcuffs, at least not in the fantasy football world. Many owners tell themselves RB handcuffs don't matter on drafty day, but when your top pick gets hurt on the third play of the season, you'll wish you had a different draft strategy. At that point, all those rankings and sleeper lists were a giant waste of time because your season just got infinitely more difficult without your starter's primary backup. If only you had taken two more minutes to look at the Giants depth chart!
There's no perfect way to handle backing up your starters, and finding the right handcuff(s) isn't always easy. Some teams have multiple players in constant competition for the backup spot. Others will have a veteran there until they feel a rookie is ready to move up the depth chart. This means that everything in the chart below has some level of projection to it. Teams react differently to injuries, so it doesn't always follow a straight line.
It's also important to note that just because a running back gets the second-most snaps doesn't mean he's the only handcuff option. Third-down/receiving backs don't necessarily transition to every-down backs if the starter gets hurt. Think Chris Thompson and Tarik Cohen, who may never be primary RBs despite their pass-catching proficiency. Understanding roles and how certain players fit them is key, both during the draft and once the season starts.
We'll be here all year helping you navigate any tricky RB situations. Check back all season long for updates!
2019 fantasy football running back handcuffs
D. Johnson/C. Edmonds
G. Edwards/J. Hill*
T. Cohen/R. Nall*
T. Johnson*/J. McKissic
Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs1
L. McCoy/D. Thompson*
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams
New England Patriots
S. Michel/J. White
New Orleans Saints
New York Giants
New York Jets2
J. Ajayi/B. Scott
Benny Snell Jr.*
San Francisco 49ers
R. Mostert/M. Breida
Tampa Bay Bucs
P. Barber/R. Jones
C. Thompson/W. Smallwood
Carolina Panthers Christian McCaffrey Reggie Bonnafon
1 Starter Damien Williams (ribs) will be out until at least Week 15
2 Starter Le'Veon Bell (illness) will be out until at least Week 15
3 Starter Jordan Howard (shoulder) will be out until at least Week 15
4 Starter James Conner (shoulder) will be out until at least Week 15
5 Starter Josh Jacobs is out until at least Week 15