Ranking NFL RB Handcuffs

Ranking NFL RB Handcuffs by Utter-Fantasy Football Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

I think it is important for fantasy football owners to differentiate between NFL team’s with a #2, #3 and a #4 running back on the depth chart, and an NFL team with a running back “handcuff”.  A true “handcuff” is a guy I would want if the #1 running back unfortunately was injured, and the back up who would be called upon to take over #1 RB duties.

An example of an NFL team with simply a #2, #3 and a #4 running back on the depth chart, and not necessarily an RB  “handcuff” is San Diego. We know that RB Melvin Gordon is the #1 running back for the Chargers, but what if he suffered an injury and was out for the season? RB Danny Woodhead is 2nd on the depth chart, but Woodhead is not a 3 down back. If Gordon went down, I believe we would see a RBBC approach using RBs Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver, and Kenneth Farrow ( and perhaps more)…so there is no true “handcuff” in San Diego, just a depth chart of running backs.

An example of an NFL team with a true “handcuff” is New Orleans. RB Mark Ingram is the work horse for the Saints, but when he was injured in Week 12 of 2015, RB Tim Hightower was brought in and put up #1 RB numbers for the rest if the season. The Saints resigned Hightower as the player to step in again, if anything happens to Ingram.

I have listed the teams which have a true “handcuff” in the running back position and I have ranked them in order of the handcuff I would prefer to own, ( for reasons other than insurance for a running back that I have already drafted.) The factors involved in deciding this ranking are as follows….

A) The durability of the current #1 running back on the team. ( My 2nd least favorite “handcuff” is MINN RB Jerick McKinnon, because of RB Adrian Peterson’s likelihood of playing 16 games in 2016.

B) The team’s ability to score points on offense. ( Arizona scored the most points in 2015, and San Francisco was 2nd to last, so it behooves fantasy football owners to draft players on team’s with strong offenses.)

C) The NFL team’s dedication to running the ball in their offense, and who are good at it. ( DEN HC Gary Kubiak has always designed his offense to feature the run and is successful at it.)

D) Confidence in the “handcuff” running back to handle the duties of the #1 RB. ( Green Bay is confident that RB James Starks can handle the duties of the #1 RB, and so am I.)

Onto Ranking NFL RB Handcuffs-

#1- GB RB James Starks

#2- KC RB Charcandrick West

#3- NO RB Tim Hightower

#4- ARI RB Chris Johnson

#5- NYJ RB Bilal Powell

#6- ATL RB Tevin Coleman

#7- CLEV RB Duke Johnson

#8- TENN RB Derrick Henry

#9- JACK RB T.J. Yeldon

#10- DEN RB Devontae Booker

#11- PHIL Kenjon Barner ( has passed rookie Wendell Smallwood )
#12- HOU RB Alfred Blue

#13- OAK DeAndre Washington

#14- MINN Jerick McKinnon

#15- CHI RB Jordan Howard

If a player or team isn’t ranked here, then there isn’t a true handcuff running back who would be called upon to take over #1 RB duties, and the team likely will have a RBBC approach.