Handcuff Running Back Rankings for Fantasy Football 2024: Maximize Your Draft Strategy, Volume 1

by Theo Gremminger · Featured
Best Handcuff RBs

PlayerProfiler is home to the award winning redraft rankings and tools. Our Player Rankings are second to none, and the World Famous Draft Kit contains detailed player write ups and cheat sheets to help you dominate fantasy drafts! Check it out. Below, Theo Gremminger presents Volume 1 of the best handcuff RBs in fantasy for the coming 2024 season. 

The Changing RB Landscape

The definition of a “handcuff” in fantasy football has changed significantly over time. Long gone are the days of most teams rolling out a Bell Cow Back. Every year the landscape shifts more and more toward running back by committee. Fantasy managers have adjusted, and have become more and more comfortable with drafting – and using- RB2s.

There are some “backups” that are almost absurd to rank, but for this article, I ranked handcuff RBs from all 32 teams. I used the ADP market as a guide for determining who the starter is.

In fantasy football, not all backups are the same. Each team is different in how they distribute touches and snaps to their backup RBs. There are specialists, change of pace backs, third down backs, and short yardage specialists. Some teams mix in a third back. Ranking is also an inexact science, as situations change rapidly.

RB2 Categories

Handcuff Plus

A predictable weekly role. Some are committee backs, and some are specialists. These backs should be able to help your fantasy team on varying levels weekly.

Direct Handcuff

Players who need the RB in front of them to go down with an injury or extremely poor play.

Split Backfield

Two backs dominating the work, having similar touches and usage.


If the starter went down, the backfield touches would be distributed to multiple players.

There are several players who could fall into multiple categories. I will provide updates to the RB handcuff landscape every few weeks this summer.

Handcuff RB Rankings

1.) David Montgomery, DET | Handcuff Plus

David Montgomery is the very definition of a handcuff plus. While Jahmyr Gibbs will be a first round pick in many leagues, Montgomery is no slouch. He will be selected as a mid-level RB2, and for good reason. Montgomery averaged 14.8 PPG in PPR last season.

2.) Raheem Mostert, MIA | Handcuff Plus

Much like Montgomery, it is absurd to rank Raheem Mostert as a handcuff. Mostert led the NFL in rushing TDs with 18 last season and finished as the RB2 overall. De’Von Achane should take a significant step forward in year two, but Mostert should be treated as a weekly RB2. The potent Miami Dolphins offense can support two high-end RB scorers again. (See a bonus Dolphin at the end of this article.)

3,) Jaylen Warren, PIT | Handcuff Plus

Jaylen Warren outscored Najee Harris in 2023 and finished as RB22 overall in PPR. Still, Harris is being drafted slightly ahead of Warren, so we need to list him here. If Harris were to miss time, Warren could go nuclear. He will benefit from Arthur Smith’s RB-friendly scheme regardless of what Harris does.

4.) Tyjae Spears, TEN | Handcuff Plus

Somewhere in the multiverse, the Titans did not sign Tony Pollard, and Tyjae Spears‘s ADP is en fuego. Even with Pollard around, Spears can thrive. He caught 52 passes as a rookie and ran for 4.5 yards per carry. The Tennessee backfield screams “split.” Spears will benefit from the new pass-happy scheme in Tennessee.

5.) Blake Corum, LAR | Direct Handcuff

Blake Corum lacks the handcuff plus usage of the others around him on this list, but he is a Kyren Williams injury away from Weekly RB1 usage. Few head coaches get more out of their primary backs than Sean McVay.

6.) Trey Benson, ARI | Direct Handcuff/Handcuff Plus

This ranking may seem aggressive, but Arizona’s offense is ascending. Trey Benson also plays behind James Conner, a 29-year-old who has never played an entire season. There is potential that Benson could make this a split backfield right away due to his explosive athletic ability. He is more of a direct handcuff, but he could be a fringe handcuff sooner than later.

7.) Marshawn Lloyd, GB |Handcuff Plus

MarShawn Lloyd could be ranked higher on this list. The Packers tend to use two RBs weekly. Despite Josh Jacobs‘ presence, Lloyd should provide weekly utility. If Jacobs were to miss time with injury, Lloyd would be a weekly RB1 due to his well rounded skill set and the quality of the Packers offense.

8.) Chase Brown, CIN | Handcuff Plus

I am probably irrationally high on Chase Brown here, but this is a player and situation I am willing to push the chips in on. Zack Moss will lead the Bengals backfield, but he has never caught more than 27 passes in any season of his career. Brown should be a weekly contributor in the passing game. He has the weekly high value touch upside that could propel him into a 2023 Jaylen Warren-type season – or more.

9.) Zach Charbonnet, SEA | Handcuff Plus

Zach Charbonnet, a 2023 second round pick, is in a tricky position next to Kenneth Walker. As a rookie, Charbonnet was the more efficient runner (4.3 yards per carry vs. 4.1 for Walker) and led Seattle RBs with 33 receptions.

Walker dominated the rushing opportunities (219-108), but with a new coaching staff in town, we could see those numbers shift. The Ryan Grubb offense should be a pass-happy one, and Charbonnet could be a major beneficiary. This ranking could look low early on this season.

10.) Brian Robinson, WAS | Handcuff Plus/Split Backfield

Who will be the featured back in Washington, Brian Robinson or Austin Ekeler? Or is this a true split backfield? Ekeler signed as a free agent this offseason, and referenced a “two-back backfield.” Robinson led Washington in rushing yards last season, and finished as RB22 overall. The problem with this split is that the presence of Ekeler caps Robinson’s work as a receiver – a major driver of his 2023 success.

11.) Jerome Ford, CLE | Handcuff Plus

Jerome Ford filled in admirably for Nick Chubb last season, finishing as RB25 in PPR PPG. He scored nine TDs, and finished with over 1,100 total yards. Ford is a strong receiver and an explosive player. The timeline for Chubb is unknown, but there is an expectation that he will be back early in the season. If Chubb has any setbacks, Ford managers will get some extra early season usage.

12.) Ray Davis, BUF | Direct Handcuff with TD Upside

Ray Davis was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft and landed with one of the league’s most productive offenses. He rushed for 1000-plus yards in back-to-back SEC seasons, and finished 2023 with a whopping 21 TDs. He is exactly what we want in a handcuff – a like for like replacement for James Cook if Cook were to miss time. Davis could also earn some goal line and short yardage work early on in the season.

13.) Tyler Allgeier, ATL | Direct Handcuff

Tyler Allgeier will be less of a weekly thorn in the side of Bijan Robinson managers this year, but he still has immense value as a handcuff. If Robinson were to miss time, Allgeier is a plug-and-play every week starter. In 2022, during his rookie season, Allgeier rushed for 1035 yards.

14.) Kendre Miller, NO | Handcuff Plus

Kendre Miller, a third round draft pick in 2023, should take a big step forward in year two. The Saints offense needs consistent playmakers, and there are opportunities for players to step up behind Chris Olave and Alvin Kamara.

Miller has the size and ability to earn weekly touches behind Kamara. If the 29-year-old Kamara were to miss time, Miller would be a high end weekly RB2. The only reason he is ranked this low, is the presence of Taysom Hill. Hill is a swiss army knife-type who will play RB, TE and line up behind center.

15.) Antonio Gibson, NE | Handcuff Plus

Antonio Gibson signed with New England as a free agent, and will have an opportunity to contribute right away. Rhamondre Stevenson‘s presence will keep Gibson in the No. 2 role, but expect a strong weekly role in the passing game. Gibson quietly had his most productive season ever as a pass catcher in 2023, finishing with 48 receptions. He has never finished lower than RB41 in any season, and has 29 career TDs. The lack of established WRs could make New England one of the most RB-reliant teams in football. Gibson has a great combination of floor and ceiling.

16.) Rico Dowdle, DAL | Split Backfield

This backfield is so weird. On paper, the Cowboys should be extremely pass-happy. Zeke Elliott will be the starter and the probable goal-line back, but he turns 29 this season. The 25-year-old Rico Dowdle has contingent upside.

17.) Ty Chandler, MIN | Handcuff Plus

Ty Chandler has been a redraft/best ball target of mine, and for good reason. He ended the 2023 season on a promising note, filling in for the injured Alexander Mattison and flashing two-way ability. Aaron Jones signed as a free agent, but he is 29 and not a volume hog. Chandler is a sneaky handcuff plus. He should have predictable weekly usage and would be an every-week RB2 if Jones were to miss time.

18.) Roschon Johnson, CHI | Committee?

Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert are both players that drafters can take shots on this season. The Chicago offense should be one of the most improved in the league. Free agent signee D’Andre Swift will lead the charge, but if he were to miss time, Johnson and Herbert would be in a great spot to return weekly value. Johnson is the most likely handcuff. He is listed as No. 2 on the depth chart now, and with his receiving skills, he is a more like-for-like replacement for Swift.

19.) Jaleel McLaughlin, DEN | Handcuff Plus

This could be labeled “Denver Broncos Handcuff,” but I am betting on Jaleel McLaughlin elevating into a handcuff plus role. Rookies Audric Estime and Blake Watson will also compete for work this offseason, but McLaughlin has a leg up. He quickly rose last season in the preseason, making the team as a UDFA out of Youngstown State. McLaughlin caught 31 passes and averaged 5.4 yards per carry. Javonte Williams‘ yards per carry fell to a career low 3.5 last season, and his hold on the starting RB job could be tenuous.

20.) Chuba Hubbard, CAR | Direct Handcuff

Chuba Hubbard feasted on volume and Miles Sanders‘ futility. Hubbard posted career-high numbers in every category, including yards (902) and catches (39). The Oklahoma State product was one of the lone bright spots on one of the league’s worst offenses. He should be viewed as a contingent play behind talented rookie Jonathon Brooks.

21.) Dameon Pierce, HOU | Direct Handcuff

Dameon Pierce had an outstanding rookie season in 2023, finishing with 930 rushing yards. He ended the season with 12.9 PPG and an RB20 finish.

Pierce entered last season as a hyped dead zone target, only to fall out of favor quickly with the new coaching staff. He missed time with injuries, but his poor play stood out. His 2.9 yards per carry were abysmal. Joe Mixon is the clear-cut starter, but Pierce could be an effective backup. If Mixon were to miss time, Pierce would step into one of the most exciting offenses in the league.

22.) JK Dobbins, LAC | TBD – Committee/Direct Handcuff

JK Dobbins has had one of the most frustrating starts of his NFL career. A former second round pick, he has dealt with injury after injury. He is now reunited with his former Ravens offensive coordinator, Greg Roman. Gus Edwards, the presumed starter in LA has never had more than 198 carries in any season in his career. Dobbins will also have to contend with promising sixth round draft pick Kimani Vidal.

23.) Bucky Irving, TB | Handcuff Plus

Bucky Irving led all college football running backs in receptions last season at Oregon. Tampa Bay selected him in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. He will have to beat out second-year back Sean Tucker to win the handcuff role. Irving would be an enticing weekly start if Rachaad White were to miss time. There is also a chance he could be a handcuff plus if he were to carve out a weekly role in the passing game.

24.) Keaton Mitchell, BAL | Handcuff Plus/Probable Committee

Keaton Mitchell‘s availability is unknown. GM Eric DeCosta has said Mitchell will come back and contribute this season, but he probably won’t be available for Week 1. He is also a capped touch player. Still, with the quality of the offense and Mitchell’s dynamic ability, he is an appealing player in fantasy. Mitchell had three RB2 or better weeks in only eight games played last season.

25.) Tyrone Tracy, NYG | Direct Handcuff

I am a Tyrone Tracy truther, but the reality is he is a fifth round pick with one year of college production at the RB position. He is still an exciting prospect, and Devin Singletary is no Bell Cow. Eric Gray will also have a large say in who wins the backup for the Giants.

26.) Tank Bigsby, JAX | Direct Handcuff

Tank Bigsby did nothing in 2023, playing behind D’Ernest Johnson for much of the year. A 2023 third round draft pick, Bigsby has the size and pedigree to take a step forward in 2024. Travis Etienne should handle all the volume he can, and Bigsby is more of a direct backup type.

27.) Alexander Mattison, LV | Direct Handcuff

Alexander Mattison as a starter we need to draft in the dead zone in Minnesota? Nope. Mattison in the 18th round behind Zamir White in his first ever high-volume role? Sure. He thrived in this sort of role behind Dalvin Cook and was a solid spot starter when needed. Dylan Laube is a dark horse candidate for weekly touches due to his outstanding profile in the passing game.

28.) Braelon Allen, NYJ | Direct Handcuff or Committee?

Braelon Allen fell to the fourth round of the NFL Draft. He is the favorite to win the handcuff job, but Isaiah Davis and Israel Abanikanda will compete for touches. I could have ranked Allen higher, but I worry about a full blown committee if Hall were to miss time due to the options NY has on the roster.

29.) Will Shipley, PHI | Direct Handcuff

Will Shipley should beat out Kenneth Gainwell. While Gainwell is a favorite of Nick Sirianni, Shipley has the athleticism and receiving ability to be an instant contributor behind Saquon Barkley.

If Barkley were to miss time, Shipley would be a sizeable FAAB bid-type waiver wire add. The only reason I rank him this low is because Sirianni tends to use multiple backs.

30.) Elijah Mitchell, SF | Direct Handcuff

There is a battle in San Francisco for the No. 2 job. Isaac Guerendo and Cody Schrader will challenge Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason. Guerendo would move up these rankings if he moved up the depth chart. This is the CMC show.

31.) Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC | Direct Handcuff

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is currently sitting at No. 2 on the depth chart. The former first round pick has been a massive disappointment for most of his career, but any back receiving touches in KC is valuable. Keep an eye out for the No. 3 RB job here. Whoever wins that job could challenge CEH.

32.) Trey Sermon/Evan Hull/Tyler Goodson, IND | Direct Handcuff

One of fantasy’s biggest paradoxes is that Jonathan Taylor should be one of the highest-volume backs in football and a locked-in RB1. His backup will be…well, who knows? If a clear winner emerges between Trey Sermon, Evan Hull and Tyler Goodson this offseason, that player could quickly move up the list.


Jaylen Wright is the unique case of an RB3 we should be drafting. Miami’s offense is one of the best in the league, and will push multiple backs to fantasy production all season long. Wright has multiple paths to big time fantasy production this year. If Achane or Mostert missed time, Wright could step into either role. There is also a chance he is too good to keep off the field.

Read Theo’s RB Sleepers to target here: Dynasty Trades to Make RIGHT NOW – Revealing Dynasty Sleepers at the Running Back Position