Top 6 MUST DRAFT Handcuff RBs

by The Podfather · Best Ball Plays & Strategy

It is with great pleasure that The Podfather announces THE 6 handcuff RBs YOU need to draft in 2023.

These players may not be starters on the depth chart right now but will be major factors in the NFL this season and should be hoarded at the end of fantasy drafts.


That Kareem Hunt visit sent Miller from No. 4 to No. 6. Kendre Miller still makes the list because he was arguably a more violent runner than Bijan Robinson last year. Miller put up 1,400 rushing yards and 17 rushing TDs for one of the top offenses in college football.

His size (215-pounds) and explosiveness combo is reminiscent of J.K. Dobbins at Ohio State and was evidenced by an eye-popping 6.2 yards per carry in 2022. Like Dobbins, the breakaway speed is real and he was devastating in the screen game at TCU.

Only Bijan has Miller’s rare combination of tackle breaking and breakaway speed in the 2023 running back class. Miller’s undeniable quality in all phases undoubtedly helped drive former top recruit Zach Evans‘ decision to transfer to Ole Miss.

At TCU, Miller was an underrated as Quentin Johnston was overrated.

At the NFL level, Miller’s path to touches is clear. Alvin Kamara is suspended for the first three games of the season.

Jamaal Williams is now 28. Williams’ Juke Rate (evaded tackles per touch on and breakaway run rate both ranked outside the top-50 qualified running backs in 2022.

Williams was a touchdown-dependent dust ball last season. His vibes are the best in the sport, but Williams runs to contact, which makes him both inefficient and a high injury risk.

The Lions swapped out Williams for David Montgomery, and signing him to a 3-year deal with less than $9M guaranteed (back-up RB money), the Saints swapped out Williams for Kendre Miller.

One long run by Miller in Week 1, and he will instantly become the new thunder to Kamara’s lightening in New Orleans.


Maybe you didn’t notice, but Chuba Hubbard was a 2,000-yard rusher in college. Maybe you didn’t notice, but Chuba Hubbard has only been getting better.

Hubbard posted 5.8 yards per touch, which ranked No. 6 among NFL running backs, in 2022. The year prior, he caught 25 passes in a part-time role.

The Panthers replaced D’Onta Foreman with Miles Sanders this offseason. The Panthers somehow didn’t notice that Sanders has the weakest ankles in NFL and was usurped by Kenneth Gainwell in the playoffs last season after catching just 20 passes on a truly pathetic .36 yards per route run in the regular season.

Sanders is a typical dead zone (late round-5 ADP) trap RB in fantasy drafts. Fortunately for Carolina (and Chuba Hubbard), Miles Sanders signed the fakest 4-year contract in NFL history (just $13M guaranteed).

Chuba Hubbard Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Behind Sanders and Hubbard is an undrafted, 195-pound back with a 4.4 College YPC. Given this, Hubbard will surely be the 2-minute drill and third-down back to start the year and is a top candidate to usurp his incumbent back as some point during the season.

The primary back job in Carolina is actually an attractive role because the Panthers have one of the best run blocking units in the NFL. Hubbard’s Run Blocking Rating scored 79.7 (No. 9 in the NFL) last season as Ikem Ekwonu has helped to transform their offensive line from a weakness to a weapon.

The NFC South is up-for-grabs, and Carolina’s improved offensive line and playmaking defense will keep the team in positive game scripts more than their Vegas win total (7.5) suggests.

Chuba Hubbard is the sneakiest, upside handcuff in fantasy football.


Jerome Ford was ranked No. 3, but a recent hamstring strain drove him down to No. 4 on the top handcuffs list. Fortunately, the Browns have thus-far refused to workout any free agent RBs, which suggests Ford’s hamstring strain is not serious and his No. 2 RB role is relatively safe.

Recall that Ford was an Alabama recruit and a star in the college football playoffs for Cincinnati. He then posted a 85th percentile Speed Score at the Combine, which convinced Cleveland’s analytics-first front office to draft him as their RB of the future.

The Browns were impressed enough by Ford to let Kareem Hunt walk this offseason, and then NOT BACKFILL that role. It’s Jerome Ford time.

Nick Chubb will be leaned on more than ever, so Ford will not have standalone value early in the season. However, if Chubb misses games, Ford steps into a full-blown bell cow role with only converted WR Demetric Felton and nothingman John Kelly behind him.

On a suddenly high-octane Browns offense, Ford oozes massive weekly upside if and when duty calls. A healthy Ford is the most tantalizing 1:1 handcuff back in the NFL.


Najee Harris is a plodder. Jaylen Warren is dynamic.

As a runner, Warren’s 3.82 yards created per touch ranked No. 5 among qualified NFL running backs, while Harris’ 2.13 ranked No. 45. Harris also lacks juice in the passing game. As a receiver, Harris’s yards per reception was 5.6 in 2022. Warren posted an impressive 7.6 YPR last season.

Mike Tomlin recognized this as Warren out-snapped Harris in Week 5 vs. Buffalo and would have been sharing touches equally with Harris in the second half if not for a midseason hamstring strain.

Heading into 2023, Pittsburgh invested heavily in their offensive line (Broderick Jones at 1.14 was a steal). The Steelers’ running game is set to bounce back just in time for all of Harris’ Alabama-fueled draft capital to fade from memory.

The Jaylen Warren whisper campaign is becoming a scream campaign as beat reporters are already acknowledging that Harris’s workhorse role is at-risk. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly reported, “There is no way offensive coordinator Matt Canada can keep Jaylen Warren off the field.”

Wheels up.


The funny thing about Kenneth Gainwell is he already seized the No. 1 RB job in the NFL playoffs, and fantasy gamers failed to notice.

Gainwell posted 121 total yards against the Giants and marginalized Miles Sanders in a little game I like to call “The Super Bowl.”

Gainwell Super Bowl Snap Share: 50-percent (

Sanders Super Bowl Snap Share: 36-percent

The Eagles added depth behind Gainwell this offseason. The team spent $1.3M on the washed out Rashaad Penny, who has one of the highest Fragility Ratings on the Injury Finder app.

The Eagles also acquired Philadelphia local D’Andre Swift for a Day 3 pick swap. Swift’s aloof disposition alienated teammates and coaches in Detroit, and his fragility prevented him from ever assuming a true primary back role. After dominating the backfield touches in 2021, Swift reached a 60-percent snap share just once in 2022 (Week 1 vs. Philadelphia).

The Athletic’s Bo Wulf reported, “Getting D’Andre Swift the ball in space has been an early focal point at Eagles Camp.” In other words, “Swift is operating as a pure satellite back.” Swift’s sixth round ADP screams Dead Zone RB Trap.

Meanwile, Gainwell has experience marginalizing shiny new toys. He was a workhorse at Memphis in the presence of Tony Pollard and Antonio Gibson. He is still the preferred 2-minute drill back in Philadelphia, and Eagles coaches love him so much, they had tee shirts made with his face on them.

Avoid Swift, draft Gainwell. That is what ADP arbitrage is all about.


Just because a great running back was playing with a generational back is no reason to punish the great one.

Roschon Johnson looked like Ronnie Brown to Bijan’s Cadillac Williams at Texas. Johnson actually posted better yards after contact number and yards per route run metrics last season.

Roschon Yards After Contact Per Touch: 3.96 (No. 4 in college football)

Roschon Broken Tackle Rate: 5.1 (No. 2 in college football)

Johnson was also the best running back of the last five years at the Senior Bowl, and he did it while practicing with a broken hand.

Chicago drafted Johnson in the early 4th round knowing he excels in every phase, including pass protection, and the early reports from Bears camp are that the primary back job hinges on…. pass pro.

Khalil Herbert was an efficient runner in Chicago last year, but so was Tyler Allgeier in Atlanta, and it doesn’t matter.

Bijan has the legend, Roschon has the goods. Both have the all-purpose skillsets to be NFL bell cows. Bijan Robinson will assume that role in Week 1. Expect Roshon Johnson to be that guy by Week 5.