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Running back handcuffs to consider drafting in 2023 fantasy football

We go over a list of handcuffs at running back heading into your fantasy football draft.

Tyler Allgeier of the Atlanta Falcons runs against Antoine Winfield Jr. of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

It’s safe to say we’ve never seen a running back landscape like this before.

Between hold outs, injuries and concerns about the catering market for the position, it seems like there isn’t a day that goes by without some kind of news that changes the fantasy stock of one (or multiple) running backs. This year, due to that volatility, handcuffing is more important than ever. A quick primer for the unfamiliar: handcuffing is when you select the backup RB to your stud RB1 so that if an injury or anything else prevents them from playing, you still have that team’s starting RB.

August signings

August 14: Ezekiel Elliott is signing with the New England Patriots, per Ian Rapoport. He will join Rhamondre Stevenson in the backfield, which likely drops Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris down the depth chart. This is not ideal for Stevenson’s fantasy stock as Zeke could take away some valuable carries. Elliott is worth grabbing if you have Stevenson.

August 14: Dalvin Cook is signing with the New York Jets, per Adam Schefter. He could earn up to $8.6 million, and while that seems like starter money, it’s entirely possible it’s a sizable amount of incentives and Breece Hall could still remain the starter. If you land Hall, it’s a good idea to try and secure the services of Cook as well.

Injury concerns

The injury conversation starts with Colts bellcow running back Jonathan Taylor, who requested a trade and is holding in, but is also reportedly dealing with back and ankle injuries.

Other notable training camp injuries to starting running backs include Baltimore’s J.K. Dobbins (knee injury), Denver’s Javonte Williams (knee), Isiah Pacheco (hand/shoulder) and the Jets’ Breece Hall (knee).

Jonathan Taylor trade demand

As mentioned above, Taylor’s situation is the story of training camp. On July 29, Taylor officially requested a trade. He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract and can become an unrestricted free agent after this season. He is owed $5.1 million for the 2023 NFL season and would then be eligible for the franchise tag. When healthy, Taylor is a fringe top-5 RB and very easily a top-10 back in PPR formats, but now with his status uncertain, he’s nowhere near a lock.

With Taylor out, backup Zack Moss looked to be in line to be the Week One starter, but he broke his hand on Aug. 1 and now will likely be out until October. With Moss out, third-year running back Deon Jackson is line to be the team’s starting running back after tallying 236 yards last season. That said, the Colts signed Kenyan Drake the day that Moss broke his hand, and the longtime Cardinal could be in line for a heavy workload as well. He had 482 yards rushing last season with the Ravens.

Best handcuffs for 2023

Jamaal Williams, Saints

While the Saints signed Kareem Hunt on Aug. 8, that signing seemed to be more in response to backup Eno Benjamin’s season-ending injury, not to take Williams’ spot. With starting running Alvin Kamara suspended for the first three games of the season, Williams will get a chance to be a bonafide RB1 at the start of the season, and could still work his way into the rotation once Kamara comes back. While he won’t replicate his 2022 production (1,066 yards, 17 touchdowns), he’s still the best handcuff option around.

Tyler Allgeier, Falcons

Last season, Allgeier tallied 1,000 yards in the Falcons offense, but now will likely take a backseat to stud rookie Bijan Robinson. That said, Arthur Smith has spent all of training camp talking about how he wants his team to play “positionless football”, which could lead to Allgeier having a big role. Robinson has spent time at training camp in the slot and out wide, while Allgeier is more of a traditional running back.

Jahymr Gibbs, Lions

While the Georgia Tech product will likely open the season as the backup to David Montgomery, it won’t be long until Dan Campbell and co. release the exciting rookie. A playmaker in space, Gibbs will be a PPR animal, and will likely look even more exciting next to the lumbering Montgomery. His versatility makes him a must-roster.

Fantasy football 2023: Running back handcuffs

2023 running back handcuffs for fantasy football

Team Starter Backup #1 Backup #2
Team Starter Backup #1 Backup #2
Arizona Cardinals James Conner Keontay Ingram Corey Clement
Atlanta Falcons Bijan Robinson Tyson Allgeier Cordarrelle Patterson
Baltimore Ravens JK Dobbins Gus Edwards Melvin Gordon III
Buffalo Bills James Cook Damien Harris
Carolina Panthers Miles Sanders Chuba Hubbard
Chicago Bears Khalil Herbert D'Onta Foreman Roschon Johnson
Cincinnati Bengals Joe Mixon Trayveon Williams Chase Brown
Cleveland Browns Nick Chubb Jerome Ford
Dallas Cowboys Tony Pollard Ronald Jones Malik Davis
Denver Broncos Javonte Williams Samaje Perine
Detroit Lions Jahmyr Gibbs David Montgomery
Green Bay Packers Aaron Jones AJ Dillon
Houston Texans Dameon Pierce Devin Singletary
Indianapolis Colts Jonathan Taylor Deon Jackson Evan Hull
Jacksonville Jaguars Travis Etienne Tank Bigsby
Kansas City Chiefs Isiah Pacheco Jerick McKinnon Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Los Angeles Chargers Austin Ekeler Joshua Kelley
Los Angeles Rams Cam Akers Kyren Williams Zach Evans
Las Vegas Raiders Josh Jacobs Zamir White Ameer Abdullah
Miami Dolphins Raheem Mostert Jeff Wilson Devon Achane
Minnesota Vikings Alexander Mattison Ty Chandler DeWayne McBride
New England Patriots Rhamondre Stevenson Ezekiel Elliott Pierre Strong
New Orleans Saints Alvin Kamara Jamaal Williams Kendre Miller
New York Giants Saquon Barkley Matt Breida
New York Jets Breece Hall Michael Carter
Philadelphia Eagles D'Andre Swift Rashaad Penny Kenneth Gainwell
Pittsburgh Steelers Najee Harris Jaylen Warren
Seattle Seahawks Kenneth Walker Zach Charbonnet DeeJay Dallas
San Francisco 49ers Christian McCaffrey Elijah Mitchell
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rachaad White Chase Edmonds Ke'Shawn Vaughn
Tennessee Titans Derrick Henry Tyjae Spears
Washington Commanders Brian Robinson Antonio Gibson