In a perfect world, you won’t need to worry about backup running backs more than once or twice a season.
However, “perfect” rarely is a term used to describe someone’s fantasy football season.
The reality is that, at some point, a star running back will suffer either a short-term or long-term injury, putting you in a tough spot to find an adequate replacement. As such, you need a solid backup plan, and identifying teams with great running games and depth at the position is the first step.
With that said, here are the top 10 running back handcuffs to target in your fantasy drafts ahead of the 2020 NFL season.
1. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns (Bye Week: 9)
Hunt has solid standalone value, as he gets plenty of action in Cleveland’s offense. However, his highest value is as a handcuff, as he could elevate to one of fantasy’s top backs if starter Nick Chubb goes down with an injury. Hunt absolutely is worth drafting in the later rounds.
2. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 10)
Ezekiel Elliott typically stays healthy, but anything can happen in football. If the Cowboys star goes down, Pollard would take on a big role in an offense that has one of the league’s best offensive lines.
3. Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints (Bye Week: 6)
Like Hunt, Murray sees plenty of action as it is. But if something happens to Alvin Kamara, Murray has the size and ability to take on a feature-back role for long stretches of the season.
4. Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week: 7)
Mattison impressed last season (100 rushes for 462 yards) and has the talent to put up big numbers. Dalvin Cook’s health always is a concern, too, so Mattison is among the best handcuffs in fantasy.
5. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens (Bye Week: 8)
Dobbins, the 55th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, might get significant play this season in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense. His role only would increase if aging starter Mark Ingram is forced to miss time.
6. Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals (Bye Week: 8)
Kenyan Drake likely will be the starter in Week 1, but he’s had his struggles in the past and injuries always are a concern. Edmonds is a solid backup option to stash on your bench.
7. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye Week: 9)
Bernard has handled feature back duties in the past, and he’s more than capable of filling the role again if asked to do so. Joe Mixon is a workhorse, but Bernard will be ready to step in if called upon.
8. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers (Bye Week: 5)
The Packers took Dillon in the second round of the draft, so they obviously see something in him. Aaron Jones is the clear starter, but Dillon likely will be the top backup in an offense that normally deploys multiple backs.
9. Duke Johnson, Houston Texans (Bye Week: 8)
David Johnson’s injury history is well-documented. If anything happens to him, Duke Johnson will see the field a lot, both in the running and passing games.
10. Reggie Bonnafon, Carolina Panthers (Bye Week: 13)
This is less about Bonnafon’s talent as it is the value of backing up Christian McCaffrey. If anything happens to fantasy’s top running back, Bonnafon will be a popular waiver-wire target.