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7 Running Back Handcuffs (2024 Fantasy Football)

7 Running Back Handcuffs (2024 Fantasy Football)

Believe it or not, the fantasy offseason is rolling right into training camps. One of the best positions to keep an eye on at this time of year is the running back position, and that includes depth charts and handcuffs. Teams will start to try things out and we will gradually start to hear more and more about longshots. When it comes to running backs, all it takes is one solid opportunity to show off what you can do and you immediately become relevant for fantasy leagues. Here are my favorite running back handcuffs as we start to move into practice season. And check out our full list of 2024 Fantasy Football Running Back Handcuffs, including the projected starter and handcuff for each NFL team.

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Best Fantasy Football Running Back Handcuffs

Kenneth Gainwell (RB – PHI)

The Eagles made a huge move this offseason by signing former New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley to replace RB D’Andre Swift. Barkley is a clear upgrade, but he comes with some question marks. He injured his ankle in 2021 and again in 2023, both of which caused him to miss time.

All of that points to Barkley’s handcuff, Kenneth Gainwell, having some terrific value. He received 84 carries in this Eagles offense last year and averaged 4.3 yards per carry. That’s not nothing. Even with the addition of rookie Will Shipley, Gainwell should see the lead role if Barkley goes down.

Jerome Ford (RB – CLE)

After Nick Chubb went down to a left ACL injury in Week 2, Jerome Ford stepped up in a big way. He recorded 204 carries for 813 yards on the ground and another 319 yards through the air. He also scored nine total touchdowns. This was enough for Ford to finish as the RB16 overall in PPR scoring and RB25 in points per game.

Chubb returns this year, but given the severity of ACL injuries, it’s not insane to imagine him losing a step. On top of that, he might end up getting hurt again. The team didn’t draft any competition and the only options they added in free agency were Nyheim Hines and D’Onta Foreman. This makes Ford the clear running back handcuff to roster in Cleveland.

D’Ernest Johnson (RB – JAX)

Everyone was looking at Tank Bigsby to take a lion’s share of the carries from Travis Etienne in Jacksonville last season. However, D’Ernest Johnson outscored Bigsby on the year in PPR scoring due to his reception advantage. All three RBs played in all 17 games, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Johnson as the preferred RB to roster this season.

Bigsby was drafted in the third round but has yet to show what he can do. On the other hand, Johnson went undrafted in 2018 and has shown what he can do in his five years in the league. His best season was 2021 in Cleveland when he saw 100 carries for 534 yards. If Etienne happens to go down, I feel confident relying on Johnson more than Bigsby for fantasy purposes.

Ray Davis (RB – BUF)

Fourth-round rookie picks don’t generally become fantasy-relevant, but Ray Davis can break that mold. James Cook should be a solid fantasy option, but the options behind him on the depth chart are pretty sparse. The Bills didn’t add any other RBs in the draft, so the only other competition for Davis is Ty Johnson. I much prefer Davis over Johnson from what I’ve seen from both. I went with Johnson in Jacksonville due to his talent and I’m going with the rookie in Buffalo due to the lack of Johnson’s talent.

Davis should have a great chance to show off his talents in training camp and the preseason. He should be rostered everywhere. Come August, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Davis as one of the top 30 RB options available. The team will need to run a lot of two-back sets with their lighter WR corps, so that means more opportunity for handcuff RBs like Davis to shine.

Tyrone Tracy Jr. (RB – NYG)

I mentioned how the Giants lost Barkley in the offseason, but they didn’t add anyone of substance to replace him. They added Devin Singletary, formerly of the Bills, and drafted Tyrone Tracy in the fifth round. Neither of which are what I would call studs. Eric Gray returns to the team as well, but I think they give the rookie a shot early and often. They need to see what they have in him, and it’s clear to me Gray can’t carry a full load.

Tracy is getting a lot of hype in the dynasty community so his stock has been rising recently. If Singletary either disappoints or gets hurt then expect Tracy to get a real shot to perform. I want him on my team before that happens for obvious reasons. However, given Tracy’s low draft capital and the Giants being a trainwreck overall, many may look in another direction for fantasy, which is fine by me.

Gus Edwards (RB – LAC)

Everyone was so hyped when Gus Edwards signed in Los Angeles. He was reunited with his old Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Austin Ekeler was off the team. That hype ended once the team signed former teammate JK Dobbins. Even though Dobbins tore his Achilles early in the year, he should be the RB1 on the team.

I’m entirely fine letting everyone snag Dobbins while I go for Edwards. There’s a very real possibility Dobbins isn’t ready to go or struggles as he returns to action. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Edwards is a solid option for Flex spots during the season, making him a real running back handcuff option I want on my team in 2024.

Tyler Allgeier (RB – ATL)

I think everyone who plays fantasy has either heard of or rostered Tyler Allgeier at some point in the last couple of years. While stud Bijan Robinson should be very dominant, behind him is a bleak landscape of options. Other than Allgeier, the team currently has Avery Williams and rookie Jase McClellan. Neither of them wows me that much for fantasy, so give me all of the Allgeier while people are ignoring him yet again.

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