The reality is that “handcuffing” your stud RBs is less important than ever, since the pecking order and the roles in most backfields are murkier than ever. These days, it’s rare to find one single player, like DeAngelo Williams, who’s behind a starter and would be poised to handle a large workload should that starter go down.

In some cases, we can absolutely name a single handcuff option for a particular backfield, and we certainly will when we can. But at this point, the goal of this article is to simply put into perspective what we think would happen if the top guy in a backfield – if there is one – should miss time.

In other cases, we have no other choice but to assume it’ll be a major RBBC if a lead back is out of the mix, but our goal with this article is to isolate the players to watch in a given backfield if the starter missed time.

As usual, we’ll be updating this article regularly all the way up until Week 17 of the 2016 season.


Arizona Cardinals: This backfield is all David Johnson. Perhaps fantasy’s overall #1 RB, DJ is by far the most effective option in this backfield. That was the case before Chris Johnson landed on IR with a groin injury, and it’s the case now. With CJ due to miss at least eight games, the top handcuff for DJ is Andre Ellington, with #3 RB Stepfan Taylor likely to see some work in the backfield in the event Ellington were to go down. CJ won’t be back for a while, so if for some reason you were holding onto him, he’s now droppable.

Short-term Handcuff: Andre Ellington
Long-term Handcuff: Andre Ellington


Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have been very forthright regarding getting Tevin Coleman more touches, perhaps in part because Devonta Freeman’s rushing production slipped so badly late last season. That has been the case so far this season, with Coleman and Freeman having nearly split touches down the middle, and Coleman actually so far has been much better in the passing game than we expected. Remember that Coleman was actually Atlanta’s opening-day starter at RB last season, so the Falcons clearly think highly of him, and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t take over as the unquestioned top dog in the event Freeman were to get hurt. Both players have looked good this season, especially Freeman, who ran wild on the Saints in Week 3. Of course, Coleman scored 3 short TDs in that game. So far this year, Freeman has played more snaps than Coleman in every game, though it’s been very close. Freeman is still the better player and the best back to own here, though both players have had enough fantasy value to start them both every week.

Short-term Handcuff: Tevin Coleman
Long-term Handcuff: Tevin Coleman


Baltimore Ravens: This Raven backfield had been a headache until Week 4 when they finally benched Justin Forsett and gave Terrance West the chance to lead this backfield. They then decided to cut ties with Forsett heading into Week 5, with Kenneth Dixon healthy and ready to take over as the #2 RB. Buck Allen and Dixon are more than capable receivers, and Dixon can also work on early downs. West has turned around his career with his aggressive, downhill running style, and he’s the lead back here for now after several strong performances in a row. Lorenzo Taliaferro returned to practice and could also start factoring in here behind West. We still feel like Dixon is the best back here for the long term, and he could take the backfield from West by the end of the season.

Short-term Handcuff: Kenneth Dixon
Long-term Handcuff: Kenneth Dixon


Buffalo Bills: The Bills paid LeSean McCoy big money after trading for him last year, and he is the no-doubt starter here. The NFL suspended Karlos Williams four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, this coming after he showed up to training camp overweight. So it wasn’t surprising to see the team cut ties with him on Aug. 20. Fifth-round pick Jonathan Williams was also arrested and charged for driving while intoxicated in July. Jonathan is more likely to face a potential suspension in 2017, but his misstep opened the door for Mike Gillislee to become the #2 RB and handcuff here. The Bills also brought in Reggie Bush on a one-year deal for extra depth, and his biggest contributions are likely to come as a returner and in passing situations. Gillislee is playing well and the handcuff for now, and he could be quite active if McCoy missed time this season.

Short-term Handcuff: Mike Gillislee
Long-term Handcuff: Mike Gillislee


Carolina Panthers: It was pretty surprising that the Panthers didn’t do much to upgrade their backfield this off-season. While Jonathan Stewart was generally effective in 2015, he once again dealt with injuries, and now he’s another year older, and perhaps not shockingly, missed three games from Weeks 3 through 5, and most of Week 2. Meanwhile, Mike Tolbert is a fullback type and Fozzy Whittaker is best used as a rotational player. In Stewart’s three missed games, both Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne have had runs of relevance. Whittaker was productive in Weeks 3 and 4, while it was more CAP in Week 5’s awful Monday Night game, though CAP managed to score 2 TDs (it was clear the Panthers focused more on the run game with Cam Newton inactive as well). Then, when Stewart came back in Week 6, he was the Panthers’ lead back by far, playing 67.1% of the snaps and scoring 2 TDs, while CAP was back to being a healthy scratch (as he was in Weeks 1 and 2). If he goes down, CAP is obviously in the mix as the early-down back, with Whittaker perhaps providing more PPR value.

Short-term Handcuff: Fozzy Whittaker/Cameron Artis-Payne
Long-term Handcuff: Cameron Artis-Payne


Chicago Bears: We worked under the assumption that Jeremy Langford was going to go into the 2016 season as the Bears’ starting RB, and that was definitely the case in Week 1, when Langford played nearly every offensive snap for Chicago (96%), but his snap share was down to under 60% in Week 2, then he got hurt in Week 3 and has missed significant time. With Ka’Deem Carey also going down with an injury, rookie RB Jordan Howard has taken over this backfield, with over 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first two starts. At this point it’s very difficult to imagine Howard relinquishing this job, though Carey returned in Week 6 and actually out-rushed Howard. Carey played 31.3% of the snaps to Howard’s 68.8%. Will Langford even have a change-of-pace role when he returns?

Short-term Handcuff: TBD
Long-term Handcuff: TBD


Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are once again using Jeremy Hill as their top early-down back, with Giovani Bernard working in as a change-of-pace option and as a passing back. Bernard has experience as a lead back and he actually played better than Hill overall, with Jeremy struggling to run with much consistency. This backfield is basically in a timeshare and it probably won’t change much this year, as they didn’t invest in the backfield for the second straight off-season. There’s a wide gap between Hill/Bernard and the rest of the RBs, including Rex Burkhead, who has worked as a slot receiver at times.

Short-term Handcuff: Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard
Long-term Handcuff: Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard


Cleveland Browns: New HC Hue Jackson is using a 2-RB system in his first season leading the Browns, with Isaiah Crowell filling the Jeremy Hill power-back role and Duke Johnson stepping into Giovani Bernard’s passing-back/change-of-pace role. Johnson is one of the team’s best offensive weapons this season, and it’s unlikely that his role would be reduced in any way. Crowell didn’t play great last year, but the Browns didn’t invest any resources in the RB position during the off-season, so he’ll need to really struggle to get passed as the top early-down runner to lose the job to George Atkinson, who the Browns added after the Raiders waived him. Both Crowell and Duke have looked good in the early part of the year.

Short-term Handcuff: Isaiah Crowell/Duke Johnson
Long-term Handcuff: Isaiah Crowell/Duke Johnson


Dallas Cowboys: After a fluke elbow injury this off-season, Darren McFadden has officially landed on the reserve/NFI list, which will keep him out for at least the first six games of the season... which he’s already missed. The Cowboys haven’t missed him. Dallas drafted Ezekiel Elliott, signed Alfred Morris, and also added Darius Jackson (a McFadden-like back) in the late rounds of the draft. Moreover, Lance Dunbar was activated and kept after an impressive return coming off his brutal knee injury last season. Elliott is the clear starter, and after an impressive preseason, Morris is the clear handcuff. Elliott has averaged a 71.4% snap share through six weeks, and he has been the Cowboys’ focal point with Dak Prescott at QB. Morris looks like the clear handcuff for early-down work, but Dunbar being back also throws a wrench into things as it relates to passing downs.

Short-term Handcuff: Alfred Morris
Long-term Handcuff: Alfred Morris


Denver Broncos: The Broncos matched the Dolphins’ pretty significant offer sheet (four years, $18 million) for C.J. Anderson, so make no mistake that Denver is using CJA as their top back, and he’s played well decent in the year behind a bad O-line. Rookie RB Devontae Booker is clearly the handcuff here, and he’s cutting into Anderson’s playing time, although he’s had major ball security issues at Utah. Ronnie Hillman played way too much last season, and they cut him before the start the of the season. The Broncos elected to go with Kapri Bibbs in the #3 RB role. Anderson is struggling a little bit right now, and Booker is getting the opportunity to steal some touches, and he looks like one of the better handcuff options out there.

Short-term Handcuff: Devontae Booker
Long-term Handcuff: Devontae Booker


Green Bay Packers: The Packers typically have one of the easiest backfields to figure out – Eddie Lacy is the starter and James Starks is the handcuff. Of course, that was until last season, when Lacy was badly out of shape, and the Packers were so fed up that they actually used Starks as their lead back for a little while. Despite positive reports that Lacy dedicated himself to getting into better condition this off-season, and the Packers did nothing in their backfield other than re-signing Starks behind him, Lacy has not looked particularly well-conditioned to us so far. We’ll make the call that Green Bay would prefer Lacy to look like the 2013 or 2014 version of himself, making him the starter. The issue now is that Starks will miss time after Week 6 knee surgery, and now the Packers traded for former Chief Knile Davis. With Starks out in Week 6, WRs Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery each got time out of the backfield. Like the rest of the Packers’ offense, the backfield is a mess, at least until we see what Davis’ role is.

Short-term Handcuff: TBD
Long-term Handcuff: TBD


Houston Texans: The Texans backfield situation was a complete disaster last season after Arian Foster went down for the year. They addressed the glaring issue by signing Lamar Miller to a four-year, $26 million contract this off-season, and he’s getting every chance to be their three-down back. They did draft some insurance by taking Tyler Ervin in the fourth round, and his contributions are likely to come as a change-of-pace option – if he ever gets on the field. Ervin isn’t necessarily the handcuff, but he has the skillset to be the back who plays the most in a rotational role behind Miller. The RBs on the roster behind Miller and Ervin are completely underwhelming (Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes), but Blue would once again likely split the workload with Ervin if Miller went down. Blue has been giving Miller breathers in the rare instances when Miller comes off the field.

Short-term Handcuff: Alfred Blue
Long-term Handcuff: Tyler Ervin


Indianapolis Colts: Frank Gore is clearly near the end of his career, but the Colts are an absolute trainwreck behind their 33-year-old lead back. Josh Ferguson and Robert Turbin would likely split up the snaps in this backfield if Gore went down. Ferguson is definitely the most intriguing and talented option behind Gore, and he’s carved out a major role as a passing back. He actually caught 168 passes at Illinois, and they’ve given him some major playing time early in the year. It’s probably not wise to invest in a handcuff for Gore at this point, but Ferguson is the closest thing to a handcuff and Turbin would also work in plenty.

Short-term Handcuff: Josh Ferguson/Robert Turbin
Long-term Handcuff: Josh Ferguson


Jacksonville JaguarsT.J. Yeldon played an absurd 77.4% of his team’s snaps when active as a rookie last season. The Jags clearly thought that was too much, signing Chris Ivory in the off-season to pair with him. Ivory is pretty clearly best as part of a split backfield, when he can use his violent running style to his advantage. He should be a lock for the Jags’ short-yardage work, with Yeldon also capable of working on early downs and the much better option in the passing game. If either guy gets hurt and misses time this year, we’d expect the other back to pick up the majority of the workload, with Denard Robinson also factoring in mostly in passing situations. Corey Grant is also sticking around for now. Ivory battled a mysterious illness the first two weeks of the season, giving Yeldon a slight advantage in the backfield, but Ivory played a more prominent role out of their Week 5 bye.

Short-term Handcuff: T.J. Yeldon/Chris Ivory
Long-term Handcuff: T.J. Yeldon/Chris Ivory


Kansas City ChiefsJamaal Charles had been the go-to guy in this backfield when he’s on the field, but he is coming off a torn ACL, and Spencer Ware is playing well and splitting up the snaps. HC Andy Reid has brought Charles along slowly in training camp, and he finally returned to the lineup in Week 4. Charcandrick West worked well as the “lightning” to Spencer Ware’s “thunder” last season when they teamed up to replace Charles. The Chiefs rewarded both Ware and West for their solid campaigns with contract extensions this off-season. However, Ware emerged as the better option over West, and he’s seeing a significant workload with Charles right now. Reid said he doesn’t think Charles is ready for a full workload just yet, so Ware is going to be quite active.

Short-term Handcuff: Spencer Ware/Jamaal Charles
Long-term Handcuff: Spencer Ware


Los Angeles RamsTodd Gurley is clearly the Rams’ top RB, and will continue to be the focal point of their offense. That’s no surprise. But what’s happening behind him is going to be very interesting. A good receiver and pass protector, Benny Cunningham produced two games of 10 or more FP last season, both when Gurley was inactive (and the first of them, in Week 1, came with Tre Mason also inactive). The Rams brought back Cunningham on an RFA tender this off-season, and Mason got himself into hot water, arrested for resisting arrest and cannabis possession (Mason is clearly not healthy, and is not part of the team). For now, Cunningham’s the easy bet to be the top handcuff, though he suffered a hamstring injury in Week 4 and missed two games. Malcolm Brown also made the team as the #3, while LA also kept special teams ace Chase Reynolds.

Short-term Handcuff: Benny Cunningham
Long-term Handcuff: Benny Cunningham


Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins were clearly hesitant to hand over the lion’s share of work to Jay Ajayi in 2016, as they flirted with restricted free agent C.J. Anderson and drafted Kenyan Drake in the third round. Well, they finally found a back in the middle of July, signing 30-year-old Arian Foster to a one-year deal. Foster, who is coming off a torn Achilles tendon, is already hurt 1.5 games into the season, but he returned to play behind Ajayi in Week 6. Ajayi has been much better of late, and Drake has never been a lead back dating back to his time at Alabama when he was a change-of-pace behind Derrick Henry. Damien Williams has also factored in, forming a full-blown committee at times. However, HC Adam Gase has given Ajayi the chance to take over the backfield, and the second-year RB has taken advantage of his opportunity. We’d expect Ajayi to play on early downs going forward, with Foster playing in passing situations.

Short-term Handcuff: Arian Foster
Long-term Handcuff: Arian Foster


Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings still have the boring-but-reliable Matt Asiata on their roster, but it’s high time they get more touches for the explosive Jerick McKinnon, as coach Mike Zimmer told us at the NFL Combine in February. That means he’s our preferred “handcuff” to last season’s rushing leader, Adrian Peterson, who is dealing with a torn meniscus. At 1.50 FP/touch and 0.64 FP/snap, McKinnon was among the most efficient RBs in the game in 2015, improving decidedly as a receiver from his rookie season, but he didn’t have enough touches to make it count over the course of the full season. Still, McKinnon’s three highest fantasy scoring games of the year came in the final three weeks, as did his three largest yardage totals. He can have a role independent of Peterson once Peterson gets back, while also showing extreme breakout potential in the event Peterson goes down. Asiata will absolutely have a larger role with AD out out, but we’ll go McKinnon as the guy to have, as he played more snaps than Asiata in Week 3 (64.8% to 35.2%), and had a nearly identical share in Week 4. Keep in mind, though, that McKinnon got trucked in pass pro a number of times, and in Week 5, though McKinnon played a 55% snap share to Asiata’s 46%, Asiata was the more effective player. Asiata is still McKinnon’s “handcuff,” but he’s worth rostering and playing in desperation.

Short-term Handcuff: Matt Asiata
Long-term Handcuff: Matt Asiata


New England Patriots: The number one rule for fantasy football is to never trust a Bill Belichick backfield because he’s liable to change everything any given week. This Patriot backfield was a pretty cut-and-dry, two-man backfield early in 2015, but that changed when Dion Lewis went down with a season-ending knee injury. Lewis was set to return to his passing-back role this season, but he needed a clean-up surgery on his knee which landed him on the reserve/PUP list to starter the year. That means that James White is the primary passing back to start the year, a role he occupied last season after Lewis went down for the year in 2015. LeGarrette Blount is unfortunately back once again coming off his hip injury that ended his season early, and he’ll be their top early-down, “power” back. The Patriots also have Brandon Bolden in the mix, who made the team primarily for his work on special teams, but he did fill in as an early-down back at times when Blount went out of the lineup last year. The Patriots also have D.J. Foster to play behind White as a receiver after splitting his time between WR and RB at Arizona State. This backfield is still messy and it could remain that way all year long, especially when Lewis eventually returns to the lineup in the near future.

Short-term Handcuff: D.J. Foster for James White/Brandon Bolden for LeGarrette Blount
Long-term Handcuff: RBBC


New Orleans Saints: Top RB Mark Ingram had a legitimate breakout last season, especially as a receiver, catching 50 passes in 12 games in 2015 after totaling 53 receptions in his first 50 NFL games combined. Unfortunately, injuries have been Ingram’s biggest problem in the NFL, which means his backup always has to be on call. Overall, Tim Hightower is likely Ingram’s handcuff. From Week 14 through the end of the year in 2015, Hightower operated as New Orleans’ top back with Ingram inactive, posting 84/327/4 rushing (3.9 YPC) and 12/129/0 receiving on 13 targets (92.3%, 10.8 YPR). Over that span, he averaged 20.4 FPG, which ranked him #2 among all RBs. Hightower may not be explosive, but he’s a good receiver, protector, and short-yardage back, which means he can play in every situation if Ingram goes down again. He’s one of the best stories in the NFL in recent memory. Unfortunately, the Saints also signed FB John Kuhn, one of the most notable fantasy vultures in recent memory, and Sean Payton loves getting his fullback touches near the goal line (he had 3 TDs in Week 4). Other than that, this backfield is a mess – Travaris Cadet was heavily involved through Week 3, but it was rookie Daniel Lasco who ran ahead of Cadet in Week 4. Then, in Week 6, TE Coby Fleener got a rushing TD. Seriously.

Short-term Handcuff: Tim Hightower
Long-term Handcuff: Tim Hightower


New York Giants: The Giant backfield is again a mess. Rashad Jennings is the presumed top back, and while he’s now 31, he played 16 games for the first time in his NFL career in 2015. That said, he has already missed three games in 2016 with a thumb injury. Shane Vereen had a huge role and filled in for Jennings as the top back with him out, but now Vereen himself may miss most of the season with a torn triceps. But the Giants also kept three more backs – Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa, and Bobby Rainey. We like the rookie fifth-round pick Perkins quite a bit. He’s small, but he’s tough and he can play on all three downs. While Jennings remains a solid all-around player, we wouldn’t be shocked if Perkins is playing significant snaps at some point this season. With Vereen down, it’s Darkwa who is the top handcuff now. But though Perkins showed some explosive traits in Week 4, he’s still behind Rainey for passing-down work. In Week 6, with Jennings back, Rainey and Perkins got snaps, while Darkwa did not.

Short-term Handcuff: Orleans Darkwa/Bobby Rainey
Long-term Handcuff: Paul Perkins


New York Jets: The Jets let Chris Ivory walk in free agency, but they signed Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson to fill the void. However, the Jets waived Robinson just before the season after he re-injured the broken leg he suffered last November. They gave Forte $8 million in guaranteed money, so they signed him to presumably be their top back. A potential problem is that Bilal Powell excels in similar situations as Forte, but at least Robinson is gone, freeing up short-yardage situations for Forte. Forte is going to handle most of the work, but he could be annoyingly vultured by Powell at times. At age 30, Forte has yet to slow down, which is certainly a positive, but he’ll have plenty of competition for snaps with Powell. The only other RB on the roster right now is Troymaine Pope, and they’ve made him an inactive on gamedays. Powell is playing primarily in passing situations this season, which has been plenty of snaps since they’ve trailed so much.

Short-term Handcuff: Bilal Powell
Long-term Handcuff: Bilal Powell


Oakland Raiders: As a first-year starter last season, Latavius Murray stayed on the field but underwhelmed for the most part as the full-time back. Murray opened the season as the Raiders’ early-down back, but Oakland drafted a very interesting back in the fifth round in DeAndre Washington. Washington is small but has a balanced skill set, and the Raiders clearly want to limit Murray’s touches on third downs. Washington is working in on the Raiders’ passing-down work, but don’t be surprised if he ends up stealing significant early-down work from Murray at some point during the year. Murray has to play well to hold onto his role, and he’ll have the chance to come through playing behind potentially one of the better O-lines in the league. UDFA rookie Jalen Richard also made some ripples in training camp, and he exploded onto the scene in Week 1. Murray is still the top early-down back for now, but the Raiders are going to mix in Washington and Richard in during all situations. It looks like Richard could be the “handcuff” for Murray, too, with Washington sticking in a changeup role. Richard and Washington have actually split the workload up the last two weeks with Murray out of the lineup.

Short-term Handcuff: Jalen Richard/DeAndre Washington
Long-term Handcuff: Jalen Richard/DeAndre Washington


Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles may have improved through subtraction this off-season, moving the mopey DeMarco Murray and his massive contract to the Titans for a pick swap (that helped them trade up for Carson Wentz). That opens the door for Ryan Mathews to be Philly’s clear lead back, as he was in Week 1. But obviously, Mathews’ struggles with injuries and ball security have been well documented (he entered training camp with an ankle injury, then missed most of Week 3 with one too, then fumbled in Week 5), so expect new Eagle coach Doug Pederson to work in the recently extended Darren Sproles actively – Sproles actually played more snaps than Mathews in all four Eagle games thus far. Competing behind the top two backs are rookie Wendell Smallwood and veteran Kenjon Barner. Barner’s looked great this off-season and has added muscle, but the Eagles are very intrigued by Smallwood, whom our Greg Cosell said the team views as a lower-case Jamaal Charles. Smallwood had been one of our favorite late-round buys in fantasy, and he looked great in Week 3.  Meanwhile, Barner has continued to look pretty good, including a solid performance in Weeks 1 and 3. Barner may well be the top handcuff for the short-term, and the Eagles will likely run the ball a ton with Wentz under center, but Smallwood’s Week 3 performance turned some heads. Unfortunately, both he and Barner played just one snap a piece in Week 5, before being back and involved in Week 6. Overall, Sproles leads the way in snaps, though Mathews remains the early-down leader.

Short-term Handcuff: Kenjon Barner
Long-term Handcuff: Wendell Smallwood


Pittsburgh SteelersDeAngelo Williams is once again the best handcuff option coming off his impressive 2015 campaign filling in for Le’Veon Bell. We learned in late July that Bell was facing suspension after missing a drug test, so Williams once again began the season as the starter, like he did in 2015 when Bell was suspended the first two games of the year. Bell finally returned in Week 4, but the Steelers could mix DeAngelo in a little bit more this season to keep Bell healthy. The Steelers didn’t really make any moves to address their #3 RB situation during free agency or in the draft, with the below average Fitzgerald Toussaint behind Williams. Handcuffing RBs isn’t totally necessary in today’s fantasy landscape, but obviously Bell owners would be wise to snatch up Williams if they can.

Short-term Handcuff: DeAngelo Williams
Long-term Handcuff: DeAngelo Williams


San Diego ChargersMelvin Gordon had a rookie season to forget and is coming off a devastating microfracture knee surgery. The Chargers are certainly giving Gordon every opportunity to redeem himself if he’s healthy, and he’s played well in the early going. Danny Woodhead was once again serving as the primary passing-down back, but he tore his ACL in Week 2 and is done for the season. With Branden Oliver (Achilles) already done for the season, the team went out and signed former Ken Whisenhunt running back Dexter McCluster to fill some of Woodhead’s role. Kenneth Farrow and Andre Williams are also on the roster behind the top two backs, but neither RB saw a snap in Week 3. Gordon is quickly becoming the workhorse in this backfield, but McCluster could see a little more time going forward as the passing back.

Short-term Handcuff: RBBC
Long-term Handcuff: RBBC


San Francisco 49ers: We’d like to say Carlos Hyde is the Niners’ unquestioned top back, as he has been in every game thus far this year, but let’s be honest – he’s missed 11 games in his NFL career, and entered the season with just 198 carries to his name, so he hadn’t had even a full season’s worth of carries over his two NFL years. Of course, he’s the most gifted player here, which is why he’s still the heavy favorite for carries. That said, his handcuff was a productive one last year. After being cut by the Browns, Shaun Draughn arrived in San Francisco and was relevant for fantasy after a foot injury cut Hyde’s season short. Draughn’s best run came from Weeks 9 through 13 in 2015, a four-game stretch over which he posted between 13.6 FP and 19.6 FP, putting up rock-solid RB2 numbers. As the Niners’ de facto starting RB, he played at least 66.7% of the snaps in five consecutive games, including a rare 100% outing in Week 12. That said, when Hyde missed snaps with a shoulder injury in Week 6, it was actually Mike Davis – and not Draughn – who picked up mist of the snaps.

Short-term Handcuff: Shaun Draughn/Mike Davis
Long-term Handcuff: Shaun Draughn/Mike Davis


Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks’ backfield is beginning to shake out after looking like a mess this off-season. In addition to Thomas Rawls, the Seahawks re-signed the enigmatic Christine Michael, and Seattle also drafted three RBs – C.J. Prosise in the third round, Alex Collins in the fifth, and Zac Brooks in the seventh, suggesting the club didn’t fully trust Rawls (Brooks has since been cut). While Prosise, a former college WR, could have an instant role as a receiving specialist, he’s also missed critical reps in camp with a hamstring injury, after missing some OTAs with a hip problem, then suffered a wrist injury in Week 1 that has sidelined him. That brings us to Michael, who, with Rawls injured (cracked fibula), seems to have finally lived up to his second-round pedigree, and looks like the starter here for the near future. This backfield will need to be watched closely, especially after the addition of C.J. Spiller before Week 4 (Spiller scored a TD), but for now, it looks like Michael has done enough to keep the starting gig. Keep in mind that Collins got a TD opportunity in Week 6, as Michael was being evaluated for a concussion (he later returned).

Short-term Handcuff: RBBC
Long-term Handcuff: RBBC


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With Charles Sims now on IR, this backfield is back to being Doug Martin’s, when he is healthy coming out of the Week 6 bye. Martin finished 2nd in the NFL in rushing in 2015, which landed him a big contract with the Bucs, but his fantasy upside was limited by the fact that he played in a heavy RB rotation with Sims, who took much of the passing-game work. Martin played 57% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps in 2015, still a relatively high number, but Sims took nearly all of the rest, including plenty of high-efficiency fantasy work. But will that change with Sims out? Jacquizz Rodgers had over 30 touches in Week 5, but he’s likely to fall well behind Martin here.

Short-term Handcuff: Jacquizz Rodgers
Long-term Handcuff: Jacquizz Rodgers


Tennessee Titans: The Titans were an abomination at running back last season, and they made two big moves in the off-season to address the weakness. They traded for DeMarco Murray to be their lead back, and they drafted Derrick Henry to be his top backup and potentially his eventual replacement. As a second-round pick, Henry immediately leapt Antonio Andrews on the depth chart, and it wouldn’t be shocking if by midseason Henry has to be the lead back if Murray picks up a minor injury. The Titans cleaned house at RB, as they cut Dexter McClusterBishop Sankey, and David Cobb before the start of the season, leaving Andrews behind the top two backs. Murray is the top back here, especially as a receiver, and Henry is clearly a top handcuff.

Short-term Handcuff: Derrick Henry
Long-term Handcuff: Derrick Henry


Washington Redskins:  For now, Matt Jones looks like the “lead back,” but what does that mean? Through five weeks, Jones has played just 50.0% of the club’s offensive snaps, against receiving specialist Chris Thompson’s 44.7%. UDFA Rob Kelley then played his first snaps in Week 3, handling just 4. Jones struggled as a rookie, averaging under 4.0 YPC and coughing up the ball way too much, but coach Jay Gruden appears content with Jones in his power-heavy run scheme – after all, Washington may well continue to be a pass-first team this season. A physical back with some third-down value as a receiver and protector, Kelley is the top handcuff, for now. Jones played well in Week 4 and Week 6, but needs positive game flow to really reach his potential, and then he lost a fumble in Week 5.

Short-term Handcuff: Rob Kelley
Long-term Handcuff: Rob Kelley