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2013 Fantasy Football: Running Backs Handcuffs by Tiers

This article is a continuation of RotoBaller’s 2013 preseason fantasy football running backs series.  Today we’ll be taking a look around the NFL at running back (RB) handcuffs, and give you our fantasy analysis.  

If you like this article, check out the rest of our fantasy football analysis: rankingssleepersrunning backswide receivers,  quarterbacks and of course our live fantasy football chat, the best football chatroom on the internwebs.  RotoBaller will be releasing more fantasy football content daily to help you prepare for the 2013 NFL Fantasy Football season so stay tuned!


2013 Fantasy Football – Running Back Handcuffs

Following the first 2 weeks of NFL preseason play, here's a look around the NFL at each team's running backs - and who are the handcuffs (or backups) to target on fantasy football draft day.  I’ve put these running back handcuffs in order of their potential fantasy football return, based on their talent levels and supporting casts.  All handcuffs are in bold.


Tier 1

If one of these NFL running backs goes down with an injury, the backup has elite potential and could produce like a top-10 fantasy football running back. We highly advise picking up these handcuffs, especially if you own the primary running back.  Spend a mid-to-late round pick on draft day, and stash the backup running backs as bench players just in case.  This is football after all, where injuries occur week to week.


  • Arian Foster and Ben Tate (Houston Texans)
  • C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson (Buffalo Bills)
  • LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown (Philadelphia Eagles)
  • Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce (Baltimore Ravens)


Tier 2

If any of the primary NFL running backs in this tier get injured, the backup has an opportunity to become a solid fantasy football producer for an extended duration of time. I wouldn’t call these guys must-own handcuffs - but still advise you to spend a mid-to-late round pick on draft day, and stash the backup running back if you have the roster space.


  • Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard (Indianapolis Colts)
  • Alfred Morris and Roy Helu (Washington Redskins)
  • Reggie Bush and Mikel LeShoure (Detroit Lions)
  • Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen (New England Patriots)
  • BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints)
  • Darren McFadden and Marcel Reese (Oakland Raiders)
  • Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers (Atlanta Falcons)
  • Isaac Redman and Le'Veon Bell, La'Rod Stephens-Howling (Pittsburgh Steelers) - updated
  • David Wilson and Andre Brown, TBD (New York Giants) - updated

Update: Bell unfortunately came down with a right foot injury, and is expected to miss up to six weeks with a small ligament tear. He should be downgraded in fantasy football drafts to a mid-to-late round pick, but still has the upside to contribute when healthy this year.

Update: Andre Brown unfortunately injured his left leg and is expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks with a small fracture. He should be downgraded in fantasy football drafts, to a late round stash at best. Brown still has the upside to contribute when healthy this year, but will be out for a while and can more realistically be left for the waiver wire in shallower leagues. Until Brown is ready, Michael Cox, Ryan Torrain or Da’Rel Scott will compete for the backup role behind David Wilson, and may have the potential to hold similar fantasy value as Brown if given similar opportunity. We’re thinking that rookie Michael Cox, a 6 foot, 220 lb bruiser, with average speed but great agility, can win this competition and carve out a role as the Giants’ number 2 running back.


Tier 3

If the primary NFL running back on the teams below gets injured, the backup could become a solid No. 2 or No. 3 running back option (RB2/RB3). Some of these handcuffs may share carries with another running back.  So it would make sense to own both players, until a single back emerges for the team, and outperforms the other backups options.


  • DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar (Dallas Cowboys)
  • Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno (Denver Broncos)
  • Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, Ronnie Brown (San Diego Chargers)
  • DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert (Carolina Panthers) - updated
  • Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart (Minnesota Vikings)
  • Doug Martin and Peyton Hillis (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  • Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter (San Francisco 49ers) - updated
  • Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene (Tennessee Titans)
  • Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin (Green Bay Packers)


Tier 4 

If the primary NFL running back on the teams below gets injured, the backup could become a solid flex play (with upside for more).  Some of these handcuffs are on NFL teams with muddy running back situations, or the team itself won’t produce much fantasy football value for running backs.


  • Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, Shaun Draughn (Kansas City Chiefs)
  • Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy (St. Louis Rams)
  • Matt Forte and Michael Bush (Chicago Bears)
  • Marshawn Lynch and Christine Michael, Robert Turbin (Seattle Seahawks)
  • Maurice Jones-Drew and Justin Forsett (Jacksonville Jaguars)
  • Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee (Miami Dolphins)
  • Trent Richardson and Brandon Jackson, Montario Hardesty (Cleveland Browns)
  • Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams (Arizona Cardinals)
  • Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell (New York Jets)


Here are some more fantasy football articles about running backs & sleepers.  Let's win some leagues!



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