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Essential Fantasy Football Running Back Handcuffs: Get 'Em Now

When James Conner left last Sunday’s game with a knee injury, his owners immediately consulted their league’s free-agent list to see if Jaylen Samuels was available. Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy were both uncertain for this week, and many Fantasy players put in waiver claims for Darwin Thompson, who was cut early in the season after the Chiefs acquired McCoy.

Don’t put yourself into a situation where you have to scramble to the waiver wire to get the replacement for your starting RB if he goes down. Be aware of who the possible handcuffs should be if an RB1 gets injured. Here are some backup NFL RBs who could be pressed into service at any time, and should be more widely owned. If you don’t have them on your bench as insurance for your starting RBs, you should get them right away if they are still available.

We will be specifically looking at those depth types who are less than 60 percent owned in FleaFlicker leagues. These guys should simply be on rosters in most leagues right now. They can become hot Fantasy free agent targets at any time. Get them now if you are rostering the starter ahead of them.

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Your Fantasy Football Handcuff Updates

Justin Jackson (58 percent owned in FleaFlicker leagues): Austin Ekeler has been terrific, but Jackson may really shine too, if he has to start at any point.

Jaylen Samuels (58 percent): He is still unowned in a lot of leagues. Some Conner owners apparently have not learned their lesson yet.

Malcolm Brown (56): Even if you don’t own Todd Gurley, he may become an option for you at some point if he is pushed into a larger role with the Rams. You can also use him as a flex when bye weeks roll around. He is maybe the most alluring RB on the whole list.

Ito Smith (50): Devonta Freeman has a very notorious injury history, and Smith is a prime guy to own, as he may be needed to start for the Falcons at any time.

Alexander Mattison (41): If you are a Dalvin Cook owner, you are feeling pretty good right now. But Cook is still susceptible to minor injuries and we cannot forget his lack of durability over the past two seasons just because he is performing at a high level right now.

Ty Montgomery (24): He is the apparent handcuff to Le’Veon Bell. If you believe in bad luck, and the Jets always seem to endure through a lot of that, you must have Montgomery rostered in case he is needed to play more at some point.

Chase Edmonds (21): When David Johnson left last week’s game with a wrist injury, Edmonds was instantly moved into the featured role. Edmonds was specifically drafted by Arizona last season to firm up the RB2 spot after the team had constantly cycled through mediocre and stopgap types in previous campaigns.

Ryquell Armstead (21): Leonard Fournette is healthy now, but we all know the history. Armstead is the clear backup to Fournette with Alfred Blue on IR. The rookie could see his Fantasy appeal skyrocket very quickly if Fournette suffers another injury that forces him to miss time.

Ty Johnson (15): The sixth-round rookie has impressed the Lions to the point where they cut veteran C.J. Anderson. We did see Kerryon Johnson get banged up and miss time last season, so Johnson is a smart roster addition if you are a Johnson owner.


More Reserve RBs to Consider

Gus Edwards could play at least a part-time role for the Ravens if Mark Ingram went down. … Christian McCaffrey is still getting a monster workload, and our bet would be for rookie Jordan Scarlett to step up if McCaffery was injured, as he is being heavily exposed to defenses. But it is not a fully certain situation behind McCaffrey in Carolina. … There is increasing buzz on David Montgomery, but if he was ever out of the picture because of an injury, Mike Davis would be the unquestioned featured RB in Chicago. … Dontrell Hilliard is the handcuff to Nick Chubb while Kareem Hunt serves his suspension. … There have been rumors Kenyan Drake will be traded. If he is, Kalen Ballage would become the unquestioned starter, but he has looked lost and overwhelmed early in his pro career. … Wayne Gallman is the current backup to Saquon Barkley, but would only be a desperation Fantasy starter if needed to play an expanded role. … Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington would likely split work if Josh Jacobs were to miss time. That was almost the case this week, and both would only be last-ditch options in such a scenario. … Derrius Guice is already out for Washington and there is not much behind him. Chris Thompson might catch more flat and screen passes as an extension of the running game if the Redskins found themselves in such a thin situation.

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