Top 5 Fantasy Football Running Back Handcuffs for 2020 NFL Season

Jason Schandl
Top running back handcuffs for the 2020 fantasy football season, including Latavius Murray.
Top running back handcuffs for the 2020 fantasy football season, including Latavius Murray. / Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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No position in fantasy football carries more injury risk than running back. Year in and year out, we see top players at the position miss games, and sometimes even the majority of the season due to injuries.

That makes their backups, or "handcuffs" in fantasy football, very valuable. A handcuff generally won't offer you a ton of value when the starter is healthy, but if the starter gets hurt then the handcuff's value explodes. You can take advantage of that either by rostering the handcuff for your own star RB, reducing the injury risk, or by rostering the handcuff of a star you don't have on your roster, hoping to capitalize with an additional top back if the injury bug hits.

With that in mind, here are the top RB handcuffs for the 2020 fantasy football season.

5. Dion Lewis, New York Giants

Dion Lewis could be a valuable fantasy football handcuff in 2020.
Dion Lewis could be a valuable fantasy football handcuff in 2020. / Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It's been a while since Dion Lewis has had a productive season, but he did show flashes when he tallied 1,110 yards from scrimmage in 2017 and 917 in 2018. He's obviously not going to see the field much while Saquon Barkley is active, but we saw last year that the Giants will feed whoever their top RB is, even when Barkley is hurt. Wayne Gallman saw 25 opportunities (18 carries plus 7 targets) with Barkley out in Week 4 last year. Lewis is capable of doing more damage than Gallman with that kind of volume.

4. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys' Tony Pollard is a strong handcuff for Ezekiel Elliott in 2020 fantasy football.
The Dallas Cowboys' Tony Pollard is a strong handcuff for Ezekiel Elliott in 2020 fantasy football. / Elsa/Getty Images

Tony Pollard had some brief fantasy football popularity when Ezekiel Elliott threatened a holdout in 2019, and the reasons that would have made him valuable then are the same reasons he's a strong handcuff now. He showed some serious big-play ability in 2019, with games of 60, 103 and 131 rushing yards on 14, 13 and 12 carries, respectively. He did that while Zeke hogged 301 carries and 71 targets, and if Elliott goes down we can expect Pollard to show out with workhorse volume.

3. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

J.K. Dobbins has big fantasy potential in the Ravens backfield.
J.K. Dobbins has big fantasy potential in the Ravens backfield. / Patrick Smith/Getty Images

J.K. Dobbins has all the makings of a future star. After rushing for 2,003 yards at Ohio State in 2019, he joined the NFL's best rushing attack when he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. The only thing holding him back in 2019 may be Mark Ingram, who is still the team's clear lead back. Ingram handled 162 carries to Gus Edwards' 76 in the first three quarters of games last year (blowouts skewed the fourth quarter stats in Edwards' favor), and he's not likely to cede that work to Dobbins. However, if Ingram gets hurt, we could very well see Dobbins blossom into the NFL's next big star at the RB position.

2. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals

Giovani Bernard showed big value as a handcuff when Joe Mixon missed games in 2017 and 2018.
Giovani Bernard showed big value as a handcuff when Joe Mixon missed games in 2017 and 2018. / Mark Brown/Getty Images

A former lead back, Giovani Bernard still gets treated like one when Joe Mixon is sidelined. Mixon played a full 16 games in 2019, but when he missed two games in 2018, Bernard racked up a total of 13 targets and 27 rushing attempts. Those 20.0 opportunities per game mirrored the 19.0 he saw in two games Mixon missed in 2017. Bernard averaged a strong 19.4 PPR fantasy points per game across those four contests.

1. Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints

Latavius Murray proved himself to be an elite fantasy football RB handcuff in 2019.
Latavius Murray proved himself to be an elite fantasy football RB handcuff in 2019. / Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Latavius Murray was a genuine fantasy football superstar when Alvin Kamara missed two games in 2019. Murray saw at least 20 carries, gained at least 150 yards from scrimmage and scored 2 touchdowns in each of those contests, playing over 80 percent of the New Orleans Saints' offensive snaps and averaging 34.4 fantasy points per game. The 2020 Saints offense looks an awful lot like it did last year, and while that kind of efficiency might not be a realistic projection for Murray, it's clear that he will be a true bell-cow if Kamara gets banged up again.


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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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