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Fantasy RB Handcuffs Depth Chart 2022: Find sleepers, key backups on fantasy football waiver wires

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Given the wear and tear of a 17-game NFL regular season, it’s an unfortunate reality that one of your fantasy running backs gets hurt. A winning strategy includes acquiring the backups (aka “handcuffs) to your starting RBs to fill out your bench spots. Understanding how a team utilizes their RBs, whether it’s a bellcow who’s out there for all three downs (Najee Harris, Dalvin Cook) or a committee with no true “RB1” (Broncos, Texans) factors into your handcuffing approach. All it takes is one snap, whether it be in the preseason or in Week 4 to completely change the complexion of a team’s RB depth chart.

Take the absences of Cam Akers (preseason injury) and David Montgomery (injured in Week 4) last year. After Akers tore his right Achilles in training camp, Darrell Henderson Jr. was a borderline RB1 in PPR formats for Weeks 1-12 before injuring his thigh. Bears rookie RB Khalil Herbert shouldered a much bigger load in the Bears offense, and from Weeks 5-8 he was a borderline RB1 in standard formats.

Herbert went undrafted in virtually every redraft league, signifying the importance of knowing who that next man up will be. While it stinks to lose a highly drafted weekly starter, if you have his replacement the drop-off isn’t as big as you might initially think.

Additionally, you don’t have to own a starting RB in order to own his handcuff. You could very well draft Tony Pollard and Jamaal Williams even if you didn’t select Ezekiel Elliott or D’Andre Swift. While those two handcuffs are much more appealing if you do draft Elliott and Swift, it can be a wise endeavor to target high-upside backups. Not only do they serve as bench depth or even potential trade bait, but they also might have standalone flex value, especially during the bye weeks.

The chart below will be updated frequently throughout the season as we do our best to stay on top of the ever-fluid world of RB depth charts. Keep in mind that some “handcuffs” won’t see major usage changes if the starter in front of them gets injured. Someone like Nyheim Hines will likely get a few extra carries, but his role as the Colts’ primary third-down/receiving back might not change much if Jonathan Taylor gets hurt. Conversely, someone like Alexander Mattison immediately becomes a must-have, every-week starter if Dalvin Cook were to get hurt.

Obviously, some handcuffs present more value than others, and understanding how a team might utilize its RBs can help with the handcuffs you target. Watching for usage during the preseason is key, as some coaches have different philosophies in how they approach their backfields, especially when you factor in down and place on the field. Continue to monitor injury situations and snap counts each week, making sure you’re ready to pounce once a depth chart change occurs.

Fantasy RB Handcuff Depth Chart 2022

Team Starter Handcuff Two-Deep
Arizona Cardinals James Conner Eno Benjamin Darrel Williams
Atlanta Falcons1 T. Allgeier/C. Huntley Committee Committee
Baltimore Ravens2 JK Dobbins Justice Hill M. Davis/K. Drake
Buffalo Bills Devin Singletary Zack Moss James Cook
Carolina Panthers Christian McCaffrey D’Onta Foreman Chuba Hubbard
Chicago Bears3 Khalil Herbert Trestan Ebner Committee
Cincinnati Bengals Joe Mixon Samaje Perine Chris Evans
Cleveland Browns Nick Chubb Kareem Hunt D’Ernest Johnson
Dallas Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Tony Pollard Rico Dowdle
Denver Broncos Melvin Gordon Mike Boone Committee
Detroit Lions4 Jamaal Williams Justin Jackson Craig Reynolds
Green Bay Packers A. Dillon/A. Jones Committee Committee
Houston Texans Dameon Pierce Rex Burkhead Dare Ogunbowale
Indianapolis Colts Jonathan Taylor Nyheim Hines Deon Jackson
Jacksonville Jaguars James Robinson Travis Etienne Snoop Conner
Kansas City Chiefs Clyde Edwards-Helaire Isiah Pacheco Jerick McKinnon
Las Vegas Raiders Josh Jacobs Zamir White Brandon Bolden
Los Angeles Chargers Austin Ekeler Joshua Kelley Sony Michel
Los Angeles Rams D. Henderson/C. Akers Jake Funk Committee
Miami Dolphins Raheem Mostert Chase Edmonds Myles Gaskin
Minnesota Vikings Dalvin Cook Alexander Mattison Kene Nwangwu
New England Patriots D. Harris/R. Stevenson Ty Montgomery Pierre Strong Jr.
New Orleans Saints5 M. Ingram/L. Murray Dwayne Washington Tony Jones Jr.
New York Giants Saquon Barkley Matt Breida Antonio Williams
New York Jets Breece Hall Michael Carter Ty Johnson
Philadelphia Eagles Miles Sanders Kenneth Gainwell Trey Sermon
Pittsburgh Steelers Najee Harris Jaylen Warren Benny Snell Jr.
San Francisco 49ers6 Jeff Wilson Jr. Jordan Mason Marlon Mack
Seattle Seahawks Rashaad Penny Kenneth Walker III T. Homer/D. Dallas
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Leonard Fournette Rachaad White Ke’Shawn Vaughn
Tennessee Titans Derrick Henry Dontrell Hilliard Hassan Haskins
Washington Commanders7 Antonio Gibson J.D. McKissic Jonathan Williams

1 = Falcons’ starter Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) is out until at least Week 9. Backup Damien Williams (ribs) is out until at least Week 6. Patterson should start when healthy. Williams will compete for the starting role when he’s healthy.

2 = Ravens’ backup Gus Edwards (knee) is out until at least Week 5. He should be the primary backup when healthy.

3 = Bears’ starter David Montgomery (ankle) is out until at least Week 5. He should remain the starter when healthy.

4 = Lions starter D’Andre Swift (shoulder) is out until at least Week 5, with reports suggesting he’ll be out until Week 7. He should return to his co-starter role when healthy.

5 = Saints starter Alvin Kamara (ribs) is out until at least Week 5. He will start when healthy.

6 = 49ers starter Elijah Mitchell (knee) is expected to be out until around Week 9. He will compete for the starter’s job when he returns.

7 = Commanders’ co-starter Brian Robinson Jr. (gunshot wounds) is out until at least Week 5. He’ll likely be eased back into action as a backup before getting a chance to overtake Antonio Gibson for the starting job.

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