Fantasy Football Handcuffs at the Running Back Position have been a hotly debated topic in the best ball community this offseason. Whether or not it is optimal to take the handcuffs to your own early picks is outside the scope of this article, but I think we can all agree that handcuff RBs can be valuable late round picks.
In my opinion, most of the veteran running backs in a clear handcuff role are fairly priced, but there are a handful of rookies who provide significant upside at their current cost. This article features three rookie running backs I am currently drafting and one I am keeping an eye on as the offseason unfolds. To be eligible for this article I only considered rookie RBs with an ADP of 150+ on Underdog who are behind a clear starter.
Late Round Rookie Handcuff Running Backs
Tyrion Davis-Price – San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco backfield is expected to belong to Elijah Mitchell to start the season, but we all know the history of 49ers running backs and the chaos that seems to befall that position each year. San Francisco was willing to invest a top 100 pick in Davis-Price and while that does not guarantee success (see Trey Sermon), it is a positive indicator.
TDP doesn’t have a great prospect profile, but he has enough speed (4.48 40-yard dash) and size (6’0” 220lbs) to suggest he can make an impact if given an opportunity. We should always be willing to take shots on 49er RBs in best ball and it only helps that his ADP is a reasonable 170.5 on Underdog. As long as the cost stays under control I believe Davis-Price is an excellent pick, especially in 49ers stacks or as week 17 bring back for Raiders stacks.
Hassan Haskins – Tennessee Titans
The Titans quietly moved on from D’Onta Foreman and Darrynton Evans this offseason which creates an opening behind Derrick Henry. The favorite to win that job is 4th round pick Hassan Haskins out of Michigan. Haskins is a physical, punishing runner with good athleticism and the necessary size (6’2” 220lbs) to handle a Henry-level workload. We saw Foreman provide valuable fantasy production when Henry went down last season, and there is every reason to think Haskins could offer the same type of upside, and possibly even more.
With a current ADP of 206.5 he is one of my favorite late-round picks, particularly for rounding out zero-RB teams. It is never easy to predict injuries but Derrick Henry is 28 years old, is approaching 1,700 career touches, and missed 9 games last season so he is likely at an elevated risk. Unless the crowd catches on to Haskins’ ceiling, he stands a good chance of being one my most rostered players across all tournaments.
Brian Robinson Jr. – Washington Commanders
It was a bit of a surprise when the Commanders used a top-100 pick on a running back after somehow convincing J.D. McKissic to return rather than join the Buffalo Bills. That being said, Antonio Gibson has struggled with nagging injuries and fumbles so far throughout his career and the Commanders viewed RB depth as enough of a need to make the investment in Robinson.
To be honest, I don’t think Robinson is a very good prospect, but I am also firmly on the side that volume is way more important than talent at the RB position. Robinson is a no-nonsense back who can handle a big workload and contribute a bit in the passing game. I don’t expect the Washington offense to be anything special but if Robinson gets a stretch of games (especially if it’s late in the season) in a featured role he should deliver huge value on his current ADP of 188.2.
Honorable Mention Rookie RB Handcuff
Jerome Ford – Cleveland Browns
This is a much deeper name than the other three on this list but hear me out. The Browns tendered D’Ernest Johnson this offseason but that deal remains unsigned and there are rumors they may rescind the offer and let him walk. If that happens, Jerome Ford should slot in as the top backup to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. We know the Browns like to use two running backs so if either Chubb or Hunt goes down the backup should see work. I liked Ford as a prospect and think he is a great fit for the Browns offense. The depth chart is currently too crowded to justify taking Ford but if roster moves break in his favor I think he could become a high upside late-round pick.