Welcome everyone to the 2021 Fantasy Football Must Own Handcuffs article. In this article, I will be going over the important handcuffs you must draft. Handcuffs are a huge part of fantasy football, especially while drafting your roster. If you draft a high-injury prone running back, please consider drafting his backup. Or, even better, you can steal your league-mates handcuffs. This is a good feeling to do.
Before I get into the article, I would like to mention the terrible news we got today. Cam Akers tearing his Achilles' is devastating. For himself, I hope he can make a speedy recovery and come back better than ever. For the Rams, this is quite the hit to their playoff hopes, not going to lie. Obviously, for fantasy football, this is terrible news. We are officially losing out on a possible RB1 in 2021.
With this being said, I will not be putting Darrell Henderson in this article. I now consider him the feature back. There is an almost certainty that they will sign a veteran running back, so look out for that.
So without further ado, welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Football Must Own Handcuffs article.
2021 Fantasy Football Must Own Handcuffs
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Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns
I feel like this doesn't need an explanation. Kareem Hunt should be starting, simple as that. He is backing up Nick Chubb (12 games played in 2020, 16 in 2018, and 2019). Nick Chubb has been relatively healthy, so don't bank on another injury this year if you are drafting Kareem Hunt. The good news is that the Cleveland Browns ran the ball the fourth-most times in 2020. They were a dangerous team, so don't expect this to change much.
Kareem Hunt will still get his in this offense. In 2020, he ran the ball 198 times for 841 yards and six touchdowns. He also added 38 catches on 51 targets for 304 yards and five touchdowns. This was good enough to place him as the RB10 in 2020. This could be hard to replicate, so don't expect this.
I don't expect him to get just under 200 carries again, but he should get 150+ at least. Hunt does most of his damage in this offense in the passing game anyways.
He is going around the fourth round, so you will have to pay up for him.
James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals
I would like to say this now, draft James Conner as much as you can in 2021. There is a good chance you can draft the starter of the Cardinals in the seventh or eighth round. Chase Edmonds isn't going anywhere, but are we really that sure of him keeping this job? It is no guarantee and I would like to take the chance on James Conner over Chase Edmonds. We all know Chase Edmonds and his goal-line carries, or lack thereof. Remember that going into 2021.
In 2020, James Conner struggled. He only rushed for 721 yards and six touchdowns while also adding 35 catches on 43 targets. This placed him as the RB27, so I can see why some people are off on him, I guess.
Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens
The vulture to J.K. Dobbins. Oh, what a pesty vulture you are. Don't be afraid to draft Gus Edwards this year. I know it isn't the sexiest pick, but it could turn out in your favor. The Ravens are obsessed with running the ball, so even if J.K. Dobbins is the starter, Gus will be able to do some damage still.
Last year, he ran for 723 yards and six touchdowns. He wasn't used often in the passing game, which was the reason for his RB37 placement in PPR. Don't expect an RB2 season by the way, but he should still be serviceable. You can get him super cheap.
Latavius Murray, RB, New Orleans Saints
Everyone knows what Latavius Murray does in New Orleans. He frustrates people who draft Alvin Kamara because he is the vulture of carries. This year will be no different. Don't let him go on the waiver wire, you can use a late-round pick on him.
In 2020, Murray ran for 656 yards and four touchdowns. He finished as RB34. Expect this in 2021, Murray has been an RB3 or better for the past four years in New Orleans.
If you have read my rookie running back article, you know that they have a shot at making a huge impact this year. Don't forget to draft these guys.
Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Etienne will have a huge role in this offense. Please draft accordingly. He is currently going near the end of the fourth round (RB27) according to fantasydata.com. He should be getting the majority of the receiving work and he will see 150+ carries.
This price is a little steep, but if you believe in him as I do, it could be a league-winning draft move.
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos
Javonte Williams has all the potential in the world to take the job from Melvin Gordon (hasn't played a full season since 2017). Will he be able to do it this year? Unlikely this will happen early on. I'm thinking after the bye week we could be seeing Williams taking over the starting role.
He was drafted in the second round, so we know the Broncos are going to want to use him. Please draft him as much as you can, you won't regret it. He is currently going in round six, which isn't bad.
Trey Sermon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Trey Sermon was drafted in the third round by the 49ers. It looks like the 49ers have big plans for him, so keep that in mind while drafting. I don't expect him to make an immediate impact unless an injury occurs to Mostert (8 games played in 2020). If this happens, It will be his job to lose at that point.
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers
Drafted in the fourth round by the Carolina Panthers, Chuba Hubbard has a shot at being the ultimate handcuff this year. He will be backing up the most dangerous fantasy running back in football. If C-Mac goes down, we all know what the backup role gets in this offense. Mike Davis was an RB1 backing up C-Mac.
Will Chuba Hubbard be able to do the same? I doubt it, but he should still be able to put up great numbers if an injury occurs. He is still worth taking a shot on in drafts.
Best of the Rest
You are going to want these guys for handcuffs. They could see a significant role in 2021, especially if an injury occurs.
Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Tony Pollard has been impressive when given the opportunity. Last year, he finished as RB41 on a struggling Cowboy team. He is involved in the passing game (40 targets), so he will be getting work this year no matter what. If Zeke goes down, Tony Pollard can be a league winner.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
We all know what Kenyan Drake can do. Now that he is the "backup" to Josh Jacobs, it should be interesting to see how this backfield turns out. You will want to draft Kenyan Drake though. So please do so.
He is currently going in the eighth round. For someone with his skill, this is a steal.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Leonard Fournette is the running back 1B to Rojo's running back 1A. They both will get their opportunities, so please consider drafting Fournette near the end of your drafts.
As you can tell, there are a lot of solid handcuffs out there. If you miss out on one, there is another one waiting to be drafted.
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