Top 5 Handcuffs
There is always a lot of talk about handcuffs and the need to have them, so much so that teams will draft backup players and try to tell you how bad you need your stars backup and have to give him a starting player for the insurance. I don’t believe the insurance is worth that much. When it comes to these handcuffs most people assume I would be targeting the backup to players like Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Arian Foster, but I have a different way of looking at this. The handcuff is really most important at the RB position and that is where all of my handcuffs are. The difference for me is that I don’t believe in handcuffing players like Ray Rice and here is why. Those players are great and put up monster stats and if he goes down the player who replaces him will not be able to produce like Ray Rice does in that offense. So if I draft that handcuff he is going to be an average player at the position, if he gets a chance to play, versus getting a player that can be a flex player and starter on my team. I like getting players that score points without needing an injury to get the time on the field. This leads me to my handcuff strategy.
If you are not lucky enough to be one of the teams that get a stud running back, and since there are not that many there is a good chance of that, then you need to think about handcuffing like I do. There are many running backs that are in the dreaded RBBC and those are the ones that most warrant the handcuff in my opinion. When you have 2 backs in an offense that both touch the ball close to the same amount of time or a 60-40 split there is always a chance that the split goes the other way as the season moves on. Having these handcuffs are more important because they are both good backs, but if one starts to fumble the other is going to see his carries increase in a big way. If there is an injury there is no question as to who is taking over as the lead back. That means if you have the handcuff on these guys you will score more points in the dreaded situation than the replacement of a Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson. Without further ado here is the list.
Ahmad Bradshaw – David Wilson
Bradshaw looks like he could be in for a bigger year this year with Brandon Jacobs heading out of New York. That is good news for Bradshaw, but the Giants are not sold on Bradshaw as he has had foot injury issues and that is not good for a running back. Not to mention that in 2010 Bradshaw also put the ball on the carpet 7 times. It would seem that everything is set for Bradshaw to be the guy, but with the talent on the offense of the Giants if Bradshaw stumbles Wilson will be given a great opportunity to step in. Wilson was drafted in the first round which is not a round you draft someone in if you don’t expect them to be a starter in this league. So if you do grab Bradshaw be sure to be looking to grab Wilson.
Matt Forte – Michael Bush
Matt Forte has proven that he is a very good fantasy running back, as he had pretty much been all the offense the Bears have had over the last 4 years. This year the Bears have given Jay Cutler a lot more weapons in the offense with the addition of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Michael Bush. Bush is the real interesting piece in the deal. Forte is looking for a long term contract and the team has placed the franchise tag on him, which he is not happy about. He might potentially sit out of training camp, which is never a good thing for a player as that could increase the chance of an injury, usually a hamstring. Michael Bush showed he can do a good job filling in as he did for Darren McFadden last year. Forte is going to see a decreased workload and if he does come into camp late and gets injured you will be very happy if you grabbed Bush to back him up.
DeMarco Murray – Felix Jones
This handcuff would have been the opposite way around last year. Murray exploded on the scene as a rookie by blowing up in weeks 7-10 rushing for 601 yards. Murray was hampered by injuries at the beginning and the end of the season, but showed that he has the stuff to be a lead back in the NFL. Although, due to his history of injuries, even if it is just one year, you have to be concerned that he is not going to be able to last for the full season, which is why Felix Jones should also be on your radar if you draft Murray. Jones has been the epitome of a disappointment and is now relegated to a backup role. Jones still wants to get the job back as it was his last year so you know he has the motivation. If Murray does get nicked up you will want to have Felix Jones to plug in.
Darren McFadden – Mike Goodson
Well Run DMC showed last year that he can flat out dominate when healthy. The only problem is he is usually not healthy. Last year the injury bug hit McFadden hard after he was off to a great start and then Michael Bush stepped in and made a name for himself in McFadden’s absence. Bush has moved on to the Bears and left behind McFadden are Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson who was acquired from the Panthers. The reason they brought Goodson over was because the Raiders were not confident with Jones being the guy behind McFadden. Goodson got virtually no work last year behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart which means he has fresh legs. The last time he really had a chance was in 2010 when he had to step in due to injuries and posted back to back 100 yard rushing games. Goodson should be targeted if you grab McFadden as he has proven he can be counted on as a good replacement player.
Fred Jackson – CJ Spiller
This duo may be the pure definition of a handcuff. Fred Jackson was the man last year until he got injured and then Spiller stepped in week 12 and was quite impressive himself. Jackson should get the starting job back this season but he is going to get spelled by Spiller more than he was last year. If either one of these guys goes down the value of the other player is going to skyrocket. With the emergence of Spiller at the end of last season it is conceivable that fantasy owners are not going to go after Fred Jackson all that high. If you are able to wait to grab him as you RB2 you may want to spend your next pick on Spiller and then you have the insurance for Jackson as well as a player that should put up some points for you each week.
FYI: This article will be one of many ancillary write ups we will include in our draft kit this year. d-Rx®, Dawgmaticå and Houdini will each be doing a handcuffs, sleeper, busts and draft strategy pieces (along with our rankings, a target piece, d-Rx's tiers, IDP rankings) and much much more.
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