It’s August and we’re talking handcuffs – no not Aaron Hernandez’s handcuffs – we’re talking about the backups to your stud fantasy football players. Handcuffing your #1 running back is a fantasy football strategy utilized to provide insurance in case something happens to one of their top picks by drafting the backup at that position. While handcuffs are utilized on running backs, it’s important to safeguard other position players coming off injuries like RGIII or Gronkowski by finding viable substitutes.
For this segment the primary focus is on the most valuable running backs to target in the later rounds of your fantasy draft. The superstars who carry that burden of being the workhorse for their team are so valuable that not handcuffing them is a risky proposition. Second and third round draft picks may also be worth handcuffing if they are the primary ball carrier. This strategy of picking up a valuable backup in the very late rounds of your draft could come in handy, even if he never sees the starting lineup.
However, be wary of reaching too early to take your handcuff – these ten are suggestions for standard 12 league formats. In some cases these guys could be off the board by the double digit rounds in a running back heavy format or they could wind up on the waiver wire. Either way, these guys are worthy of serious consideration in the late rounds as a strategic way of “handcuffing” your #1 RB.
The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens had a very active offseason. However, the cosmetic makeup for success in the charm city remains the same. Pound the football to set up the pass. With the season-ending injury to TE Dennis Pitta and WR Anquan Boldin a 49er, the Ravens start the year ever more ready to run the football and feed Ray Rice. He’s such a dynamic runner and easily a top 10 fantasy draft pick. He’ll probably be spelled a bit more than last year, where Pierce saw some carries late in the season and had limited playoff success. Don’t be caught off guard if you’re hoping Pierce will drop to you in the last round but isn’t there. Many fantasy football enthusiasts think Pierce will be seeing more time this season. Don’t be fooled, Rice is the franchise but Pierce would be a nice to have insurance policy.
Under the new leadership of coach Chip “Frito-Lay” Kelly, the Eagles will surely have a high octane offense that focuses on speed and more speed. While McCoy is dynamic and shifty that also puts him at risk of injury and there’s a good chance that Brown will be called on more to fill in this season. Brown had a few eye opening runs late in the season, when he filled in as starter as well. If you draft McCoy then grab Brown late if he’s still available.
Foster has been one of the most reliable running backs over the past 3 seasons. If you’ve got Foster then you want Tate, even though you hope he barely sees the light of day. Despite three straight 1000 plus yard rushing campaigns all it takes is a helmet to the knee to put Tate in the saddle. The Texans massive offensive line has had something to do with those 1000 yard seasons. Foster has been as reliable as it gets, but don’t let Tate slip out of sight in the late rounds.
While Lynch makes it rain skittles after touchdowns it might be a smart idea to grab his back up with the turbine-sized biceps. Robert Turbin is a bruiser with a gun-show that would make the former Governor of California proud. With a more experienced offense under second year quarterback phenom Russell Wilson (minus Percy Harvin for the first few months), expect the running game to play a huge role in moving the chains. Hopefully stashing Turbin on the bench is like hoarding arm candy that you never plan to eat. He should be available in the later rounds of most drafts.
If Gerhart is starting in your fantasy starting lineup then your team is in a bit of a quandary. However, it’s better to have him then try and scramble and grab him off the waiver wire should the unthinkable happen. It would be surprising if he’s not available in the last round so you can wait late to grab him. Gerhart is purely insurance on your most prized possession should you be lucky enough to draft the Beast that is AP.
This position was at one point last season a time-share, but Spiller has finally emerged and shown his break-away speed and game-changing abilities. Jackson is a valuable commodity as a veteran backup who can be there if Spiller takes a spill. Spiller’s draft stock is steadily on the rise and as a likely 1st or 2nd rounder grabbing Jackson would be a good handcuff late. Take your time to grab him in the later rounds.
The “Quizz” is a backup for yet another aging veteran this season. After doing a great job of spelling Michael Turner last season, the Falcons found a way to bring in the workhorse who defies the limits of being an over 30 year old running back in SJax. While Jackson might be a popular 2nd or 3rd round pick, it would not surprise me if Quizz earns his fair share of carries and catches out of the backfield too. The only problem with handcuffing Jackson is that Quizz could be off the board by the end of the draft, but if he’s there nab him.
Although he’ll most likely slip in most fantasy drafts this season, Forte put together another 1000 yard campaign last year and is always a threat making catches from the backfield. With the new look Bears offense under Coach Marc Trestmen promises to be more dynamic, which squarely puts the pressure on Cutler to deliver and having Bush as a handcuff to Forte would be smart should Forte have any lingering ankle concerns.
This might be a bit of a stretch but I am willing to bet that there is a Chris Johnson believer in every draft room. He’s always a homerun threat and with the revamped offensive line they put around QB Jake Locker this only makes having CJ’s handcuff that much more important. It remains to be seen if Greene will be more of the Lendale White change of pace, but either way if Johnson suffers any setback it appears Greene is the go to guy. If he’s on the board late, he’s a good safeguard.
Ryan Matthews has been an injury-machine his first two seasons in the NFL. If Matthews is one of your top two running backs then finding Woodhead towards the back-end of the draft would be wise. As a change-of-pace back for New England he was very effective. Envision him playing a similar role as Darren Sproles did as a Charger. With a track-record on pace with that of injury-plagued Darren McFadden, it’s wise to handcuff.