That’s right ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about fantasy handcuffs. For those who don’t know, a handcuff is an insurance policy against your top running back. Handcuffs become even more important when you have a guy who has a history of missing games. Here are some of the fantasy handcuffs for your #1 or #2 backs entering 2013. Remember, training camp is still a ways off so these are not set in stone.
Shady will not make it out of the first two rounds in a vast majority of drafts. He should be a top 3 pick in my humble opinion, but that’s for another time. This article is about his backup, Bryce “The Right Price” Brown. He filled in for McCoy last year with great results: 43 carries for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s being drafted around pick 170 right now, so the value is there.
If there is one back that screams insurance policy, it is Darren McFadden. He has all the ability in the world except in the one that keeps him off the trainer’s table. He’s never played more than 13 games of a season, has only one 1k yard performance, and scored more than 4 TDs only once. We’ll go ahead and pencil him in for three lost games this season right now. When (not if) McFadden goes down, Murray is the presumptive guy to take over for him. Murray doesn’t have much of a track record, but you’ll want him if you lose Run DMc for a stretch.
Peterson is another red flag. He should be in tip top shape for the start of the season, but who knows if he’ll make it the whole journey? For a guy getting drafted as high as anyone, you need a backup plan. Gerhart isn’t spectacular, but he averages over 4 yards a carry. He’s another good value in the late rounds. He may go undrafted, but should AD get carted off the field, he won’t last long in the FA pool.
Chris Johnson doesn’t have an injury history like some other top backs, but he is still a guy you need to have backup plans for. The signing of Green came as a surprise to a lot of folks, but his style matches well as a complementary back to CJ2K. He may even be solid as a bye week filler. The Titans invested a ton on that O line with every intention of taking advantage. Greene averaged 1k yards over the last over the last two seasons. If CJ goes down, you’ll be very happy to have Greene in the waiting.
Spiller is a trendy pick to burst out this year in fantasy, and with good reason finishing 6th in scoring last year for the backs. He is a threat as a receiver as well, adding more value. But let’s not sleep on Fred Jackson who had nearly 1400 yards just two seasons ago. He’s passed the age threshold for backs at 31, but he doesn’t have much tread on the tires. He is another guy who might make a good bye week option, or even a flex starter.
Ray Rice will likely rack up close to 2k total yards and double digit TDs this year. It is what is expected of him at this point in his career. All those touches though increase the chances of him one day taking a bad hit. Pierce is a scary good back up. He graded out as one of the most elusive backs last year, averaging almost 5 yards a pop. He could likely start for a lot of teams right now. He is a fantasy sleeper in his own right and very worth a late round pick.
Foster is the only back really competing with Peterson for the #1 spot. He is one of the best at running and receiving out of the backfield. But we know he’s been hurt before and we know Houston would run this dude into oblivion if they could. Tate is like a Michael Turner in that he has starter potential, but is stuck behind a true special talent. Both you and Houston will be in good shape if Foster misses time having Tate on the bench. His career average is over 5 ypc and he had over 900 in just 2011.
If you spent the early round loading up on receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks and find yourself depending on an Eddie Lacy for an RB1 or 2, give strong consideration to taking Franklin a few rounds later. Both are rookies with high pre-draft grades. Lacy is projected as the starter after beasting in college ball, but I have my concerns. The offensive live he’ll be working with in GB may not even be as good as Alabama’s line last season. Without that luxury, Lacy may struggle. I had a higher grade on Franklin before the draft for that reason. He is shifty with surprising power. They could split carries throughout the season. Keep an eye on this training camp battle.
This is a combo most of you should know about already. Forte has had his injury troubles and Bush has shown competency at the very least in filling in. The Bears just dealt tackle Gabe Carimi, so the running game could take a hit with their already suspect line. While Bush is a good insurance policy, I wouldn’t go to him as a true back up
Morris is a consensus RB1 and will be heavily relied upon by whoever drafts him. Should he get hurt, Royster looks like the #2 back on Washington’s depth chart. He averaged a nice 6 ypc as a rookie in 2011. Shanahan is known for RB success. If Morris goes down, expect production from Royster.
These are my ten backs to consider handcuffing. As I said, keep an eye on what happens at training camp. Some guys may come out of nowhere or could get seriously hurt before the first ball is snapped.