Fantasy RB Handcuffs Part Two: 2013 Strategy and Tips
The Search for the Next Larry Johnson
Running Back Handcuff Analysis with recent High Stakes Draft Results
In those final few rounds of your fantasy draft, instead of selecting some fourth-string, boom or bust wide receiver or a backup kicker, grab a RB handcuff. It doesn't even need to be a backup to a back you own. Given heavy turnover and injuries, backs come out of nowhere every season. Unless you draft a RB in each of the first four of five rounds, it's unlikely every one of your guys will be a starter anyway.
No fantasy team is complete without a handcuff RB or two. It's always great when you leave a guy like Ben Tate on your bench; if Arian Foster misses a game, you can either trade Tate for a big return on your investment or start him in what will likely be his most productive game of the year. There are no sure things in this game and since talent can only take you so far, sometimes all that matters is opportunity. These handcuff options, which are ordered by average draft position, are the guys you'll want to strongly consider in your upcoming drafts. I used OurLads.com for current depth charts when determining the starters and backups.
RB Michael Bush, FA - Bye Week Fill-in
Remember how Matt Forte's numbers were supposed to decline because the Bears were going to split the carries with he and Michael Bush? It never really happened. The seven-year vet can be an effective starter if given the opportunity. Unfortunately for him, he's stuck behind one of the more reliable backs in recent seasons. Bush saw a paltry 114 carries in 2012 and only managed 411 yards or 3.6 yards per carry. Those numbers are tough to get excited about, but Forte is a second round pick in redraft formats; so, even if it's not a sexy pick, taking Bush is a smart move.
Recent FFWC Draft: 16.02
RB Jonathan Dwyer, ARI - Deep-league Only
The fantasy community appears to be very convinced that Le'Veon Bell will jump right in as the starter and he's totally worth a fifth-round pick. Maybe even a fourth rounder. Not so fast, my friend! Dwyer isn't a dynamic or emerging talent, but he did play a lot last season. Protecting Ben Roethlisberger has to be the Steelers' top priority and if Bell is unable to watch Big Ben's backside, the rookie will never last in the starting lineup. Dwyer is completely off the fantasy radar and could be had even after all the kickers are taken.
Recent FFWC Draft: 22.07
RB Johnathan Franklin, FA - Sleeper (undervalued)
All the prognosticators have jumped on the Eddie Lacy bandwagon and the smart money says he has the best shot to lead the Packers' backfield. On the other hand, if he was such a sure thing, Green Bay probably wouldn't have drafted Johnathan Franklin as well. This former UCLA stud has just as much upside as Lacy for a fraction of the cost. The Packers may not run the ball as much as the San Francisco 49ers or the Seattle Seahawks; however Green Bay does spend a lot of time in the end zone. There are too many fantasy points being scored on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to be ignored. If you select Lacy, be sure to cuff him with Franklin, just in case.
Recent FFWC Draft: 11.06
RB Shonn Greene, TEN - Bust (overvalued)
CJ2K CJ1K has built a bad reputation with some for failing to meet his own lofty expectations, he has been one of the game's most dynamic, consistent and durable playmakers. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Shonn Greene. With all due respect, Greene just has not been very good since the departure of LaDainian Tomlinson a couple years back. The former Iowa Hawkeye is a grinder. If you need two yards, he can get you three. If you need four yards, he can get you three. If Greene's number is called though, manage your expectations.
Recent FFWC Draft: 17.01
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN - Quality Backup
I didn't expect Knowshon Moreno to step up the way he did last year, so it is always possible he would start in place of Montee Ball. Then again, it is possible that Ball isn't ready to assume the pass protection responsibilities, which would force Hillman into a huge role at a bargain basement draft costs. Hillman leaves something to be desired as a back. He's a bit undersized and doesn't run behind his pads as well as he should. This offense should be even better with the addition of Wes Welker. Whichever back is in place, they'll be in a fantastic fantasy scenario.
Recent FFWC Draft: 11.08
RB Kendall Hunter, SF - Deep-league Only
Like Steven Jackson, everyone is just waiting for the wheels to come off of Frank Gore. That's not fair to him, especially when you consider he is now the 49ers' all-time leading rusher. Quite a feat for a storied franchise. If that injury does happen, Kendall Hunter is the safer choice between he and LaMichael James. LMJ is more of a scat back and hasn't yet shown the ability to tote the rock 20 times per game. Hunter did miss some time in 2012; however he still accumulated 371 yards on 72 carries, good for 5.2 yards per carry. The 49ers' commitment to the ground game makes Hunter a viable handcuff in deeper formats.
Recent FFWC Draft: 18.02