2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Handcuffs

2012-06-01 16:04:36
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

Ben Tate is a top handcuff

This practice isn't quite as common with more and more teams going with a two-back system at running back but for the elite fantasy games, it remains a good idea to handcuff your star back. This is especially true if your top back plays in a system that is conducive to big fantasy numbers. Again, we don't advocate handcuffing players quite as much as past seasons, though, so don't go wild trying to back up your No. 1 back with their backup late in the draft. Sometimes it is just as beneficial to grab a No. 3 or 4 fantasy back with upside than the backup for a starting back. With that said, here are some guys we would considering handcuffing for the coming year. . . .

Adrian Peterson/Toby Gerhart, RBs, Vikings. Peterson might not even be healthy for the start of the season so this handcuff might be the most important of all. Gerhart will be the starter for the Vikings until Peterson is fully recovered from his ACL surgery. And while Gerhart isn't nearly as explosive as Peterson, he proved last season that he can be productive in a starting role. This is almost a must handcuff for fantasy owners of Peterson.

Arian Foster/Ben Tate, RBs, Texans. If you want both of these guys, you are going to have to act early. Tate produced even when Foster was healthy, nearly having a 1,000-yard season. So Tate has value as a No. 3 or 4 back even with a healthy Foster around. If Foster gets hurt, Tate could be as valuable as any fantasy back in the game.

Ahmad Bradshaw/David Wilson, RBs, Giants. Bradshaw is the full-time starter with Brandon Jacobs out of the picture, but Wilson might even be a more talented back, which could cut into the playing time of Bradshaw a little more this season. Bradshaw will start, though, and get a lot of work. We all know Bradshaw has a history of ankle and foot injuries, which mean Wilson could take over as a starter at any time. If you grab Bradshaw early, it probably is wise to take Wilson later in your draft as insurance.

Tony Romo/Kyle Orton, QBs, Cowboys. Normally, we don't advise in handcuffing quarterbacks but if you are going to do any this year, going with this combo in Dallas isn't a bad idea. Orton has proved in the past he can produce and be a legit No. 1 for fantasy teams. If Romo goes down, Orton can come in and produce well for fantasy teams. You won't see a huge drop off, which means Orton might do better than your typically fantasy backup at quarterback. It might be worth having both these guys on your roster with Romo having a few injury issues in the past.

Jahvid Best/Mikel LeShoure, RBs, Lions. This is a tough situation as both backs are coming off injuries. But if healthy, Best should start for the Lions. LeShoure should be in the mix as well, but if Best gets hurt, the full-time gig heads to LeShoure. It might be tough to get both backs at a decent price, but if you can pull it off somehow, you'll have the Lions running back sewn up.

Steven Jackson/Isaiah Pead, RBs, Rams. Jackson is nearing that magical age of 30 and has a ton of carries under his belt. He battled injury some last season and has been nicked some the last few years. It seems a matter of time before he hits the wall. The Rams used a high draft pick on Pead in hopes of finding their running back of the future. This running back spot isn't the most exciting in football, but you can expect the Rams to run more this year with Jeff Fisher at the helm. So the starting running back in St. Louis could surprise for fantasy teams.

Darren McFadden/Taiwan Jones, RBs, Raiders. McFadden is as good as any back in the game when healthy, but staying healthy has been a huge issue for him. Jones might not be best suited to start because of his size but he should get the bulk of the work if McFadden goes down again. And we saw last season that whoever starts in Oakland at running back has good fantasy value, so having both these guys on your roster is a good idea if you use a first-round pick on McFadden.

Hakeem Nicks/Rueben Randle, WRs, Giants. Just like at quarterback , we normally don't worry about handcuffing a receiver but it might be a good idea in this instance. Nicks is an elite receiver that might not be ready for the start of the season because of a broken foot suffered in offseason workouts. If Nicks misses any time, the rookie, Randle, likely gets a chance to start in his place. The Giants have a prolific offense and Randle is a talented player with a bright future, so he is worth using, especially if he happens to start some games. Even if he doesn't start, he might be worth some spot starts for fantasy teams as a No. 3 receiver.

Chris Johnson/Javon Ringer, RBs, Titans. Johnson had a down year last year but remains an elite fantasy back. When on his game, he has the chance to lead all fantasy backs in scoring. So if you want to get Johnson on your team, you'll have to act early. Ringer, who has played well in Johnson's place in the past, is worth grabbing late as insurance. Ringer would be a solid fill-in for Johnson if he happens to go down.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Jeff Paur at jeff@rtsports.com

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