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Best RB Handcuffs In Fantasy Football 2013

Aug 26 9:03pm

When I draft a top running back I will not reach to get his backup. Yes, it sounds like the prudent thing to do, but there are plenty of reasons that drafting a “handcuff” can back fire. First off, what if the starter never is injured? That backup running back is a black hole for potential points and you can’t even throw them in a flex position with much hope. What if the starter does get injured and the back up is worthless? There usually is a reason a backup is a backup and you can often grab wide receivers or running backs that aren’t on the same teams as your starters and end up getting much more value or at the very least, the same amount of value. So my advice is to forgo handcuffing your starters in the traditional sense, and instead grab as many of these newfangled “handcuff” guys below as possible, whether you own the starter or not.

Bernard Pierce:  Bernard PiercePierce showed what he could do toward the end of last season while Ray Rice caught a case of fumbleitis. Rice is still the guy, but Pierce has the ability to get work while Rice is still healthy and the ability to put up huge numbers if Rice were to go down. Pierce is built for goal line work and I have a feeling he may see the end zone quite often this season, especially with some of Flacco’s best red zone receivers gone or hurt.

Shane Vereen: Vereen is getting a ton of hype, but for good reason. He’ll be the third down back, will spell Steven Ridley (which is important when a team runs as many plays as the Patriots) and will be a “joker” player who can line up all over the field to create mismatches. He would be relied on a bit more if Ridley were to go down, but he wouldn’t take over the same kind of role. He’s just not that player. So instead of a handcuff for Ridley, Vereen is his own player with his own independent value.

Ben Tate: Tate is more of your traditional handcuff running back. Arian Foster is the clear cut starter while Tate comes in with big leads to help put the other team away with fresh legs. The good thing about Tate is that he plays for the Texans and Gary Kubiak. They are quite the fans of running the ball. And Tate has proven that he can put up good numbers when Foster is out. Of course the problem here is that people who draft Foster are so worried that he’ll get hurt that they will often reach for Tate. Don’t do that. If he drops and can be had at the value he actually is, then grab him.

Bryce Brown: Brown has shown that he can fumble the ball often and make some stupid mistakes, which has led Chris Polk to battle him for the backup position to LeSean McCoy. So why am I telling you to draft him? Because he’s really, really good. That along with the up tempo running offense of Chip Kelly’s Eagles makes his upside sky high in many different scenarios which is what you want when grabbing a bench running back.

Roy Helu: Mr. Helu showed that he can play in this league in his rookie year when he put up over a thousand total yards, but then came the injuries in his sophomore season and a bull of a man Alfred Morris taking over as lead back. So now a year later Helu is back and healthy again. He’s not going to challenge Morris, but Morris doesn’t do something that Helu does and that is catch passes. As long as he stays healthy he should entrench himself as the third down/passing down back and then if anything were to happen to Morris he would have a decent chance of taking over as the every down back. For his late round price I like the upside.

Marcel Reece: Last season Reece had the third most passing targets for running backs and first for fullbacks! This year Darren McFadden is once again the starter, but we know how that usually goes. There has been some hype for Latavius Murray, but the Raiders lack the veteran leadership and ability that Reece brings to the field. It will be difficult to keep him off of it. Reece will remain a receiving threat and if McFadden were to miss time again he would most likely see the most touches out of all the backups in Oakland. The Raiders are also going to be a pretty poor football team this season. They will be behind often and be passing often, that fits right into Reece’s wheelhouse. At his price he is a must grab in PPR leagues.

Andre Brown: David Wilson has a tremendous amount of ability and if Tom Coughlin wasn’t such an old red-faced curmudgeon I’d say he was going to get 250 carries and all the third down work he can handle. But! that may be asking a little too much. Coughlin seems pretty content with splitting time between the two the way he did with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. That doesn’t mean both can’t be valuable, but they will cut into each others work load. Wilson is the superior talent and the guy you want to own if you live in a vacuum, but since the vacuums are all taken, we have Wilson being drafted as the 37th player while Brown is going off the board 84th. Brown is the “handcuff” but also has a shot at getting the majority of the touchdowns, which at 84th overall isn’t too shabby.

Knowshon Moreno: The Broncos running back situation is starting to look a little dicey. Everyone and their dog thought rookie Montee Ball was going to come in and win the job, but he’s been unable to pass protect and when you have an old Peyton Manning to protect, well, you have to protect him. So Ronnie Hillman started to win the job, but he can’t stop fumbling. So who might they go to now? That’s right, Moreno. Last season after Willis McGahee went down it wasn’t Hillman who took over, it was Moreno and he did a pretty good job. He’ll get his shot and it’s worth grabbing him late.

Joique Bell: Bell is currently running ahead of Mikel LeShoure as the #2 running back in Detroit and is the guy I would want if Reggie Bush were to get injured. Last season Bell was the sixth most targeted running back and the Lions targeted all their running backs the fourth most in the league. Bell’s 69 targets last season weren’t even half of the 144 targets the Lions gave running backs. So even with Reggie Bush as the main guy, as long as Bell remains the #2 back, he will still see plenty of targets and have bye week appeal in PPR leagues and starter appeal if Bush goes down.

Kendall Hunter: Running quarterbacks help their running backs gain more yardage than if their quarterback were a statue. Here’s some proof of that statement. Frank Gore had one of his better seasons last year with Colin Kaepernick as his quarterback half the season. But Gore is getting older and Kendall Hunter is cheap and good. He’s cheap because he is coming off an injury and he’s good because he’s good. Hunter is the perfect backup running back. He’s on a great rushing team, his ADP is reasonable and he’s talented. Draft him late and really, no matter what happens, you made the right choice.


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