In the increasingly nerded out world of fantasy football, handcuffing has gotten a bad rap.
For the uninformed, handcuffing simply refers to drafting the backup of your starting running back. Opponents of this practice say carrying a player you’ll only use if disaster hits reeks of scared money and is a waste of a bench spot. We’re tying up bench liquidity that could be used as a revolving door to take shots on higher upside players.
That’s true in a lot of cases. But there are a few situations that warrant handcuffing because of a perfect storm:
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If I’m using a top-5 pick on Jamaal Charles, you can be sure I’m reaching to get Knile Davis on my team. Charles will turn 29 during this season, and showed signs of breaking down last year as he fought knee, ankle and foot issues. The reason Davis is so necessary as a handcuff is because we can say with certainty he’ll be a top-10 option anytime Charles sits. In the four games JC has missed all or most of over the last two seasons, Davis has averaged an outrageous 28.5 touches. It creates that perfect storm of protecting a heavy investment with a talented and voluminous backup.
Contrary to popular belief, Chip Kelly’s fastbreak scheme is predicated on the run setting up the pass. That won’t change if formerly injury prone DeMarco Murray goes down this year. Ryan Mathews, whose career trajectory was only stuffed by his own inability to sustain health, is more than capable of stepping in to this high-upside role. The Eagles know it, as they offered him an $11 million contract in March and stuck by it even after surprisingly landing DeMarco.
Over the next month, you’ll hear chatter about a “camp battle” between C.J. Anderson and Montee Ball. That’s just talk – anyone with two eyes knows Anderson has earned the right to be Denver’s feature back as an ideal fit for the new zone scheme. That said, even a lesser talent like Ball will succeed if given a chance to play for run-savvy Gary Kubiak with Peyton Manning under center. And if Anderson scuffles out of the gate and loses some job security, you’ll want the man that’s waiting in the wings. The Broncos are going to be a balanced, run-centric kind of team this year.
MLB Pickups of the Week
1. Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies – The No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 draft is already in the bigs and pitching well.
2. Mat Latos, SP, Marlins – Been impressive since coming off DL and may be getting out of Miami at the trade deadline.
3. Tyler Saladino, 3B, White Sox – The power he’s shown won’t last, but he stole 25 bases in 52 Triple-A games this year.
The Dolphins have been critical of Lamar Miller for running too soft and lacking physicality. They showed it in their usage, declining to give him more than 20 carries in any game last year and handing pitiful backups like Daniel Thomas carries. So Miller packed on 15 pounds this offseason – but that’s not a good thing. There’s a strong negative correlation between a running back’s weight and his productivity, not to mention that Miller is trying to be something he’s not. Miller’s efficiency is now a concern along with his workload, especially given his early third-round ADP.