NFL players (Marshawn Lynch, Justin Blackmon, Dez Bryant) have spent a lot of time in handcuffs this offseason. Now it's time for fantasy owners to break them out.
Practicing proper handcuffing strategy can save a season, especially at a thin running back position. Darren McFadden owners that protected themselves by rostering Michael Bush last year laughed all the way to titles. Here are the keys to artfully handcuffing in 2012:
Doesn't the old saying go "if a backup gets a carry but can't play, does anyone hear it?" The Raiders' handcuff worked last year because Bush is a starting-caliber back, capable of damage with 20 touches a game. The coaches didn't have to abandon the playbook, employ a committee or go pass-heavy just because McFadden went down. The best handcuffs will be clear feature backs in the event of an injury.
Lock them up
A running back's caddy should affect your draft strategy. For example, Arian Foster is a better first-round pick than Ray Rice because of the backup situation. Ben Tate is a beast and would be a top-10 option if Foster went down. Bernard Pierce is Rice's backup, but he'd be a weak part of a committee if called upon. The Foster owner can snag Tate in the middle rounds and sleep easy at night.
Best of the rest
Tate is in a class by himself, but there are other must-cuffs. They include Rashad Jennings, a talented player operating as the starter while Maurice Jones-Drew holds out. Bush is now in Chicago as Matt Forte's clear backup. Peyton Hillis will push for 25 touches if Jamaal Charles (knee) sustains a setback, and Isaiah Pead is an exciting rookie behind declining Steven Jackson. David Wilson (Giants), Felix Jones (Cowboys) and Jason Snelling (Falcons) are all strong plays as well.
Terrell Owens came to Seattle for a workout and ran a 4.43 forty at age 38. He left with a one-year deal. TO may have strong straight-line speed, but football players rarely run in straight lines. If he could play at an elite level, other teams would’ve scooped him up.