Top Fantasy Football Handcuffs at Every Offensive Position
Fantasy football handcuffing is hedging your bets. You are essentially wagering that your higher pick will get injured, suspended or otherwise incapacitated during the season.
Of course, for certain players, that is not a bad idea. Do you really think Darren McFadden will make it through an entire season?
Handcuffing makes sense for a few players, and it makes even more sense if your league features big benches. There are certainly some handcuffs that are better than others. Let's take a look at the best ones at each position.
Don't handcuff your quarterback. Just in case you are in a deep, two-quarterback league, however, here are the top five handcuffs at the position:
The Robot gets here by virtue of the incumbent in Jacksonville. Blaine Gabbert will assuredly begin the season as the starter, but he could get yanked if he cannot improve upon his dismal rookie season.
Not that Henne will be much better, but he did have one or two promising fantasy games as a member of the Dolphins.
Look at what Matt Flynn did against Detroit last season—480 yards and six touchdowns.
That is not to be expected from any quarterback, but whoever backs up Aaron Rodgers might put up some good fantasy scores if Rodgers is forced out.
Tom Brady is 35 years old, and we have already been down the long-term injury road once with him. Hopefully Marcus Pollard is nowhere near Brady this season, but if he is out for any significant amount of time, Hoyer will take over a potent offense.
Jake Locker/Matt Hasselbeck
Whoever wins the starting job in Tennessee will have a great backup. Locker, in particular, could be draftable on the promise that he will eventually start if he loses out to 36-year-old Hasselbeck.
Locker actually led the league in points per snap in limited duty last season with 0.5. He has the ability to put up some crooked fantasy scores by virtue of his running ability.
Of course this is Tebow. All he does is win, right?
Not only is Mark Sanchez a few bad games away from Tebow time, but the backup quarterback will be seeing game time in scoring situations anyway. That is not to say you should own him for the sake of owning him, but if he ascends to the starting gig he will put up big time fantasy scores with his legs, and not of the Tina Turner variety.
Perhaps the most-handcuffed position has some similar faces and a new one or two.
Were it not for his inability to stay healthy, Jones would be starting for the Cowboys this season. As it stands, however, DeMarco Murray will likely get the lion's share of the carries in Dallas.
Jones will still play a key role, however, and Murray has had injury issues of his own. If he gets a shot at major playing time and actually stays on the field, he is a legitimate threat—Jones has a career average of 5.1 yards per carry.
From backing one great running back to another, Bush's life as a fantasy football handcuff goes on.
Forte recently signed a lucrative long-term deal, but that does not preclude him from injury. The Bears were concerned about the health of his knees, or so they said during contract negotiations.
Whoever is in line to get the most carries behind Darren McFadden is an excellent handcuff. Injuries are difficult to predict, but McFadden's body may simply not be able to stand the wear and tear of NFL life for long periods of time. He has yet to play in a full season, averaging 9.3 games per year in his three-year career thus far.
Goodson knows a thing or two about filling in for injured studs, having performed admirably in DeAngelo Williams' and Jonathan Stewart's stead when they were both out two seasons ago. To top it off, he is a great pass-catching threat.
Having severely injured himself after making this list for me a year ago, Jennings comes back with a vengeance. Maurice Jones-Drew is embroiled in a contract dispute that could keep him out of a big chunk of the preseason, and we all know how that worked out for Chris Johnson.
Of course, MJD's work ethic is unparalleled, so a falloff merely due to missing some practices and a preseason game or two may not be likely. He will fall behind on learning a new offense, however.
Perhaps a more important point would be the 1,151 carries on 3,063 snaps he has accumulated over the past four seasons. That is a lot of wear and tear, and not just as a runner—pass-blocking and running routes take significant tolls of their own.
Houston has a dynamic one-two punch at running back, and Tate had some fantasy pop even as a "backup" last season. He nearly rushed for 1,000 yards on his own last season, though Arian Foster's brief absence helped.
If Foster were to go down for a long period of time, there would be a "run with the bulls" mad scramble to add Tate. Of course, if you already own him, you will be sitting pretty.
Defining handcuffs at receiver is tricky business. Some teams have one or even no rosterable receivers while others boast two or more.
Truth be told, Cobb is being drafted high enough to be a bench guy in most leagues. If you own Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson, is it worth stashing Cobb on your bench just in case?
If it's a deep bench, yes. Otherwise, let someone else wait for Cobb to get more playing time.
Mario Manningham is gone, leaving the Z receiver position up for grabs. The man to grab it? Rookie Rueben Randle, the big receiver out of LSU.
Hakeem Nicks is still recovering from injury. Though he should be ready for the beginning of the season, he suffers from Darren McFadden syndrome.
Even if Nicks and Cruz stay healthy, Randle is a fantasy sleeper. Starting outside in that offense with Eli Manning throwing him the ball could net him some nice fantasy scores.
He was a popular sleeper heading into last season before injuries derailed him. Now he is stuck behind Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore with Juron Criner and Rod Streater making noise as rookies.
Ford has flashed potential to score fantasy points in multiple ways, however, and he could finally live up to that hype from a year ago if he can get on the field consistently enough.
Much like quarterback, handcuffing your tight end is ill-advised. Once again, however, deep benches make it much more palatable.
Aside from punching through walls, Cooley is known for being a former starter for the Redskins.
Fred Davis has taken over that role now, but should Davis get injured or participate in illicit extracurricular activities again, Cooley would be thrust into a starting
Yes, he is a rookie, but Antonio Gates has not exactly been a picture of health the past couple of seasons. While Randy McMichael has been a disappointment as a backup, Green has great athleticism and upside
The No. 2 tight end in Detroit could be a great fantasy asset if Brandon Pettigrew goes down. He did have six touchdowns a year ago, and he is comfortable playing anywhere on the field.
Detroit has a dynamic offense that will utilize Scheffler anyway, but being a prime target for Matthew Stafford has its fantasy benefits.
If Jimmy Graham goes down, it is the Dave Thomas show in New Orleans. He is not nearly at Graham's level, but Brees likes to throw to his tight ends. This is certainly for the owner with an incredibly deep bench, however.
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