Fantasy Football 2012: 9 Must-Have Running Back Handcuffs
The 2012 NFL season is less than five weeks away, meaning that 2012 fantasy football drafts will take place any day now. With NFL training camps underway, it's time to start mapping out a draft plan that will bring success in 2012.
Although the league may be a passing league these days, having reliable running backs is the key to a stress-free season.
Now that every team in the NFL depends on multiple running backs to carry the load, it's imperative to handcuff your running back in 2012.
What's better than the assurance of knowing that you'll rack up an entire team's rushing category?
Here are the must-have handcuff running backs for 2012.
The Extra Point: Stay Away from Handcuffing the San Francisco 49ers Backs
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The San Francisco 49ers may be an early Super Bowl favorite in 2012, but fantasy owners could easily become frustrated with the team.
Their offense has reaped the benefits of free agency and the 2012 NFL draft this offseason, and just who'll get the majority of the touches remains to be seen.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh thinks that the team has five No. 1 wide receivers, and the team is just as deep at running back.
Veteran Frank Gore will still be the No. 1 back, and the team will want to lessen his 282 carries from a year ago to ensure longevity in his career. After all, 2012 will be his eighth NFL season.
Who is next on the depth chart is a bit of a toss-up at the moment. Second-year running back Kendall Hunter averaged 4.2 yards on 112 carries in 2011, and he's now joined by veteran bulldozer Brandon Jacobs and rookie spark plug LaMichael James.
Gore and Jacobs will undoubtedly be the focal point when it comes to the running game in the red zone, while James is electric on the field and will always be a home run threat. Throw Hunter into the mix, who has earned his touches, and the 49ers have a good problem on their hands.
Pinpointing a sure thing in the Niners backfield is a hard thing to do right now.
The New York Giants Have a Revamped Their Running Game
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The New York Giants may have won the Super Bowl last season, but their running game ranked dead last in the league.
Out is veteran running back Brandon Jacobs and in is rookie David Wilson to share the load with Ahmad Bradshaw, who feels great heading into training camp.
With receiver Hakeem Nicks injured at the moment, the Giants need the combination of Bradshaw and Wilson to step up—they won't disappoint.
This means nothing but good things for the Giants as Wilson looks tenacious. Although they won't be taken in many fantasy drafts until the late rounds, Bradshaw and Wilson will be a good insurance policy.
Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller Show Plenty of Promise in Buffalo
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The Buffalo Bills are being hyped as a sleeper for the playoffs in 2012.
If they're to reach that accomplishment, they'll need running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller to be consistent this season.
Jackson is the No. 1 while Spiller is due for a breakout season after being taken as the No. 9 overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft,
There's no question that both men are talented, but now is the time to take their team to the next level.
With both men bound to split the load, drafting one without the other wouldn't do you much good.
If drafted together, your fantasy team will pose a threat to your opponents on a weekly basis.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Now Have a Valid Running Back Duo
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers changed the fate of their franchise with some major changes this offseason.
New head coach Greg Schiano, free-agent signings Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks and a very intelligent first round of the 2012 NFL draft that landed them safety Mark Barron and running back Doug Martin has made the Buccaneers contenders in 2012.
This is a team that won 10 games in 2010 before laying an egg in 2011 and looks to get back to double-digit wins in 2012.
As far as fantasy football goes, why not take a chance on these guys when the tier-one backs come off the board?
Martin looks like a stud and Blount will be chomping at the bit to make an impact. Sounds like a win-win for all parties involved.
If You Plan on Drafting Steven Jackson, Put Isaiah Pead on Your Big Board
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The St. Louis Rams made a great move in the 2012 NFL draft when they drafted running back Isaiah Pead to become the primary backup to Steven Jackson.
After back-to-back 300-plus carry seasons in 2009 and 2010, Jackson's carries were cut to 260 in 2011, but that can be attributed to the Rams playing from behind for most of the season.
Now that Jackson is 29 years old and has 2,138 career carries, Pead will be a blessing to the Rams.
Jackson still has that burning desire to be a workhorse, but will become wise in accepting the fact that Pead will get plenty of touches.
2011 was a season to forget for the Rams and their fans, but 2012 shows plenty of promise and Pead is a major reason why.
Jacquizz Rodgers Is a Must for Takers of Michael Turner
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The Atlanta Falcons have to prove to the world that they can win a playoff game in 2012.
After making the playoffs in three of the past four seasons without a postseason victory, the pressure on the Falcons to make a statement in the playoffs is intense this season.
One way that they'll save running back Michael Turner's legs for the playoffs is utilizing second-year back Jacquizz Rodgers to the fullest.
Rodgers is one of those second-year players who will benefit from a full NFL offseason the most this season, and his numbers on the field will show why the Falcons drafted him.
Turner has had 300-plus carries in three of the past four seasons, and he needs relief if he's to stick around.
Rodgers will be that change-of-pace-back that not only helps the ground game but the aerial attack too, which will be an added bonus in PPR leagues.
He may not be worth much if drafted alone, but Rodgers' value skyrockets when combined with Turner.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart Go Hand in Hand
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Carolina Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have been viable handcuff candidates for a few years now and 2012 will be no different.
Although Williams didn't look like a running back worth $43 million in 2011, he should be fresh for 2012.
Stewart is as reliable as any backup in the league and the two will likely split touches this season. Having combined for 1,597 rushing yards, 548 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns in 2011, they have plenty of upside in 2012.
It wouldn't make much sense to draft one without the other this season, but with the Panthers quickly rising to the top in the NFL, it would be a smart move.
The Chiefs Running Game Has a Thunder and Lightning Element Now
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With Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles falling to injury in 2011, the organization decided it would be best to acquire a solid backup this offseason.
They did just that when they signed Peyton Hillis to come aboard and the move will pay dividends.
Charles is healthy and in camp and Hillis has to show the NFL world that he's not a one-year wonder.
The Chiefs have plans on the two men splitting 500 carries, so leaving them off your fantasy squad wouldn't make much sense.
Matt Forte and Michael Bush Will Be Dominant
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The Chicago Bears did themselves a favor when they signed free-agent running back Michael Bush this offseason.
Now the backup for star running back Matt Forte, the Bears have a ridiculous tandem in their backfield that will cause opposing defenses fits and put points on your fantasy football scoreboard.
Forte and Bush combined for 1,874 rushing yards with 89 catches for 908 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011.
With the Bears offense vastly improved from just a season ago, these guys are a must.
A good defensive move on your draft boards would be to draft Bush shortly after your friend or enemy takes Forte. The two men on a single team other than yours would mean certain doom.
Arian Foster and Ben Tate Will Bring a Championship Your Way
No secret here—Houston Texans running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate are the best combo in the NFL.
Their combined 2,166 rushing in 2011 will only grow in 2012 as the Texans are a run-first, throw-second type of team.
Foster has showed his worth over the past couple of seasons and Tate had a phenomenal rookie season as Texans' head coach Gary Kubiak tells the HoustonTexans.com Tate could become one of the league's "top players."
Foster will be a top-five pick in all fantasy drafts this season, meaning that if you hit the Foster lottery, you shouldn't hesitate to draft Tate beyond the fourth round.
This may seem a bit early, but knowing that you have two solid backs on the same run-heavy team will help you sleep easier on Sunday nights.