Fantasy Football 2012 Cheatsheet: Best Handcuffs for Top Fantasy Football Stars

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 01: Running back Ben Tate #44 of the Houston Texans rushes against middle linebacker Colin McCarthy #52 of the Tennessee Titans on January 1, 2012 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Titans won 23 to 22. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

If you owned Jamaal Charles or Andre Johnson last season, you know just how important it is to have a good backup plan. Without careful planning and insurance, an entire fantasy football season can be lost with just one devastating injury.

That's why the strategy of drafting a handcuff is a great idea in the later rounds of a fantasy football draft. By drafting your stud's backup, you can be sure that your team won't be entirely let down if your stud happens to blow out an ACL or break a limb.

These are the handcuff picks that are sure to perform should the star ahead of them on the depth chart falter or have their season ended.


Ben Tate (For Arian Foster)

Tate is the ultimate handcuff selection because he holds value even when Foster is healthy. 

The Texans are a team with one of the highest run to pass ratios in the league and have more than enough carries to divvy out to both Foster and Tate throughout the season. 

Last season, Tate managed to rush for 942 rushing yards and four touchdowns despite his backup role. If Foster is forced to miss any time with an injury, Tate should be capable of putting up the kind of numbers that fans are accustomed to seeing from Foster. 

Tate is a great mid-round pick, especially for Foster owners. If you're in a pinch you can start both backs and still get great points as the Texans rushing attack is one of the best in the league.


Michael Bush (For Matt Forte)

When healthy, Matt Forte is an absolute fantasy football stud. 

His yardage totals are among the best in the league and his versatility makes him a great option as he racks up yardage in the run and passing game. 

The only knock on Forte is his lack of touchdowns throughout his career. Despite his monster fantasy season last year he only managed to rush for three touchdowns in 12 games. Fortunately for the Bears and owners who will handcuff Bush with Forte, Bush's strength is short yardage situation.

Bush rushed for seven touchdowns last season and has 15 touchdowns in the last two. Even with Darren McFadden in the Raider backfield, Bush had some value as a touchdown vulture and there's no reason to think that he won't repeat that success with the Bears.

Should Forte not recover from his MCL injury last season, Bush will be more than capable of becoming a viable fantasy option as a starter.


Peyton Hillis (For Jamaal Charles)

Jamaal Charles enters the 2012 season as one of the biggest questions among fantasy football studs. 

Charles had a breakout season in 2010, amassing over 2,000 total yards before blowing out his knee in 2011. Given how serious knee injuries can be, Charles is definitely a gamble coming into the 2012 season. If you're willing to roll the dice, though, you should be looking at Peyton Hillis as the draft goes on.

Should Charles struggle early on, Hillis should be right there to pick up the slack.

Hillis also had a breakout season in 2010, becoming the rare Cleveland Brown that is valuable in fantasy football with over 1,100 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. If anything, the bruising running back should be able to carve out a niche as a goal line vulture as his style is much more suitable than Charles in short-yardage situations.

Hillis is a must-own for those with Charles on their team.