Fantasy Football 2012: Handcuff Running Backs to Target Late in Your Draft
Running backs get hurt.
Some of them also drive drunk, break the law in other ways or simply refuse to play because they are only making $4.5 million in 2012.
Yup, running backs are about as unreliable as it gets. Even some of the top dogs fell victim last year as Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson and a slew of other ball carriers saw their ACLs go bye-bye. No one is safe.
That being said, backups are always ready to step into the new role, and more often than not, they are plenty capable of putting up big ol' numbers themselves. That's what makes handcuffs in fantasy so important.
For the record, I'm not taking into account time-shares. So, even though someone like Mark Ingram is listed as No. 2 on the Saints depth chart, you won't find him on the list. Also, you should always handcuff your running backs, but what follows are backups who I'm targeting no matter who my starters are.
Note: Average Draft Position can be found at fantasyfootballcalculator.com.
Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 86.5)
His draft stock is rising faster than the Dark Knight, so you might not be able to get him at the end of your draft anymore, but he's still someone to target.
Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, is likely going to extend into the season, and there's still a solid chance he gets traded should Jacksonville finally get fed up.
So, not only is Jennings looking at a few starts at the beginning of the season, the potential to take over the No. 1 spot for good is very high. If that happens, the four-year veteran with a career 5.4 yard-per-carry average and an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield becomes a top-15 option.
Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 127.7)
How many games will Frank Gore start in 2012?
If you think Frank Gore is going to stay healthy for all 16 games, raise your hand.
Put your hand down, Frank Gore.
The 29-year-old actually made it through last year without missing any time, but that was just the second time in his eight-year career he's put together a complete season. Also, with 1,653 carries under his belt, it's hard to believe Gore stays in one piece for much longer.
Kendall Hunter, who showed flashes of brilliance last year and has outplayed Gore this summer, will be waiting in the wings as the biggest beneficiary of a potential Gore injury. He'll also be waiting on my team.
Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 154.6)
This is a pick for deeper leagues, but I love me some rookies and Turbin has been downright impressive this preseason, showcasing his ability as a complete back.
There's really nothing wrong with Marshawn Lynch. He's young, healthy and a perfect fit for the Seahawks' stuff-it-down-your-throat offense, although he could miss a game or two if the NFL suspends him for his DUI last month.
Nonetheless, the lesson with running backs remains the same. You never know.
I enjoy Turbin's game, and in deeper leagues, I'm willing to take a shot on him considering the potential upside.
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