We are less than two weeks away from the start of the 2013 NFL season, and that means that fantasy football drafts are just about to be coming to an end. With the preseason coming to an end soon, fantasy football owners are still searching for those late-round sleepers who could take their team to the next level this year.
Nothing's worse than when your star running back goes down with an injury. Luckily, if you draft his backup, your fantasy team could be saved. Heading into the 2013 NFL season, here are the top fantasy football handcuffs.
Simply put, Bryce Brown is way too talented of a player for the Philadelphia Eagles not to have him on the field. In two of his starts last year, Brown ran for 178 and 169 yards while scoring two touchdowns in each game.
LeSean McCoy is coming back from a disappointing and injury-filled season in 2012, but he should be back to his normal self in Chip Kelly's offense. Kelly is going to be running a high-tempo offense in Philadelphia, so expect Brown to see action to spell McCoy.
Throughout the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl run, one of their unsung heroes was Bernard Pierce. Despite the fact that Ray Rice was still performing at a high level, Pierce added another element to the Ravens running game with his physical running style.
Jim Caldwell is going to be using Pierce more in 2013 after his impressive rookie campaign, but that should not scare you from taking Rice early in the first round. Rice is still going to see his 20 to 25 touches per game, but expect the Ravens to call on Pierce to carry the ball about 10 times per game.
One of the main things that has always been a knock on Reggie Bush is his inability to stay healthy. Every season, it seems like Bush is either missing games or not playing at 100 percent. In the Detroit Lions offense, Bush could be on his way to a breakout year in fantasy football for PPR leagues, but I would make sure you lock up his handcuff Joique Bell in the later rounds.
Bell has a legit shot of getting close to 10 touches per game, but if Bush goes down with an injury, Bell will become a No. 2/Flex fantasy back immediately. Bell has shown the ability to run physical, while also being able to make some plays as a receiver, recording 52 receptions last season.
While it looks like David Wilson is going to be the New York Giants' starting running back, Andre Brown is still going to play a huge role in the Giants offense. Throughout the preseason, Wilson has been getting the reps on the early downs, but Brown has been the third-down back because of his pass-protection skills.
This backfield could have very similar production to the Giants' old two-headed monster that featured Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Look for Wilson to be the speedster out of the backfield, while Brown could be a fantasy vulture and get a significant amount of the goal-line carries.
With Arian Foster dealing with a nagging back injury, the Houston Texans are going to have to rely on his backup Ben Tate to take some of the weight off of Foster's shoulders. Until Foster is 100 percent healthy, look for the Texans to use Tate often.
Two years ago, Tate was arguably the best handcuff in fantasy football running for over 900 yards on only 175 carries. In 2012, Tate dealt with injuries and only played in 11 games, which led to his stats to decline. Expect a bounce-back year from Tate, and remember to grab him as your No. 4 running back in the later rounds.