There are some backups that will be universally drafted as handcuffs. To name a few, players like Ben Tate, Bryce Brown, Montee Ball, Bernard Pierce and Fred Jackson will likely be owned across the board.
However, every now and again, a more obscure backup will rise from the ashes—by that, I mean replace an injured starter; "rise from the ashes" just sounds way cooler—and become a major contributor for fantasy teams.
Or, occasionally, a wide receiver or tight end—once buried down the depth chart—will suddenly emerge when given an opportunity at a bigger role and soar on the wings of eagles.
And by soar on the wings of eagles, I mean become fantasy relevant.
Here are a few examples.
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
There are few certainties in fantasy football, but one of them is most assuredly that Michael Vick will get hurt at some point in the season.
Enter Nick Foles.
While he wasn't a great fantasy starter when Vick went down to injury last year, he's still not a bad handcuff to have if Vick is your QB1 and you really don't trust your QB2.
It's almost a guarantee that Foles will play in at least three games this year, and if nothing else, having him on your roster means you can deal him to the poor sap that has an injured Vick sitting on his or her bench.
Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis Rams
Daryl Richardson may have been named the Week 1 starter, but there is no question that Pead has more upside despite struggling this preseason. Pead was the Rams' second-round pick in 2012, so there's obviously some serious raw talent here.
Plus, Richardson isn't exactly the most dynamic running back around. Truthfully, you probably don't want to be stuck with whomever shakes out as the starter, unless you need a flex in a deeper league.
In any case, don't be shocked if Pead reclaims a starting role at some point this season.
Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Yes, Roberts is the No. 3 wide receiver in Arizona behind Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Yes, he only had five games of eight fantasy points or more last season despite having a bigger role than Floyd last year.
However, things have changed in Arizona. The team has an actual quarterback who can actually throw the football with some consistency in Carson Palmer. And new coach Bruce Arians likes to chuck the ball around and stretch teams deep.
I'm not saying Roberts is going to become a weekly starter, but there could be sneaky value here, especially in the bye weeks. Keep an eye on Roberts.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, New England Patriots
Like wide receivers, it's hard to label tight ends as backups since teams often utilize two-tight end sets these days. It's equally difficult to label Sudfeld as a backup, as he'll be the top guy on the depth chart for as long as Rob Gronkowski is out of action.
With that being said, in this New England offense, tight ends are extra valuable. Therefore, while most folks will draft Gronkowski no matter when he actually returns, Sudfeld could be a player worth stashing or even rolling the dice on in the early weeks.
Sudfeld is slotting into the "move" role on the offense, per Mike Reiss of ESPN—the role formally filled by Aaron Hernandez—which means he could have value all season long.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets rose from the ashes AND soared on the wings of eagles. Top that.
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