About running back handcuffs

Week 2 of the fantasy football season is in the books, and I want to revisit the subject of handcuffing a running back. To handcuff a player(s) is to take an insurance policy out on him by selecting their backup. This can be done during the draft, or later.

A good example is James Conner, the handcuff for Le’Veon Bell. Conner got 34.2 fantasy points in his first game in place of Bell, and he picked up another 19.5 points in week two. Conner was the perfect handcuff because he stepped right in for Bell.

I picked up Conner right after I drafted Bell and the Steelers’ star running back failed to report to his team as had been expected. When I traded Bell, my son insisted that I also trade Conner. Clearly, a smart move since Conner became an overnight sensation.

Not all handcuffs are created equal. The reason is that some teams will turn to a committee to replace their star running back in the event of an injury (or holdout). In other words, no one player gets all of the star’s carries (touches) and targets

There are other reasons why a handcuff doesn’t work. Case in point is T.J. Yeldon, who I picked up off the waiver wire last week after Leonard Fournette’s hamstring injury was revealed. Fournette sat out, but Yeldon only got 9.1 fantasy points in his place.

The previous week, Yeldon had 15.5 points in relief of Fournette, so what went wrong? What went wrong for me with Yeldon is what went right for Jacksonville. They changed their game plan and exploited the Patriots’ secondary via the air in the win.

Not every handcuff works, and even a good handcuff doesn’t work every time. If you want to try a handcuff this week, head to the waiver wire and find out if Giovanni Bernard is available. He is the handcuff for injured running back Joe Mixon.



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