Below are a list of players that are considered “Handcuffs” in the world of fantasy football.
This means that these players are “must-have” pieces for those fantasy owners that own the actual fantasy starter. Some of these players are actually worth owning all by themselves, while others are great “handcuffs” to have, yet they don’t have that stand-alone value when separated from the actual fantasy starter listed ahead of them on the NFL depth chart. Enjoy.
1. Ben Tate (Arian Foster)
There is no more important fantasy back-up to own in 2012 than Ben Tate. Ideal “handcuffs” are sometimes harvested through talent, and other times through situation. Rarely do handcuffs have both, otherwise they would already be starting elsewhere in the NFL. Well, Tate has both, and while Arian Foster is my number one redraft and dynasty player heading into August, Tate would thrive if Foster ever went down. Tate wouldn’t be as good, but he’d be fantasy RB1 good, and you can’t say that about many back-up rushers in fantasy football. Don’t miss out on securing up that entire Houston rushing situation in 2012! Reach for Tate if you have to (his ADP is around 7.08-8.04).
2. Robert Turbin (Marshawn Lynch)
Due to the recent arrest (DUI) of Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin has now jumped into the fantasy football spotlight. He is now relevant and his future all of the sudden looks a lot more promising. Could Lynch’s charges get thrown out? Sure, recent reports (as of yesterday) suggested that Lynch’sLynch would avoid league punishment even if his case was thrown out. The bottom line is this… his case has not been thrown out, not yet at least, and the Seahawks could begin exploring the possibility of voiding Lynch’s contract. Even the doubt about Lynch’s ability to be the team’s long-term rusher answer is going to affect Lynch’s value, confidence and situation. Turbin is a “must-own” for all Lynch owners entering 2012, and dynasty leaguers better find a way to secure both of these running backs. Even if you don’t own Lynch, or don’t plan on owning him, Turbin is a nice player to secure on draft day (or via trade/waivers)!
3. Michael Bush (Matt Forte)
Michael Bush proved last year that he can carry the rock as a full-time NFL rusher, so he is absolutely a “must-own” for all Matt Forte owners in 2012. Bush’s current ADP is floating around the 8.02-8.10 range, which is very reasonable given the security that comes along with securing that entire Chicago Bears’ backfield. Bush could even be a sneaky flex-type player for that crafty non-Forte owner. If you own Forte in 2012, or plan to, reach for Bush if you have to!
4. Isaiah Pead (Steven Jackson)
Isaiah Pead is a big-time dynasty sleeper of mine, so this advice goes for both redraft and dynasty leaguers! Jackson has a lot of miles on his wheels, and he has taken a major beating over the years. Many forget just how many hits the runner has sustained in the passing game, so I fully expect him to slow down in 2012 (in a major way). This is a “handcuff” article, so don’t count on Pead starting games, but all S-Jax owners need to own this rookie in case S-Jax does in fact go down. Pead would play like a fantasy RB2 right away if ever forced to start, and again, I see him having a ton of long-term upside (some have compared his style of play to LeSean McCoy).
5. Jonathan Stewart (DeAngelo Williams)
Stewart is still young, Carolina could use him in unexpected fashion in 2012. However, his situation is so crowded, and even if starting, how many TDs could he get with Cam Newton under center? Still, we like him about here as far as handcuffs go, and he almost has as much value as D-Will right out of the gate. Stewart is more of a long-term must-own.
6. Toby Gerhart (Adrian Peterson)
It’s hard not having Toby Gerhart listed higher, given he could be the opening day starter in 2012. Still, I don’t see Adrian Peterson missing Week 1, even though he could be somewhat limited. All in all, I see =Gerhart as a must-have “handcuff”, sure, but I’m not sold on the fact that he will ever outproduce any of the “handcuff” players listed above if all were given starting opportunities. Even if AP were ruled out for an extended period of games, which is not likely, I still have Gerhart around this slotting; Gerhart is one of those “handcuffs” that has the situation in his favor, but he lacks some of that “talent” piece that Tate, Bush and Pead all have.
7. David Wilson (Ahmad Bradshaw)
Wilson may not start right away, which kind of limits his standalone value in 2012, but he is a must-own for all Bradshaw owners. He has a solid situation for the long-term.
8. Ronnie Hillman (Willis McGahee)
Hillman is the future of that Denver rushing attack, and he could take over by mid-season.
9. LaMichael James (Frank Gore)
Gore is on the decline and James is dynamic; despite his smaller size, his coach has called him out as a potential goal line rusher for 2012. Big-time sleeper for even the non-Gore owner!
10. Mike Goodson (Darren McFadden)
Not a great talent, but a must-own for all McFadden owners.
11. Tim Tebow (Mark Sanchez)
Let’s get real, Tebow will be starting very soon. Once he is starting, he is a top 5-7 fantasy QB, I don’t care what anyone says.
12. Daniel Thomas (Reggie Bush)
At best, a “must-have” for Bush owners, as we would only recommend counting on Thomas if Bush went down and you were thin at the running back position.
13. T.J. Yates (Matt Schaub)
Yates could be in some fantasy football starting line-ups come season’s end, mark it down!
Other Handcuffs To Consider
Peyton Hillis, Rashad Jennings, Delone Carter, Javon Ringer, Lamar Miller, Felix Jones, Ryan Williams, LeGarrett Blount, Kevin Smith, Shane Vereen, Tim Hightower (or Roy Helu, whomever ends up backing up the other)
Where is C.J. Spiller?
I almost didn’t even include C.J. Spiller in this write-up because I feel that he is already starting material right now in fantasy football. The thing is, though, I just glanced at the Average Draft Positions of both Spiller and Fred Jackson, and depending on what ADP Data you use, Jackson is getting drafted in the 3rd- to 4th-round and Spiller’s is getting snagged in the 6th- to 7th-round — That makes Freddy the starter in the eyes of most fantasy owners, but again, I already consider Spiller a sneaky low-end fantasy RB2 entering Week 1. Because Spiller has top 5-10RB upside, he would be #1 on this list if he was truly a “handcuff” and not someone you’d draft to immediately use.