Summertime. There is nothing like it in the world. The sun is beaming, the beaches are packed, and the night life is jumping. But all good things must come to an end. As the dog days of summer wind down you’re left with a void. If only there was something that could fill that void, something that makes you laugh and scream louder than ever before. Something that can make you feel like the king of the world, then just as quickly you’re a lowly peasant. Well ladies and gentleman, it’s football season or what I’d like to call “Cuffing Season.”
I’m sure you all have read the preseason rankings of all the running backs. I’m here to make sure that you don’t draft or over draft their backups. There is a big misconception when it comes to drafting handcuffs: you don’t always have to. Well what do you mean by that? I mean just because you take a RB high doesn’t mean you HAVE to get his back up. For example, if I took Tod Gurley I’m not going to waste a pick on Benny Cunningham or Chase Reynolds. In the 4 weeks Gurley was out, Cunningham had a whopping 183 total yards of offense with 0 TD’s. With Tre Mason going off the deep end, Cunningham is now the clear cut handcuff. If Gurley were to go down, I don’t see Cunningham being more than a shaky FLEX player at best. Yes, it would suck to lose Gurley, but it would be worse to put Cunningham into your starting lineup. If you draft the starter here are 3 must drafts handcuffs you will want. (I’m not including DeAngelo Williams in this list because if Bell’s is suspended he is the 4 week starter)
- Tevin Coleman- Atlanta Falcons
Going into last season all things were looking up for Coleman. The 3rd round running back out of Indiana was the week one starter for a high scoring offense in Atlanta. Then, in week 1, he went down with a rib injury opening the door for Freeman (we all know how that went). Atlanta looked committed to Coleman, giving him 20 carries in his first game. In today’s NFL if there is a back that is going to get 20+ touches you get that RB. I know, I know. You probably think I’m crazy, but hear me out. Freeman slowed down dramatically at the end of last season. Freeman only rushed for 352 yds in the last 7 games of the season. That’s only 50.28 yards per game. The high volume in the passing game and running game salvaged his value because he was able to find the end zone. Not to mention his frame at 5’9” 209 pounds failed him twice last season. There is no doubt Freeman earned the starting role in Atlanta, but if he gets hurt or somehow can’t produce look for Coleman to step in and take that workload.
Verdict: Low end RB1 to High end RB2
- Charles Sims- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After the solid 2015 Sims put together, I was SHOCKED the team decided to resign Doug Martin. Sims Averaged 4.9 yards per carry and totaled over 1,000 total yards as a backup. This offense should be a lot better with Winston leading the charge in his second year. This Bucs team has weapons galore and should give Sims around 10 touches per game. Right now his ADP is in the 9Th round, but that would skyrocket if Martin were to go down. A little side note: Sims would have a juicy match-up against the terrible Saint’s D In weeks 14 and 16(playoff time).
- Tim Hightower – New Orleans Saints
Yes, I’m talking about Tim Hightower. The 30 year old vet out of Rich-what! Richmond! Whoever seems to line up behind Brees has very high fantasy value. Before Ingram got hurt he was a no doubt top 5 RB, scoring less than 9 points once in 12 games. In 4 games, Hightower managed to rack up a stunning 500 total yards with 4 TD’s. There is no real threat behind him either with a very underwhelming player in C.J Spiller. This Saint’s D is bad and will be forced to score early and often. With Ingram’s injury history, Hightower is a must own handcuff.
Verdict: High end RB1
The Price is Not right!
- Jeremy Hill/Gio Bernard
Let me start by saying I would LOVE one without the other! That being said they are both going between picks 50 and 75. In standard format Hill has a higher upside because of the goal line work he receives. Hill did not have the season that most people thought he would have, his YPC dropped from 5.1 to 3.6 and he failed to rush over 100 yds all season. Bernard came out on fire last season getting at least 10 points in 4 of 6 games, but just like Hill, he disappointed his owners. I see a different story playing out for Gio in the passing game this season. The Bengals lost Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency, freeing up some catches for the pass catching back. I see Bernard catching between 65-80 balls this season which will make him sexy in all PPR formats. This back field will go week to week featuring the “Hot” back, I have a hard time spending a 5th or 6th round pick on such a big question mark.
Verdict: Hill RB2/ Bernard RB2 (Solo both RB1)
- T.J Yeldon/Chris Ivory – Jacksonville Jaguars
I was very high on T.J’s potential before they signed Ivory in free agency. Last season Yeldon did all the dirty work between the 20’s, then in the Red Zone, Toby Gerhart stole all his carries. He was a Rookie getting 15 carries and 3 catches per game. Being the primary catching back on a team with a lot of offensive potential made him an intriguing player to watch. Ivory is familiar with being in a similar role, as Powell would take series from the veteran back. His ability to find the end zone will be a thorn in Yeldon’s side all year long. I see a time share here, Yeldon doing the dirty work and Ivory getting the TD’s. Yeldon’s ADP is Late 6th– early 7th, while Ivory is early 8th. It doesn’t make much sense to use back to back picks on one backfield.
Verdict: Yeldon FLEX /Ivory RB2-FLEX