I am completely in favor of avoiding handcuff situations in almost all circumstances. To spice up a relationship might be the only acceptable circumstance, but even there I’m afraid of what the wife might do. When it comes to a fantasy football draft there aren’t many things more nerve racking than drafting an injured or injury prone player early and playing the guessing game on when to draft his handcuff for the rest of the draft. I know in my home leagues some guys will take your handcuff early just to spite you for something you did to them in high school. (or with their sister.)
This year Arian Foster has again become an early season injury concern. Reports about his back problems have some GMs running to the hills and I don’t blame them. Most experts have dropped him below the top 10 running back tier that he was locked into all off season. I am not dropping him that far YET, but I will be more cautious when drafting in the 7-11 slots before his week 1 status is confirmed.
I am always reluctant to draft an injured or recovering player in the first few rounds for good reason. Somewhere out there Domanick Williams owes me a beer for drafting him in the second round in the late summer of 2005 in my best home league. Needless to say we had to draft early because of my impending nuptials and my wedding present was a player who would be put on IR. So maybe I have a bias against Houston running backs, wouldn’t you.
The main reason I never liked drafting Foster in the first place was the cost of Ben Tate. Yes Tate is an excellent back-up RB capable of putting up RB1 numbers if called upon, but his ADP has always been much higher than other handcuff candidates. With Foster’s back injury Tate could climb into the top of the 7th round and if you took Foster in the middle of the first you may have to bite the bullet and take Tate in the 6th. Two top 6 picks on a pair of RBs where only one will have RB1-RB2 status at any given time. Absolutely not happening for me.
I would much rather take David Wilson in the late third of a 12 team league or in the 4th of a 10 team league and take Andre Brown later in the draft. Those are two handcuffs that will contribute to your team week in and week out. By waiting on Wilson and Brown I am able to stack my team with a top RB and WR in the first two rounds and still build depth and usefulness at the running back position later. If I took Foster in the first I would be forced to blow that 6th round pick on Tate instead of taking a valuable player like Tom Brady or Matt Ryan in that spot.
The only first round running back who’s handcuff actually intrigues me is LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. With Chip Kelly’s offense putting up huge rushing numbers and the fact that Brown will get plenty of touches all on his own makes these two my ideal first round handcuff situation. Chris Polk scared a few GMs away from Brown earlier in the summer when he went ahead of Brown in the Eagles’ backfield pecking order, but I suspect that was just a motivational ploy by Chip Kelly. Brown is far and away the superior talent behind McCoy and is the one of the only back up running backs in the league who could push top eight numbers if there was an injury to the starter. Brown’s cost is low right now at right around the 90th overall pick as seen on www.fantasyfootballcalculator.com.