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If you missed my article last week, I broke down the difference between a traditional handcuff and a scheme based/premium handcuff. Also, I highlighted a few premium handcuffs that you should consider on draft day. If you missed it, check it out here.. Baby, I’m more than just a handcuff. Today our focus moves towards traditional handcuffs.
- Insurance on early round investment
- Injury history/concerns
- Starting job in question/Competition
- Contract dispute/Hold-Out
If your starting running back falls in to these four buckets, you need to know the price of your handcuff on draft day. You are not only buying the talent of the starter you draft, but also the coaching scheme and offensive philosophy of that particular team. Unfortunately, Our benches are not infinite and you can’t draft every handcuff. A good rule of thumb- You want to consider handcuffing, if you invest an early draft pick (rounds 1-5) OR draft a RB that has known injury concerns heading into the season.
A few examples from last season where handcuffs broke loose…
- Nick Chubb
- Carlos Hyde started the season as the unquestioned lead dog but had efficiency concerns early. It wasn’t until Chubb’s week 4 explosion, 3 carries for over 100yards, that he earned more carries from the coaching staff. Eventually the Browns saw enough and shipped Hyde off to Jacksonville, paving the way for Chubb as the bell cow in CLE.
- James Conner
- Le’Veon Bell was in the heart of a holdout during draft season last year and many were still spending a first round pick on him. If they were smart, they drafted James Conner as Bells handcuff to hedge their bet on Le’Veon resolving his contract issues. We all know how this ended. Conner finished 2018 as RB7 and Bell never played a single snap. We have two new contract situations facing us this draft season.
- Austin Ekeler
- Ekeler falls into my scheme based/premium handcuff bucket that I wrote about last week. He does crossover into the traditional handcuff bucket as well. Ekeler’s provided value all season because of the scheme and coaching philosophy. His value increased even more when Gordon missed multiple games towards the end of the season. Gordon still carries injury concerns and is in the middle of a hold out that is a threat to his availability to begin the season.
- Damien Williams
- The situation with Kareem Hunt was unforeseen as he was released mid-season due to off-field issues, but Damien became the handcuff to own after Spencer Ware was moved in to starting duties following Hunts release. Quickly, Ware was sidelined with hamstring and shoulder injuries. The rest is history and now Damien Williams enters 2019 as the starting back in the high powered KC offense.
- James White/Sony Michel
- The starting job in NE was murky to say the least to begin 2018. Jeremy Hill was the starter to begin the season, followed by Rex Burkhead. The Patriots invested a 1st round draft pick on former Georgia RB, Sony Michel, which should have been a hint for anyone investing in this backfield. Jeremy Hill tore his ACL in the first game of the season, Burkhead battled a variety of injuries and need up on the injured reserve list. This paved the way for the 1st rounder, Michel, to take over and for scheme based/premium handcuff James White to dominate in PPR formats.
If you followed me last season, we were ahead on Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Rashaad Penny, and even a few receiver handcuffs over the course of the season. Below is a list of handcuffs that should be considered on draft day…
A savvy move, while building bench depth, is to play defense by drafting your league-mates handcuff. The handcuffs that are worth doing this with are usually high-upside guys, rookies, 2nd-3rd year guys that have a shot of overtaking the #1 spot, or guys playing behind an injury prone starter.
Handcuff situations are dynamic and fluid, players status’ will change over the course of pre-season and the regular season. Make sure to follow along. Every week, I will cover any major/minor injury concerns and any potential breakout handcuffs that should be added before it’s too late. This week, my next article will cover backfield situations that already have injury concerns or shaky starting jobs. Stay tuned!