For those of you who do not know, a running back handcuff in fantasy football is a way to protect yourself from a big name rusher going down with an injury. You can either stash their immediate backup in case an injury occurs, or you can roster a pair of running back by committee options and wait for one to take the lead or get hurt.
There is certainly some negativity associated with taking gambles on handcuffs, of course. It does take up a roster spot, some of the options are difficult to trust due to injuries and some are simply unproven or flat out unreliable. Naturally, this makes grabbing the right set of handcuffs crucial to having a successful fantasy year.
Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Usually knowing who the starting running back is is a big deal, however in Jacksonville grabbing both Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon might make some good sense. Jacksonville’s team is much improved this year, which could have them leading on the scoreboard a little more. Even if that isn’t the case, they now have two competent rushers and they have to know balancing out their offense a bit more should only help Blake Bortles and the passing game.
Naturally, Ivory and Yeldon are both slated to get some work. Right now it sounds like Yeldon is the guy, but Chris Ivory will be vulturing touchdowns whether he is the number one or not. Ivory was without a doubt the more impressive fantasy rusher a year ago and carries the upside, provided he can stay healthy. These are two solid handcuff options to keep on your roster until we can see one distance himself from the other. Ivory is the immediate guy to own, however.
Paul Perkins (New York Giants)
I can’t remember the last time the New York Giants had a running back who made people get excited (oh, wait Tiki Barber was only nine years ago). Rashad Jennings is the starting running back as of now for the Giants, but Paul Perkins in my opinion will get more carries by the end of the year and sneak his way into the starting spot.
With the Giants having a better than average passing game, defenses are going to be looking to stop the pass more. That alone should make for a much simpler time for either one of these running backs. Jennings’ shaky injury history and inability this far to command the starting gig could give way to the talented Perkins. There are other bodies in New York to worry about, but it’s debatable Perkins is the best overall talent. He’s a deep sleeper for now, but a fun one to grab late in fantasy drafts and stash on your bench.
C.J. Prosise (Seattle Seahawks)
Thomas Rawls was the handcuff of the year last season, as Marshawn Lynch was a no show and Rawls stepped up when Seattle needed him most. This year I’m not sold on him being a clear cut feature back, however, as the Seahawks drafted two good backs in the draft and Rawls got hurt and also didn’t seem to offer a ton of upside as a receiver.
C.J. Prosise is my handcuff here. He reminds me of Theo Riddick in the passing game which could have him bursting into the scene with a scrambling passer who dumps it off a lot. It’s arguable whether or not Prosise has the size or consistency to be an every down back, but he has terrific vision and quickness and could be a real menace for the Seahawks. The retirement of Lynch and a lack of a clear cut option certainly opens the door for someone to step up, and there is a good chance it’s Prosise. The best part? You won’t need to invest an early pick to get him in your fantasy football draft.
Kenyan Drake (Miami Dolphins)
My final handcuff is a guy in my mind who will lead all rookies in rushing. In Miami the offensive line is set and they are praying they can have someone step up. While Jay Ajayi is the starter right now, I am a firm believer that Kenyan Drake will take over at some point in 2016.
Drake has a great combination of size and speed, plus he has great hands. Ajayi doesn’t have the knees to last a full season while dominating touches, and there just isn’t a ton of competition beyond him. Drake has the talent and could soon have the role to be a huge fantasy asset. Make sure you scoop him up late in your fantasy league’s draft.
Got another fantasy football running back handcuff? Tell us all about him in the comments below!