Traditionally the concept of a "handcuff" is for protecting a high-investment resource with their clear-cut quality backup. It's something we talk about at length in "The Program," which you can discover here at Fantasy Knuckleheads. A handcuff usually refers to running backs, though in this space we did recently explore the idea of handcuffing quarterbacks. Check it out here.
Like any year, there are a ton of running back handcuffs: Arian Foster and Ben Tate is the most obvious since Foster is the typical #1 overall and Tate is a fantastic backup. A close second is Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings. MoJo might not even start the season and Jennings has looked great. If you invest in Ahmad Bradshaw you are going to want David Wilson. Matt Forte owners will want Michael Bush. For LeSean McCoy it's probably Dion Lewis and Ray Rice has rookie Bernard Pierce.
The point of the handcuff is to lock up one of your RB slots so that you know that you have the full season taken care of in that starting role even if injuries hit.
But let me ask you a question: What do you do if you go with a quarterback or wide receiver in the first round and then follow that up with a tight end or receiver in the second? You're not really going to be able to handcuff Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham. Should you spend a draft pick handcuffing Stevan Ridley? Maybe... but is it Shane Vereen? I guess so, but can that be predicted very reliably? It just doesn't really work out as well... but I have another idea for you.
For the record, I'm of the mind that the great teams this year will take running backs early... but if you don't go that way, why not wait even longer on running backs and get a cheap starter who has a clear backup?
For example, what will Kevin Smith and Mikel LeShoure cost you? How about Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman? There aren't a lot of options with this tactic, but another might be BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott. Another might be Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.
When you get a combo like this in combination with a top running back you can really lock down your RB2 slot for the year. It will make filling out your starting roster a lot easier and alleviate the risk associated with taking some of these guys. You may not want to take Kevin Smith, but if you also have LeShoure you've got to think that one of those guys will be healthy and productive most of the time. That takes the pressure off of filling that RB2 slot.
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Thank you for reading, and good luck in your upcoming drafts!