When one thinks of the word “handcuff,” they probably think of either the TV show Cops and some under-the-influenced man fighting a police officer, or, if they are older, they may think of Harry Houdini, and how easily he could break out of a set. Well, the handcuff that I am talking about is the one you need in fantasy football. There are two different sides of this issue. Some say, “Why are you wasting valuable space on your bench for someone who may play as a starter this season?” And the other side says, “ This guy is my star running back. If he goes down I better have a backup plan ready to go if I still want to compete while he is hurt.” In my opinion, there is no right or wrong answer with this, but here’s how I see it: I would rather have a go-to-guy on the bench, than have to scramble when one gets hurt and hope that no one else grabs him before I do. So, if you want to be safe this year, here is my top two “handcuff” pairs, and the reasons why you should not pass up the opportunity to take the two.
Since 2008, Maurice Jones-Drew, also known as MJD, has been a solid fantasy running back pick (except for last season). MJD has either rushed for over 1,000 yards or double digit touchdowns since he has been a starter, again, except for last season due to injury. MJD is in a contract year this season and is looking to get paid, so he will be pushing harder than ever this season. MJD is also the only offensive weapon (Cecil Shorts is the only thing close) that the Jacksonville Jaguars have this season, and will be leaned on heavily to produce. Given all of these points, if on draft day you select MJD as a focal point of your team, consider his handcuff Justin Forsett. Forsett is coming over from the Houston Texans this seaso,n where he averaged 5.9 carries last season, and has also averaged 4.9 yards over his career. Forsett is not really a threat to receive the ball out of the back field, but if MJD’s foot injury acts up this season and he has to miss some time, Forsett is definitely a valuable back to have as a part time solution.
Before the rise of Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore was the focal point of an average offense. Gore catches passes out of the backfield, and is a punishing runner. This has resulted in Gore being one of the best running backs in the game, as well as one of the most at risk running backs to getting hurt. Being a 49ers fan, I go into every season praying that Gore does not go down. This season, however, I am not worried, because Gore’s handcuff could be one of the NFL’s next rising stars: LaMichael James. James was a monster at Oregon, and did not get his chance with the 49ers until Kendall Hunter went down with a season ending injury. James took his opportunity and ran with it. In the seven games that James played, he averaged 5.08 yards per carry, and that includes the playoffs. James has electric speed, and if he gets the opportunity to start, he and Kaepernick could be a scary thing to see for the opposition’s defense.
During your drafts this season, these handcuffs will not go until about the 14th rounds, if they even get drafted. Keep your eye out for these men, and even if you do not draft the starters in front of them, why not take a risk on these guys to steal them from the others? This plan may have you laughing all the way to the championship game. Now, where did I put the keys to those handcuffs?