mtlenway wrote:I see a lot of questions on this site about handcuffing the backup running backs to cover in the event that the starter goes down to injury.
I firmly disagree with this line of thought for a couple of reasons. First, they are a back up runningback for a reason, they arent that good. Secondly, why would you want to waste a roster spot on a player who you are hoping you will never have to use. Thirdly, there are plenty of starting runningbacks in the league to fill you line up with without touching players sitting on a bench. Finally, there are always players the come into light during the progression of a season that can be picked off of the waiver wires without wasting a roster spots.
Good question. You have kind of hit the nail on the head with your thinking, but I don't think your conclusion is quite right. Handcuffing is good in certain situations. You are right that you don't want to waste picks drafting a mediocre running back that happens to back up your first rounder. You also don't want to waste roster spots drafting the guy who is #2 on the depth chart if the real backup plan is going to be a RBBC situation if the starter gets hurt.
That being said, there are certain situations where drafting a handcuff is necessary. The obvious one for this year is the LT-Michael Turner situation. Michael Turner has shown that he is a very good RB in his own right, and if LT goes down, there aren't going to be any other available RBs that come close to his production level. Having Turner gives you a shot to contend. Not having Turner sinks your season.
Really, it's a risk-reward proposition. First, ask how much value is at risk to injury. There is a lot of value at risk when you are talking about LT or Steven Jackson, but that's not the case with Ahman Green or Jamal Lewis, so you probably don't want to bother handcuffing Green or Lewis or any other 3rd tier starting RBs. Second, ask what the reward is if you handcuff. Turner is probably the best non-starting RB in the league, so the reward is there. If you are talking about Westbrook, though, the risk is probably there, but what is the reward to drafting Ryan Moats or Tony Hunt as the handcuff? Not much since the Eagles will probably split Westbrook's touches between Moats, Hunt, Nate Iloa, and more pass attempts should Westbrook happen to suffer significant injury.
Handcuffing is a judgement call, and it sounds like you are thinking about things the right way. You just have to be able to recognize when it makes sense to handcuff and when it doesn't.