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Handcuffing Running Backs, Why?

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Handcuffing Running Backs, Why?

Postby mtlenway » Tue Jul 31, 2007 3:42 pm

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.
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Re: Handcuffing Running Backs, Why?

Postby kosherpig » Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:00 pm

Since this is a Q&A Keeper/Waiver forum... what's your question?

Your theory holds water only if limited by roster space or the number of teams in the league. For example, my league has 12 teams and 16 man rosters with 9 starters. By the 7th round, all the starting RBs gone. so its time to pick from the rest. If you own LT, you'd be a fool not to pickup Michael Turner...he's friggin awesome and why he's still backing up LT, who knows? Michael Pittman is another great example. He is definately starting material, but there's a Caddilac blocking the view... when its runnable of course, but that Caddy's broken down twice in two seasons. Now, on the other hand, if I were in a 10 team, 14 man roster, neither of these players would be considered in my draft.
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Re: Handcuffing Running Backs, Why?

Postby gjb140 » Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:12 pm

Handcuffing is good when done correctly. meaning, don't handcuff someone who hasn't been very good as a backup or someone in a RBBC type situation.

However, a few years ago I tied Larry Johnson to Priest Holmes. Guess what? I don't miss a beat with the running game. I also knew LJ was good and it was worth it. I've tied Michael Turner to Tomlinson as well. Later round pick of course. Look at Portis and Betts last year.

And Maurice Jones-Drew last year too. Who knew that MJD would be so good or get so many carries? If you had Fred Taylor and took a chance on MJD, or just plain though MJD was good at UCLA, you'd be laughing at the guys who passed up on Jones-Drew for say Chris Henry or Ahman Green.

Corey Dillon - Lawrence Moroney. Not a committee at the start, but it was by the end. Julius Jones - Marion Barber. Again, Barber hadn't done much previously, but if you had him as Jones' backup, what a gem.

That's why you research and invest in some backups, as they may surprise you or become committee backs, and why you pass on others.
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Re: Handcuffing Running Backs, Why?

Postby SLAMLLC » Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:36 am

Handcuffing is very important in large leagues or leagues with too much roster depth. My league has way too much depth in roster size. I have been trying to get it reduced for a couple of years. We are also allowed to keep 2 players from the previous year. So basically the top 20 Rb are off the board before draft time. Now for example I have Addai. One of my most important picks will be to grab DeDe Dorsey incase of an injury to Addai. My other options to choose from will not be as valuable because if Addai gets hurt DeDe will put up numbers simply from being a product of the environment. Indy won't change their game planning too much. Dorsey will get the touches and produce. One of my other choices for RB at my draft position may be Lamont Jordan. He is the starter for Oakland at this point, but I would much rather have Dorsey starting for Indy than Jordan starting for Oakland even though the arguement could be made that Jordan might be a more talented RB. Same goes for Turner "The Burner" The guy will produce. You have to do your homework to know who is worth the roster spot and who is not. A lot depends on the system they are playing in.
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Re: Handcuffing Running Backs, Why?

Postby onnestabe » Thu Aug 02, 2007 6:06 pm

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.
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