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Backup RB Strategy? Warning: It's LONG

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Backup RB Strategy? Warning: It's LONG

Postby pdjkfc » Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:37 am

There's a well-known strategy of grabbing the backup of a prized starter, such as Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster. In a recent draft, a friend of mine took Davis as his #2 and I, late in the draft, took Foster with the intention of trading him to Davis's owner. This would "insure" Davis and he'd be able to breathe more comfortably, right?

Well, how is Foster valuable to my friend when he can grab better a better backup RB option than Foster? If Davis loses the starting slot, he just goes to his backup that is better than Foster. To explain, his backups are C. Garner and E. Smith, not great, but are at least going to get more playing time right now.

It seems that the only reason why a backup has value is due to the system that he plays in. Steven Jackson has roughly the same value as players that have a much better chance of getting playing time, i.e. E. Smith, C. Garner. But, the reason why a backup is at the same level as a starter is because of the Rams system. Like the fabled Denver running game, you insert any player and you'll have a 1,000 yard RB.

So, why then do all the experts say to "handcuff" Faulk with Jackson and Davis with Foster, etc, when you could take a RB that will get a larger share of the pie as your #3?

It seems to me that you're limiting the number of teams you are able to represent and thus the amount of potential points. For example, my friend took Tomlinson, Davis, Garner, and Smith. Four RB, four teams represented. If he had taken Foster instead of Garner or Smith, he would have only three teams represented. On LT's bye week, he'll use Garner or Smith along with Davis as his RBs. Two teams are represented and there's a realistic shot at 200+ yards and 2 TDs. If Davis is teamed with Foster, only 1 team is represented and a shot at 200+ and 2 TDs is much less realistic. He'd be using two RB slots and earning the production of one.

I do understand why Foster and Jackson are coveted on draft day, they are sleepers with tremendous potential. But, I do not understand why someone with Faulk or Davis should go out of their way to secure them.

Does anybody know why this is? This is recommended by ESPN, Sporting News, KFFL, Fanball, and others. Why is this? Am I missing something?

Thanks.
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Postby K-One » Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:40 am

Too long for me to read...I won't lie. Maybe later...
QB (1) - Plummer, Leftwich
RB (2) - Alexander, Dunn, Larry Johnson, Ronnie Brown, Stephen Davis
WR (3) - Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Drew Bennett, Rod Smith, Jason Witten
K - Peterson
D - Carolina
(10 team league, pick #4)
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Postby hander99 » Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:51 am

I dont want to go into a longwinded speech about why but if your top guy like a faulk gets injured and you are now looking at emmitt smith as your new main guy that doesnt look to promising. If we are talking about backup rb's and not starters than I would rather have the guy sitting behind my main guy because chances are him being inserted into that system will produce more in the absence of your starter than an emmitt or even a garner will. I think people can go either way with this depending on who is left in the draft when they are ready to take backup runners, but generally I would rather have a back in a proven system and a place where he will get a lot of touches than one of those borderline backs.
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Postby Chopper » Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:52 am

The concept has value because a hand-cuff bench guy immediately has much more value when a starter goes down. In your opponent's case, when Davis gets hurt, Emmitt is still a 50 year old part-time plodder. But, Foster's value takes a huge jump as he becomes the feature back in a good system. Even if Emmitt becomes a solid option early on, his value is completely independent of Davis'. As long as Davis is starting and finishing games, he will be the fantasy starter. If a fantasy team has viable starters, then except for bye-fillers, the bench will only be used to cover for injuries. Better to have hand-cuffs than to have below average starters who will be banged up when you need them.
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Postby Plindsey88 » Wed Sep 08, 2004 8:11 am

The key is the system... IF you have a good system, chances are most NFL caliber RB's can be plugged into your line-up and perform well... Take St. Louis last year... Faulk went down, and Lamar Gordon immediately took over and posted good numbers... Then Gordon went down, and Arlen Harris took over and posted good numbers... When you handcuff a RB, you are more than anything else drafting the running system of a given team, and there are teams like St. Louis, Denver, Carolina, Baltimore, etc... where this is a very safe play... If you take Marshall Faulk and back him up with Emmitt Smith and Faulk gets hurt, you immediately drop off from Faulk to an extremely over the hill back on a very crappy team that is constantly playing from behind, and typically abandons the running game by the half... However, if you have S. Jackson and Faulk gets hurt, you plug in a guy that has great potential and is now the starter on a team that has a proven system and always has a 100 yard back week-in and week-out...

The handcuffing option does mean that you have to burn up an extra roster spot to cover yourself for bye weeks, but give me the Baltimore rushing game, backed up by the St. Louis rushing game, any day of the week over Jamal Lewis, Marshall Faulk, Emmitt Smith, and Travis Minor....

If you are properly handcuffed and an injury happens (or legal issues come up) you can still have Baltimore and St. Louis' running attacks instead of having Arizona and Miami...

Does that make sense?
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Postby 9er Fan » Wed Sep 08, 2004 11:52 am

Your premise is based on the belief that if Emmitt, Garner, DeShaun and Jackson were all starting for their respective teams (S. Davis and Faulk out with injuries), that Emmitt and Garner would be better plays?

Any competent NFL running back starting for the Panthers or Rams would be better plays than Emmitt or Garner. Football is a team sport, and the Rams/Panthers offenses are much better suited to RB success than the Cards/Bucs.
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Postby pdjkfc » Wed Sep 08, 2004 1:53 pm

So my thought was right, its the system that you're drafting. By drafting Faulk and Jackson you are securing your claim to the Rams ground game.

I guess part of my confusion is why my friend didn't take Foster when he had the chance. He took Smith and Garner way before I took Foster. Maybe he thinks Davis can fight him off the whole year.

Thanks guys.
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Postby Kensat30 » Wed Sep 08, 2004 3:52 pm

The reason behind drafting a handcuff is not for the system, it is for the extremely cheap STARTING RB. The only time you are going to play this guy on the field is if your #1 or #2 RB goes down to injury.

So basically, you're getting a starting RB with Deshaun Foster talent in like the 10th round, that is some major value right there. Think about it, what other starting RBs are available in round 10 of your draft that will perform similarily to a featured Foster? Most likely you end up with a guy like William Green or Mike Alstott, or someone that is not even guaranteed any playing time at all this season.

The only real drawback to drafting a handcuff is that you don't have bye week insurance with the guy. Also if the price for your handcuff goes into the 6th-8th round, you have to pass up valuable WRs and QBs to select that guy who may not even see the field this year. It's really a balancing act, how much do you need that cheap starting RB if your #2 guy(S.Davis) is to go down. If you drafted a 3 or 4 RBs, it may be a better move to passover your handcuff to pickup other talents instead.
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Postby MadScott » Wed Sep 08, 2004 4:34 pm

I disagree with you about not handcuffing to a system Kensat. If you've got a good system that turns out the yards and TDs, ie Denver Broncos in years past, that's the reason that I would handcuff. Insert warm body and go. It probably is arguing somewhat about semantics, but that's my .02.

I'm also done with the idea of handcuffing. I just think that there are better value spent in a pick that could do something for your team rather than a guy that may never come off of your bench.
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I get what he's saying...

Postby someguy1 » Wed Sep 08, 2004 4:57 pm

And I agree with it. It's not that talented backups to injury-prone starters aren't valuable, but why are they supposed to be even more valuable specifically to the guy with the starter?

This whole "handcuffing" thing makes no sense at all. Take the best player available in any draft regardless of whether or not he "handcuffs" one of your top guys. The benefit you get from having Stephen Jackson is exactly the same to you whether you own Faulk or not.
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