The "Not-For-Everyone" Handcuffing Strategy


I want to start by telling you a story. A few years back, my wife and I were celebrating an anniversary. We aren't people who normally go to casinos, but we have one located about an hour away from our home and they were running a great deal. For $200 you could get a room for the evening, a $50 gift card to use in one of their restaurants, two-$50 cards to use for gambling, and yet another $50 card you could use at one of their shops, gas station or wherever you wanted. Pretty sweet deal, huh?

Well, my wife and I took our $50 gambling cards and headed for the slot machines. I went to a dollar slot and I'm not joking, my $50 was gone within five minutes. My wife on the other hand, stuck to nickel and quarter machines and her $50 card lasted for a few hours before she eventually gave it all back to the casino. It goes to show how different my wife and I are. She's a "Play it safe" type person. I'm a "Swing for the fences" guy.

So what in the hell does that story have to do with anything? Well, I want you to look deep inside that fat head of yours and figure out whether you like to play things safe, or whether you like to roll the dice and look for that big payday.

If you like to play fantasy football conservatively, when you draft your stud running back, make sure to draft his handcuff. If you get David Johnson, make sure to take Chase Edmonds. When you take Leonard Fournette, don't let TJ Yeldon go undrafted. Draft Kareem Hunt? Spend a late round pick on Spencer Ware in case Hunt goes down. This way, if your RB1 gets hurt, you're not left in the cold without a warm blanket to keep you warm. You get a nice alternative that while he doesn't provide equal "one-for-one" fantasy production, you may get 80-90% of your stud's production and still have a chance to compete.

Now onto the riskier play...

If you like to gamble, consider drafting a handcuff, just not the handcuff for YOUR RB1. If you draft, Le'Veon Bell, draft Chase Edmonds. If you draft Melvin Gordon, take Latavius Murray. When you take Ezekiel Elliot, pair him with TJ Yeldon. Why would you enter the world of madness and execute a strategy like this? Let me explain.

If you follow the conservative route, can you still win a championship? Yes. Yes you can. However, if your RB1 goes down, your team can still be a good team...just not as good as it was before. Most quality running back handcuffs will earn at best the "chance" for RB1 production on a weekly basis, but likely fall in the RB2 range in weekly rankings. You can still win a championship, but your road got a bit tougher.

However, if you draft a handcuff to someone other than your RB1, while it is much riskier, that payoff could be huge. 

For example, let's say you draft Melvin Gordon in the first round and pair him with Chase Edmonds towards the end of the draft. I like you a lot, so I'm not going to sugar coat this. If Gordon gets hurt and David Johnson stays healthy, you're screwed. There's no two-ways around that. 

But if Melvin Gordon stays healthy and David Johnson goes down like he did last year, you still have your RB1 in Gordon, but now he's paired with a likely low end RB1 or high end RB2 for the rest of the season in Chase Edmonds. Your odds of winning your league championship are now exponentially better than the conservative play. 

Injuries are difficult to predict. No one knows if or when a player will get hurt, so at least in my completely dimwitted mind, Melvin Gordon has a just as much of a chance of getting hurt this season as does David Johnson. The odds of Dalvin Cook going down are likely similar to that of Leonard Fournette. I have no friggin idea who will get hurt. Neither do you.

So it comes down to this. If you want to handcuff your RB1, I have no problems with that strategy. It's safe and your guy gets hurt, you still have shot at winning. But if you're like me and you like to bet it all on black at the roulette table, consider drafting someone's else's handcuff and immediately start praying to the almighty god in the sky that his lead-back goes down to a season-ending injury in Week 1.

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