Fantasy handcuff RB options
A little insurance
In real life, when you purchase something expensive, you buy insurance for said expensive item just in case. Same principles apply when it comes to fantasy football running backs. These pricy toys often break down so adding a replacement plan is wise investment. CSNwashington.com's Ben Standig examines some of the main RB handcuff options for 2015.
Cameron Artis-Payne, Panthers
Jonathan Stewart finally, finally has the Panthers backfield all too himself now that DeAngelo Williams moved on. Can he stay on the field long enough to take advantage . "Daily Show" missed 20 of 48 games over the last three seasons with injuries, though he rushed for 809 yards (4.6 ypc) in 13 games in 2014. The sense is that Artis-Payne, a powerful rookie from Auburn would take over, though Fozzy Whitaker might disagree. Stewart owners, especially drafting him as a starter, need to monitor the depth chart and strongly consider grabbing the No. 2.
Knile Davis, Chiefs
Arguably the number one handcuff on the board. Earlier this summer, Davis boldly stated he doesn’t think there is a notable talent gap between himself and starter Jamaal Charles. That's a bold statement. Whether true or not, he would look awfully nice running in Andy Reid's offense with a full workload. Non-Charles owners also know this so adding Davis as a true handcuff will require using a mid-round selection. He picked up 150 touches last season. Receiving a similar workload this season means some potential Flex appeal at times.
David Johnson, Cardinals
Andre Ellington, Arizona's starter, is a tricky one. He's a potential top 15 RB when healthy and that's certainly the case in PPR formats. The staying healthy part is the concern for the 5-foot-9 runner. (His 3.3 ypc average wasn't thrilling either. That brings us to Johnson, a 224-pound rookie from Northern Iowa. The big bodied presence is arguably the odds-on-favorite among backups to move into the starting lineup based on bumps and bruises elsewhere. The Cardinals offense has enough pop elsewhere to give Johnson a real chance for success, but let's also he's been slow to adjust in camp according to reports.
Duke Johnson, Browns
The only aspect of Cleveland's offense that's truly settled is that almost nothing is, especially in the backfield. Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are holdovers with their hopes of working with the first team. Good bet one of them and probably Crowell takes that job early on especially since Johnson is missing valuable camp time with a hamstring injury. That will only suppress the rookies draft status. By the time Johnson returns, the Browns may be ready for the next option. That's where the University of Miami's all-time leader in rushing/all-purpose yards steps in.
Matt Jones, Redskins
This one goes out more to those in keeper and dynasty leagues, but redraft players should also take note. Alfred Morris is in no danger of losing his job or workload anytime soon. He is, however, a free agent after this summer and the Redskins spent a third-round pick on the power-packed Jones, who likes running over defenders like kids like snow days. With his size and pass-catching ability, Jones is a potential three-down back should he enter the lineup.
Tre Mason, Rams
Todd Gurley will be the first St. Louis running back selected in fantasy drafts. That's fair considering the rookie from Georgia's immense potential. It' also fair to note that Mason is an RB2 in his own right and he'll likely be the Rams' starter early in the season while Gurley caps off his recovery from a serious knee injury. Based on current ADP, owners must spend two selections in the first nine rounds for both. That's a steep price, but the drop-off won't be if Mason ends up starting.
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
It seems a bit odd considering his time away from the field, but the situation in Minnesota (Norv Turner offense, improving young QB) looks tremendous for Adrian Peterson. So much so he's the No. 1 overall pick on many boards. But, that he missed so much time adds risk. Factor in the considerable investment and adding his backup is sound planning. Matt Asiata also remains on the depth chart, but expect the explosive McKinnon to receive first crack at the job should All Day miss many days.
Charles Sims, Buccaneers
If there were a Heisman Trophy-type award for terrible fantasy running backs last season, Doug Martin might have gone home with a trophy. There is hope for a rebirth Tampa thanks to a revamped offensive line and new offensive coordinator. There is also plenty of buzz about his backup eventually ascending into the starter's role. Sims entered his rookie season with plenty of hype and then came up flat himself, but the sense of greater upside with this dual threat exists. Now he just needs the opportunity for those breakout hopes to become realized.
James Starks, Packers
The cost shouldn't be more than a late round pick seeing as Eddie Lacy dominates Green Bay's backfield. The payoff should Starks ever enter the starting lineup could potentially reach jackpot proportions. Sure, he's been a fantasy tease for years and has issues avoiding the trainers room. However, almost any starting RB playing with Aaron Rodgers has 80-yards and a touchdown potential just waking up. Easy call for Lacy owners.
DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
The reason owners consider handcuffs involve those in-case-of-emergency situations. Right off the bat, Williams will start the opening two games for the suspended Le'Veon Bell. That's enough to justify adding him. That Pittsburgh's strong offensive line provides him with a good shot at good numbers in case he plays more. Last season was the first in Williams' long career that he averaged less than 4.1 yards per carry.