Do we even need to handcuff in today's NFL?

Handcuffing. def - Stacking one team's runningbacks so you won't be injured and left out cold

Macon TelegraphJune 15, 2013 

     Handcuffing was one of the first fantasy trends as the sport was taking off ten years ago.  It was a very different NFL then.  Priest Holmes, Shaun Alexander and LT oh my.  Studs that never came off the field.  Pass catchers.  Touchdown monsters.  The only goal-line back in the NFL was Jerome Bettis.  The common theory on the run game has changed dramatically.  Now there are timeshares, change of pace backs, 3rd down backs and even solid veterans that never see the field.  All of this leads to a healthier situation and therefore a wider range of players in the pool getting quality touches and fantasy points.  Simply put I don't think handcuffing makes sense anymore.  Adrian Peterson is setting unprecedented knee recovery history and really there are few injury risks at the top of pre draft ranks.  The most brittle may be Trent Richardson / LeSean McCoy / Jamaal Charles and Steven Jackson.  Of their backups Bryce Brown is the only one I would entertain and that's based on his own merit and not LeSean's concussion trend.  I am going to post the percentage of workload that the starter receives for each team to evaluate the value of each backup however

 

Team-Starter                                Percentage of team's carries                           Backup

Arizona Cardinals -Reshard Mendenhall (w/PITT) 12.4%                           Ryan Williams

Atlanta Falcons - Stephen Jackson (w/Rams) 62.7%                          JacQuizz Rodgers

Baltimore Ravens - Ray Rice                        57.9%                          Bernard Pierce

Buffalo Bills - C.J. Spiller                             46.8%                           Fred Jackson

Carolina Panthers -Jonathan Stewart              20.1%                         DeAngelo Williams 

Chicago Bears - Matt Forte                            52.8%                              Michael Bush

Cincinnati Bengals - BenJarvis Green Ellis       64.7 %                                Giovanni Bernard

Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson             67.4 %                                Dion Lewis

Dallas Cowboys - DeMarco Murray                  45.4%                             Jonathan Randle

Denver Broncos - Knowshon Moreno              28.7%                            Ronnie Hillman

Detroit Lions - Reggie Bush (w/Dolphins)        51.6%                             Mikell LeShoure

Green Bay Packers -Eddie Lacey                    xxx ROOKIE                  Johnathan Franklin

Houston Texans - Arian Foster                       69.1 %                                     Ben Tate

Indianapolis Colts - Ahmad Bradshaw (w/Giants) 54%                          Vick Ballard

Jacksonville Jaguars - Maurice Jones Drew   24 %                                         Justin Forsett

Kansas City Chiefs  - Jamaal Charles           57 %                                Kniles Davis

Miami Dolphins - LaMar Miller                         11.6 %                                     Mike Gillislee

Minnesota Vikings -Adrian Peterson                71.6 %                            Toby Gerhart 

New England Patriots - Stevan Ridley            55.4 %                             Shane Vereen

New Orleans Saints - Darren Sproles             13 %                                       Pierre Thomas

New York Giants - David Wilson                    17.4% (Ahmad Bradshaw)   Andre Brown

New York Jets - Chris Ivory (w/Saints)           13%                                Bill Powell

Oakland Raiders - Darren McFadden              57.4 %                       Rashad Jennings

Philadelphia Eagles - LeSean McCoy              48.4%                       Bryce Brown

Pittsburgh Steelers - LeVeon Bell                 xxx ROOKIE                Jonathan Dwyer

San Diego Chargers - Ryan Mathews             44.8 %                        Danny Woodhead

Saint Louis Rams - Daryl Richardson             23.9 %                             Zac Stacy

San Francisco 49ers - Frank Gore                  52.4 %                       LaMichael James

Seattle Seahawks - Marshawn Lynch              58.8 %                       Robert Turbin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Doug Martin           76.7%                                Michael Smith

Tennessee Titans - Chris Johnson                 73 %                                     Shonne Greene

Washington Redskins - Alfred Morris             64.5%                             Evan Royster

 

It's hard to truly break down this data.  Rookies and Free Agents scew it one way.  And then injuries play another part - affecting MoJo and Jonathan Stewart and then playing time affects players like new starters Chris Ivory and Daryl Richardson while Reshard Mendenhall was benched for mysterious reasons.  One thing is for sure - the top fantasy backs are the ones with the highest percentage of carries being called factor backs.  I was surprised how much Chris Johnson and Darren McFadden played as percentages - two guys that are frequent disappointments for the 2nd round picks they usually cost.  Learn your backups.  Perhaps that's the best thing we can take away from this exercise.  But don't draft a handcuff unless you play in the deepest of leagues.

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