Why You Should Not Handcuff with Kareem Hunt or Tony Pollard. Interesting statement right? Both of these players are being thought of as very popular handcuffs, but they shouldn't be thought of as that and I'll discuss why.
Handcuffing it’s usually done with the running back in mind. It is when you draft the backup of a starter with a guaranteed workload and a big usage rate. For example, when you’re drafting Dalvin Cook looks to pick up Alexander Mattison later In the draft. The handcuff ADP is in the double-digit rounds of your draft and is only more valuable to the team than his starter.
Handcuff players have low ADPs so you’re getting them after the 10th round. Handcuff players are also players that have no standalone value unless the top dog cannot go. Alexander Mattison is the most valuable handcuff in the NFL. Last season in four NFL starts Mattison had 356 yards and two touchdowns on 86 rushing attempts. But when Cook was able to go Mattison only compiled 135 yards and one touchdown on 48 rushing attempts.
Why You Should Not Handcuff With Kareem Hunt or Tony Pollard
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Tony Pollard much like Kareem Hunt has standalone value. Both their ADPs are too high and can be contributors to your lineup even without Nick Chubb and Ezekiel Elliott on your roster. During the 2021 season, Pollard finished up with 719 yards, two touchdowns, and 39 receptions without ever being the lead dog. With those numbers, he would be a good flex player.
Not only that, but you have to spend far too much draft capital on two running backs from the same team to get the "handcuff". This is not something that I advise when drafting. Yes, you are protecting your higher investment, which is the point of handcuffing your running back. However, in this case, you kind of hurt yourself by not being able to draft another team's RB1 or another WR for your fantasy team, which can help you more.
What to Look For If I Want To Handcuff My RB1
First off, is the RB1 you drafted on a team that plans to be run-heavy? Teams like the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns' offenses revolve around their run game.
Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb are going to be used to wear down defenses, also at the same time maybe wearing themselves out as well. Picking up their handcuffs might be a valuable option later in your draft. You may also think to yourself I should also pick up the handcuffs for the starting running backs of the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Well, this will leave me to my next point.
Make sure you know who the handcuff is. Although the 49ers and Ravens have great run offenses do we really know what their running back depth chart looks like?
With The Baltimore Ravens, who knows who is healthy in that running back room? We are hearing great news about J.K. Dobbins out of camp and it seems like he might be ready to go in Week 1. However, Gus Edwards is far behind and is falling off everyone’s draft board. So maybe it is Mike Davis now? Bleh.
Lastly do not have more than one handcuff in your lineup. For example, if you started your draft with Delvin Cook and Ty Montgomery do not draft both of their handcuffs. Having one handcuff can’t limit your lineup's depth, but two can wreck your season. Remember once again handcuffs do not have any value unless the starter goes down. You are going to need as many playable assets during the 18-game season, so don’t limit yourself from making moves.
I'm going quickly list a few of the running backs that I believe should be drafted as key handcuffs based on the strategy mentioned above.
- Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings, ADP 119
- Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears, ADP 149
- Chuba Hubbard/ D’Onta Foreman, Carolina Panthers, ADP 186/209
- Hassan Haskins/Dontrell Hilliard, Tennessee Titans, ADP 224/253
- D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns, ADP 249
Handcuffing can be a useful strategy if done right. When doing so make sure it is not hurting the depth of your teams. And make sure you are aware of who the handcuff is. Pay attention to preseason games and any talk out of training camps on which backups are running with the first teams.
Remember, Kareem Hunt and Tony Pollard are good players, but are not true handcuffs.
Good luck with your drafts and your seasons.
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