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Why Handcuffs Are So Important to The Fantasy Football Landscape

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Aug/12/2008

"Handcuffs" - This is Fantasy Football parlance for Linebackers and Ladd Biro of the Dallas News believes they are among the most significant components when it comes to the world of Fantasy Football.

Injuries are a frequent reality in the NFL, and workhorse backs take more pounding than contestants on a Japanese game show, Biro points out

No fewer than 20 starting tailbacks missed games due to injury last year.

As a result, no-names like Ryan Grant, Earnest Graham, Selvin Young and Justin Fargas suddenly became fantasy stars - and earned serious paychecks in the process. Others, such as Kenton Keith, Kenny Watson and Ahmad Bradshaw, provided a short-term lift for those owners savvy enough to insert them into their starting lineup at the right time.

In fantasy parlance, these backups are called "handcuffs," a term reserved almost exclusively for running backs. After all, backup quarterbacks are rarely worth drafting - with the possible exception of Kurt Warner in Arizona - and there are always enough starting wide receivers to go around.

Biro points to some essential running backs:

Chester Taylor, Vikings: Arguably the most important insurance policy in Fantasyland, Taylor is a proven commodity lost in the shadow of a superstar. Adrian Peterson has a well-earned reputation for missing time due to injury; so if you make him your top pick, don't allow a competitor to snare Taylor. But be advised: He'll cost you a mid-round selection.

Lorenzo Booker, Eagles: Acquired from Miami with an eye toward keeping Brian Westbrook fresh, Booker will get a handful of carries each game. And since Westbrook has yet to play a full 16-game season in his career, it's a safe bet the dual-threat reserve will get a starting turn at some point.

Ray Rice, Ravens: The rookie has drawn raves in training camp and has clearly staked his claim as Willis McGahee's heir apparent. With McGahee undergoing surgery this week to clean up his knee, Rice could conceivably start the opener.

He also advises who not to pick

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