Finding your committee

King Petty @Kingpettyffb

As we get closer to the start of the upcoming NFL season – Fantasy Football drafts are kicking off or have already commenced. There are several different draft strategies that many consider when preparing for their high stakes and home league. One concern I see constantly amongst the Twitterverse is getting a Running backs handcuff. This prompts the question, when is a good time to handcuff your RB, or is their alleged handcuff worth a pick. We’re all in agreement on who the top 12ish RBs are in the league, but are their backups worth the roster spot in the event of an injury? Looking at just last year, many of us experienced much heartache watching some of our favorite RBs go down to injury from Christian McCaffrey to Saquon Barkley to Raheem Mostert; they all missed most (if not, all) of their respective seasons.

Starting with Mostert, his presumed backup and, highly considered, elite late-round handcuff given his familiarity with Kyle Shanahan’s system – Tevin Coleman dealt with his share of myriad injuries finishing the year with 53 yards on 28 carries. This opened an avenue for Jeff Wilson Jr to surprise us, capping both of the highest rushing totals of the season for the 49ers 112 / 183 yards respectively JWJ – was widely undrafted/not rostered up until week 3 when he was rostered in 22% of leagues.

Shifting to Barkley’s backup, there were much bigger questions when it came to who would take the reins for Barkley. Ultimately, Wayne Gallman emerged as the man for the job – granted he did not perform as we’d hope throughout the season, but neither did his counterparts – Devonta Freeman and Dion Lewis – in zero RB draft situations, Gallman may have been many players knight in blue shining armor as he had a bit of a late-season push before completely flopping in Championship Week.

Lastly, Mike Davis – although, many will know I was rooting for Reggie Bonnafon to be RB2, even after he was cut – ultimately proved his worth over the course of the season, while he wasn’t exactly CMC in his replacement his value skyrocketed as soon as it was announced CMC would miss time, he made good on the missed time, taking on CMC’s role the best he could – notching 8 total TDs, 642 rushing and 373 receiving yards.

With respect to these situations, this shows that while not every team is going to have a Tony Pollard, Kareem Hunt, Latavius Murray, Alexander Mattison, or Jamaal Williams – there are still other RBs to be considered, sometimes they are going to be diamonds in the ruff finds like JWJ, RBs that are doing the best they can with what they have in Gallman and some that ultimately prove themselves and find themselves in a starting role like Mike Davis. My advice is not to be overly eager to get the handcuff and not to reach for your handcuff, especially if there are better starting players available – if the opportunity presents itself; take the leap. Outside of Hunt, Murray, and Pollard – and in PRR, Jamaal Williams – I’d advise to not early cuff your RBs, as these RBs do have standalone value in their current roles.

Here are my non-obvious early cuff, pursue and ignore candidates:

Early Cuff

Michael Carter (NYJ) – this situation is a bit muddied with Coleman, Perine, and Johnson all having clear cases for the starting spot; currently, Carter lands on my early cuff.

Javonte Williams (DEN) – In my opinion is the better option to Gordon, Gordon’s health concerns me – so if I find myself getting stuck with Gordon, I’m early cuffing Williams for safety, who’ll be a ROY candidate if given the opportunity with a very boom-or-bust offense.

Travis Etienne (JAX) – I like Etienne’s situation, he’ll have a clear role by week 3 and is a surefire starter without much competition, if Robinson misses time.

Pursue

Devontae Booker (NYG) – This is my absolute favorite and my elite late-round draft pick, he’s going in the very last rounds or undrafted. Of course, he’s backing up Barkley, but with his Week 1 status in doubt, this could turn out to be a tryout for Booker to carve out a role even when Barkley can go.

Salvon Ahmed (MIA) – Holding late-round/undrafted value, I think Ahmed is being slept on, he showed flashes of what he can do when given the opportunity. He does find himself, currently, on the injury report – this would make him a killer late-round pickup to end your draft.

J.D. McKissic (WAS) – We all love McKissic, he’s likely everyone’s favorite backup at this point in the later rounds – I’d be inclined to agree considering his consistent play. I’d expect him to keep his passing downs role and continue to excel.

Ignore

Leonard Fournette (TB) – He’s splitting time with RoJo as RB1b and has great name appeal, but outside of his playoff performance, Uncle Lenny just doesn’t show his old self. Here’s to hoping that this changes and he bounces back with a strong performance with the entire squad returning, at his current ADP in the 7th round; I’m just not betting on it on my squad. 

Trey Sermon (SF) – I’ll get a lot of hate for this one, I’m sure, I love Sermon as he is a very punishing back and hard to take down. It’s going to be hard to think that JWJ won’t take away time from Sermon; in Dynasty I love Sermon, but for redraft, I’m staying away from him at his current 8th ADP. 

All Atlanta Backups – I have no faith in the three backups to Mike Davis: Qadree Ollison, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Javian Hawkins (yes, him too) don’t personify workhorse, don’t get me wrong there are some points to be had in the event Mike Davis doesn’t finish the year, but nothing worth drafting in my opinion. 

My last words of wisdom when it comes to drafting your RBs is don’t reach. It’ll get scary when you’re drafting, especially in redraft, and RBs are flying off the board and you’re staring at Joe Mixon, Miles Sanders, and Josh Jacobs going into the 4th round. Stay the course – get a consensus on where Backups/1B RBs are going and build up your other positions to increase draft capital for a potential post-draft trade. Most importantly have fun and always be open to new strategies.

King Petty @Kingpettyffb

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