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We don’t need no stinking badges for handcuffs


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The idea of a handcuff is simple. Your prized back goes out for a week or two with an injury, but you foreshadowed this coming and drafted his backup, a worthwhile backup from whom you will get production. 

Most teams have more than one back that can have value given the starting role. The value of the backup is not realized until he makes the starting lineup, however. Let’s examine two potential handcuffs and situations to monitor closely.

1. Chester Taylor (Minnesota) – Taylor is an essential handcuff to Adrian Peterson. He has a solid skill set and, behind a solid offensive line, can produce like the top backs.

Taylor gets 10 or so carries a game now but he will strike gold should Adrian Peterson go down.

Taylor averaged 5.3 ypc with 844 yards rushing, 281 receiving yards and seven TD’s last season. In Week 11 against the Raiders,

Taylor racked up 164 yards on 22 carries (7.5 ypc) and three TD’s. He also had 38 yards receiving. He scored in four straight weeks (11-14).

Taylor has good hands and is blessed with speed.

He could be starting for a number of teams right now. He is an essential handcuff for Peterson owners.

2. Ray Rice (Baltimore) – Rice runs like a crafty veteran as a rookie. Willis McGahee is going to be pressed from day one. McGahee had a good fantasy year last year 1,207 yards on 294 carries, but that translates to a disappointing 4.1 ypc.

Rice gives the Ravens a solid backup in year one who will eventually send McGahee packing.

The fact that McGahee scored in seven straight games from Weeks 6-13 shows consistency to some. I tend to think of it as more of the commitment of the Ravens to rely on the ground game. McGahee broke the 5.0 ypc barrier only twice during the season, Weeks 4 and 7. In Week 4 versus a very poor Brown defense that allowed 129.5 yards rushing yards per game, McGahee scampered for 104 yards on 14 carries (7.4 ypc). I

n Week 7 versus a poor Bills defense giving up 124.6 yards rushing yards per game, he ran for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries (6.0 average). Willis had made claims of being the league’s best back. With the recent retirement of one of the best offensive lineman, Jonathan Ogden, look for McGahee to be fighting an uphill battle.

Situations to keep your eyes on:

1. Maurice Morris (Seattle) – Julius Jones averaged only 3.6 ypc behind a decent Cowboy offensive line. But he was sharing carries with Marion Barber III in his defense. He now finds himself in

Seattle as the starter. However, if he struggles, you will see Morris be called on immediately. Morris may not be a true handcuff but the situation warrants keeping an eye on anyhow. Morris has looked fresh in camp and preseason.

2. Mike Hart/Kenton Keith/Dominic Rhodes (Indianapolis) battle to back up Joseph Addai. Hart has looked sharp. I think

Rhodes will win the battle since he knows the system. None of these guys have the same burst as Addai, though. Monitor this situation closely. Keith is probably the odd man out in the equation.

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