Fantasy football: Breaking down every NFC running back handcuff option

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Doesn’t it seem like when you get junk mail or telemarketing calls pushing additional insurance, they seem to come in waves? You never get just one, there always is another that follows. Well, sorry to jump on that bandwagon, but we have a second installment of fantasy handcuff options, and handcuffing fantasy running backs is essentially investing in an insurance plan.

Some of these plans are wise, just because of the value of your insured investment. Some of them are too expensive. Some of them are just wasteful. Here is a breakdown of every NFC roster’s RB handcuff options for a traditional 12-team PPR league, as succinctly as we can make it:

Dallas Cowboys

Cuff options: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard

Review: This is one of our clear and easily defined top two handcuff situations. If you acquire Elliott, you are spending big capital to get him in the first round. Pollard’s draft value, around rounds 9-10, is well after any potential bell cow options.

Verdict: Worth it.

New York Giants

Cuff options: Saquon Barkley, Devontae Booker

Review: If Barkley goes down, we have concerns about the running game, and entire offense, in general.

Verdict: Pass.

Philadelphia Eagles

Cuff options: Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, Jordan Gainwell

Review: We have more confidence in Sanders with Doug Peterson no longer patrolling the sidelines. But we don’t have good insight on how carries will be split if he goes down. None of the options come at great costs, so if determined to grab one, go with young upside and Gainwell.

Verdict: Only if you really need it.

Washington Football Team

Cuff options: Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Jonathan Williams, Jaret Patterson

Review: If Gibson goes down, expect Barber and Williams to split the load in some fashion that makes neither fantasy relevant. Patterson would be a handcuff to McKissic as a passing-down RB, that is if McKissic was worth cuffing.

Verdict: Don’t bother.

Tarik Cohen
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Chicago Bears

Cuff options: David Montgomery, Damien Williams, Tarik Cohen

Review: Cohen is not a cuff option since he doesn’t’ have the girth to be an every-down back, but Williams is a solid late addition to insure against a Montgomery injury.

Verdict: Worth it.

Detriot Lions

Cuff options: D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams

Review: Swift is one of the few Lions offensive talents we like, but he plays on the Lions, which undermines his value. Surprise! Playing on the Lions also undermines the value of any handcuff options.

Verdict: Not worth it.

Green Bay Packers

Cuff options: Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon

Review: This doesn’t rise to top-tier handcuff options, but it is knocking on the door. The only drawback is Dillon’s eight-round ADP, slightly higher than Pollard of the Vikings’ Alexander Mattison (the cuff to Dalvin Cook).

Verdict: Worth it.

Minnesota Vikings

Cuff options: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison

Review: Well, this is going to sound familiar. Yes, we love this cuff option, neck-and-neck with the Cowboys’ Zeke-Pollard pairing for the best cuff option.

Verdict: Worth it.

Atlanta Falcons

Cuff options: Mike Davis, Cordarelle Patterson, Qadree Ollison, D’Onta Foreman

Review: Patterson is a gimmick. Ollison didn’t perform when given a chance last season. Foreman is interesting but isn’t being drafted. No clear cuff, but keep an eye on Foreman and be ready to bid on waivers if news of his ascent emerges.

Verdict: Pass.

Carolina Panthers

Cuff options: Christian McCaffrey, Reggie Bonnafon, Chuba Hubbard

Review: Mike Davis was a nobody who made a name once CMC went down, and Bonnafon had some moments that give hope he could do the same. But Carolina also drafted Hubbard for a reason. Either cuff comes extraordinarily cheap, but Hubbard is the play.

Verdict: Worth it.

New Orleans Saints

Cuff options: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray

Review: This doesn’t quite make the Madman’s top tier of cuff options, but still easily worth the insurance thanks to Murray’s cheap 10-11-round price.

Verdict: Worth it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cuff options: Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, Gio Bernard

Review: First, Bernard is not a cuff, he is just a late-round PPR-centric flier. But considering the affordability of both Fournette (round 7-8) and Jones (round 8-10), the Madman considers it acceptable to grab both — knowing if one goes down, the other can be an every-week starter.

Verdict: Close to worth it.

James Conner
James Conner
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Arizona Cardinals

Cuff options: Chase Edmonds, James Conner

Review: We have zero confidence in Conner. We fear he has hit his production wall – he wasn’t effective before getting injured last season. With a ninth-round value, there are other players we prefer to him in that range.

Verdict: Not worth it.

Los Angeles Rams

Cuff options: Darrell Henderson, Xavier Jones

Review: Henderson would have been an ideal cuff to Cam Akers. Alas, Akers is out for the season. The good news is Jones will cost you virtually nothing with a late-round draft pick.

Verdict: Worth it.

San Francisco 49ers

Cuff options: Raheem Mostert, Trey Sermon

Review: There are several other players who could get carries in this offense, but these are the only two the Madman believes have potential bell cow upside. Based on Mostert’s injury history, we are hesitant to invest in him. But the fact his ADP is slipping puts this cuff option in the mix. Otherwise, we would rather just draft Sermon in the middle rounds.

Verdict: If you make the initial investment in Mostert, absolutely worth it.

Seattle Seahawks

Cuff options: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny

Review: Our favorite off-the-radar cuff scenario. Penny can be had in the back end of drafts, and Carson has recent injury problems. On a team that has a coaching staff that historically likes to run the ball, this makes sense.

Verdict: Worth it.

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