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Fantasy Football: Know your running back handcuffs

The indefinite ban of Adrian Peterson, the high-ankle sprain of Jamaal Charles and yet another injury to the prone Ryan Mathews have served to reinforce the importance of knowing your running back handcuffs if you're going to play fantasy football and, perhaps more importantly, having them rostered before your star player gets hurt.

Thanks to the above events, Matt Asiata, Knile Davis and Donald Brown are in line to become weekly contributors in fantasy leagues everywhere for the foreseeable future.


If your leagues are anything like most of mine, these guys were all available on waivers earlier this week. Hopefully, you snagged at least one, as starting running backs – no matter their pedigree – are hard to come by in fantasy football (after all, there are only 32 of them).

It's only week two, so you should definitely expect more injuries this year at the running back position. If you have room on your bench, consider adding a handcuff to your top running back. Here are a eight still widely available handcuffs for top 20 backs in Yahoo leagues.


C.J. Anderson, 98 percent availability (Montee Ball)

Robert Turbin, 97 percent (Marshawn Lynch)

Roy Helu Jr., 95 percent (Alfred Morris)

Lance Dunbar, 94 percent (DeMarco Murray)

Benny Cunningham, 93 percent (Zac Stacy)

Andre Williams, 92 percent (Rashad Jennings)

James Starks, 85 percent (Eddie Lacy)

LeGarrette Blount, 80 percent (Le'Veon Bell)


Game day call: RB Jamaal Charles/Knile Davis. The Chiefs star running back suffered a high-ankle sprain, yet he was back on the practice field Thursday. If Charles is active and starting, you almost can't afford to not have him in your lineup, although I'm wary he might get a lot of unproductive carries if he's not fully healthy and Reid is stubborn. Davis, meanwhile, has next to no standalone value if Charles plays. It's a total crapshoot if both backs are active.

The real problem here is that the Chiefs play at 4:25. If you handcuffed Charles with Davis, you'll probably be in OK shape and whoever is starting right before the game. If you just have one, then you either need to have another option chambered from the Sunday or Monday night matchups or just hedge your bet and go with the guys on your roster playing at 1 p.m.

One possibility is to pick up Jonathan Stewart, who is the only RB left standing in Carolina's backfield and gets the Steelers' weak run defense. He's still available in more than 70 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Friday afternoon.

I would consider starting RB Lamar Miller or RB Darren Sproles over RB Eddie Lacy or RB Montee Ball this week

With Knowshon Moreno out, it could be Miller time in Miami against a suspect Chiefs run defense. With that said, I don't think Miller is a special talent – this is all about opportunity, which is half the battle in fantasy football.

Sproles has just been too good, especially in a PPR, and the Washington Redskins defense just isn't intimidating, despite having their way with Jacksonville last week. Sproles has probably been rotting on your bench this first two weeks. Consider him as a flex option while he's red hot.


Lacy has been majorly disappointing after being drafted as a top five back, and he has another tricky match-up this week against a tough New York Jets' front seven. I probably wouldn't bench him though, because I've invested too much in him and it wouldn't be unreasonable for him to get bottled up for less than 50 total yards but still splash the endzone a couple times.

I haven't been a big advocate of Ball anyway, and now he gets a Seahawks defense – at home in Seattle mind you. He couldn't break 70 yards against the Indianapolis Colts or Kansas City Chiefs. However, much like Lacy, if you own Ball, you've probably invested too much to put him on your bench in week 3.

I'm starting Peyton Manning, no matter the match-up.

Some people are going to shy away from Peyton this week because they remember his awful game in the Super Bowl against Seattle. However, under standard fantasy scoring, his Super Bowl numbers would've given him 15.2 points. That's not great, especially for Manning, but consider that the floor this week. That's why you draft a guy like Manning early – not only is the ceiling incredibly high, but so is the floor.

Get Saints WRs Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks in you lineups

New Orleans is a disappointing 0-2, with both losses coming on the road, to start the season. They finally return to the friendly confines of the Superdome and can feast on a Minnesota Vikings team that is in a bit of turmoil. Expect the Saints' passing game to finally click – certainly no goose eggs for Colston this week.


Taking a flier: TE Jared Cook

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I'm not a big fan of Cook. But he's got a tasty match-up against a Dallas secondary that's giving lots of yardage and scores up to the tight end position. You'd have to be pretty desparate to plug him into your line-up, but maybe you had Jordan Cameron or Vernon Davis and the free agent pool is already picked clean of Delanie Walker and Larry Donnell types.

Defensive headaches

Predicting the fantasy production of team defenses on a week-to-week basis is an exercise in futility. Use this past Thursday night game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an example. Atlanta entered the game ranked 31st in total defense with just 5 fantasy points through two games. They put up 29. Tampa, which was right in the middle of the pack at 18th in total defense, had 7 fantasy points through two games. Here's the real kick in the pants: Atlanta hung 56 points on Tampa. The Bucs still finished with 11 fantasy points, thanks in large part to a garbage time pick-six off Falcons' back-up QB TJ Yates. Oh, and the Seattle Seahawks defense, taken as high as the sixth round in some drafts last month, has just 8 fantasy points on the year. If there was ever a reason to consider using Individual Defensive Players (IDP) in your fantasy football leagues, this is it.

Looking ahead: RB Jerick McKinnon

If you missed out on the Matt Asiata sweepstakes, but have room for a speculative add to your bench, consider McKinnon, the Vikings third-round draft choice out of Georgia Southern. McKinnon is a hyper-athletic but raw player who was actually in on about a third of the snaps for Minnesota last week. If the wheels start to fall off, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some more work. He's definitely worth adding in dynasty leagues or keeper leagues where he won't cost you much.


Got a fantasy football question for Wayne?

Hit him up on Twitter @CCTChairShots or email