The running back position can be an extremely volatile one in the world of fantasy football. There is routinely an elite selection of RBs that fantasy owners are clamoring to draft in the first round as the backbone of their team, but a good numbers of these RBs are also likely to miss time due to minor or major injuries. While some RBs like Arian Foster may be at risk to miss a game or two due to hamstring issues, nothing that owners usually fret about, there are other like Darren McFadden whom cast a level of fear over their owners every time they meet with a hard-hitting defender. In this article I highlight some player that should be targeted as handcuffs to their respective starter due to the risk of injury, suspension or overall value.
Average Draft Position rounded to nearest value
Peyton Hillis (104 ADP) – Peyton Hillis will likely be splitting carries with Jamaal Charles this season, hopefully helping Charles reproduce his 2010 season when he ran for 1427 yards while splitting with Thomas Jones (He also had some very nice receiving stats). But enough about Charles, this is supposed to be about Peyton Hillis. Hillis should provide and excellent change of pace RB for the Chiefs, using his bruising size and running style. While in this role a much older Jones was able run for just shy of 900 yards with 6 scores. The Chiefs would do well to employ a run heavy attack given the talent they have at the position, so it would not be out of line to think that Hillis can also have a 1000-yard season alongside Charles. And if Charles misses time with another injury, Hillis could see himself with a very nice workload.
Michael Bush (112 ADP) - While filling in for an injured Darren McFadden, Bush showed that he could likely be a starter in this league if given a chance. With a career high 256 carries he gained 977 yards rushing with 418 receiving with 8 total scores. Unfortunately Bush is now playing in Chicago where is once again second fiddle to an elite RB. Fortunately though, he is in line to get a ton of goal line carries for the Bears. Forte makes his living gaining massive yardage totals but doesn’t score many touchdowns in comparison. That role will now be given to Bush giving him some great value late in drafts. And of course, if Forte misses time for any reason, the upside is even better.
Kevin Smith (121 ADP)/Mikel Leshoure (120 ADP) - This tandem is little unique in that they aren’t a handcuff to a high draft pick. In every mock draft I do both players can be drafted as bench players, something I have been glad to do, and likely will come time to draft for some real leagues. Let me start this by stating that I have no faith in Jahvid Best to be a quality starter for the Lions this year and will end up with very little fantasy relevance. Best is dealing with concussion problems that could end up marring what was a very promising young career. Lions HC Jim Schwartz recently stated that Best wont be able to practice for weeks, meaning he will likely be unavailable for the of the start of the season. And since Mikel Leshoure is suspended for the first two weeks, we arrive at Kevin Smith. Smith can basically be penciled in as the Lions starting RB for weeks one and two given what we now know about his teammates. While Smith is also a big injury risk, having gone done many times in his career, he is also a very effective rusher when on the field, with good pass catching skills. Is hard as it may be for him, if Smith stays healthy for the first two weeks of the season he has great chance of getting 100 yards in each. Week one is obviously the more tantalizing matchup, as he should be able to eat up the Rams weak run defense, but he will have much more trouble running away against the 49’ers in week two. I still however think he would be a good option as an RB2/3 with Leshoure and Best unavailable.
David Wilson (120 ADP) – Wilson is a rookie who will be playing behind Ahmad Bradshaw, who has a pretty rough history with ankle issues. Although to his credit, he routinely sucked it up and played with ankles with more tape than a goalie’s hockey stick. The Giants are no strangers to employing a 2-RB attack, having had Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw form an effective attack for the past few seasons. The Giants selected Wilson in the first round with their 32 pick for a reason and won’t be shy in using him when needed. In the past 5 seasons Bradshaw has only played in all 16 games once.
Mike Goodson (undrafted) - I think by now almost everyone knows that Raiders RB Darren McFadden is a massive injury risk and needs a handcuff drafted along with him. This year that handcuff is Mike Goodson. Goodson previously played in Carolina where he was buried beneath Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. On the two occasions n 2010 when he got 20+ carries he cracked 100 yards both times, but fumbled a combined three times, losing one.
Rashad Jennings (undrafted) – While I feel as though it is extremely unlikely that Maurice Jones-Drew holds out into the regular season, it is still worth taking a look at Jennings with very late round draft pick just to be safe; not much else to say really.
Robert Turbin (undrafted) – It is almost guaranteed that Marshawn Lynch is going to miss a few games due to suspension at some point this season. The suspension may not come down in time for week one but is going to come eventually. Turbin was just selected as a 4th round draft pick and is slated to be Lynch’s replacement come the suspension. I already featured Turbin in an article I wrote titled “Arrested Development” about players facing legal issues, but let’s recap. Turbin had a very good college career at Utah State, though he did suffer a leg injury that kept him out of then entire 2010 season. He looks like a monster and should be targeting by those who draft Lynch.
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