3 Fantasy Football Handcuffs to Target in Drafts

Karlos WIlliams

Coming into every season there are running backs that are in a back up role that have potential to be meaningful fantasy contributors. In recent years most true handcuffs end up in some sort of time share.  There are three fantasy football handcuffs that come into this season in the reserve role that can become the starter and see their value explode. The best part about these guys is they can decent options even in the reserve role.

Karlos Williams | Buffalo Bills

Karlos Williams might be my favorite “backup” running back in the NFL. He plays in an offense that loves to lean on the ground game. In 2015 the Bills ran the ball 509 of their 974 plays which was the highest percentage of any NFL team. They also led the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. This all sets up really nicely for Williams even with LeSean McCoy owning the lead back role.

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Williams proved he could produce even in games McCoy played in. If you expand the stats of Williams in games with and without McCoy his production would be relatively similar. Williams should get plenty of touches and goal line carries with or without McCoy. If McCoy goes down however, Williams could be a top 10 option most weeks.

LeGarrette Blount | New England Patriots

LeGarrette Blount enters 2016 as the presumed backup for the New England Patriots but will be a running back that should be targeted in all redraft leagues. Blount will back up Dion Lewis, who made a huge impact on the 2015 fantasy football season before tearing his ACL in Week 9. He should be fine to start the 2016 season but the injury risk is always there for Lewis. He has battled injuries during his time in the NFL. As you can see from the chart blount Blount is typically more productive in games where Lewis is healthy. Bill Belichick loves to take advantage of matchups and utilize the best options.

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Blount had 78 yards and three touchdowns against the Jaguars and 16 for 93 yards and 2 total touchdowns against the Colts last season. The Patriots are likely to lean on the run game early with Tom Brady suspended which should provide more opportunities for Blount. If you expand Blounts workload in the 6 games both he and Lewis played over 16 games he would have had 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns. While i’m not predicting those totals for Blount, he can be a valuable RB2 or flex option in 2016 especially if both can stay reasonably healthy.

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Chris Johnson | Arizona Cardinals

Chris Johnson had an impressive 2015 fantasy football season running for 814 yards and three touchdowns for the Cardinals before breaking fracturing his tibia against the San Francisco 49ers. Most assume David Johnson will be the guy in Arizona after having a strong stretch towards the end of the season. However, assuming Chris Johnson can’t or won’t be a factor this season is short sighted. CJ showed Bruce Arians and the coaching staff how valuable he could be a year ago. In the last game of the season and through the playoffs David Johnson saw his productivity diminish especially in the run game. It would shock me in the slightest to see CJ steal the majority of the carries and DJ becoming a 3rd down and short yardage back, making both useful fantasy options. Chris Johnson should be second on the depth chart when the season starts but there are ways for him to grab the lead back role in this offense, something that would pay huge dividends for fantasy owners.

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