The Art of the Handcuff: Where and When to Handcuff Your Stud WR

The Art of the Handcuff: Where and When to Handcuff Your Stud WR

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last updated Sep 12, 2016

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

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Last week, I wrote about handcuffs for running backs, but receivers can have handcuffs too. Receiver handcuffs are less important since the position as a whole isn't as injury-prone as the running back position. The best WR handcuffs hold standalone value as well. Here are a few names to remember:


If you draft… Antonio Brown

Then consider… Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates

It’s understandable that folks are more interested in Coates, who has elite athleticism, than Wheaton, but I believe Wheaton will score the second-most fantasy points in the Steeler receiving game. He’s a pretty good athlete in his own right, and his production down the stretch in 2015 indicates that he finally turned the corner in his career. He averaged 4.7 catches for 79 yards and 0.67 TD (on 7.8 targets per game) over the final six games of the season – including a monster 9-201-1 line against Seattle – and was the #12 fantasy receiver in that span. If something happens to Brown, both players will see a significant bump.


If you draft… Julio Jones

Then consider… Mohamed Sanu

Let’s be clear – Sanu isn’t going to replace Julio’s production in your lineup. But he has shown the ability to produce when peppered with targets. With A.J. Green sidelined for four games back in 2014, Sanu averaged 5.5 catches for 96 yards and 0.50 TD (on 9.3 targets per game). He holds WR4-type value with a healthy Jones.


If you draft… DeAndre Hopkins

Then consider… Will Fuller

The Texans are a run-oriented team, and most of the targets will be headed in the direction of Hopkins. But if he were to miss any time, Fuller seems the most likely to see a big bump in targets. He’s been working as the team’s WR2, and “continues to impress with his route running and his hands,” per beat writer John McClain. He doesn’t have much standalone value at this point, though that could change if the team starts to feature the WR2 a bit more.


If you draft… Brandin Cooks

Then consider… Willie Snead and Michael Thomas

By all accounts, Thomas has had an impressive camp, but he played poorly in the Saints’ second preseason game. Snead “has looked even better than last season,” per beat writer Nick Underhill, so at this point, he’s higher than Thomas in my rankings. Given the volume of the Saints’ passing game, if anything were to happen to Cooks, both Snead and Thomas would likely be startable in most fantasy formats. (Snead already is.)


If you draft… T.Y. Hilton or Donte Moncrief

Then consider… Phillip Dorsett

Beat writer Stephen Holder called Dorsett the “most improved” player in camp and predicts that he’s going to play a ton of snaps now that the Colts are going to a three-WR base offense. I think he’ll be a little dicey as a weekly start with both Hilton and Moncrief healthy, but if either were to go down, he’d likely be ranked as a fantasy starter.

Continue reading for seven more handcuffs...

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Filed Under: Preseason, 2016

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