The Art of the Handcuff

The Art of the Handcuff

By John Paulsen (Director of Forecasting), last update Aug 28, 2013

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, and has finished in the Top 6 in seven of the last eight years. Cumulatively, John has been the most accurate expert from 2010-17 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

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Updated August 28, 2013

In fantasy football, the definition of the word handcuff goes something like this:


hand-cuff   verb*

to draft a second player mainly as insurance for another player already on the roster

The guy who took Arian Foster with the first pick had to handcuff Ben Tate in the 6th round.

* Yes, I realize it can also be a noun. Let's not nitpick, okay?


Handcuffing RBs is not an exact science. The importance of a handcuff depends on several factors, including the value of the RB1 in question, the durability of the RB1, the talent of the handcuff, the overall clarity of the RB situation and the roster size of the league. It's typically a good idea to handcuff your top 1-2 RBs provided the aforementioned factors don't make it difficult or wasteful to do so. RB is the most injury-prone position in fantasy football and it makes sense to buy insurance if the handcuff meets the necessary criteria.

It's easier to handcuff with larger roster sizes. If you can only carry 16 players, it may only make sense to handcuff one RB1, depending on how many slots you intend to use for RBs. I don't typically worry about handcuffing RBs taken after the third round, though there are the occasional exceptions.

Below you'll find the table of the 32 RB1s, ranked in order of ADP. There are a few cases where the current RB2 is actually going ahead of the RB1, but for our purposes, we'll assume that the player with the higher ADP has more value. I've also listed the probable handcuff(s) for each RB1 along with their Priority, which is on a scale of one to five, with five being a "you-must-handcuff-this-player-or-suffer-the-consequences" situation.

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