Fantasy football is loaded with terms and acronyms that aren’t always understood by football fans. One of those terms often heard around draft season is handcuff.
A handcuff in fantasy football is a player that sits behind one of your current fantasy football players on their team’s depth chart. For example, if you drafted the top running back on the Buffalo Bills his handcuff would be the second-string running back on the Bills.
Handcuffs have become a common strategy in fantasy football. Handcuffs are valued on their starter’s health, the team’s offensive situation, and their ability on the field.
Why you should handcuff in fantasy football?
Now that you know a handcuff is a backup to one of your fantasy players you may be wondering why this player is worth a roster spot. Below we will break down some of the main reasons that fantasy managers use handcuffs.
The injury bug
The main reason that fantasy managers are going to elect to use a handcuff is due to injury concerns. This is especially common at the running back position.
Every year several of the top running backs are going to go down with injuries and if you don’t have someone to fill their spot you may be in trouble.
If you have an especially injury-prone starting player then you may want to invest in their backup as an insurance policy.
This way if the first string player goes down you know you will still have a starting player in your lineup.
If you are able to handcuff a few different players you can essentially ensure that you will have a starting player in each position even if several injuries occur.
Great offensive situation
Another reason why a fantasy manager may choose to add a handcuff in football is in order to get a player who plays in a great offense.
Say for example you have an elite running back on a terrible offense. This starter will earn you points but if the backup comes into the game he may struggle due to the quality of the offense.
On the other side of the coin if you have a handcuff in a great offense you will find they are much more likely to succeed if the starter is injured.
For example, say the Chiefs had an incredible rushing offense coming into the 2022 season. By drafting their starter as well as a handcuff in the late rounds you will have the starting runningback of the Chiefs offense whether or not injuries occur.
Since the offense is going to keep producing with or without the starting back the handcuff can be quite valuable. If an injury to your starter does occur you will still be in good shape with your handcuff rb.
Barren waiver wire
Another reason that teams will add handcuffs to their roster in fantasy football. Is because it is their best option on the waiver wire.
In a league with deep benches, handcuffs are going to be much more common. The value of these handcuffed players is quite low to all managers except for the one who owns the starter.
For this reason, handcuffs are often going to be available even in the deepest of leagues.
When looking at a barren waiver wire you may find that selecting a handcuff is a better option than taking a flyer on a player who will likely never see your starting lineup.
Understanding the importance handcuffs can be seen by coaching staffs that apply the next man-up strategy in football.