Mancuso’s STUD RB Insurance Policies
By Marc Mancuso
As Chris Rock used to say… “Insurance is around in case s&*t happens.” For these guys its happened too much over the last 2 years so getting their backup is a smart move. These are insurance policies (handcuffs) for 1st/2nd rounders who are not in a defined timeshare AND either coming off injuries in 08, aging, or have an injury history.
In this age of multi-back attacks, some folks are not into this strategy, but I have to disagree. I recall my best fantasy team ever in 2005 when I had Domanick Davis as my lead back who went down to injuries during the season. I had the foresight to grab Jonathan Wells who saved my season and took me to the promised land of a fantasy championship. Wells got the bulk of the carries and I took him in the final rounds of the draft.
You will NOT see the RB1A’s of the world (LenDale White, Jonathan Stewart, Ahmad Bradshaw, etc.), but you will see guys who can save your season if your stud goes down.
Darren Sproles, San Diego Chargers – LT has brought much happiness to FFL owners over the years, but father time is catching up fast to him. Sproles, like Rudy is 5 foot nothing a hundred nothing, but unlike him he is electrifying and doesn’t get killed on the field. Sproles has made a career of proving the doubters wrong, and San Diego nearly cutting LT should tell you how highly they think of him. Look for Sproles starting in round 8 in 12 team leagues.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles – “Shady” backs up Brian Westbrook who is coming off yet another surgery and is always a threat to miss games. The knock on McCoy is that he can’t pass block and that is a concern in the West Coast offense. The good news is that his performance in camp has shown he’s an adequate blocker and he already resembles Westbrook’s running and receiving style. If Westbrook goes down McCoy becomes a very desirable starter in 12 team leagues. Like Sproles you’re looking to grab him starting in round 8.
Jerious Norwood, Atlanta Falcons – Michael Turner coming off 382 touches (376 carries, 6 receptions) in 2008 scares me and I need to be prepared if the Burner goes down. Norwood has been a threat to score each time he touches the ball and has been for the last three years. People are overlooking Norwood yet again, and you can grab him late and be assured that if Turner hits the skids that you’ve got a game breaker on your roster which will only cost you a 10th round or later pick
Ladell Betts, Washington Redskins – Another forgotten man who when given the opportunity can save your season as he did in 2006 when Clinton Portis went down with injuries. Unfortunately for Betts, Portis has been very durable over the years, which has limited his value. However, given how the game is, it may be a matter of time before Portis is sidelined due to the overall workload and the law of averages in such a violent sport. Betts’ combination of running and receiving skills make him a very smart handcuff for Portis owners. As long as Jason Campbell is the QB, don’t expect Washington to turn into the Saints anytime soon, so they will continue to be a conservative offense. The best part is that Betts is pretty much off the radar for many folks so you can hold off until after round 12 to grab him.
Chester Taylor, Minnesota Vikings – News flash – Adrian Peterson is a beast. Coming into the NFL he was a brittle beast. While he’s avoided the injury bug since joining the league, his upright running style and heavy workload is a risky proposition. Taylor is a very productive back when given the chance, and he can produce solid results in the event that he needs to fill in due to injury. Smart owners should begin looking to handcuff Peterson with Taylor starting in round 9.
Glen Coffee, San Francisco 49ers – There is no real competition for Frank Gore and he’s looking fantastic in camp, so he will be getting the rock a lot this year. However, this is the same Frank Gore who has been hobbled in recent years and has an injury history dating back to his days at Miami. Coffee may not be as skilled as some of the other backs listed here, but opportunity is everything in fantasy and he has gotten good reviews from his coaches thus far. You should be able to grab him in the final rounds if you have roster space. In keeper leagues he has even more value.
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