A listing of the Top RB Handcuffs to grab off waivers now
RotoExperts Special for the Associated Press
Usually in this space we simply list the top waiver adds of the week for you. But at this time of the season, your approach to picking players off the waiver wire must change. No longer are you stashing players for possible future impact or bye week usage. If your team has a playoff chance, you already know who your established starters are. Unless injuries strike, you don’t want to take a player off the waiver wire and slide him right into your starting lineup. So you won’t be making heavy bulk free agent additions at this time of year.
Also, it’s time to clear out guys you will not start at all in favor of the depth you do need. If you are not going to use mediocre or unreliable players like Frank Gore or Michael Crabtree, cut them loose. What you need now is insurance at the all-important RB position. It’s the only position where your top player can suffer an injury and the backup becomes immediately relevant. So you should be rostering the top NFL backups of your starting running backs if they are available. If your starting running back gets injured, you will not have to fight for his services on the waiver wire If you add him now.
This approach, however, does not work at other positions. Backup NFL QBs are usually not the types you will want to start at all in Fantasy, and the position is deep in one-QB leagues anyway. When a No. 1 NFL WR is injured, the No. 2 guy on the team is often already rostered if he is Fantasy relevant. So focus on the preventative measures at RB for your playoff push. In some cases, such as New Orleans, where two RBs are already useful and widely owned, or with the Chargers, the handcuff to your No. 1 guy may not be available. Otherwise, here is a quick rundown of who you need to add or own as the handcuffs to your starting RBs if applicable. The backup to add is in parentheses. We list situations where the handcuff is clear, possibly unowned and the starter is usually or often a regular and important part of your lineup, even as a flex. Even if the backup is nowhere near as talented or productive as the current starter, an opportunity for adequate statistical output will be there if the starter gets injured.
Christian McCaffery (Cameron Artis-Payne)
Of course, that does not mean there are not any other adds to be made off waivers this week. There are indeed a few who have become relevant mostly because of injuries. Of the backup RBs listed above, Burkhead, who just came off IR for New England, could fill in as either a runner if Sony Michel gets hurt again, or as a receiver if James White goes down. Burkhead is only owned in 8.8 percent of leagues.
Lions RB LeGarrette Blount (18.5) rushed for 88 yards and two TDs on Thanksgiving against the Bears defense, one of the best units against the run in the league. It is unclear when Kerryon Johnson may return from a knee injury and Blount has proven he is not quite done yet.
Jaguars RB Carlos Hyde (38.8) could get significant work this week against the Colts with Leonard Fournette suspended for a week. In the same game, versatile Colts rookie RB Nyheim Hines (29.9) will be in line for quality duty if Marlon Mack is out with a concussion. He’ll be a respectable Points Per Reception League flex play.
Tampa Bay WR Adam Humphries (28.2) is somehow being ignored in many leagues despite 26 catches and four touchdowns in his past five games. With some other WRs like Marques Valdes-Scantling and Golden Tate disappointing recently, Humphries can plug a hole if you need it.
At tight end, Jonnu Smith (5.5) had a 61-yard TD reception on Monday night and has scored in three of his past four games. Jets rookie Chris Herndon (9.9) has double figure PPR totals in four of his past six games and is deserving of regular starting consideration.