Doug Martin/Darren McFadden Handcuff

Doug Martin/Darren McFadden Handcuff

Doug Martin/Darren McFadden Handcuff

Handcuffing RBs, or drafting the starting RB and his backup to capitalize on a run-heavy team (also as a form of insurance in case of injury), is not as in vogue as it once was in the Priest Holmes/Larry Johnson days, but you can still find plenty of watered-down modern day options in this list of 2017 Fantasy Football RB Handcuffs. The ever increasing favor towards the passing game, and expansion of teams employing an “RB by committee” has laid way for fewer opportunities to need/desire an RB “handcuff”. However, the 2017 NFL landscape gives a unique opportunity that very few experts have seemed to mention: Handcuff Doug Marting with Darren McFadden.

Ezekiel Elliot, the 2nd rated RB from last year is suspended for the first 6 games of the season. This has opened the door for Darren McFadden, the Cowboys’ backup RB to start the games Elliot will be absent. McFadden has been a career-long underachiever in the eyes of most experts but has proved to be a viable option when called upon (.68 Fantasy Points/Touch last 3 years).

Across the Bay, Doug Martin, who is supposedly having a splendid camp is an RB1 when healthy/on the field. However, he faces a 3 game suspension of his own. Anyone who has watched Hard Knocks this year can tell you, the Bucs are high on Martin’s game this season.

What this leaves us with is an interesting strategy a savvy fantasy owner can take advantage of come draft day: Handcuff Martin and McFadden. Their “fantasy relevance” overlap almost perfectly. It’s important to note, Elliot is appealing his suspension, but chances of reduction are low, and there’s almost no way he is playing in the first 3 games, while Martin is out on his own suspension.

Beyond the fact that both RBs play for run-heavy teams with young QBs, there is a considerable value given owners’ perception of the players, particularly when you look at each circumstance independently. Taking a peek at the RB ADP, you’ll find Martin going at 67, or the middle of the 5th round, and McFadden going at 101, or the middle of the 8th round. No one seems to be looking at what you could do with these two backs when taking them collectively.

Let’s take a look at what each player has done when given an opportunity the past few years:

  Rush Rec FFP FFP/touch
Martin 567 60 410 0.65
McFadden 418 79 336 0.68

What this projects out to, assuming you play McFadden for the first 3 games, and Martin for the last 12:

  15 Touch 25 Touch 35 Touch
Martin 9.81 16.35 22.89
McFadden 10.14 16.90 23.66
Handcuffed Projection 148.13 246.88 345.63

Given the current RB projections, if our handcuff sees 25 touches a game, you would find yourself with an RB3 finish, from a 5th/8th round selection. Even at 15 touches/game, you are looking at a legitimate RB2. I’m not entirely sure why this strategy has gone unnoticed by many a pundit, but I know who I’m drafting this weekend!

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