The idea that you need to handcuff backups to your starting fantasy football RBs is outdated. You don’t.
But that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the prospect completely. There are plenty of situations that will present big fantasy upside if the starter goes down. And there are other cases where the backups aren’t worth touching even if you selected the starter in Round 2.
This is how we’re sorting the situations heading into training camp, where plenty can certainly change.
The players and situations aren’t necessarily ranked here, though I’ve ordered them loosely based on their current fantasy appeal. Of course, you can check out our 2017 RB rankings to get our full read on every back worth drafting (and plenty that aren’t).
There’s no such thing as a “must” have in fantasy football, but these handcuff picks come the closest …
Jonathan Williams, Bills (to LeSean McCoy)
Buffalo’s #2 RB racked up 9 total TDs each of the past 2 years. You probably remember Mike Gillislee running for 8 and catching another last year. But it was just 2015 when Karlos Williams ran for 7 and caught 2 others. This Williams can be just as good as either of those players.
If you’re drafting McCoy near the 1-2 turn, then you should try to secure this guy in the double-digit rounds. And there’s enough upside to make Williams attractive even if you didn’t start with McCoy.
James Conner, Steelers (to Le’Veon Bell)
It’s fair to say this situation isn’t clear heading into training camp. But if Connor doesn’t win the backup job, it’ll be a disappointment.
Knile Davis crapped out with the Chiefs and then couldn’t find room for touches in Green Bay. He’ll need to prove he’s more than a kick returner at this point. And Fitz Toussaint just isn’t that good.
The Steelers lauded Connor’s ability as a receiver after drafting him, saying that Ben Roethlisberger tried him out. We all know about Bell’s loaded injury history, and DeAngelo Williams showed us how high the backup’s fantasy ceiling reaches the past 2 years.