Team-by-team running back outlook
In a general sense, I find the popular fantasy football strategy of handcuffing running backs to be largely overrated. Sure, several key running backs will get injured this season, and someone's going to replace them on their NFL teams, in theory, but seldom do we see a future star lurking who provides immediate fantasy, um, gratification. The more popular handcuffs heading into last season were Ben Tate, Andre Brown, Giovani Bernard and Bernard Pierce, and Bernard was the only one who really helped fantasy owners a great deal.
Looking at the accompanying chart, it's clear there are some very different situations. In fact, the days of natural handcuffing, as it were, are somewhat in the rearview mirror. Last season, only two players topped the 300-carry mark. In 2010, seven running backs achieved this. The Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals have two smallish starters who can catch passes and some bigger folks to handle the goal-line stuff. Teams such as the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins already have several fantasy-relevant running backs who figure to share the touches.
In the past, I've ranked the top handcuffing situations, but it's tough to find 10 that really matter -- the term doesn't fit several teams, and, let's face it, I'd prefer to go team by team with relevant thoughts. I can't imagine that's a problem!