Handcuffing needs a COVID-19 overhaul

Handcuffing needs a COVID-19 overhaul

It seems impossible that the NFL season is already on the cusp of Week 13, which marks the final week of the fantasy regular season in most leagues. So time is running out to set up your roster for playoff success. And whatever plans you did have, the Broncos quarterback debacle this weekend might have sent up a warning flare for those who practice the traditional strategy of handcuffing.

Denver laid out a perfect game plan for how to sabotage an entire position on a team’s roster. Ultimately, it had no QBs left to send on the field on Sunday, so used practice squad/college QB Kendall Hinton — a player so far down real-world depth charts that even NFL coaches would ask, “Who’s that guy?”

Hinton played like a Who’s That Guy guy, completing just one of nine passes with two interceptions. (As a side note, any of those who in the past have sat at the bar and complained about a QB’s play and said, with some degree of seriousness, “I could make that throw,” well: Kendall Hinton made it to an NFL roster. He is much better than you. And he was awful. Imagine how bad you would stink.)

The lesson here isn’t about Hinton, it is about the dangers COVID poses to NFL teams, and entire position groups — since those players have meetings together, often in small spaces. Certainly, we would hope not every team or positional group is as irresponsible as it seems the Denver QBs were, but even proper precautions are still just precautions. They aren’t guaranteed safeguards from infection.

Fantasy Football
Jamaal Williams and Latavius MurrayGetty Images (2)

So, what happens if starting RB Jimmy Rungood gets COVID and doesn’t know it yet. He goes to an RB meeting where he spreads it to backup Johnny Stepslower. Both are ruled out for Sunday’s game. What happens if your fantasy team relies on Rungood as a weekly starter? And what if your insurance was a handcuff Stepslower on your bench?

So instead of handcuffing to protect yourself, your handcuff has been counterproductive. The Madman suggests trying to find equitable backups who aren’t on the same real-world roster. Let’s say you have Alvin Kamara at RB and Latavius Murray as a handcuff.

To avoid a Denver-QB-type calamity, check to see if you can find some other player of similar production, use or upside as Murray — like, say, Jamaal Williams. Both get a not-insignificant amount of work behind the primary starter, both would immediately assume the bell-cow role if the starter goes down. Maybe Williams scores slightly fewer per week on average, but that’s OK. It is not like you’re planning to use them anyway, you’re just trying to diversify your roster so you can’t be crushed by an outbreak at one position for one team.

Whether your handcuff is Murray, Williams, Benny Snell, Alexander Mattison or someone else, it is OK to pivot to a Phillip Lindsay, Zack Moss, James White or someone similar.

Find your key, and unlock those handcuffs.

Schedule makers

Jared Goff QB, Rams

He is coming off an atrocious game, but things are looking up in the coming weeks. Particularly in Weeks 15-16, covering your path to a title, he faces the Jets and Seahawks — two of the four most generous defenses to QBs.

David Montgomery RB, Bears

He had his best fantasy game of the season Sunday vs. the Packers, which was the first of three straight vs. the three worst teams defending opposing fantasy RBs (Lions and Texans upcoming).

Denzel Mims WR, Jets

No one wants to rely on Jets in their fantasy lineup, but they get juicy upcoming matchups vs. the Raiders and Seahawks the next two weeks.

Keke Coutee WR, Texans

With Will Fuller suspended the rest of the season, that elevates other Texans WRs. You’re not going to find Brandin Cooks on waivers, but Coutee likely is available.

Schedule breakers

Kyler Murray QB, Cardinals

He looked unstoppable before Sunday’s dud vs. the Patriots. His schedule doesn’t get any easier. His next three games (Rams, Giants, Eagles) are against three of the six toughest defenses vs. QBs. Adjust expectations accordingly.

Josh Allen
Josh Allen runs the ball.Getty Images

Josh Allen QB, Bills

A tough schedule ahead of Allen as well. Particularly for Week 14, when the Bills face the Steelers. Check on streaming pivots now. Top targets could be Ryan Tannehill, whoever is Jags QB that week or, gulp, Sam Darnold.

Carolina receivers WR, Panthers

It isn’t just one, it is all of them. After this week’s bye, Carolina’s fantasy playoff matchups are Denver, Green Bay and Washington.

Logan Thomas TE, Washington

Finally starting to come around — double-digit PPR outings in four of the past six games — but the schedule is getting mean. The next two weeks are against the two stingiest defenses toward tight ends.