The Danger Of Handcuffing In Fantasy Sports

Whether it's basketball or football, many fantasy managers have heard and coined the term “handcuff”, but some may wonder what handcuffing actually is.

A “handcuff” often refers to a reserve player that spells a starter on any given team

  • In football - it’s often a running back
  • In basketball - it’s often the sixth man off the bench who steps in at guard

This “handcuff” could be a bench player that comes in to relieve a starter of his duties or he could experience an expanded role in blow-outs.

In basketball he could be a 25-minute guy or he could be a third-down running back in football.

The term “handcuff” could be misleading and very nebulous in nature. Some are identified as standalone options while others are precipitated upon the success of who they are “cuffed’ to.

Some fantasy analysts will tell players to snatch and grab a “handcuff” with the potential upside offered, in case the incumbent were to lose his starting role due to an injury or an administrative change.

We saw this most recently with Wendell Smallwood

He was filling in for Darren Sproles on Philadelphia. The Eagles have a run-first approach so naturally Smallwood seemed to be a prime option and perhaps a great preliminary handcuff.

However, this strategy can be detrimental to the success of any team in most circumstances.

Handcuffs should be avoided unless absolutely necessary!

  • When you have a limited amount of players you can start, this could be a hindrance to your squad when the idea is to score as many points as possible.
  • In season-long leagues, it may actually be a great opportunity but otherwise, you are best waiting for an injury to occur and capitalizing on a player with an expanded role.
  • Instead of looking for a “handcuff” look for players whose cost does not equate to the current amount of minutes they are playing or snaps they're taking.

Handcuffs in basketball are dangerous because you are banking on an explosive offensive performance by one team

In addition, takers are also playing on optimal production per minutes. This is a great strategy in finding starters. But the name of the game is finding players with the most minutes on the floor, this often relates to greatest output.

Basketball is all about opportunities and those increase exponentially with playing time.

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