Like it or not, handcuffs — acquiring both a running back and his real-life backup — are a vital part in constructing fantasy football lineups.
You might have landed the top running back in the draft, but that matters little if an injury, or some unforeseen circumstance, were to occur, leaving some handcuffs as prime plug-and-play options if and when the time calls.
There’s two sides of the spectrum when talking handcuffs.
Let’s take Dallas Cowboy Tony Pollard and Los Angeles Charger Austin Ekeler for example. Both were viewed as must-own handcuffs going into last season with both Ezekiel Elliott’s and Melvin Gordon’s statuses still up in the air around draft time.
On one side, you have Pollard, who turned in three games of 17.6 or more fantasy points in 2019. That’s nothing to write home about, but if you gambled correctly, he might have helped you get over the hump in some matchups. On the clear other side was Ekeler, who exploded in the starting role, recording just one outing under 10 points even with Gordon back in the fold and averaging 19.1 points per game.
So where does Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds fit in the mix?
In a small three-week sample size, Edmonds filled in nicely for then-starter David Johnson when called upon. In limited work against the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons, Edmonds combined for 18 touches (13 carries, five receptions) but made the most of them, accumulating 153 yards and two scores. He totaled 32.3 fantasy points over that span.
Then came Week 7, when Edmonds — and the fantasy world — blew up before our very eyes.
After Johnson was given his first — and only — carry of the day, the second-year back jumped in the driver’s seat, rumbling for 126 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. he also caught two balls for 24 yards. His fantasy point total of 35 ranked among the top performances for the week. Those who played Edmonds were rewarded mightily. Those who rode with Johnson were not.
But just as it looked like Edmonds was trending toward being the full-time starter, an injury and the addition of Kenyan Drake muddied the waters for the RB, as Edmonds recorded just 4.2 points the rest of the year. All told, he finished the season with 303 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, while recording 12 catches for 105 yards and a score for 82.8 fantasy points.
Fortunately for Edmonds, and the fantasy football world, Johnson was shipped out to the Houston Texans, leaving Drake and Edmonds as the top two backs on the team. As it stands, Edmonds is projected to run the rock 83 times for 359 yards and three scores in 2020. He’s also expected to bring down 20 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown for 94.3 total fantasy points.
Drake will undoubtedly be the bellcow of the duo, having put up eight scores and 814 scrimmage yards on 151 touches (123 carries, 28 receptions), but that doesn’t mean fantasy players should avoid adding Edmonds to lineup, especially if you end up taking Drake in the draft.
Edmonds adds not only a security blanket to the high-pick investment of Drake, but could be a sneaky play at times if Arizona were to take another step forward in its offense and can utilize both skillsets of Drake and Edmonds effectively.
Where Edmonds could make the most of his money is in the passing game. With Drake handling the bulk of the carries, Edmonds’ attributes as receiver could come in handy for head coach and offensive play caller Kliff Kingsbury.
Last year, Edmonds said numerous times the offense was built for a player like him and reminded the RB of his playing days at Fordham where he recorded 86 receptions for 905 yards (10.5 yards a catch) and seven touchdowns across 44 games.
If he can continue his trajectory as an NFL rusher, pick up more reps as a pass catcher and make the most of his time in the backfield behind Drake, Edmonds represents a handcuff that should be a no-brainer to fantasy rosters.