Andre Brown suffered a fractured leg last night in the Giants final preseason game, but at least it’s only a hairline fracture. Brown should probably miss a few weeks which gives David Wilson the chance to prove he can be an every down back. If Wilson can pass block on 3rd downs and continues to show his explosiveness, he could easily be a top 10 RB this year. I definitely would move Wilson up my draft boards if you haven’t drafted yet, but just because he could be a top 10 back doesn’t mean you should draft him that high. I currently have him as my 17th RB and I would move him up 2 slots ahead of Ryan Mathews and Frank Gore but behind Chris Johnson. You obviously have to knock Andre Brown down as well and his risk becomes higher because if Wilson proves he can be an every down back then Brown’s role could be slightly limited upon return.
I am in no way a proponent of handcuffing a running back that you draft in the early rounds with their backup. I always look for the value each time I’m picking a player. Some people are strong proponents of handcuffing their running backs and they end up reaching for backups too early when there are still quality receivers or quarterbacks on the board. The odds are not in favor of your starter getting injured for a prolonged period of time which makes the handcuff generally a weak play. Trying to play roulette and guess which 1 or 2 backs might go down for more than a couple weeks is not the game I want to be playing on draft day. There are still some handcuff options who have enough upside that I will be willing to take a chance on them. Just to be clear though, I will take them regardless of who I draft as my starting RBs so the term “handcuff” really isn’t correct because I’m looking purely at the value vs limiting myself to looking at the backups of my specific RBs. Every pick you make should be an analysis of player value and team need at the time you’re making your pick and jumping on Bryce Brown 3 rounds too early just because you drafted LeSean McCoy is a formula for failure. Here’s my list of potential breakout “handcuffs”; this list only includes players that are clearly more of a backup option and not in any sort of timeshare:
Pierce is pretty much an obvious one to make this list and since he’s also on everyone else’s list then there’s almost no chance I’ll end up with him on any teams because his value is probably being overly inflated which will cause him to go too early in most leagues. Pierce is going to produce some moderate value even if Ray Rice stays completely healthy, but a Rice injury will turn this guy into a stud.
I’m not sure Michael has much of a chance to be a stud unless Lynch gets hurt, but sometimes the backups of top tier RBs are horrible and even full workload carries can’t make them very valuable. That’s not the case with Michael, he has looked like an absolute beast thus far in camp and could be almost as valuable as Lynch if he were to get hurt.
I look for the Patriots to increase their short passing game with Vereen and Leon Washington out of the backfield along with new receiver Danny Amendola. Vereen has a chance to be a sneaky value pick in PPR leagues and is a major breakout threat if Stevan Ridley gets hurt.
Brown scored a boatload of touchdowns last year given his minimal workload and still managed a remarkable 5.3 y/c average which means he wasn’t just a goal-line back. I already touched on Andre Brown in my David Wilson post, so I won’t waste any more finger strength getting into the details of why Andre Brown is a strong backup RB option.
Necessary dishonorable mention: Fred Jackson. I think Jackson is a solid option in PPR leagues even if C.J. Spiller remains healthy, but I fully expect Jackson to get hurt himself so I really don’t see the value in handcuffing Spiller with a guy who’ll end up getting hurt anyways. Jackson is going too early in most leagues for my taste. If for some reason he were able to stay healthy he could meet the value that he’s currently being drafted at, but any sort of injury will make your pick a waste of value that could’ve been spent elsewhere.