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Handcuffs: QBs
Insurance For You Roster And For Your Peace Of Mind
7/27/09

Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers

In my mind there are three main parts to any successful fantasy draft. The first would be of course drafting your starting players, the second would be drafting bench players, (preferably with some upside to them), and third would be drafting insurance players, otherwise known as handcuffs. In this article I’d like to take a look at the 3 major positions (RB,QB,WR) and suggest some main insurance-type players to backup your starters in case the unforeseen happens.

Quarterbacks

Let’s first be honest - if you have any kind of decent starting QB on your roster and he goes down for an extended period of time you are probably in trouble unless you have a good backup on your bench. That being said, there are cases where having a 2nd string QB on your team comes in handy:

  1. If you play in a very large league it’s good to backup ALL your key starters.

  2. If you play in a league with a deep bench you may also want to backup your QB’s just in case.

  3. If your QB situation is already shaky and there aren’t any options on your waiver wire.

  4. Your starter is injury prone, unproven, or a bad game away from the bench.

With all this in mind I’d like to highlight a few of the best backup options you may want to draft late or keep on your radar in case of a Quarterback catastrophe. Note: Starting quarterback battles not included.

    Matt Leinart

    A stud receiving corps makes Leinart QB Handcuff #1.

  1. Matt Leinart, ARI - It was not long ago that Kurt Warner would have been considered a handcuff to Leinart, but a monster season and a Super Bowl run later, the tables are flipped. I have Leinart as my #1 QB handcuff for a few reasons but lack of talent by the starter (Warner) is surely not one of them. First off, if you draft Warner you probably are going to take him in an early round considering last yearís performance, so getting some insurance on that investment is wise. Warner is undoubtedly one of the better signal callers in the league right now but his age (38), past durability issues (yet to play 16 games in consecutive seasons), and the sheer number of times he will drop back to pass (and face the blitz) adds up to big question marks about Warner making it through a full year. If he does miss time Leinart will have perhaps the best trio of wideouts in the league to throw to, and a talented rookie RB to take some of the pressure off. Yes, there are rumblings that the backup QB job is up for grabs, but Leinart has apparently rededicated himself and clearly has more natural talent than Brian St. Pierre. If Leinart does take over the job at some point he should still be a better fantasy option than a third of the starting QBís in the league, so do yourself a favor if you draft Warner, protect your investment and get Leinart in the later rounds of your draft.

  2. Jon Kitna, DAL - Kitna will be 37 years old early this season but there is reason to believe his career is having a mild re-birth. After starting for teams with very little talent around him (and still posting decent numbers) Kitna now finds himself one injury away from calling plays for Americaís team. While he wonít wow anybody with his athleticism or rocket arm, Kitna has the smarts and instincts to effectively get the ball into his best weapons hands and let the yardage pile up. With a decent o-line and Jason Witten, Roy Williams (whom he already has chemistry with), Felix Jones and Marion Barber to throw to, Kitna should at least be able to put up top 20 QB numbers if called upon due to a Romo injury. After getting hurt last year itís hard to tell if Romo (a 3-year starter) is injury prone or his broken pinkie was just a fluke thing but the Cowboys obviously did not want to take any chances. They traded one of their more talented cornerbacks to get Kitna. Seeing that Romo is being drafted as a top 10 QB in most leagues it is wise to grab Kitna late in your draft just in case the injury bug bites Romo once again.

  3. Kevin Kolb, PHI - When Donovan Mcnabb was benched last year Kolb came in and bravely managed... to fall on his face. Of course this was against the Ravens defense and the most quality playing time Kolb has gotten in his short 2-year career. The Eagles did invest an early 2nd-round pick on Kolb and Mcnabbís well known injury history is longer than a frat boys liquor store shopping list. Add this to an impressive group of weapons (Westbrook, Jackson, Curtis, Maclin, and McCoy) and a rebuilt, talented, and deep offensive line, and you have the makings of a fantasy gold mine for whoever is throwing the rock, especially in this pass happy offense. Kolb has above average size, mobility, and arm strength along with 2+ years watching and learning the Eagles offensive system. While you may not be able to ride Kolb to a fantasy championship he should at least be good enough to get you through some weeks when/if Donovan goes down with an injury. Draft Kolb with one of your last picks (If you have Mcnabb) and avoid covering your eyes every time Mcnabb takes a big hit or pulls up lame.

  4. Seneca Wallace, SEA - When Matt Hasselbeck went down with a back injury last season Wallace started 7 games and managed to put up 6 double digit scoring games, including two 20+ efforts. More impressive is the fact that the Seahawks were down to their 3rd-string receivers (or worse) for most of those games and defenses were teeing off on the quarterback. The Hawks offensive line was also hurting and the running game was sputtering making the effort by Wallace almost Hall of Fame worthy. A year later, Hasselbeck (now 34) and most of the players around him are healthier, and help in the form of TJ Houshmandzadeh has arrived to bring this once steady offense back to glory. Hasselbeck will remain the starter, but with a bulging disk in his back there is no guarantee that Wallace wonít be called upon sooner than later. If he does, Wallace has the experience, mobility, and improvisation skills to match Hasselbeck, fantasy points wise. If you have to rely on a Seahawks QB this year to be your starter make sure you get both, or you may be scraping the bottom of the barrel for players to start if an injury occurs.

  5. Tyler Thigpen, KC - When the Chiefs signed Matt Cassel to be their starter any hope of Thigpen guiding you to your fantasy championship was dashed. Then again, if you had that hope to begin with, you were not going to win anyway, trust me. As a starting QB last season, Thigpen was actually really good, in a fantasy football sense. He posted 10 double-digit games including four 20+ games and an impressive 14, 18, and 28 points during fantasy playoff weeks. He did this by averaging 30 throws a game and also by picking up a respectable amount of yards on the ground (386 yards). While his QB-rating (76.0) didnít blow anyone away, us here in fantasy football land only care about the bottom line and he delivered for some owners desparate for a QB by mid-season. If you are forced this year to start Cassel as your 1st string QB I would strongly recommend drafting Thigpen for a couple reasons. First, Cassel is arguably an unproven commodity, only starting one season since high school. Second, Cassel was sacked a league leading 47 times last year on a team with a better offensive line with better skill-position weapons. Cassel may have more natural talent than Thigpen but his propensity for holding on to the ball too long may either get him knocked out of a game early or benched in favor of Thigpen who is more mobile. Any way you look at it the Chiefs QB situation is probably not ideal in fantasy, but if you are going to roll the dice insure your bet by getting a Thigpen handcuff late in your draft.