Top 5 2011 Running Back Handcuffs

An injury to a top tier RB can either be crippling or a chance to show off new talent for franchises and fantasy teams. Here are 5 backup RB’s to keep an eye on as the season gets underway. If ANY of the starters before these 5 go down, you should be waking up at 3 o clock Tuesday morning to grab them off waivers. (yes Yahoo I know when you update)

1. Mike Tolbert (Chargers) – 1st year bust Ryan Mathews was on the sidelines for much of the 2010 season after ankle problems plagued him throughout the year. Tolbert wound up starting four games and put up pretty decent stats (951 total yards/11 rushing touchdowns) for a guy who wasn’t supposed to amount to much after the team released LaDainian Tomlinson. Mathews is expected to start this year, but there are already rumblings that the coaching staff is concerned after Mathews rookie season, but it would be hard to imagine Tolbert being that much better than a vastly talented Mathews. The staff seems to be using Tolbert and his dougie to push Mathews to a new level. Nabbing Tolbert in the later rounds if you snagged Mathews early is a must, and even without Mathews, Tolbert could be another 10TD guy in the 2011 season

 2. Rashad Jennings (Jaguars) – With RB Maurice Jones-Drew’s questionable knee, Jennings should easily be considered a No. 1 handcuff option by a landslide. I’m not sure if MJD’s knee can hold up until midseason if the bone-on-bone condition can’t improve and Jennings, with a touch of Deji Karim will be the replacements. Expect numbers from MJD, but his body will take a pounding as usual and Jennings may be the young back Jacksonville uses to replace him.

3. Toby Gerhart (Vikings) – It’s been widely speculated that Minnesota’s offense will run through AP as the team gets through their question marks in the passing game. That’s a lot of work for a guy who has been prone to injury in the past and has trouble holding onto the ball. Gerhart averaged a solid 4.0 ypc when given the rock last year and that’s enough for me to consider him as a must-have handcuff. A bruiser like Gerhart could put up Peyton Hillis type numbers with an injury to AP.

4. Javon Ringer (Titans)- Chris Johnson is still the beast and workhorse we know him to be and there are no real negative health signs coming into the new season but is still in holdout. Potential contract disputes aside, Michigan State’s ex RB Javon Ringer is one hit away from being the new CJ2K and could easily find himelf starting come opening day. Last year, Ringer averaged 4.8 YPC to Johnson’s 4.3, and although his -2.1 rating in less snaps is not great, Johnson’s -1.6 rating was nothing spectacular itself. Even though the ratings are for individual performance, I believe the Titans’ horrific offensive line (-58.2 rush block rating, worst in the league) had something to do with their running backs. Tennessee needsbetter offensive lineman if the running game is going to be effective again, a fact which lessens Ringer’s value as a handcuff even though he has no serious runners behind him and only a pompous CJ ahead.

5. Michael Bush (Raiders) – I couldnt feel worse for Michael Bush as he stands as the most undervalued/ misplaced running back in the NFL. I was really hoping he would have finally hit unrestricted free agency and got out of Darren McFadden’s shadow, but because of his missed rookie season while mending a broken leg, a first-and-third round restricted tender is going to keep Bush in Oakland for another year.  McFadden finally broke out in 2010 to the tune of 1664 total yards from scrimmage and ten total touchdowns, but he also missed three games in Weeks 5, 6 and 17. Bush had one of his best games ever in the last week of the season, rushing for 137 yards, catching 4 passes and a rushing for a score. Bush always had starter material, but was never given much of a chance with such talent ahead of him. Draft in the later rounds and (knock on wood) hope for an injury for McFadden.


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2 Responses to “Top 5 2011 Running Back Handcuffs”

  1. Robert says:

    I would rather see Mike Tolbert starting in San Diego. He is a much better back and wants the job more. Javon Ringer was one of my favorite running backs when he was in college at MSU and I hope he gets his shot to shine because CJ is being so ignorant.

  2. The Fantasy Flukie says:

    I actually view Tolbert as more of a starter. Norv stated he will split the backs. Tolbert to me has more value bc he will get the ball at the goal line. However, SD throws more then they run so both backs upside is limited. Though I’m on the record saying Tolbert will get 15 TDs this year.

    I got a real bad vibe about CJ. I actually picked up Ringer off waivers this week. I think there is a 75% chance he starts week 1. And Tenessee has JAX (I believe) so that is a great matchup for him.

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