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Fantasy: Running Back by Committee is Risky Business

There are multiple strategies that fantasy football players use when drafting, but one of the most popular ones is to take a starting running back’s “handcuff.” This term refers to the second-string running back for the same team as the starter that was drafted by a fantasy owner.

While this is a good strategy to have, a new problem that fantasy owners are having to deal with is running back by committee. More NFL teams have adopted this mantra recently, and it can cause problems for new and old fantasy owners alike.

Picking a handcuff can help if the first-string running back goes down during the season, but it also takes up an additional roster spot that might not pay anything back. It also gives owners two players at the same position that have the same bye week, essentially washing out an extra slot that could be used to fill in for the bye week player.

There are situations where this strategy can be beneficial, like a couple of seasons ago when DeAngelo Williams decided to destroy opposing defenses when Le’Veon Bell was out. That was the first season that I chose to draft a handcuff because I was able to draft Williams around the 13th or 14th round.

But when NFL teams decide to use running back by committee or have a crowded backfield, it can murky the value of all running backs on the team. Which teams should you think twice about drafting a running back from because of this approach?

Denver Broncos

Devontae Booker went down with a fractured wrist and the Broncos also have C.J. “Show up when I want to” Anderson. Add Jamaal Charles and Stevan Ridley to the mix, and this is one backfield you should steer clear from in 2017. If you don’t, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

New Orleans Saints

This is one of the harder backfields to figure out at this point of the season, so hopefully you have not drafted yet. Mark Ingram has the ability to be fantasy gold, but the Saints signed a running back you may have heard about — Adrian Peterson. New Orleans also has a rookie named Alvin Kamara that is projected to be a potential fantasy stud. With so many questions, think twice about how you approach this backfield in your fantasy draft.

New England Patriots

Mike Gillislee decided to be like his former — new — teammate Chris Hogan, and leave the Buffalo Bills for the interdivisional rival. He is expected to get some carries but New England also has James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden. That is one crowded backfield, and not one of these players will have much value over the other running backs for the Patriots. Enter at your own risk if you decide to take any of these guys.

Take heed as you head into your fantasy football drafts the next couple of days or weeks, and watch out for the running back by committee teams that could cost you a fantasy championship.

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