Fantasy Football: Jaylen Samuels the Latest Case for Handcuffing Your Studs

Jaylen Samuels
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Pittsburgh Steelers Jaylen Samuels (38) runs for a touchdown during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In this article, I intend to give you sound reasoning for handcuffing your stud running backs. Last night we saw two AFC titans, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Chargers, face off in a high scoring battle in which the Chargers were able to come back and win. It was an amazing game and one with many storylines. One of the biggest storylines for the fantasy football community, however, has got to be the play of all the backup running backs in the game. We knew that Melvin Gordon would miss the game and that Austin Ekeler would start in his place. What we didn’t expect to see, was an extended appearance from James Conner’s backup Jaylen Samuels. Samuels is the latest rationale in the case to be made for handcuffing your studs.

Jaylen Samuels the Latest Rationale for Handcuffing Your Studs

Don’t Get Screwed Because You Didn’t Handcuff Your Stud Running Back

Now, I don’t know if Samuels will start next week or not. However, if Conner is not able to suit up, the fantasy players that have been dependent on Conner but do not have his handcuff Samuels are likely going to be at a huge disadvantage this week in their playoff matchup. Just like the Gordon, Kareem Hunt, and Leonard Fournette owners that didn’t have their running back handcuffs were likely at a disadvantage this past week. Samuels will likely be a top waiver wire pick up this week in most leagues. Don’t allow your studs handcuff to be the top waiver add next week.

Okay, are you starting to come around to the idea of handcuffing yet? The case is mounting and I’m just getting started. Now, there are some instances where handcuffing may not be necessary. If your fantasy team is loaded with all RB1s and RB2s, then sure, you probably don’t need to handcuff any particular players. However, if you are headed to, or already playing in, your league’s playoffs and aren’t loaded with top-tier running back talent, you should ensure the talent that you have by handcuffing your studs. Think about it, if you have a top-heavy team with great RB1s but your backup running backs are RB3s or worse, wouldn’t it make sense to lock up the team’s running game that your RB1 plays for. After all, it’s likely the scheme, volume, and surrounding cast that helps make that stud running back of yours, well… a stud. 

For example, let’s say Team A has Conner and Ezekiel Elliott as their starting running backs and they have Doug Martin and Royce Freeman on the bench. Now, what if Conner doesn’t play this week? If you were Team A would you rather play Martin this week or Conner’s replacement in Samuels? I know who I would want. Give me the guy playing on the high scoring team that’s running behind the dominant Steelers offensive line. The same would be true if Zeke were to miss time in the scenario above. I would rather have Elliott’s backup Rod Smith to take his place over Martin or Freeman.

Now, with this in mind I want you to look at your fantasy teams and ask yourself if you lost your starting running backs today would you be happier with the current backups on your bench as every week starters or would you rather plug in your studs real-life backup. If the answer is the latter, then go pick up the handcuff and dump the bench player who would only ever see action if your stud were to miss time anyway. Remember that bye weeks are done, so you don’t need any sub-par bye week replacement on your teams anymore. 

The Handcuffs That Could Save Your Fantasy Football Season 

Are you beginning to see the big picture now on why it’s so important to handcuff your studs? If not, just ask the person in your league that has Gordon but not Ekeler or the one who had Hunt but didn’t have Spencer Ware. Being unprepared when unfortunate situations arise is what gets you beat in fantasy football. So stay prepared and ensure your studs by handcuffing them with their true backups. Hopefully, if you’re a Conner fantasy investor you also invested in Samuels.

Here’s a list of 10 stud fantasy running backs and the handcuff for each one. If you currently roster any of these stud backs, in most cases, it would be wise to lock up your handcuff. It could save your season. 

Starter                           Handcuff 

James Conner           Jaylen Samuels 

Ezekiel Elliott              Rod Smith

Todd Gurley               John Kelly

David Johnson          Chase Edmonds

Christian McCaffrey Cameron Artis-Payne

Saquon Barkley         Wayne Gallman 

Nick Chubb                 Duke Johnson 

Dalvin Cook                Latavius Murray 

Phillip Lindsay            Royce Freeman 

Joe Mixon                   Giovani Bernard 

I want you to be aware that fantasy football seasons have been won and lost because of injuries to some big-time running backs in crunch time. Having an insurance policy in the form of your top running back’s handcuff should help you sleep better at night. Like insurance, hopefully, you never need to use your handcuff but if you do need them, it’s sure nice to have them. 

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