Alternative Handcuff Strategy, Tight Ends

Using handcuff strategies at non-running back positions

By now, most fantasy football players are familiar with the term “handcuff” when it comes to drafting running backs. Quite simply, it is the strategy of taking the direct backup to a stud running back or at least one of your intended starters for your weekly fantasy team lineup.

That is not what this article is about.

As fantasy football evolves, the opportunities to create separation from the other teams in your league gets harder and harder to achieve. More information is available than ever, and it seems that the days of a few of your league members showing up on draft day with an old magazine and nothing else to guide them are a distant memory. Everyone seems to have not only multiple strategies to get the best team possible but at least one (sometimes more) sources of information such as ADP, depth charts and potential sleepers. So how can you get an edge?

Enter alternative (and – dare I say – higher level) strategies on how to build the best teams with the highest potential for success. Allow me to introduce you to alternative handcuffs.

What is an alternative handcuff? First, it has nothing to do with the running back position at all. It is employing similar handcuff thinking to either the wide receiver or the tight end position to not only get quality depth on your roster but also have a higher potential to secure a player who could become not just a spot starter but also a valuable commodity. Securing a “surprise” fantasy starter either strengthens your team with either a better lineup each week or the potential to trade a player for something else your team needs.

Let’s start by looking at the tight end position. The best place to begin is right at the top of the ADP list, with the Top 9 tight ends that are most likely to be the first nine at the position selected in nearly every fantasy draft this season:

Pos Rank
Tight End
Team
PPR ADP
non-PPR ADP
TE1
KC
16
16
TE2
Phi
22
23
TE3
SF
25
26
TE4
TB
56
52
TE5
NYG
57
55
TE6
Henry Hunter
LAC
68
62
TE7
Ind
71
71
TE8
Oak
80
77
TE9
Cle
87
86

Direct Handcuffs at Tight End

Looking closely at this list, we want to identify the handcuffs to these nine options, if possible. Some of these tight ends may not have direct backups, so they can be scratched off the list. The goal is to find players that not only represent valuable backups but also players that are worth owning (and can be spot starters) even with the primary (Top 9) tight end healthy all year long. This narrows the list to the following options:

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