It's Time to Handcuff Your Handcuffs
If you drafted LeSean McCoy, Tashard Choice, Glen Coffee or Adrian Peterson (of the Bears, and yes, he's a stretch) you did so for a reason. You believed at some point, they might have some decent fantasy value.
Well, guess what? That time is now, folks, as all of Frank Gore, Brian Westbrook, Marion Barber and Matt Forte are dealing with some sort of injury. So what should you do? Well, if I were you, I'd do my best Beyonce impression and get my upgrade on.
Now, that's not to say that I don't think these guys will be valuable -- I drafted McCoy in almost every league and Coffee in at least five or so leagues, mainly because I don't trust Westbrook and Gore to stay healthy. It's panning out fairly well right now; I now have a strong competitive advantage over other owners in my league in terms of running back depth.
But more importantly, I have a tremendous advantage in that whoever owns Westbrook and Gore are now eying my roster angrily. And I -- or in this case, you -- need to decide how best to use that advantage. Let's look at it on a case-by-case basis.
Westbrook - McCoy: As I said, I drafted McCoy often, and not just because I'm worried about Westbrook. I think he was probably the best rookie running back available, fantasy-wise, because of the situation he landed in. That situation, however, includes dealing with Westbrook's constant day-to-day status as well as game-time decisions. That's cool in some scenarios; if you're lacking a legit 1-2 RB punch or if you have stacked wideouts and flex availability, you want to hold McCoy, because every week that Westbrook's out is a huge bonus. But if you're stacked at running back and can only start two, there's no reason not to shop the rook to Westbrook's owner, especially if you have early bye weeks for your other RBs. Look for nothing less than a strong WR2 in exchange.
Gore - Coffee: Coffee's been catching praise for a while out of Niners camp, and with good reason; he's a strong runner with a quick burst who just happens to be behind Gore, one of the most talented backs in the league. But not anymore, at least for a week or two anyway, as Gore's expected to miss several games. The play here is to hold Coffee: if Gore misses an extended amount of time, his value absolutely skyrockets. However, there's a caveat to that; you should at least inquire with Gore's owner as to his interest in Coffee. Depending on his RB situation, he might be willing to overpay for a guy that could only see 1-2 weeks worth of work. I'd want the same high-end WR2 (and maybe a WR1) for Coffee if I was willing to move him at this point. Starting running backs on teams that pound the rock and play tons of defense aren't exactly easy to find.
Choice - Barber/Felix Jones: Choice gives you much less leverage than the two aforementioned backups. The best-case scenario if you're holding Choice is that both Jones and Barber will be "questionable" for next week, meaning you can try and push Choice off on someone. The nice thing about Tashard, too, is that he has a track history of fantasy football success, so you can point to last year as a reason for Barber's owner to cough up something for him. However, I wouldn't be looking for too much; possibly packaging him with a WR2/QB2 to upgrade a touch seems like the most viable of alternatives.
Peterson/Forte: And the least leverage -- Forte was injured early against the Seahawks, which means that Peterson has a shot at more carries next week. But let's go with a different approach here: reach out to Forte's owner and see if he's interested in Peterson. If his response is anything resembling, "Why bother? Forte sucks too!" then offer to take the first-rounder off his/her hands. It's not as hard a fleecing as you think, particularly when the guy hasn't scored and is banged up now, if you're willing to send your overperforming Cedric Benson. Woo, irony!
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