Understanding Stackcuffing

By Tod Burros
Tod Burros In my last article on this subject I introduced the concept of Stackcuffing which is a mixture of old fashioned handcuffing which rarely applies in the NFL anymore and Stacking which is a DFS term which I found was being misused in describing putting two RB from the NFL team on the same fantasy football roster.

Traditional handcuffing I wrote is rarely worth doing because you don’t find workhorse backs very often and when you do it is rare that we know who the clear backup is. If you don’t have a workhorse back and a clear backup you can easily find yourself wasting a draft pick because the only reason to handcuff is to “protect” your early investments by ensuring you get that volume in case of an injury to your stud RB. What good is it to backup someone who doesn’t have a huge workload especially in the modern NFL where even if a stud RB goes down there is little to no guarantee that one RB will fill his role and payoff your handcuff.

So Stackcuffing as a reminder is taking two RB who can pay off their value on their own where in case of injury the remaining RB could crush value.

Misunderstandings on the concept

I have found through engaging with others since my article that there are a few misunderstandings about Stackcuffing as well as something else I have considered on the subject I think worth sharing and making a follow up article like this worthwhile.

1. I mentioned it in the first article but it is worth reiterating here that I only find value in this strategy if it comes organically by the first part of the cuff coming to you at a good value. I do not believe that Stackuffing is a must and many of my teams do not have a Stackcuff in it! One of my favorite Stackcuffs is Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt. The reason I like it so much is because often I can find Ware in the 7th round or even later where I think he is a screaming value. It then makes sense to add Hunt who has a chance to be the starter but should get some nice volume himself regardless. Then in case of injury you have pretty large upside. That is when I Stackcuff.

2. I don’t Stackcuff early round 2nd rd RB with 5-7th rd RB like Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman or Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry because I believe that is way too much draft capital to spend early trying to tie up one RB spot. I believe you lose way too much value by doing that and frankly I think all four of them are overvalued to begin with so I don’t want to acerbate that by Stackcuffing. I will take some shares of Coleman or Henry even at neutral or maybe slightly under value because as someone who will do about 150 best ball leagues I don’t want to totally miss out if there is an injury to Freeman or Murray but I don’t want to be overweight on either.

3. I don’t try and Stackcuff three-headed monster backfields like the one in Seattle or Denver. That is way too much draft capital to spend in a 20 round MFL or even a 28 round FFPC best ball because when you need to take all three would cause you to be at a serious disadvantage just to lock up one spot. There is no way I am wasting three draft picks in the top 16 rounds on one backfield that very well might not even give you one good value if all three end up healthy and part of the rotation.

4. I don’t Stackcuff other positions. The criteria I have already laid out are not there for Stackuffing to work. I do think there are a few worthwhile handcuffs depending on your league rules and number of roster spots out there including backing up Jordan Reed with Vernon Davis like I did in the recent Scott Fish Bowl #SFB7 draft. It is 22 rounds without Defenses or Kickers and it is tight end premium so taking Davis made sense to me to cover for a Stud TE with known concussion issues that very likely might leave him out multiple games where Davis is almost guaranteed to be very valuable should Reed go down. And I got Davis at pick 19.10 where he was a decent value anyway.

5. The only real handcuff I have been doing in drafts is Lamar Miller with D’Onta Foreman and that is because Foreman even before his arrest was almost free in drafts so if I have Miller on my roster I would add Foreman. But understand a key point. I would have taken Foreman ANYWAY even if I didn’t have Miller because I think he is a good value where I am drafting him. What I look for in late round RB picks is either third down pass catching back like Chris Thompson or Shane Vereen or RB like Foreman who are young and behind either an injury prone or ineffective RB hoping to find the next Jordan Howard. I think Foreman could be that guy. So I am technically not traditional Handcuffing but taking someone I think who has upside late. It does make more sense to do it when you have Miller but I am not Handcuffing just for the sake of doing it. I haven’t been drafting a lot of LeSean McCoy but adding Jonathan Williams to McCoy is another case where I like Williams at ADP anyway so handcuffing them makes sense and if I do have McCoy I “might” even look to handcuff

Current Favorite Stackcuff’s

This isn’t why I wanted to write further on the subject nor do I want to go into why these are my favorites as to take away from the main points I think you should consider. But I do want to give some current examples since it has been over a month since I wrote the first article and ADP changes have made some Stackcuff’s more appealing and others that were on the list the last time less appealing and not on my current top three. I think all three of these can give you solid return on your investment if you get the first person at or slightly better than his current ADP
1- Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt
2- Carlos Hyde and Joe Williams
3- Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen


While I do think Stackcuffing is a viable strategy it isn’t one I chase after or go into drafts looking to do. It is a tool in my tool box but not every job you do you need to use all your tools. You must keep in mind value and opportunity cost when you pick especially early in drafts. The key is to try and maximize value and get upside and there are times I think Stackcuffing accomplish that for my teams. But I wanted to reiterate to those who have considered my concept exactly when and when I do not look to do it

Enjoy my article? Want to talk Stackcuffing or anything else? Contact me on Twitter @TodfromPa or listen to my Run to Daylight Podcast on Blog Talk radio.