I have written a time or two in the past about aspects pertaining to fantasy football, and on those rare occasions I have made it abundantly clear that I am not a player and thus reserve the right to not know what I’m talking about when I convey the findings and opinions of others who have touched on Steelers-related fantasy topics.
But if I understand the idea correctly, then it is a no-brainer that Pro Football Focus regards Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams as the perfect ‘handcuff’ option to draft because of his role in the team’s offense and his abilities that he has shown.
To my understanding, the idea of a handcuff running back is one who is clearly not earmarked for a starting position, as is Williams’ case behind All-Pro Le’Veon Bell, but nor is he a sort of specialist commodity, as somebody like Mewelde Moore might have been, even though he did end up starting games due to injury.
The idea, I suppose, is to find the running back behind the running back who is best fit to take over if necessary, in a situation in which it might be realistic to expect that he might actually take over. And on that front, Williams would have been the perfect handcuff to draft last season.
It started right from the beginning with Bell set to serve a two-game suspension, so already going in it was understood that he would play at least a little bit. While his playing time trickled to a crawl with Bell’s return, he took over the reins and didn’t let go after the starter’s injury, and he ended up rushing for over 900 yards in 10 starts and tied for the league lead with 11 rushing touchdowns.
PFF also notes that an ideal feature for a handcuff option at running back is one that comes from a team that either wants or needs to run the ball, and the Steelers would fit in that category, even with an explosive aerial offense. How could you not want to run the ball with accomplished talents such as Bell and Williams, who both averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry last season?
The Steelers also have the offensive line with which that can, and want to, use the ball, and they have an offensive line that is about to get that much better in that regard with the return of All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, who missed all of last season.
Most importantly, however, when Williams took over for Bell, he really took over for Bell and basically subsumed his role very nearly entirely, logging about the same percentage of snaps and being utilized widely as a pass catcher and as a blocker, roles in which he excelled, particularly the latter.
Though the full article is limited to those who subscribe to the site’s fantasy football region, this much is left said about Williams: “DeAngelo Williams is the gold standard of handcuffs against which all other handcuffs will be judged for the foreseeable future. And frankly, it’s an unfair, lofty standard”.