A solution to the Westbrook Dilemma

According to our latest poll, Eagle RB Brian Westbrook concerns our readers more than any other top fantasy RB pick. 44% of over 1000 respondents list Westbrook as the 1st round RB who scares them the most.

However, I do have some good news regarding Westbrook.

For one, there’s a chance you can get him in the 2nd round, which could be fantastic value. Secondly, I do have a feeling that the two procedures (one on his knee and one on his ankle) could potentially clear up the two issues that have been dogging him the last few years. If so, he might be as good as ever.

Of course, we do have to understand that he’s an aging player (but not with a ton of carries for someone his age) who’s dealt with a slew of maladies, so he’s not without risk. The great news now, however, is that there appears to be a high-upside handcuff for Westbrook, and it is rookie LeSean McCoy. Our own Adam Caplan has watched him closely in camp this summer, and he’s really impressed. I just got done recording a podcast with Greg Cosell, and he’s also really high on him. McCoy is very elusive and laterally explosive, which is a great attribute, and he can “get skinny” well to slip through even the smallest crack. He’s a good receiver, and he has a nose for the endzone. He does have to continue to pick up the offense, excel in blocking, but so far so good. He’s not an ideal lead back in terms of running inside, but if there’s any team in which a player can get away with that, it’s Philly.

I’m really getting a good feeling about him, so he’s a terrific upside pick later in draft for sure. I think, somewhat similar to Chris Johnson last year, he’ll be a guy who’s role will be larger than people expect. He won’t carve out such a significant role as Johnson last year, and he’s not as explosive and fast, but of course the other key is how he looks like a great handcuff for Westbrook.

So here’s the deal: if you’re staring the upside of Westbrook in the face and you’re unsure about taking him – pull the trigger. He’s always been a play-to-win pick, and now you can have some added protection in the form of Mr. McCoy.

I like this…a lot.

Category: Fantasy Football

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24 Responses

  1. Idiot Savant says:

    John…good thought…I took a WR last night in our 12 team mock from the 9 hole…even in not PPR because I was so confident I’d get one of my top choices for RB.

    I wonder regarding another IR risk RB who is a beast..Brandon Jacobs. He came out of the gate I believe as the Guru 8th best RB in the default mode…and i believe he’s down to #16. Is this a case of bad vibes for the team?

    I took Jacobs after the turnaround, because I believe he could have a MONSTER season…and I did back him up with Bradshaw…who is an injury risk too. Did not spend a pick on Brown or Ware late but they were available on WW if this were a real league. Personally in non-ppr Westy and Jacobs are a toss up for me.

    Thoughts?

  2. jbeau aka Phish fan do or die says:

    IS, Jacobs is at #9 for site default, and at #16 for PPR.

  3. Phil says:

    I’m concerned that McCoy will of course get some solid playing time in the preseason and his stock will rise a bit, which might make it difficult for the guy who drafts westbrook to land McCoy. That actually might make me not want to draft westbrook, for fear that I can’t handcuff him. If you do draft westbrook, you might have to draft McCoy a round or two early.

  4. Idiot Savant says:

    Oh…one comment…Mc Coy is starting to rise on the draft boards a bit… what is the highest round you would draft him in for 12 team non-ppr ? PPR

  5. Hail Skins says:

    Same question as Savant, 10 teamer though. Thanks John.

  6. PackFan says:

    I’d be curious to know how many guys are serious about handcuffing their top running backs … I usually don’t, because:
    1. Many times the second back isn’t as talented as the first, so there’s no guarantee the production will be the same.
    2. It seems to me that offenses tend to play to their other strengths if a starter is injured, so the handcuff might not be used the same way the starter was.
    2. I’m usually tinkering on the waiver wire, and use those lower end roster spots to pick up potentially productive players. Not that they always pan out – they don’t, but in the long run I seem to have better luck on the waiver wire than I do handcuffing.

  7. Grizz says:

    Agree with you PackFan, I don’t always handcuff. There are some situations that warrant it like LT/Sproles, Chris Johnson/Lendale White but many that don’t make as much sense.

    Turner/Norwood
    Jamal Lewis/?
    Slaton/?

    I just think the proliferation of so many RBBC situations has really neutralized the handcuff credo

  8. John Hansen says:

    I think Westbrook/McCoy is pretty unique though in that they could easily total 2000+ total yards and 12+ TDs. I have to see more, but 10th round for McCoy sounds right for now, probably 1-2 earlier if you have Westbrook.

  9. JOOCE says:

    I always try to handcuff my top RBs if there is a guy there that can take over a sizable amount of production if pressed into duty.

    As an example, while it remains to be seen if McCoy is the real deal, the signs are already positive. If you can get McCoy in the 9th or so, and Westbrook goes down for 1, 2, 5, or 9 weeks, you will be glad you spent that 9th pick on McCoy…

    A handcuff may not have the same production as the starter. Hell, the handcuff may not have better production than your RB3 that you could plug in in place of your injured RB. But it does give you options, and for a 9th round pick that is value, and there is always the possibility that the handcuff does very well. At worst, he’s a warm body getting touches.

  10. Baller says:

    I’ll take Westy in the 2nd round, but the real question for me is whether I can pass on a stud WR in the 2nd for ANY RB. I really feel the need to take a stud WR in the 1st or 2nd round.

  11. Stats Junkie says:

    I always try to handcuff (if the handcuff is a good back) or look for good handcuffs for others players’ backs. In fact, I had Buckhalter last year and he produced. However, with Westy and his injuries, the Eagles always seem to give him the call on whether he’ll play so on many occasions last year it was difficult for me to decide whether to play Buckhalter or not since Westy was a gametime decision and he wouldn’t decide on his status until after our cutoff to declare active players. And this can be especially annoying for Sunday nite and Saturday games. I wonder if this will continue this year.

  12. [...] fantasy owners are going to be between a rock and a hard place in fantasy drafts when Brian Westbrook slips down the draft board. [Fantasy [...]

  13. John Hansen says:

    I know the old handcuff thing isn’t as en vogue as it used to be, but locking up a backfield is still a pretty good idea. Last year for an expert league for Fantasy Sports magazine, I took Barber, Jones, Stewart, and Williams with 4 of my first 8 picks, and I dominated this league and won the title. Here’s the draft from last year:

    http://www.fantasyguru.com/blog/2008/04/30/first-draft-underway/

  14. [...] If you invest in Westbrook, make sure to draft handcuff rookie LeSean McCoy ahead of his ADP. [A solution to the Westbrook Dilemma, [...]

  15. [...] If you invest in Westbrook, make sure to draft handcuff rookie LeSean McCoy ahead of his ADP. [A solution to the Westbrook Dilemma, [...]

  16. daveboogie says:

    My league no TE, with flex and have to start only 1 RB, PPR. How does that effect the draft plan… stud rb early or ive seen WR WR WR RB work pretty well. seem that would also support early stud QB better, any thoughts. again have to start 1 rb, up to 4 wr ppr.

  17. [...] is in regards to “Brian” and pertains to Fantasy Football: A solution to the Westbrook Dilemma [via Fantasy Guru Blog] AKPC_IDS += “3913,”;Popularity: unranked [?] Tagged: brian [...]

  18. Wax Man says:

    I play in an auction keeper league and I’m thinking about going after Westy as my #2 behind Chris Johnson. Because of all the injury talk, I think many will shy away from him like the plague.

    I’m reading today that Warner is only 85% healthy after hip surgery. I think that combined with his age and history, many will shy away from him as well. I have to decide between Warner or Schaub as a keeper. Both have injury histories, but for some reason Warner’s age is leaning me more toward Schaub.

    I’m interested in hearing opinions if you have any that will help make my decision easier.

  19. eric says:

    John,
    I am in a hardcore 12man keeper league that each team keeps 3. We start 2rb, 2wr and flex and this is a ppr league. I won last year with 3 headed running monster all year starting turner/slaton/forte. My keepers are fitzgerald/turner and forte and I have 12th/13th pick and also 3rd pick in 1st round from offseason trade of slaton. After everyone’s keepers were announced the other day I have the dilemma of who to pick with that #3 in 1st round, knowing I have 2 more picks soon after at 12/13.
    Available to me at #3 I struggle with decision between portis, westbrook, g. jennings. (#1 will take p.manning, #2 prob either portis or westbrook)
    Also available in wr and rb mix are: grant, mcfadden, pierre thomas,ronnie brown, larry johnson, marshawn lynch, t. jones, etc.; wrs include bowe, houshm., roy williams, t.o., chad ocho, vincent jackson, etc
    BIG QUESTION IS DO I GO RB(PORTIS/WEST) WITH #3 AND THEN HOPE TO GET HOUSH/BOWE WITH #12, OR DO I GO JENNINGS AT #3 AND GET A LESSER BACK AT #12 (AND MAYBE WITTEN AT #13). YOUR INPUT IS GREATLY APPRECIATED.

  20. FFRich says:

    In the Pros vs Joe’s contest that is being run at FFPC; in the 3 of 6 drafts that have been completed so far, McCoy went in the early 7th twice and the mid 9th once. So that would say if you took Westbrook late 1st or early 2nd, you’d have to use your early 6th round pick to secure McCoy as a handcuff. Otherwise there would be a fairly reasonable chance that he wouldn’t be there at the end of the 7th. Just one small sample, completed this week.
    FFPC is a 12 team ppr format. Of course this could all change depending on what Westbrook does in TC.
    Btw, I believe Fantasy Guru (John or a staffer) is participating but there league hasn’t drafted yet.

  21. Jay says:

    Any concern that McCoy is used to keep Westbrook fresh? If so, the downside could be that while Westbrook is healthy and the starter, McCoy’s six or eight points per game will provide little help on the bench.

  22. Burton says:

    Jay, that would be the perfect scenario… McCoy keeping Westbrook fresh and healthy. In best case you won’t need the handcuff, but he is there for you when the injury would otherwise eliminate your team from contention.

  23. Jay says:

    Hi Burton – It could be perfect, but it could be less so as well.

    Recall a few years ago in Larry Johnson’s second year when he would get about 1/3 of the carries and Priest Holmes (before he got hurt) would get two thirds. For one season, Holmes was still pretty decent, but he was less than the dominant back he had been the year before and the one you expected when you used a top five pick on him. Other job shares (Willie Parker/Jerome Bettis a few years ago, Addai/Rhodes) basically turned both backs in RB2s for fantasy.

    I doubt Westrook’s production would fall to a #2 level, but if I draft him late first or early second, I want a #1A, not a #1B. Westbrook probably has more upside than Jacobs or Gore, but with his age, injury history and what could be a 20% reduction of touches, he could dissappoint (even if the fewer touches are offset by the lowered risk of injury).

  24. Great idea, but will this work over the long run?

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