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Handcuffs with value
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - All thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs. Similarly, all NFL backups are possible handcuff candidates, but not all handcuffs have fantasy value.

For example, while Aaron Rodgers has proven to be a top-five fantasy quarterback for the past five seasons, that doesn't mean his backup, Graham Harrell, can be expected to produce if called upon. In fact, there are very few people who believe that Harrell could carry the Packers' offense as they did when Matt Flynn was Rodgers' backup in Green Bay.

On the other hand, when Bills' starting running back Fred Jackson went down with a knee injury last season, C.J. Spiller proved to be his equal or better as the full-time starter. In 2013, Spiller will be the Bills' starter with Jackson as his backup. If needed, we are sure Jackson could provide a solid fantasy total.

Let's look at a few more backups who should be able to produce if given the chance.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington -- Many "experts" questioned the Redskins when they drafted Cousins in the fourth round after trading up to select Robert Griffin III with their first pick. When called upon to start in Week 15 against Cleveland, Cousins responded with a 329-yard, two-touchdown effort which would satisfy any fantasy owner. If RGIII isn't ready for Opening Day, and that's certainly not a guarantee despite recent reports, Cousins could do the job. Every fantasy owner who gambles on Griffin must select Cousins for insurance.

Shaun Hill, QB, Detroit -- Hill hasn't started a game over the past two seasons, but in 2010 he averaged 259.8 yards-per-game through the air in 10 starts. If starter Matthew Stafford were to go down, we have no doubt that Hill will still know how to get the ball to Calvin Johnson.

Bernard Pierce, RB, Baltimore -- Ray Rice is a fantasy stud with his running and receiving ability, but if he were to go down with an injury, we've seen enough of Pierce to believe he could get produce solid fantasy numbers. The rookie out of Temple rushed for 532 yards on 108 carries (4.9 ypc) and when given a full workload over the final two weeks of 2012, rushed for 212 yards.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati -- Bernard figures to take over for disappointing Bernard Scott as the backup for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The 5- foot-9 back out of North Carolina combined for 3,333 yards and 31 touchdowns, including 92 receptions, over two seasons. He'll likely begin as the third- down receiving back, but has the talent to be a three-down back if something happens to the "Law Firm."

Ben Tate, RB, Houston -- Tate has proven in the past to have the ability to be a 100-yard rusher and is a must-handcuff if you select Arian Foster

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB Atlanta -- If you have ever played fantasy football, you know that the Falcons' newly-acquired starting running back, Steven Jackson, can't be trusted to play a full season. Jackson has started all 16 games just once over the previous six seasons and he's played at less than 100 percent in a huge number of starts. Rodgers is the best option behind Jackson and given the chance we think he could be a viable fantasy running back.

Ryan Broyles, WR Detroit -- No, Broyles couldn't replace Calvin Johnson, but he could play opposite him if Nate Burleson gets injured again. Broyles is also trying to come back from a serious injury, but flashed some top ability over a six-week period before his injury last season.

Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee -- Although Kenny Britt has had a good offseason (read no new arrests or knee surgeries) he's missed a lot of time over the past three campaigns. Hunter has the speed to go along with possession receiver Kendall Wright to make a quality receiving corps for Jake Locker.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.