This article is part of our Football Draft Kit series.
NFL rosters, whether fantasy or real life, are constantly in flux. They can be gutted by injuries and have star players go down for weeks or even months, leaving holes that are hard to fill. Presumed foundation pieces can also suddenly struggle, forcing teams and fantasy owners to scramble to replace the production they expected from that "safe" starter. In real life, though, NFL rosters run 53 deep, and there are always eager candidates to step up and claim jobs, whatever the reason for the vacancy. In fantasy football, bench spots are much more precious, and when an owner loses an elite player who cost an early round pick or big auction dollars, finding even an adequate replacement is a challenge.
That's why identifying and rostering key backups is one of the crucial, though unheralded, skills in a fantasy owner's arsenal. Knowing which players are most likely to thrive if they find themselves thrust into larger roles can pay big dividends, whether it's by filling in for injured players, providing unexpected upgrades or providing assets that can be traded.
Perhaps the most important task facing an owner when looking for backups to stash is deciding whether to handcuff his own stars, or roster the understudies to other owners' stars. Pursing the former course can provide vital insurance, but it also means devoting two roster spots to what is essentially one job. Gambling on the latter can pay off big when you wind up with two highly productive players but runs