If you are reading this, congratulations. And I don’t say that just because you are fortunate enough to be reading one of my articles. If you are reading a fantasy football article in Week 14, it is likely because you are in the playoffs and still have a reason to care about your team and your lineup. So, congratulations. I mean it. To those of you who didn’t make the playoffs: see you in hell, candy boys! This is, unfortunately, the last Handcuff Report of the year. It has been a great ride, but we are wrapping things up as the fantasy playoffs begin!Please, blog, may I have some more?
It’s Week 13, which means we are heading into the fantasy playoffs soon. I know that because my readership has dwindled the last two weeks, as many fantasy owners have been eliminated from the playoffs and are throwing in the towel. But that’s OKAY. That just means we can be more serious and a bit more intimate now. It’s just me and you, playoff hopefuls.
Heading into this week, Tim Hightower was a name to watch because Mark Ingram was still in the concussion protocol and was questionable to play. If Ingram couldn’t go, Hightower was going to be a high-end flex/RB2 to throw into lineups before they locked on Sunday. But word came out on Sunday morning that Ingram was going to play, so many likely left Hightower on the bench or on the waiver wire.
But something funny happened. It didn’t matter that Ingram played. Ingram and Hightower combined for three touchdowns and almost 300 yards, with Hightower accounting for 51 rushing yards, 54 receiving yards, and one of the touchdowns. Although, Hightower’s final stat line would look a bit different if not for the late 50-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Willie Snead. If Hightower can keep producing even with a healthy Ingram, he can help out some of the needier fantasy owners come playoff time.
To the report…Please, blog, may I have some more?
If you are like me and drafted Thomas Rawls in August but managed to stay patient and hang onto him until now, take a bow. I’ll bow with you. September and October were some dark times, my friends, but here we are. Rawls is the top dog in Seattle, and it looks like it will stay that way for the rest of the season now that Christine Michael got shipped out of town and C.J. Prosise is hurt. We did it, guys.
Prosise ran for a 72-yard touchdown in the first quarter on Sunday, but he left the game in the second quarter. It was pretty much all Rawls for the rest of the game, with a little bit of Troymaine Pope (who also got hurt). The Seahawks getting rid of Christine Michael meant they were ready to roll with Prosise and Rawls as their top guys and that they were confident Rawls would be healthy and effective. Now that Prosise is out of the picture, it’s all Rawls, baby.
Rawls rushed 14 times for 57 yards (4.1 YPC) and added three catches for 31 yards, giving him 88 total yards on the day. Heading into the fantasy playoffs, getting an every down back like Rawls into your lineup could be just what your team needs to get that extra edge (I know my team, where I went zero RB and took Rawls as my RB1 LATE, is sitting pretty now that I have him back). The best part about the Prosise injury* is that it means Rawls will see more action on passing downs. They will find a way to spell him here and there, but Rawls should be an every down back going forward and should catch his fair share of passes.
Things change quickly in the NFL, and it seems like just last week we were excited about the idea of a Prosise-Rawls backfield combination. But this week was about much more than Thomas Rawls and how happy we all are to have him back.
To the report. . .Please, blog, may I have some more?
If you played your cards right, 2016 may have been one of the best seasons ever to roll with a zero RB strategy in your draft. Not only have there been a litany of running back committees utilized across the league, but legitimate RB1s and RB2s have been emerging all year. Take a look at this list: Jordan Howard, Devontae Booker, Spencer Ware, C.J. Prosise, Robert Kelley. Those guys were all either not drafted at all or were taken later in drafts as a handcuff or dice roll option (I actually drafted Booker in one league but dropped him after a few weeks because I need the roster spot. D’oh!).Please, blog, may I have some more?
Welcome back, everyone. I apologize for missing last week, but I had a bunch of running around to do and was never able to settle down and hammer out the Week 9 Handcuff Report. Let’s just assume that I gave you great advice last week and that you’re back this week for more. Ok? Ok. Good. Great. Now, about those running backs.
The Oakland Raiders have been really fun to watch this year unless you have been trying to predict running back touches all year. While Latavius Murray was frustrating earlier in the year and then got hurt, but one thing he has done all year is find his way into the end zone. And in a week when a ton of people probably benched him because he was going up against the defense of the Denver Broncos, he decided to get into the end zone three times. Hopefully, you rolled the dice or were forced to start him because of bye weeks and injuries, but I know that many of you didn’t start him. I probably wouldn’t have.Please, blog, may I have some more?
If you were to define the 2016 fantasy football season in one sentence, I challenge you to do better than this: Jay Ajayi has more rushing yards in the last two weeks than Todd Gurley has all season. It has been that bad, and that sentence describes both how surprisingly good Ajayi has been the last two weeks and how disappointing Todd Gurley has been all year. It’s tough to say if those two backs will continue going in different directions, but they are currently following the same paths as their respective offenses. The Rams aren’t giving Gurley any space, while the Dolphins, with their front five finally healthy and playing together, are dropping bodies for Ajayi. Ajayi’s stock has never been higher, now that he is officially the top man in Miami. Which brings us to…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Well, we all saw that coming. We all knew the Miami Dolphins were going to smash the Pittsburgh Steelers, and we all knew that they were going to do so by riding Jay Ajayi and his 204 rushing yards and two touchdowns. We all knew that, even with Arian Foster coming back, Ajayi would get 25 carries and, oh, you know, rattle off 8.2 YPC on the day. We all knew Jay Ajayi, sent down from above by his Heavenly father to be the savior of the Dolphins in the fifth round of the NFL draft last year, was going to get more touches than any running back not named Terrance West, Ezekiel Elliott, Lamar Miller, or Melvin Gordon.
And, of course, we all knew that Spencer Ware was going to get 26 touches on 40 snaps to Jamaal Charles’s 11 on 15. This was the first time all year that many Jamaal Charles owners started him, as he was finally considered healthy enough for a full workload. So, of course, Ware dominated the snaps and touches. But we all knew that was going to happen. That’s what makes this so easy!
Now, if you are this far into the article and haven’t been able to detect the sarcasm, please stop reading. We cannot help you here. You have bigger problems than fantasy football, and you will not find the answers here. You will likely only find more questions and a Simpsons referenced forced into here somewhere (this one doesn’t count).
For the rest of you, we have work to do. This was another strange week for running backs, as I so subtly alluded to above, and we have a number of question marks at running back going forward.
And now, to the report…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Week 5 saw some dominant performances by running backs we were counting on, with David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarco Murray, Jordan Howard (told you!), and the Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman two-headed monster delivering for their owners. But this week also saw its fair share of disappointments, both from new faces fantasy owners were taking chances on and from running backs drafted to be fantasy starters.
If you picked up Wendell Smallwood, Kenneth Dixon, or Orleans Darkwa and threw them right into your starting squad, you paid for it with essentially a blank spot in your lineup. If you started regulars such as Jeremy Hill, Isaiah Crowell, Matt Jones, or Lamar Miller, you didn’t do much better. This second list of names hurts a bit more, though (except for maybe Jones), because you likely plugged them into your lineups without a second thought. On the plus side, you can look forward to now having that second thought for the rest of the season.
Cameron Artis-Payne bounced back on Monday night after a certain Razzball contributor lamented his performance last week. Artis-Payne scored two touchdowns and rushed for 85 yards on 18 carries, but both Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart, so our days of starting CAP and crossing our fingers are likely over, at least until Stewart gets hurt again. Don’t drop CAP just yet, but you can start cracking your fingers.
And now, to the report…Please, blog, may I have some more?
If you think that headline is bad, the other one I considered was “Seeing the Forsett for the Trees.” And if you don’t like making a pun out of a phrase that is at least a few centuries old, then I don’t know what to do for you. Oh well, maybe you and I are just not meant to be. It’s not easy coming up with running back puns every week based on fantasy relevance. Sometimes you have to dig deep and get weird with it.
Before we get down to business, everybody, pour a little out for the homie Justin Forsett. This dude has had a rough couple months. Forsett got cut at the end of the preseason, got resigned a week later and STARTED week one, got benched in week four, and now—as if watching Terrance West go off for 100+ yards on Sunday wasn’t hard enough—just got released on Tuesday. His release has been described as a mutual parting, with Forsett hoping to get an opportunity with another team, but this is still a tough run for a running back who turns 31 in less than two weeks.
Now that we have that out of the way, has everyone finished cursing the name of John Kuhn? While Mark Ingram owners received a solid day and a touchdown from him, they had to watch John Kuhn vulture not one, not two, not three—OK, it was three—touchdowns on the day (I’ll never forgive myself for linking to that clip). I’ll pause here while you break things around your house, as I probably brought this back up just as you were starting to forget about it. Kuhn was easily the biggest surprise on Sunday.
And now, to the report…Please, blog, may I have some more?
If you have been following our weekly Handcuff Reports and reading them carefully (as I am sure you have been), you may have noticed this little gem that I wrote last week:
“After pass-catcher Ka’Deem Carey went down with a hamstring injury, Jordan Howard entered the game and actually looked pretty good. If Langford continues to struggle, look for Howard to get some more chances. If you are in a deep league, add Howard to your watch list.”
Well, I hope you skipped the watch list and went right to adding him on waivers. And if you did, if you were the person in your league who pulled the early trigger on Jordan Howard thanks to reading this article, then you had a really good Monday. You probably woke up on Monday morning, checked your league news and your team (I am assuming here that no one bothered to watch most of that beatdown), and saw the Jeremy Langford injury news. Then you probably took a sip of your coffee, sat back, smiled, looked at the rest of the teams in your league and said:
“I’ma be all right. I’m straight… Sergio gonna be fine! F*ck a recession… I own 21 Cookaroos. Ya’ll don’t own one Cookaroo. Not one… Ya’ll are f*cked. Ya’ll are f*******cked!”
Okay, now that we got the world’s longest Get Him to the Greek reference out of the way, let’s get back to business. Jeremy Langford left this week’s game against the Cowboys early and did not return, and it has since been reported that he has a severe high ankle sprain and could miss up to six weeks. After Langford left the game, Jordan Howard rushed for 45 yards on nine carries (5 YPC) and added four catches for 47 yards. With the aforementioned Ka’Deem Carey also nursing an injury of his own, Jordan Howard could be in for a full workload for the next six weeks. And if he has success in Langford’s absence, he could very well take the starting job or turn this situation into a timeshare. Even if Carey comes back quickly, he will be the receiving back on passing downs, while Howard should get the start and the majority of the touches. Jordan Howard is going to be one of the most-added players on waivers this week, so get your claims in before Thursday morning. But, alas, this is the Handcuff Report and not just the Jordan Howard report, so let’s get to the rest of the league!Please, blog, may I have some more?