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playoffs

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!

But enough being sad. There is much to discuss. Justin Forsett is on an NFL team again:

Kapri Bibbs is heading to injured reserve, and Gary Kubiak brought in his old pal Forsett to take his roster spot and potentially steal touches from Devontae Booker. Just what Booker owners needed as they get ready for the playoffs! Forsett won’t steal significant touches from Booker down the stretch, or will he? With Booker struggling recently and Forsett having success under Kubiak a few years ago, it is not out of the question to see Forsett step in and play a significant role. Never underestimate a scenario when a coach brings in one of “his guys.” I’m not saying you should start Forsett in the playoffs, but I am saying I am now a little worried about starting Booker in the playoffs.

To the report. . .

NOTE: In the tables below, I’ve removed running backs who have been placed on Injured Reserve. If the running back is injured but is not on IR, then he has a + next to his name.

American Football Conference
AFC East Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Patriots LeGarrette Blount Dion Lewis James White Brandon Bolden
Jets Matt Forte Bilal Powell Bilal Powell Brandon Wilds
Dolphins Jay Ajayi Damien Williams Damien Williams Kenyan Drake
Bills LeSean McCoy Mike Gillislee LeSean McCoy Reggie Bush
AFC North Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Bengals Jeremy Hill Rex Burkhead Rex Burkhead Cedric Peerman +
Ravens Terrance West Kenneth Dixon Terrance West Javorius Allen
Steelers Le’Veon Bell DeAngelo Williams + Le’Veon Bell Fitzgerald Toussaint
Browns Isaiah Crowell Duke Johnson Duke Johnson George Atkinson
AFC South Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Texans Lamar Miller + Alfred Blue Lamar Miller Jonathan Grimes +
Jaguars Chris Ivory + T.J. Yeldon T.J. Yeldon Denard Robinson +
Colts Frank Gore Robert Turbin Frank Gore Jordan Todman
Titans DeMarco Murray Derrick Henry DeMarco Murray Antonio Andrews
AFC West Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Chiefs Spencer Ware Charcandrick West Charcandrick West Knile Davis
Broncos Devontae Booker Justin Forsett Devontae Booker Juwan Thompson
Raiders Latavius Murray Jalen Richard Latavius Murray DeAndre Washington
Chargers Melvin Gordon Kenneth Farrow Melvin Gordon Ronnie Hillman

The Jets dropped a total dud on Monday Night Football this week (and, really, they had no business even being on MNF and provided further evidence why these games should be flexed out), and, more importantly, so did their running backs. If it wasn’t infuriating enough to watch the Jets do absolutely nothing on offense, rotate C.J. Spiller into the game and give him the ball on dives up the middle, and REFUSE to give the ball to my man Bilal Powell, the Jets went and waived Spiller on Tuesday:

I needed five points from Powell on Monday night against a bad Colts defense in order to get a first round bye in one of my leagues. I got zero, and now I am afraid to put Powell in my lineup for the playoffs.

The Patriots, despite getting Dion Lewis back, are still finding time to feed the beast that is LeGarrette Blount. Blount rushed 18 times for 88 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, even with a usually pass-happy offense going up against a good defense. They face one of the best rushing defenses in the league next week when they line up against the Ravens on Monday Night Football, which is not ideal for Blount owners heading into the fantasy postseason. However, if you own Blount and have been riding him all year, you have to roll with him again. The playoffs are no time to second-guess yourself and bench a guy with 13 rushing touchdowns.

Spencer Ware’s 2.1 YPC on 14 rushes likely did not inspire fantasy owners this week, but his two touchdowns made everything OK. This is not the kind of momentum owners were hoping for heading into the playoffs, but Ware should produce better against the Raiders on a short week, as they turn around and play on Thursday night. Ware doesn’t have a true handcuff, as his backup is Charcandrick West and the 3rd-stringer is Knile Davis, who was waived by the Chiefs and then passed around half of the NFL this season. 

National Football Conference
NFC East Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Giants Rashad Jennings Paul Perkins Bobby Rainey Shane Vereen +
Eagles ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ryan Mathews + Darren Sproles Wendell Smallwood
Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Alfred Morris Ezekiel Elliott Lance Dunbar
Washington Robert Kelley Matt Jones Chris Thompson Chris Thompson
NFC North Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Vikings Jerick McKinnon Matt Asiata Jerick McKinnon Zach Line
Packers James Starks Christine Michael Ty Montgomery Christine Michael
Lions Theo Riddick Dwayne Washington + Theo Riddick Zach Zenner
Bears Jordan Howard Jeremy Langford Ka’Deem Carey Ka’Deem Carey
NFC South Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Buccaneers Doug Martin Peyton Barber Jacquizz Rodgers Peyton Barber
Saints Mark Ingram Tim Hightower Travaris Cadet Tim Hightower
Panthers Jonathan Stewart Cameron Artis-Payne Fozzy Whittaker Cameron Artis-Payne
Falcons Devonta Freeman Tevin Coleman Tevin Coleman Terron Ward
NFC West Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
49ers Carlos Hyde DuJuan Harris Shaun Draughn Mike Davis
Seahawks Thomas Rawls Troymaine Pope + C.J. Prosise + George Farmer
Cardinals David Johnson Andre Ellington David Johnson Stepfan Taylor
Rams Todd Gurley Benny Cunningham Todd Gurley Malcolm Brown

I’ve said this before, but I don’t recommend trying to rely on a running back from the Green Bay Packers going forward. They had four backs split 25 touches on Sunday, with James Starks, Ty Montgomery, Christine Michael, and fullback Aaron Ripkowski all getting the ball. None of them dominated the touches or production, so I would not try to get cute and use any of these guys in the fantasy playoffs.

The same is probably true for any running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. Even with Ryan Mathews out, rookie Wendell Smallwood just can’t get enough work to be productive. The Eagles have been terrible for a couple months now, and they are getting behind in games quickly and immediately abandoning the run. That benefits pass-catcher Darren Sproles, but even he is a risky play at this point.

One guy who is sprinting into the fantasy playoffs, though, is Jordan Howard. Howard scored three touchdowns on 32 carries on Sunday, in true workhorse fashion. I’d like to pause now and pat myself on the back for telling everyone back in Week Three that Howard was not going to give the starting job back to Jeremy Langford when he returned from injury. I don’t know if I was definitely the first person to make that prediction, but we can assume that I was. You’re welcome, everyone. Enjoy starting Howard in the playoffs.

Additional Thoughts, Observations, and Injuries. . .

  • Thanks to everyone who read and commented on these Handcuff Report articles this year. You guys are awesome. I’ll be back next year, hopefully writing the Handcuff Report again, as long as I can talk Jay and Grey into letting me. In the meantime, be sure to catch me over on the baseball side of things when we start up or hit me up on Twitter. Good luck in the playoffs, everyone.
  • Holy moly was that Colts – Jets Monday Night game a dumpster fire. Not only were the Jets terrible, but none of their fantasy players produced (Matt Forte and Bilal Powell included).
  • LeSean McCoy turned 24 touches into 191 yards on Sunday, but it was Mike Gillislee who turned eight touches into two touchdowns. If you have not already handcuffed McCoy and Gillislee is still available, you should probably grab him for your playoff run.
  • Remember to take weather into account when setting your lineups for the playoffs. Don’t overdo it and panic, but keep an eye out for the weather and look into how it can affect the matchups. Jordan Howard got 32 carries on Sunday because of snow.
  • With Dwayne Washington injured in Detroit and likely to miss Week 14, the Lions signed Joique Bell. Do not look for Bell to be a factor, however. There is no need to add him.
  • Lamar Miller and Thomas Rawls both left their games with injuries but later returned. Both should be fine for Week 14.

 

 

If you want to talk fantasy football or have players you want Mike to feature, hit him up on Twitter at @mikeMaher or post a comment below!

  1. Chris says:
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    Hello Mike,

    Would appreciate your comments.

    I currently have a BYE, and I’m preparing for next week playoffs.

    Current players of interest available are:
    WR Maclin, RB Alfred Morris, RB Forsett

    My team is:

    QB: Big Ben, Matt Ryan (we only start one)
    RB: Elliot, Blount, Ivory (BN)
    Flex: Murray
    WR: Cooks, Fitzgerald, Hilton, Sanu (BN) (start 3)
    TE: Rudolph, Ertz (we only start one)
    K: Crosby
    DEF: Patriots, Bills (we only start one)

    I just dropped Tim Hightower and added the Bills who have a next week matchup with Cleveland, which NE faces Denver.
    I would like to keep New England who for week 16 gets the Jets.

    I want to drop Ivory but don’t know who to add.

    Forsett could get good amount of touches with Denver?
    Alfred Morris, back up for Elliot but if Elliot sits is in week 17 and my playoff ends in week 16?
    Maclin since he would be WR 1 in Kansas now that he is practicing?

    sorry for the long post.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
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      @Chris:

      Thanks, Chris. No worries about the long post. Personally, I think I would add Morris so you can handcuff Elliot and, like you said, start him if they end up sitting Elliot.

  2. Josh-NYC says:
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    Hey,

    New news on Booker splitting work with Forsett (??!!!)

    Damn. Do you start Taylor Gabriel or Tyler Boyd over Booker this week? .5 ppr
    Thanks!

    • mikeMaher says:
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      @Josh-NYC:

      I think I still go Booker over either one.

  3. Todd says:
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    Great article man hope you return in 2017 but I’ll check on you for baseball too

    .5 ppr league i already have cuffed my RBs but with the playoffs I added the cuff of a fellow playoff teams top RB in Alf Morris (he has zeke Elliot). I was also thinking maybe if the cowboys win this week or next would they start lessening Elliot’s work load?

    Another owner who’s also in the playoffs has bell didn’t know if I should hang onto Morris or drop for D Angelo Williams?

    Or Justin forsett? Hmm

    Thanks! Have a great holiday!

    • mikeMaher says:
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      @Todd:

      Thanks, Todd. I really appreciate that.

      I think you were on the right track. Hang onto Morris.

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