Welcome to Razzball’s Fantasy Football Preview series, where yours truly will guide you, caress you, perhaps even coddle you through your draft preparations and processes. Mmm, processes. And while none of this may be legal and I’ll end up with multiple restraining orders, rest assured that we’ll all be the better for it. Maybe. We’ll go in depth (that’s what she said) at every position… well, the positions that actually count (I’m looking at you Kickers and DSTs…), going over some analysis, the tiers, and any illuminating observations I might have. Because light bulbs are just the coolest thing. Said everyone from the 1800s. Before you get settled down, please refer to Razzball’s 2017 Fantasy Football Draft Rankings, and specifically for this post, refer to our Running Back Rankings

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This is it, I’ve reached the end of my half of the Razzball Division previews with the rest coming from Zach.  It’s been quite a journey researching the NFC for the upcoming season.  It was great going through all of the players that have disappointed me in the past and still loving them for this year and vice versa. Now, I feel somewhat ready to start my rankings for 2017.  Within a week, I will put out my top 200 for the season and I will also put out a top 100 IDP players post as well.  We’re reaching the home stretch of the NFL offseason, but we still have a lot to cover over here at Razzball.  Without further ado, let’s get to the Starks of the NFC North.

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Hello everyone, and welcome to another post in our Razzball Divison Preview series. Today I’m taking a look at the NFC North, which, in my opinion, is one of the most interesting divisions in fantasy this year. There are so many storylines and moves that occurred over the offseason that have made this division incredibly relevant fantasy-wise (not that it hasn’t been in the past though). This could either be a great division, or a frustrating one, but we’ll have to see how it shakes out during the regular season itself. But we can’t wait forever, right? So let’s get started now and talk about these four interesting teams.

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Hello everyone, and welcome to the second post my mini-series on talking about each different position before the start of NFL Training Camps in a month and a half or so from now. Again, something to keep in mind, this is by no means a draft plan, or any sort of in-depth analysis about each position, as those articles will come out later in the summer during the camps themselves, but rather, a series of articles that can get the ball rolling towards the 2017 fantasy season.

I’ll be moving away from the structure of the”Players I Like and Players I Don’t Like”, and move towards an open discussion on my feelings about the position as a whole.

So enough chatter, let’s get right to it!

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Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor aren’t the only ones getting overpaid to disappoint us this upcoming fall (More on this and much more next week when Tehol graces us with his presence on the Razzblitz podcast).  Jeremy Maclin, who was recently released by the Kansas City Chiefs, has been signed by the Baltimore Ravens to a 2-year deal that will pay him 6 million this upcoming season.  The other team involved in the sweepstakes, the Buffalo Bills, either couldn’t or wouldn’t match.

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Free agency is one of my favorite parts of football.  This is probably because my favorite team never seems to be in the playoffs so I guess it gives me a false sense of hope going into the next season.  A couple of needs get fulfilled with players that I haven’t seen play in the Buccaneer’s system and all of a sudden I can argue them into the playoffs in my head.  The Jaguars also always look like they’ve built a dangerous roster in the offseason, and then we remember by week 2 that Blake Bortles is still the quarterback.

Free agency answers a lot of questions for fantasy football as well.  Every year, the beginning of March changes the destiny of at least a few players that might be question marks in keeper leagues. Just because the player takes the biggest check doesn’t mean that they are putting themselves in the best position to put up their best possible individual numbers.  I’m going to do my best to decipher the first week of signings and trades right here.  This was a busier year than last year for the skill positions as far as I remember, so if I forget someone you wanted to read about, forgive me.  Let’s get started with one of the fastest players in football…

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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!

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markingram

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…

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rawls

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. . .

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C.J. Prosise rushes against the New England Patriots

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!).

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