That’s a perfect Bernie right there, folks. He hit it once, hesitated, then went to the next level before celebrating with his teammates in the end zone. Ok, wait…are we talking about Le’Veon Bell doing the Bernie or actually running a football? This dude’s more elusive in the backfield, slipping through the line and blowing past the second level than anyone else in the NFL. Sure, you can take the injury he suffered a year and a half ago (he was totally fine once coming back), and the fact that he parties like he’s trying to be in ‘Weekend at Bernie’s,’ into account. Me? Nah…I’ll just take the best player in the fantasy game when he’s running full steam.

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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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zod

Being that the kind people at Razzball have given me a soapbox, if you will, to share with you all the thoughts that swim within my head, I thought I’d take advantage of said opportunity to rant. If you can bear with me for a few sentences I promise to return to regularly scheduled programming and, as I do on a weekly basis, tender my slightly above average fantasy football advice. And when I say “average” I really mean “mediocre”. And when I say “mediocre” what I REALLY mean is “fvcking awesome”. Okay, so perhaps I’m reaching for the proverbial stars, but why not. After all, I could probably give you crap advice and many of you would still be happy. Stealing a quote from Negan, I could be inclined to say “I just slid my d*ck down your throat and you thanked me”. But that’s not how I roll.

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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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Nov 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) is stopped short of the end zone by Denver Broncos safety Darian Stewart (26) in the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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hi-res-88e

With a routine throw to first, Kris Bryant effectively ended the 2016 baseball season. By now you know the end result – the Cubs won the World Series. My Grandfather was a life-long fan. He wanted nothing more than to see his “Cubs” win a title. He’s no longer around, so I root them on each game a little harder than I used to. Mainly because I feel like I’m cheering for both of us. After Anthony Rizzo pulled the most baller move ever by slipping the game ball into his back pocket, I felt a sense of relief. Closure might be a better term, I guess.  I’m sure there are thousands of stories like this, but I felt like sharing mine. My Grandfather taught me baseball. He taught me to love the countless shades of green on the field, the ever-changing dimensions that each ball park would introduce and of course the pace of the game. He also taught me that there was “always next year.” This was especially important if you were a Cubs’ fan. Whenever we would tune into WGN for an afternoon game, he would wax poetic on Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, Billy Wiliams and Ernie Banks. In fact, it was during one of those afternoon games that he let me try my first sip of beer. I was 14. It was terrible. Later, I found out it was Budweiser. So that explains everything. He also took me to Wrigley Field for the very first time that year. Ironically, that was also our only trip there together. So, when I was able to get back to Wrigley and I was of legal age – I enjoyed an ice-cold Bud. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad…..Actually, it was still terrible. But I faked my way through the entire can and I’m sure my Grandfather approved. So this week I’m saluting a terrible player that actually might not be so terrible in the right spot. You follow? Good. I think Colin Kaepernick could be quite useful in Week 9 match ups. He’s facing the Saints who’ve given up at least 18 fantasy points to every QB this season not named Russell Wilson. Kaepernick’s rushing abilities should serve him well, as he’s ran for at least 66 yards in each of his two starts. Just for window dressing I’ll also add that he’s thrown for at least 14o yards and a score in both starts as well. Not too shabby. So if the Saints’ passing D continues to allow 286 yards per contest, which happens to rank 29th in the NFL, Kaepernick could very well be headed towards a productive Sunday.

Here’s a look at a few more of my favorite passing/running match ups for Week 9:

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oh-henry

Alternate titles for today’s post included “Trick or Tyreek” in honor of Halloween, “Crowder? I Hardly Know Her” (used below), and “The Triple Lutz“. As you can see I chose neither of them. Once again I seem to have managed to stitch together a starting lineup, using waiver wire material, that would have beaten just about any team in your league or any other. You know the old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, don’t do that. Unless you’ve actually read the book. The theme of this weeks seems to be players taking advantage of an opportunity given to them because another player was injured.

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f4d7ba4c1493173803e3454f091fd3bf

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…

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