The Giants finally got off the schneid this past week when they upset the Denver Broncos. More importantly, they started giving the ball to Orleans Darkwa, something a certain Razzball writer has been asking for for what seems like two years now. Paul Perkins, your reign of terrible tip-toeing to the line of scrimmage is over!

Darkwa took 21 carries for 117 yards with a long of 47 yards and added a catch for 13 yards. OD seemed to always produce when given limited touches, and he did the unthinkable when given a full supply of touches: continued to produce! Who would have thought such a thing was possible! Oh, right, everyone who, like me, have been clamoring for Darkwa for two years.

After turning eight carries into 69 yards for a nice little average of 8.625 yards per carry, OD rushed for more than 5.5 yards per carry on nearly three times as many carries. The logical assumption would be the keep feeding him the ball. However, with this year’s New York Giants, who knows what to expect, but a few things are working in OD’s favor.

For starters, the Giants lost roughly 14 wide receivers to injuries over the last two weeks. And in better news for Darkwa, Ben McAdoo handed over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Now, I don’t know a ton about Sullivan, but he does have one very important quality: he isn’t Ben McAdoo. Oh, and he seemed to enjoy employing a more balanced offense that featured a running back who has been having success.

The Broncos had boasted one of the league’s better rushing defenses heading into last week’s game, but they barely slowed Darkwa down for most of the day. Granted, his yards per carry average is boosted by that one long run, but he was still hitting holes fast and running hard and should have earned himself a steady taste of touches at least in the short term. I have been stashing OD in a deep roster dynasty league for two years now, and it looks like I might finally get to play him. Hooray for me.

Now, to the charts!

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One more week in the books, a few more young running backs on the shelf. This week, the devastating running back news was Dalvin Cook going down with a torn ACL. If you watched the injury live or watched the replay over and over again like I did, you had to feel for the kid. He went down with a non-contact injury less than four weeks into what was quickly becoming an impressive rookie season, and it looked as ugly as it sounds.

But we fantasy owners don’t have time to feel bad for Cook. Pour out some Duff for your boy and move on with your fantasy life. For Cook owners, this likely leaves you scrambling for replacements. For owners desperate for running backs and streaming options, Latavius Murray just started dancing into your dreams.

While Murray won’t be confused for Cook on the field, he does have some appeal. The Vikings signed Murray before they were able to go out and draft Cook, so they at least considered him a serviceable option in the event that the draft did not go their way. They also signed him to a three-year deal, and even though most NFL contracts are filled with fake money and fake years, that is more than nothing (what an endorsement!).

While some have pointed to Jerick McKinnon as taking over a bigger role, I really don’t see that happening. He should continue with his current role, and he might see a slightly increased workload, but Murray is going to get the first shot at taking the lead role. I am desperate for running backs in at least two of my dozen leagues, and I am going to use the waiver priority I have been saving on Murray this week.

To the charts!

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After last week’s boring as hell waiver wire we’re back this week with some real options. Not the sexiest of options, mind you, but more (the ol’ quantity over quality). Remember we’re going with $100 FAAB dollars (though most of you probably have much less than that, and I’m working off the loose assumption you have about $50 or so left so adjust accordingly):

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Hello my loves! Welcome back to another rendition of Hit it or Quit it. How was your week? Did you manage to avoid arrest for indecent exposure? Yes? What is wrong with you? You need to step your game up then, otherwise we can’t be lovers anymore. I had a fairly decent week until I got bent over and did raw in one of my leagues when I wasn’t notified that Michael Crabtree was out and ended up starting him. It handed me my first loss in that league and yeah, I am still salty about getting a case of the CRABtrees. Alas, such is my life. I am still sitting ontop of all of the men in that league, so the view is pretty sweet. Wait, that sounded dirty…heh, heh, heh… Now, I am sure you are all here because, like the song of the Siren, you couldn’t pull yourself away. Again, it is understandable, I am pretty awesome after all. In a week where the Black Widow Curse was pretty quiet (probably from all that man flesh she feasted on in Week 3), it is not guaranteed how long her satiety will last. So, with that, let’s get down to business and stop all this pillow talk. Ladies and gentlemen, convicts and degenerates, ask and ye shall receive. I give you, Hit it or quit it, Week 5…

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The talk of this week at the running back situation has been Wendell Smallwood. If you don’t believe me, take a scroll through the last dozen or so Razzball articles to see the takes and advice. With Darren Sproles somehow breaking his arm and tearing his ACL on the same play, there are touches available in Philadelphia. LeGarrette Blount is still around and actually looked productive on Sunday, and Corey Clement scored his first career touchdown and could rotate into games going forward, but Smallwood is the guy who stands to benefit the most from the Sproles injury. If you don’t believe me, the Eagles offensive coordinator said as much in his press conference on Tuesday. I have the transcript if you want it.

For me, though, there is a more exciting running back to target. Heading into Week 3, we knew two things: 1. There would be a new offensive coordinator. 2. Marvin Lewis has been coaching the Bengals for 15 years without winning a single playoff game. Number 1 is relevant for fantasy owners, while number 2 is simply fascinating.

The position to watch in Week 3 was running back, as it was expected that we could see more Joe Mixon and less Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. And that is exactly what happened. Mixon looked like the complete running back he was projected to be coming out of college, gaining more than 100 yards from scrimmage on 21 total touches. Expect that trend to continue going forward, as Mixon should only get better and the Bengals should continue to ride him.

I talked up Mixon last week as a great buy-low option prior to the change at offensive coordinator. Hopefully, you either drafted and stashed him or grabbed him on waivers last week because he is less likely to be available this week. But if he is, grab him and go. On the flip side, I would also try to hold onto Jeremy Hill and/or Giovani Bernard if you have the kind of league that provides you with the roster/bench space to do so. It looks like Mixon will be the guy, but we have seen before that one week doesn’t mean everything and that injuries happen all the time. If you have to pick one, I would probably lean Bernard in PPR.

To the charts!

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Does anyone else get the old Sherwin Williams jingle stuck in their head when they see Kerwynn Williams’s name? No? Just me?

Anyway, welcome to the 2017 Handcuff Report. For those who followed this post last season, welcome back. For those who are new, where were you last year? Too good for us? I have researched other available handcuff reports and tell give you my completely unbiased opinion that none of them are half as good as this one. Shame on you, and welcome.

So, first things first: what exactly is a handcuff? For the fantasy football n00bs out there, or perhaps for those who have taken the last few years off, a handcuff is a backup who will likely take over as the starter in the event of an injury, extreme ineffectiveness, off-the-field trouble, or coach’s decision. There are probably other reasons that I am forgetting here, but those are the most common one.

Most NFL teams now run a running back by committee of some sort. While not every team is as unpredictably maddening as the Patriots, most teams share the load in an effort to keep guys fresh and give defenses different looks. With fantasy leagues more competitive than ever, thanks to sites like Razzball offering great advice, it is important to recognize trends and identify value quickly. If you drafted a stud running back early, you might want to grab his handcuff in case of injury. Or if you went zero RB or went really light on RB early, you might want to squat on a couple handcuffs or, especially in PPR leagues, grab a change-of-pace/pass catching back. With the influx of young running backs and each team having two or three options this season, I tended to do the latter in drafts this year. For every Melvin Gordon, I have like two Shane Vereens or Theo Riddicks this year. Speaking of young running backs:

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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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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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