Are you sick of the bye weeks already? For player safety I advocate for two while as a fantasy player zero works. The early games on Sunday were, how do you say, not exciting…Red Zone couldn’t even make them all work as I paused the games around halftime, ran an errand, starting watching again and after a few minutes fast-forwarded (zoom-zoomed is the sound I make when I do it) through way more than I expected to.

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Adrian Peterson is free! On Tuesday, AP was traded from the New Orleans Saints (who seemingly never wanted him?) to the running back-desperate Arizona Cardinals. He is here to save the day for all fantasy owners who stashed him through the first few weeks or were able to submit a successful waiver claim for him after the trade. Our prayers are answered. All is right in the world. Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

Right?

Well, kind of. There is no doubt that getting traded from the pass-happy Saints, where Peterson was an odd fit from the second they signed him, to the Cardinal who lost David Johnson in Week 1 and have gotten zilch from the running back position in the weeks since, significantly improves Peterson’s fantasy value. The questions we have to answer now are: just how much has it improved? And what exactly can we expect going forward?

In the last few weeks, AP was not seeing regular touches, and his value was pretty much nonexistent. When he signed with the Saints in the offseason, you could hear a collective “huh?” from football fans and writers everywhere. We gave the Saints the benefit of the doubt and figured they knew what they were doing, but it turned out exactly how we all thought it would. Peterson was an odd fit for a Saints team that likes to pass the ball and likes to operate out of the shotgun, two things that don’t mess with Peterson’s style. Add to that the presence of Mark Ingram and youngster Alvin Kamara, and it is no surprise the team moved on from AP.

With the Cardinals, Peterson should get plenty of opportunities. Chris Johnson has not looked good in a couple years now, and he was a free agent until David Johnson got hurt. With Peterson entering the fold, the Cardinals did not even wait a week or two before cutting CJ. He got cut to make room for AP.

There are, however, a few reasons to roll our Peterson optimism back to “cautious optimism.” For starters, he is moving to a new team with a new playbook in the middle of a season. The complexity of NFL playbooks and schemes is why we don’t see a ton of in-season trading in the NFL. It is very difficult to fully learn everything while also preparing to play every week. To start out, they are going to have to feed him plays in bunches and get him acclimated a little bit more every week. Early playing time/snaps are question marks for Peterson right now.

Next, there is the issue of the Arizona offensive line. They’re bad. They’re really bad. They are particularly bad at run blocking, which is the primary reason the Cardinals have struggled so much on the ground this season. If they can’t open up some room for Peterson, he might have a fairly low ceiling in Arizona.

Lastly, the Cardinals are another team that likes to throw the ball. Carson Palmer currently leads the NFL in passing attempts. Part of that is likely because they have struggled to run the ball so much that they have been forced to pass, but they are not going to flip the script and decide to run the ball 60% of the time just because Adrian Peterson has arrived. Peterson is not much of a pass-catching back, so will he get enough touches to be valuable on a weekly basis for fantasy owners?

These are all valid questions that cause concern. Of course, the upside with Peterson is definitely worth taking the chance on him, even if just to stash him for a couple weeks while you see how he looks in that offense. Just don’t get your hopes up too high until we actually see him getting the ball with some space to work with.

Now, to the charts!

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I believe that karma rules fantasy football. I don’t think there’s any other governing force. Example: in my home league I won last week by .42 points and this week, you freaking know it, I lost by .3. Next week am I going to win by .2? I can’t take the aggravation. Though a win’s a win and all we really need is a playoff spot, right? We all want a bye, but 1-4 isn’t season over. I won that league last year by slipping in as the sixth seed (though I had the most overall points which is why I had the creative team name “Most Points”).

Sad truth is if you are 1-4, you can’t be 1-5; so look at the teams in your league and throw out trade offers for guys going this week (I’m not just telling you, I’m doing it too; got unlucky and staring down 1-5 in a big money league). But we believe in fantasy football karma in the land of AbFAAB and the only way to up that is to spend some money! ($100 Free Agent Auction Budget Dollars we’re playing with; at least that’s what we started the season with.)

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Man, keep me away from your favorite football team. I had the opportunity to check out the supposed football game between the Giants and Chargers and I’m convinced that I am bad luck. Injury after injury after injury has the Giants in contention for a top 5 pick in this year’s draft.

The Bills, Cowboys, Bengals and Seahawks will have bye weeks so there are a lot of fantasy points that you will have to make up from RBs: LeSean McCoy and Ezekiel Elliott to WRs Dez Bryant, A.J. Green and Doug Baldwin to dual-threat QBs in Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott and Tyrod Taylor. Leave me a message down below if you need some fill in options from your waiver pool.

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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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Well the top guys of a week ago did not live up to their hype, did they?  Here are their stats from Week 2:

Javorius Allen – 5 Rec, 35 yards, 66 rush yards, 1 TD.

Kerwynn Williams – 22 rush yards.

Kenny Golladay – 1 Rec, 8 yards.

Tarik Cohen – 8 Rec, 55 yds, 13 rush yards, 1 fumble lost.

Nelson Agholor – 1 Rec, 9 yards, 1 TD.

Williams was quiet this week as the Cardinals looked bad against Indy and Chris Johnson definitely took carries. The whole Cardinals offense still doesn’t look right; let’s hope they get back on track Week 3 but Johnson & Ellington were on the field in overtime and that worries me. On the bright side: Williams is also their return man to add to his value. Don’t cut bait after one week…

Allen looked good on his TD run and is settling in as Woodhead light, which is a hoppy sardines-infused dark chocolate almond butter IPA with less calories. Flacco likes to throw so Allen should remain a flex play, although West is still the bellcow there.

Cohen could have looked better, but Howard was also terrible and the Bears simply got owned, so that Cohen salvaged some fantasy value is good to see. Cohen clearly benefits from being on the field for all the passing the Bears will do. So hold him if you added him last week because better days are coming.

Agholor salvaged some value catching a garbage time TD (though based on that score the Eagles actually had a chance to win (on a Hail Mary), so was it really in garbage time?)

Razzball Football’s partner FantasyDraft is starting a new sign-up promotion this week, all new depositing signups receive a free $4 “Everyone Wins” NFL GPP ticket for the upcoming Sunday slate along with offering all players 4% cash back on their initial deposits! 

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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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