Hello everyone, and welcome to Razzball’s Fantasy Football 2017 Division Previews. On this piece, we’ll take a look at this year’s AFC East. In past offseasons, we’ve seen many versions of the same headline: “Watch Out Patriots, Dolphins/Bills/Jets Are The New Team To Beat”. And while we haven’t seen that storyline yet, this is a division that moved in the right direction as a whole. It’s good to see that just for football in general. There are a lot of fantasy storylines and scenarios to dive into, so let’s get right to it…

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Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green (80) warms up before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

For the last fourteen weeks or so I have proven that even a team that looks like absolute hot garbage on paper can prove the old adage true, never judge a book by its cover. That’s easy to say with the benefit of hindsight. It’s not like I’m predicting who these players will be a week in advance. I would, but I can’t seem to find my copy of Gray’s Sports Almanac. Each week I have tried to pick the players for the upcoming week, but if I said it was an easy task, I’d clearly be lying. Many weeks I have gotten a player or two correct, but my low batting average is nothing to write home about. George Brett? Tony Gwynn? Wade Boggs? More like the Mendoza Line for me!

If you are still reading this post that most likely means you have made the playoffs. Congratulations. But you are a long way from hoisting that championship trophy. And if you’ve made the playoffs, it is even more unlikely that you are going to be looking for under owned players that “might” have a good week. At this point you need high floor players.

If you have not made the playoffs and just enjoy reading my banter, rock on!

However, in the spirit of this post I’d still like to present to you last week’s crop of crapshoots…

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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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giphy

Congratulations! If you’re reading this you survived the Hunger Games of fantasy football only to begin an even more difficult ascent. It’s like what Maeve must have felt when she saw that ‘SW’ on the wall as she exited to Star Wars style, multi-leveled connecting corridor in the season finale of Westworld. That’s about as spoiler-friendly as I could possibly write that without giving anything away, haha. Point is…now  comes the hard part. Now is all that matters. Oh, you finished 9-4 to win the #2 seed and a bye in Round 1? Congratulations. Here’s a LifeSaver to enjoy while you go look at the total points and realize that all four teams under you scored more than you this season. Come Week 15 and Round 2, you’re likely to be in need of a LifeSaver. Fantasy Football is filled with luck (or the lack thereof, like that time when you score the 2nd most points, but miss the playoffs because of Colin Kaepernick ghosting Week 13. I guess that’s what I get after hyping him for a month straight. And don’t talk to me about karma. It doesn’t exist. And don’t worry…I’m not salty about it, either. Hahaha.), so savor that LifeSaver while you can; you may need a real one soon.

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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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faab-boyd

I’ve got a running back heavy edition of FAAB waiver claims to consider, along with a pair of wide receivers. In case you don’t know what I’m doing with this week’s title, an 80s band called the Bangles wrote a song called Walk Like An Egyptian. It was a hit, don’t you know! There’s also a relevant Philadelphia Eagles player, so how about a Fly Like An Eagle reference? This Sunday’s games featured some injuries that can be acted on. Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell now need to be owned in 12-team and deeper leagues. Rex Burkhead can be considered in some leagues. Wendell Smallwood received a bunch of carries and should once again receive more than his usual workload.

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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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Chicago Bears wide receiver Cameron Meredith (81) is tackled by Miami Dolphins linebacker Spencer Paysinger (42) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Chicago, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Bears have been trash this season. Now they have a possible Jordan Howard injury and an Alshon Jeffery suspension which creates a FAAB spending opportunity. I can’t say for certain whether we should pick up Bears running backs Jeremy Langford or Ka’deem Carey because I can’t say whether Howard is injured. My take on whether John Fox is truthful is “Nah, he ain’t ever been”. I’m with Howard on this one and that means the Jeffery suspension is our primary interest. It puts at least two players in the spotlight, Cameron Meredith and Eddie Royal. Marquess Wilson is also interesting if he’s going to play. Time to look at the waiver wire and spend some FAAB.

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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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