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.
Staying in the AFC West, Melvin Gordon refuses to go away and may very well end up being the most valuable player for many owners this year. He has put up monster numbers and has already played the Broncos and their defense twice (though that obviously didn’t stop Latavius Murray).
Both Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower had solid weeks for fantasy owners, but don’t expect that volume to continue in the coming weeks. They are not going to combine for 40+ touches in that Saints offense (or any offense) every week. Now that Ingram appears to be out of the doghouse, I would look for him to take back his regular role.
And now, to the report…
NOTE: In the tables below, I’ve removed running backs who have been placed on Injured Reserve. If the running back is injured but is not on IR, then he has a + next to his name.
The good news for Kenneth Dixon handcuffers is that he was more involved for the Baltimore Ravens for this week. The bad news is that he didn’t have much success and then left with an injury. It sounds, at least initially, like he is going to be OK, and Terrance West did not have much success either. Both running backs only averaged 1.4 yards per carry, so neither proved that they deserved the lead back job going forward. It seemed like the Ravens wanted to get Dixon more involved coming into this game, but it is not clear if they will continue to try to do that. You can continue to hold onto Dixon has a handcuff for now, but I wouldn’t roll the dice on starting him just yet.
The Miami Dolphins continued to hand the ball to Jay Ajayi, and he continued to straight pound it for them. Their offensive line is playing as good as any line in football right now, and Ajayi has emerged as an RB1 for fantasy owners. While he came into the year as a backup and didn’t even travel for their first game of the season, Ajayi is now one of those rare workhorse running backs who get the ball 25+ times a game. He continues to have success, and he should be in every lineup going forward. He does have a bit of an injury history that makes people nervous, but he has not shown any hitches yet.
Charcandrick West started for a concussed Spencer Ware on Sunday, but he did not do much that would jeopardize many of Ware’s touches going forward. West is a nice backup and change of pace back, and he is basically Ware’s handcuff-by-default right now, but that is all that he is. West produced 74 yards on 16 touches, but he only averaged three yards on his 13 carries.
You also have to like this from Ajayi’s head coach:
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) November 6, 2016
It appears that our days of plugging in Christine Michael as an RB1 or RB2 are over. Not only has his production vanished (he rushed for exactly one yard on just five carries on Monday Night, though he did punch in a touchdown), but he is now losing snaps to a now-healthy C.J. Prosise and may start losing snaps to a soon-to-be-healthy Thomas Rawls. He was only on the field for 18 snaps on Monday, while Prosise saw 26. C-Mike is trending down.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 6, 2016
But he dominated the snaps and touches:
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) November 7, 2016
In the NFC East, there has been a changing of the guard in Philadelphia. Ryan Mathews has officially fallen out of favor and has lost nearly all of his playing time to Darren Sproles. While Mathews did manage to get in the end zone on Sunday, he only played eight snaps. Sproles, on the other hand, played 59. 59 to eight indicates that Sproles is now the starter, and Doug Pederson admitted as much during his Monday press conference. Personally, I think they are going to run Sproles into the ground and that towards the end of the season we are going to see more Mathews and Smallwood, but Sproles is the clear number one option for the Eagles as of right now.
Additional Thoughts, Observations, and Injuries. . .
- Talk about bad luck. I am in seven fantasy leagues, and I lead the league in points AGAINST in four of them.
- Will Dion Lewis return this week? Possibly. Will it matter? Probably not. Do we ever really know what to expect from the Patriots in fantasy football? No. Should you start Dion Lewis this week if he is active? No. Are you getting tired of me asking and answering my own questions here? Yes. Ok.
- Dexter McCluster broke his arm while looking for his phone.
- Knile Davis returned to the Kansas City Chiefs last week after he was traded to the Packers, released by the Packers, signed by the Jets, and then released by the Jets a day later. He is not fantasy-relevant, but I just wanted to mention that.
- I would avoid the Washington backfield right now. Robert Kelley was just named the starter, but it sounds like Matt Jones will be back soon, possibly as soon as this week. This has the makings of a three-headed monster of Robert Kelley, Matt Jones, and Chris Thompson.
- It sounds like Jacquizz Rodgers and Doug Martin might be long shots to play in Week 10, so Peyton Barber is a bit of a sneaky play if you need a running back for a week.
If you want to talk fantasy football or have players you want Mike to feature, hit him up on Twitter at @mikeMaher or post a comment below!