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…

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.

American Football Conference
AFC East Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Patriots LeGarrette Blount Dion Lewis James White Brandon Bolden
Jets Matt Forte Bilal Powell Bilal Powell C.J. Spiller
Dolphins Jay Ajayi Damien Williams Damien Williams Kenyan Drake
Bills LeSean McCoy Mike Gillislee + LeSean McCoy Reggie Bush
AFC North Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Bengals Jeremy Hill Rex Burkhead Rex Burkhead Cedric Peerman +
Ravens Terrance West Kenneth Dixon Terrance West Javorius Allen
Steelers Le’Veon Bell DeAngelo Williams + Le’Veon Bell Fitzgerald Toussaint
Browns Isaiah Crowell Duke Johnson Duke Johnson George Atkinson
AFC South Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Texans Lamar Miller Alfred Blue + Lamar Miller Jonathan Grimes +
Jaguars Chris Ivory T.J. Yeldon T.J. Yeldon Denard Robinson
Colts Frank Gore Robert Turbin Frank Gore Jordan Todman
Titans DeMarco Murray Derrick Henry DeMarco Murray Antonio Andrews
AFC West Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Chiefs Spencer Ware Charcandrick West Charcandrick West Knile Davis
Broncos Devontae Booker Kapri Bibbs Devontae Booker Juwan Thompson
Raiders Latavius Murray Jalen Richard Latavius Murray DeAndre Washington
Chargers Melvin Gordon Kenneth Farrow Melvin Gordon Ronnie Hillman

Now that Dion Lewis is officially back, the running back situation in New England is even tougher to predict. LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, and James White split snaps almost evenly, with 27, 23, and 25, respectively. Blount only rushed 11 times, and Lewis and White each caught four passes. Lewis coming back certainly doesn’t help Blount owners, but this gameplan likely had more to do with a tough New York Jets rushing defense and the fact that the Patriots were playing from behind for a while. I would say that Blount is going to be fine for the fantasy playoffs, but there is one catch. Look at the defenses the Patriots have coming up: Rams, Ravens, Broncos, and Jets.

Despite dislocating his thumb last week, LeSean McCoy started for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and posted one of the top fantasy performances of the week. Instead, it was everyone’s favorite handcuff Mike Gillislee who missed the game, as he injured his hamstring during the week. Even with the injured thumb, McCoy put up 134 total yards and two touchdowns, including a 75-yard run in the second half. McCoy has been banged up all year but hasn’t missed much time, much to the chagrin of Gillislee handcuffers. And now it is Gillislee who is banged up.

If you look at the total numbers, Jeremy Hill had a solid day and put up 14 points in PPR formats. However, that is only because he caught six passes for 61 yards. On the ground, Hill rushed 12 times for only 21 yards (1.8 YPC). The hope for Hill owners was that his production would go up now that Giovani Bernard is out, but it looks like Hill’s ceiling is still pretty limited. 

National Football Conference
NFC East Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Giants Rashad Jennings Paul Perkins Bobby Rainey Shane Vereen +
Eagles ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Ryan Mathews + Darren Sproles Wendell Smallwood
Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Alfred Morris Ezekiel Elliott Lance Dunbar
Washington Robert Kelley Matt Jones Chris Thompson Chris Thompson
NFC North Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Vikings Jerick McKinnon Matt Asiata Jerick McKinnon Zach Line
Packers James Starks Ty Montgomery Ty Montgomery Christine Michael
Lions Theo Riddick Dwayne Washington Theo Riddick Zach Zenner
Bears Jordan Howard Jeremy Langford Ka’Deem Carey Ka’Deem Carey
NFC South Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
Buccaneers Doug Martin Peyton Barber Jacquizz Rodgers + Peyton Barber
Saints Mark Ingram Tim Hightower Travaris Cadet Tim Hightower
Panthers Jonathan Stewart Cameron Artis-Payne Fozzy Whittaker Cameron Artis-Payne
Falcons Devonta Freeman Tevin Coleman Tevin Coleman Terron Ward
NFC West Primary Back Handcuff Pass-Catcher Third-Stringer
49ers Carlos Hyde DuJuan Harris Shaun Draughn Mike Davis
Seahawks Thomas Rawls Troymaine Pope + C.J. Prosise + George Farmer
Cardinals David Johnson Andre Ellington David Johnson Stepfan Taylor
Rams Todd Gurley Benny Cunningham Todd Gurley Malcolm Brown

The Giants can’t seem to figure out if they like Paul Perkins or not:

A few weeks ago, it looked like the Giants were preparing for Perkins to take over the starting job from Rashad Jennings. But then Jennings caught fire, and Perkins disappeared. With the playoffs coming up, Perkins taking snaps and touches from Jennings is not what fantasy owners want to see. Keep an eye on this one.

Another week, another Matt Asiata vulture touchdown. Unfortunately, the Vikings split the running back touches between Asiata and Jerick McKinnon. And both running backs are not very good. And Minnesota’s offensive line is terrible. If you are headed to the playoffs in your league, you likely made it this far without using either of these backs. There is no need for that to change now.

Thomas Rawls turned in a real dud on Sunday, but so did most of the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks were down early and were never able to climb out of the hole, and Rawls ended the day with 12 rushes for 38 yards. This was obviously a disappointing day for Rawls and the Seahawks, but it is hard not to roll with Rawls and hope for the best at this point. He’s the workhorse for the foreseeable future, and there just aren’t that many of them out there.

Additional Thoughts, Observations, and Injuries. . .

  • I’m not entirely sure why, but Matthew Berry came at me on Twitter on Sunday morning:

I write news updates for FantasyPros, and when I submit news that account tweets the headline and the link and tags my account. I guess Berry interpreted an auto-generated tweet from a news alert account as me taking credit for “breaking” that news? Maybe? However, if he would have just clicked the link he would have seen that, not only did I credit Adam Schefter for reporting it first, but I LINKED THE UPDATE TO SCHEFTER’S REPORT. But Berry didn’t, and then he decided to come at me, and now he has made himself an enemy. And if you come at the king, you best not miss.

  • The Giants placed Orleans Darkwa on injured reserve, ending his season. Also, it was reported earlier this week that Shane Vereen could return in a couple weeks.
  • I was at the 49ers-Dolphins game on Sunday, and the main takeaway for me was that Jay Ajayi is in trouble if the Dolphins are going to be without three of their starting offensive linemen for an extended period of time. With Pouncey, Albert, and Tunsil out, their backup line got no push against one of the league’s worst defenses.
  • Bonus takeaway from that game: Colin Kaepernick got the crap booed out of him. He was partly booed, of course, because of his national anthem protests (our section even received STAND UP posters to hold up, if we chose), but he also recently defended Fidel Castro, which did not play well with the heavily Cuban community in this area. It was pretty interesting to be there to see it in person.
  • Kenneth Dixon out-snapped Terrance West 31 to 22 on Sunday, but neither back did much. As I have said most of this season, stay away from the Baltimore Ravens backfield.



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!

  1. Chad Bowling says:

    Gotta drop one to activate Dion Lewis and maybe another for a 3rd WR for this week…which of these is droppable or are all of em?

    My RBs-DJ, Freeman, Hightower, Lewis, Crowell
    My WRs- Fitz, Brown, Matthews, Jeffery, Maclin

    • CMUTimmah says:

      @Chad Bowling: How could you possibly have DJ and Brown? John Brown?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:

      @Chad Bowling:

      I would start with Crowell. I’m not gonna trust a Browns running back heading into the playoffs. Jeffery is tough because you are going to be without him for another 2 weeks, but he would be nice to have in your back pocket the last two weeks.Matthews is going to play on Sunday, so you shouldn’t have to drop more than one, it looks like. Maclin returned to practice today, too.

      • Chad Bowling says:

        @mikeMaher: thx…also I have Cam, with Palmer as backup..should I drop Palmer for Tyrod or Jameis? Eying the Tyrod matchup vs ATL or Jameis vs NO in case Cam sits for any reason.

        • mikeMaher

          mikeMaher says:

          @Chad Bowling:

          Probably not a bad idea. I prefer Jameis in that scenario.

          • Chad Bowling says:

            @mikeMaher: Heck, looking at it now, do I start Jameis (@SD) over Cam (@SEA) this week?

            • mikeMaher

              mikeMaher says:

              @Chad Bowling:

              Shoot, yeah, probably.

  2. Robbie says:

    Hey man! I’m digging this RB article!

    .5 ppr my RBs are David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Jeremy hill, Ellington, Kenneth farrow & Smallwood.

    My Q: hang onto Smallwood or cut him loose to waiver island?

    Available RBs: Burkhead, Dwayne Washington, Powell, Alf Morris, c west bibbs & Derrick Henry . Ryan Matthews was dropped he will clear tomorrow

    RBs available who I could stash on my IR slot: Vereen, CJ Anderson, Abdullah


    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:



      Of the available guys, I like Powell the best. Even with Mathews out, Smallwood didn’t out-snap Sproles, who was playing with a fractured rib. I have Powell in one of my leagues and have been playing the matchups with him, and he has been solid when I have decided to play him. Also, take a look at the defenses he has coming up: Indy, San Fran, and Miami the next three weeks. I say Powell.

  3. Matt Ryan vs. KC or Cam @ SEA. Ryan?
    2 RB / 2 WR / 1 Flex; I’m leaning Le’Veon Bell, Spencer Ware, Julio Jones, Sammy Watkins, then flex options are Devontae Booker, Brandin Cooks, Tyrell Williams or Davante Adams. Should I play Watkins & Cooks? Booker as my flex?
    Apparently Mathew Berry can be a snarky guy. Don’t sweat it Mike. Berry’s articles are mostly fluff. I love the dashboard on FantasyPros. Great website. Keep up the grood work. Berry is too big to chat with people anymore. That is what makes Razzball kool!
    I have Bibbs as Bookers handcuff, Should I drop him for Smallwood? Unfortunately I have Ryan Mathews too…

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:


      Thanks for reading, and glad you like Razzball. I’ve only been here since the 2016 baseball season, but I love this site.

      The thing that scares me about Cooks is that he came out this week and talked about being frustrated with his role, BUT he has been pretty great all year and has put up double digit points in every week except three. Between that and not really liking any of the other guys over him, yeah, I think you go Watkins, Coooks, and Booker.

      I am an Eagles fan, and I like Smallwood overall, but I don’t think you can rely on him for fantasy this year. Even with Mathews out, an injured Sproles got more snaps than Smallwood. And Mathews could be back as early as this week, meaning even fewer snaps and potentially losing red zone touches to Mathews. So, for now, you might as well keep your handcuff.

  4. Matthew Berry's mom says:

    Take the George Costanza approach with my son’s advice. Whatever he tells you…DO THE OPPOSITE!

  5. Mobin Can't Hack It says:

    the dude’s clearly an idiot to not notice that you are just the writer of the blurb for fantasy pros (cool job there too). anybody that sees a comment like that would know this. next time link anybody whining to Grey’s “interview” with him.

  6. Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves says:

    i’d be curious to know who funded those posters, exactly.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:

      @Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves:

      I believe they were made by season ticket holders in our section, actually. That is who seemed to be handing most of them out, as far as I could tell. Didn’t look like it had anything to do with the Dolphins or stadium staff.

      • Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves says:

        @mikeMaher: i figured it was something like that, similar to in politics it’s always better to not stick one’s neck out for any cause/lack of cause, all it could do is alienate somebody. i say “better” in the sense of how PR agents view this stuff, not me.

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