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!
Mike Maher’s Week Four NFL Handcuff Report
- The Ravens got absolutely demolished in London on Sunday, and the running back situation did not get any clearer. Just like we had all of last season, it seems that we have a mess at running back in Baltimore, at least for fantasy purposes. Javorius Allen is still the guy to own, but Terrance West technically started. Neither had a day to write home about. If that is not enough for you, Alex Collins gained over 80 yards on nine carries. If he continues to have success, he could continue to steal touches from the other two. Ugh.
- Lamar Miller still is and will continue to be the guy in Houston, but D’Onta Foreman is starting to make some plays with the ball in his hands, especially in the passing game. He is not someone you can start just yet, but he could be in the coming weeks if they continue to give him chances. For now, grab and stash if he is available. He likely won’t take the job this season unless Miller gets hurt, but he could work his way into seeing regular touches.
- With Marlon Mack out on Sunday, Frank Gore got a heavy dose of touches. He scored a touchdown but was otherwise ineffective, and a healthy Mack should significantly cut into those touches. I’m a big Mack believer and think Gore might FINALLY be nearing the end of the road, so handcuff with Mack wherever you can. He is going to be the guy there eventually, and if he can get and stay healthy it could be sooner rather than later.
- It is looking like Kerwynn Williams is a fantasy dud. The Cardinals seem determined to roll with Chris Johnson as their starter and Andre Ellington as their pass-catching/change-of-pace back. While Johnson gained just 17 yards on 12 carries, Ellington caught five passes for 59 yards and rushed for 22 yards on five carries. Williams rushed once for three yards. Sad face. Ellington is the only back here you can potentially start going forward, and even he is a real gamble and has most of his upside tied to PPR and receiving stats. Stay away from the Cardinals backfield for now if you can help it except to stash for future value if you have the roster space.
- Can we all agree that Orleans Darkwa is better than Paul Perkins? I watched last week’s game with a dozen Giants fans and asked them what the appeal of Perkins was. They said there wasn’t one and that they don’t understand it either. At least I’m not crazy in seeing this. Darkwa runs harder and seems to have more success every time he touches the ball. The logical solution to this problem would be to let him touch the ball more, but that is just me. He did get a little banged up and left the game on Sunday, and he is questionable for Week 4. Still, I am stashing him wherever I can.
- Robert Kelley and Samaje Perine are now both banged up, with the former missing last week’s game and the latter hurting his hand while not doing much with his 20 touches and fumbling again. Oh, and Chris Thompson had another good game to steal the glory. The running back situation in Washington is quickly getting messier and messier, with Thompson dominating each week. But can you really rely on Thompson outside of PPR formats? The answer is…maybe? Either way, you can rely on him more than the other two, even if they will likely get first crack at the lead back role.
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!