In what has become a seemingly weekly occurrence the most interesting handcuff in the land happens to be playing in the Thursday Night Game. I think this happens just to spite me. It’s as if the Football Gods force injuries and ineffectiveness on starters the week before they play on the thirstiest of all days. This week’s example of my curse is, of course, former (?) third stringer Brandon Bolden. The man who I had pegged to be taking over the Stevan Ridley “Big Back” role in New England. I figured if Bolden failed, then James White was probably next in line. But of course Bill Belichick did the most Belichickian thing ever and activated Jonas Gray from the practice squad, gave him a few carries, and leaned heavy on Shane Vereen. It looks like Bolden is more valuable to the Pats as a special teamer than a runner, and I have no idea what James White‘s issue is. I was shocked that he was inactive and you have to figure he’s deep in Belichick’s doghouse at this point. It’s really surprising considering how good he looked in pre-season and camp. The only ownable back in this scenario is Vereen.

In last week’s HCR I focused on the committees in flux, and there were quite a few. To sum it all up, Andre Williams wasn’t as nearly as effective as I thought against the Eagles. Then again the Giants were a flaming bag of poo, on the front porch, that could only be stomped out with your new boots.  So you really can’t blame him for his poor showing, then again Peyton Hillis out scored him (barely) despite seeing 7 less touches/looks. Going forward I would expect Williams to get the carries and the goal line work, with Hillis involved in the passing game and handling third down duties. It looks like Rashad Jennings probably won’t be back until after the week 8 bye. It wouldn’t shock me if it was longer though. These MCL’s are a tricky injury.

I also touched on Branden Oliver and Ronnie Hillman. Both backs were amongst the leaders in touches for week 6, as they each saw 30-ish. I’d expect Oliver’s workload to stay heavy until Ryan Mathews returns, well IF he returns. As Oliver thus far has shown to be the answer to San Diego’s early season woes in the running game. Hillman on the other hand is a completely different story. Color me cynical but I’m still not buying in. 1. I doubt he sees 27 touches again this year. Last week was a strange game for the Broncos as the Jets kept it close and dared Denver to run. Hillman did a great job making the most of his opportunity gaining 100 yards on 24 carries. Hey it’s still a crap-ton more than we’ve gotten from Monte Ball. 2. We’ve seen Hillman flash promise before and totally tank. Who knows maybe this is his Renaissance but I’m still very skeptical.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best draft strategy this year was avoiding running backs all together until after the 5th round. Every week this season we lose another starter and find ourselves using our FAAB dollars and wavier priority to chase the next man up. This is no way to live, this can’t be life? In the last two weeks we’ve chased handcuffs and third stringers vaulted into the starters role in New England, Denver, San Diego, New York, Carolina, and more than likely St. Louis. Oh Zac Stacy how I loathe the, let me count the ways…..The bottom line is Running Back is a volatile position, and I’m sure there are many more to drop before the dust settles on this most turbulent of fantasy seasons.

Here’s a few quick hits on committee developments, handcuffs to watch, and other running backie things.

Lamar Miller – Not to toot my own horn, but to totally toot my own horn. I called this in the preseason, the Moreno injury, the improved line, and the opportunity. Now if only Tim Wright and Cam Newton could get it going. Miller is a boarder line RB1 from here on out. With that said, I’ll bet anyone $100 and 5 lbs of steak tips he gets hurt in the next two weeks. Any takers? Don’t worry all my meat comes from Costco!

Jonathan Stewart – He’s here and he’s going to be healthy for at least the first five seconds of the game on Sunday. That’s more than you can say about every other running back employed by Carolina. He also gets the league’s worst run defense in Green Bay. If he’s available in your league go get him. Due to J-Stew being more fragile than Kanye West’s ego I’d tell you to go get his handcuff too, but there are none. Well unless you consider Chris Ogbonnaya a running back.

Tre Mason – As soon as I dismiss a running back as irrelevant, he becomes relevant. Such is the way of Tre, Son of Maseo. It makes me feel old that rappers I listened to are old enough to have grandchildren. Whatev’s….Rant aside Tre Son of Maseo looked like the best of what the Rams rushing attack had to offer Monday Night against the Niners. Zac Stacy is a running back the same way plain oatmeal is food, barely. Zac Stacy is so bad that Tavon Austin looks like a better back. I think he’s droppable all over, I cut bait with him in a few leagues this week. As for Benny Cunningham, I think his workload stays the same.

Carlos Hyde – As the season progresses I wouldn’t be shocked if the Niners decided to rest Frank Gore. I can’t tell you if this is going to happen anytime soon, but when it does you’re going to want Hyde. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was a difference maker the last 3-4 weeks of the fantasy season. At the present he’s seeing about 10-12 touches a game, and not doing anything to make Gore worry about job security.

 

Fuzzy Handcuffs 

These guys are fun, fun, fun! Not for everyday use but good to own, and a blast when they’re in the mix. We may wish for a bit more run but have to accept that they’re splitting time and getting the most of their opportunities. Most of these handsome devils could probably be studs if given the chance.

 

Team Starter (carries/targets/rec) Handcuff(s) (carries/targets/rec) Depth Backs
Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy (22/2/2) Darren Sproles (7/4/0) (injury) Chris Polk
San Diego Chargers Ryan Matthews (injury) Branden Oliver (26/5/4) Donald Brown (injury) Ronnie Brown (2/1/1), Shaun Draughn
Cincinnati Bengals Giovani Bernard (18/5/4) Jeremy Hill (8/4/4) Cedric Peerman
Indianapolis Colts Trent Richardson (17/0/0) Ahmad Bradshaw (11/6/3) Dan Herron
Detroit Lions Reggie Bush (injury) Joique Bell (18/3/2) Theo Riddick(3/6/5), George Winn
New York Jets Chris Ivory (21/4/4) (week 7) Chris Johnson (13/3/2) Bilal Powell
New York Giants Rashad Jennings (injury) Andre Williams (17/0/0) Peyton Hillis (5/5/3)
Kansas City Cheifs Jamaal Charles (Bye) Knile Davis (Bye) De’Anthony Thomas, Cyrus Gray, Joe McKnight

Standard Issue Police

Whether you’re in the back of a squad car or sitting on the corner while the Po-Po search your whip, you’re going nowhere. Do you know why? Because those things are locked on your wrists with a death grip. Much like those cuffs, these running backs are firmly locked into their positions. Not for a lack of ability, but because the starters are firmly entrenched in their roles. These backs could have value on any given week but more than likely you’ll need an injury to make these guys startable.

Team Starter (carries/targets/rec) Handcuff(s) (carries/targets/rec) Depth Backs
Denver Broncos Montee Ball (injury) Ronnie Hillman (24/5/3) Juwan Thompson (8/1/1), C.J. Anderson,
New Orleans Saints Mark Ingram (Bye) Khiry Robinson (Bye), Pierre Thomas (Bye) Travaris Cadet
Cleveland Browns Ben Tate (25/0/0) Isaiah Crowell (11/0/0) Terrance West
Buffalo Bills Fred Jackson (10/6/4) C.J. Spiller (6/1/0) Bryce Brown, Anthony Dixon
Tampa Bay Bucs Doug Martin (11/2/1) Bobby Rainey (7/3/0) Mike James
Tennessee Titans Shonn Greene (Injury) Bishop Sankey (18/1/1) Dexter McCluster, Leon Washington
Baltimore Ravens Justin Forsett (14/0/0) Bernard Pierce (15/0/0) Lorenzo Taliaferro (2/2/2)
St. Louis Rams Zac Stacy (8/3/2) Benny Cunningham (7/2/2) Tre Mason (5/1/1)
Houston Texans Arian Foster (20/4/3) Alfred Blue (3/0/0) Jonathan Grimes
Green Bay Packers Eddie Lacy (14/0/0) James Starks (8/5/2) John Kuhn, DuJuan Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers Le’Veon Bell (18/6/4) LeGarrette Blount (8/0/0) Dri Archer
Washington Redskins Alfred Morris (13/3/1) Roy Helu (3/2/2) Silas Reed
San Francisco 49ers Frank Gore (16/1/0) Carlos Hyde (11/1/1)
Jacksonville Jaguars Toby Gerhart (Injury) Storm Johnson (10/1/1) Denard Robinson, Jordan Todman
Atlanta Falcons Steven Jackson (6/2/0) Antone Smith (2/4/4) Davonte Freeman (2/3/2) Jazquizz Rodgers

 

Duct Tape Cuffs

These are of the homemade variety, you’ll use them in a pinch (i.e the starting stud goes down) but they’re always in your drawer (wavier wire) ready to step in and do their job. It may be to the bare minimum degree but they can buy you sometime.

Team Starter (carries/targets/rec) Handcuff(s) (carries/targets/rec) Depth Backs
Minnesota Vikings Jerick McKinnon (11/6/6) Matt Asiata (2/2/1)
Carolina Panthers Jonathan Stewart (Injury) DeAngelo Williams(Injury), Darrin Reaves (8/1/1) (Injury) Chris Ogbonnaya, Fozzy Whitiker (9/2/2) (Injury)
New England Patriots Shane Vereen (11/8/5) (week 7) Jonas Gray (3/0/0) (week 7) Brandon Bolden, James White
Oakland Raiders Darren McFadden (14/4/2) Maurice Jones-Drew (4/1/1) Latavius Murray, Marcel Reese, Jamize Olawale
Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray (29/6/6) Joseph Randle (5/0/0) Lance Dunbar (1/4/4)
Miami Dolphins Lamar Miller (14/3/3) Daniel Thomas Damien Williams, LaMichael James
Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch (10/2/1) Robert Turbin (2/0/0) Christine Michael
Chicago Bears Matt Forte (17/13/10) Ka’Deem Carey (4/0/0) Senorise Perry
Arizona Cardinals Andre Ellington (19/9/6) Stepfan Taylor (3/2/1) Robert Hughes

 

Thanks for reading and Happy Handcuffing!

 

Don’t forget to send me all your Running Back Questions on twitter @ralphlifshitzbb.

 

  1. Dom B says:
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    Andre Ellington RB 1 or 2

    Eddie Lacy RB 1 or 2

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Dom B: Ellington is a 1 IMO and Lacy is a 2.

  2. 976dave says:
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    Mcfadden, McKinnon, Storm. PPR, pick two.

    Leaning toward the all Irish backfield.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @976dave: Go Green my man…..Irish eyes smile

  3. Lopes says:
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    I already did the trade, so please tell me i did a good job–haha. In a 12 team half ppr league I desperately needed running backs (i was rolling with CJ Spiller and Zac Stacy). I traded Matt Ryan, CJ Spiller, Zac Stacy and Terrence Williams for Arian Foster, Nick Foles and James Jones. Im waiting for Rashad Jennings to get healthy to be my RB2, but for now I am rolling with Isaiah Crowell. Im 4-2 so an upgrade in RB without giving up Demaryius Thomas or Julio Jones.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Lopes: Yeah I think you got the better of that deal, Spiller and Stacy are garbage. I like Ryan more than Foles, but only slightly, and you’re already tied to Julio. Good trade for you. Hopefully Arian stays healthy….

  4. Dom B says:
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    Hey should I keep lacy or trade or wait

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Dom B: Try and trade him if you can….

  5. Clint says:
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    Do you see any value in WR handcuffs? I picked up Tate when Megatron went down and I’m wondering if I should hang onto him when Calvin does return or drop him for a clear #1 WR or some QB/RB depth for the playoff weeks. Should mention I got burned last year in the playoffs when Calvin sat on me so that’s on my mind too.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Clint: I’d hold on Tate, he’s got value even with Calvin back, if you tried to package him for someone to get another WR1 I’d be cool with that.

      Just stay away from Percy Harvin on the Jets hahaha

  6. Zandy says:
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    What’s impact of Percy trade?
    Assume bad for decker but good for Baldwin? What does that make him now wr3?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Zandy: I’d say it boosts Baldwin’s value for sure. As for it hurting Decker I’m not so sure. Decker is a much better reciever than Harvin. Personally I think Harvin is a dynamic returner but has never developed into a great reciever. It probably just means Jeremy Kerley has even less value.

  7. Dom B says:
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    Did Percy Harvin lose all fantasy relvance being on jets?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Dom B: Did he have any to begin with? Hahaha I think it might help him. They’ll probably force him the ball.

  8. Zandy says:
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    Haha maybe Cj spiller will get traded to Jacksonville or Atlanta

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Zandy: One can only hope. I’d love to see Spiller on the Pats or Ravens as well.

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: spiller would be great anywhere that already has either an offense or a decent coordinator. ATL would be the shit.

  9. Superfly says:
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    I was offered L.Bell and P. Garcon for E. Lacey and A.Brown…My other Wr’s are J. Nelson and A. Jeffery……other RB is A.Morris….PPR league starting 2 rbs and 2 wrs and 1 flex….Thanks for your opinion.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Superfly: I think I’d prefer Brown and Morris for Bell and Garcon.
      I look at it this way. I like Brown, Nelson, Jeffrey, Morris, and Lacy better than Nelson, Jeffrey, Garcon, Bell, and Morris. First off too many Redskins in that equation, second the drop off between Brown and Garcon is steeper than that of Bell and Lacy.

  10. Ryan M says:
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    If you had no foreseeable way of starting Stacy again (McCoy, Lacy, Crowell, Hill at RB with better WRs at flex) would you trade him for Knile Davis for that playoff haymaker chance?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Ryan M: Yeah I’d trade him for Davis. Stacy is just all around in a bad spot.

  11. Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:
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    while you’ve mentioned it was a viable strategy to wait till after 5th round on RB (and i agree that it could be), i don’t remember you saying it’s the “best” strategy. I’m sure there’s a bunch of teams with at least 1 of murray/bell (PIT)/GioB/lynch/ellington/charles/forte/arian (if not 2) that are doing very well for themselves. Now if you make the assumption that all the other owners in your league simply let you have your pick of the better backups who later become good starters maybe then that “best strategy” line makes sense, but i’m not in those leagues, and if you are why would you need to read Razzball (or any site). While you certainly could have some of Oliver/A.will/Forsett/Bradshaw/McKinnon and the like with competitive owners you won’t have that many of them. I was in one league like that last year, i ended up with like 5 really good players that i picked up off free agency (stacy/jeffery/k.allen) it was the easiest league ever (free espn league that many simply quit very early)

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Montezuma’s Revenge… right now: There are certainly a handful of RB’s that are giving you top two round value Gio, Murray, Bell, Forte, Charles, Foster, and Ellington, but that’s 6 backs that you could have gotten in the top two rounds. Only Charles and Forte were consistent 1st rounders. I saw Gio, Bell, Murray, and Ellington go later in the second in a lot of drafts. I was getting Foster in the 3rd a lot.

      I suppose I was over exaggerating a bit regarding the 5th round. IMO this year’s top 3 rounds were a lot thinner at RB than it had been. There were circumstances like Peterson’s issue that an affect. There’s been a ton of value outside the top 3 rounds at RB. Bradshaw, Forsett, Ivory, Jackson, Vereen, Sproles, Miller, Gore, and Oliver, Pierre Thomas, and before they got hurt Jennings and Ridley. I’ve said it was a good strategy maybe best was a bit of hyperbole on my part. I just think targeting top WR has been a more effective approach.

      • Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: if you took the stats and found out what the most frequent winning teams drafts (at this point) for this year’s draft went like a whole lot of them probably had 2 WR in first 3 rounds for sure. Most probably had 1 RB at least in first 3 rounds as well though. After that a lot of them probably have Olsen or Bennett, probably a whole lot of them have Luck as well.

        • Ditka vs God says:
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          @Montezuma’s Revenge… right now: Good point. I would also guess an inverse relationship between draft order and standings, assuming most people still believe in taking a RB early and the latter spots rolled w a WR or QB with their first pick. Finally being the last pick in the draft seems to paid dividends, since I always seem to be near the tail end.

          • Ralph Lifshitz

            Ralph Lifshitz says:
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            @Ditka vs God: Yeah I’d like to use the Razzball league’s as a focus group and see what the top 5 picks were of the top 3 teams in each RCL.

  12. Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:
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    very good call on moreno though, which i like, since i have miller in a few spots, but moreno never this year in any.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Montezuma’s Revenge… right now: Yeah I had Moreno as a late round handcuff to hedge my bets. After week 1 I thought it was a great pick later in drafts but I had Miller every where so it’s worked out.

  13. Rickythetank says:
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    Lacy and G. Tate for Megatron and Ryan Mathews? Already own Demaryius and Jordy; but we have 2 flex spots. Standard. RBs left are Lamar Miller, Vereen, McKinnon, and Hillman. 5-1 is current record.

  14. Ralph Lifshitz

    Ralph Lifshitz says:
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    You’re getting Mega? I’d want the Lacy side at this point. Matthews seems to be a long ways away. He’s not even cleared to run yet.

  15. pipa says:
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    I play in a PPR league. My line up is made up of,
    QB NEWTON
    RB MURRAY
    RB LYNCH
    WR EDELMAN
    WR RANDLE
    TE THOMAS
    FLEX WRIGHT

    I’m currently in 2nd and number one overall in points. Do you think I should try and acquire another WR? I have P Thomas, Ingram, K Robinson, and Kelce on my bench. I was thinking of packaging Thomas and Kelce for Hilton. What do you think? Should I maintain depth at RB or seek a better WR? Thanks in advance.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @pipa: Try that Hilton trade

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: I assume by Thomas you mean Pierre….

        • pipa says:
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          @Ralph Lifshitz:

          TE J Thomas

          Bench P Thomas

  16. Ditka vs God says:
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    One of my fav pieces on Razzball’s site. Better LT play, stashing Joseph “Guilty Black” Randle or Daniel Thomas in a PPR league? I have Lamar Miller along w Vereen, Sankey, and McKinnon. Thomas would be a nice handcuff to guarantee I have a starting RB in Miami, but not sure on Randle’s upside when DeMarco inevitably goes down. Thank you in advance!!!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Ditka vs God: I like Randle as the better stash. Mostly because Daniel Thomas isn’t very good. I’m just not sold that the workload would be entirely Randle’s.I think Dunbar’s touches would also expand should Murray go down. I don’t think either sees anywhere near the volume Demarco does.

      • Ditka vs God says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: thanks for the help and affirmation what I was thinking. Also a bonus since the guy in 5th place (I’m in 4th w only top 4 making playoffs) has been relying on Murray. I love picking up guys that a good team could really use!

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Ditka vs God: Good strategy!

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