It is the final week of the regular season. Did your letter from Hogwarts arrive? Did a painted blue key mysteriously appear on your coffee table? I am trying to ask if you’ve made the playoffs. Well, I hope so and I hope this weekly column has assisted you along the way. With the playoffs just a week away, it is time to make secure decisions for your team. Handcuff those running backs and look past a single week outlook. The playoff semifinals and finals matchups should carry a great deal of weight with your waiver decisions, especially if you’ve already secured a bye.

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I’ve never really been a gardener. Sure, I’ve cultivated a trio of kids and seen them through school and a pandemic and managed to throw my back out only minimally while doing so. But plants? Those things are hard. Kids grow up to move around and make their own choices and watch Avatar: The Last Airbender like you still want to do at age 40. But plants (part deux)? They just grow where they’re planted. My neighbor has hostas that he just walks the lawnmower over like it’s a horror movie. But sometimes, he gets generous and tears a couple out and leaves them out for some neighbor to transplant. The last time I tried to transplant some grapes from my best friend’s ancestral home in Central Europe, I killed them in a month. Sometimes organisms just aren’t meant to move. But this week, we saw our good friend Gardner Minshew make his Philadelphia Eagles debut in relief of Jalen Hurts. Jalen, who was…hurt… has been an exciting fantasy QB all year due to his proclivity to just air the dang ball into the air like he was being sponsored by Space X’s telemetry tracking systems. Now that former Jags’ QB Gardner Minshew gets to step in for a bit, we saw another exciting performance for fantasy managers lucky enough to risk their teams on The Constant Gardner. 

Let’s recap the Sunday games for Week 13 of fantasy football. 

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! Warning ! Your 2021 fantasy football season is on FINAL NOTICE. Otherwise meaning: your team is swirling down the crapper, spiraling more quickly thank my bank account after a fun-filled day spent at Chuck-E-Cheese, and you’re desperately in need of that one (maybe two?) player to save you from permanent destruction. Now, there’s this scene in New Girl where Nick shows Jess his box of overdue bills, which he hides in the closet — a place where he puts things he doesn’t want to have to deal with. Heading into Week 11, do not let your fantasy roster become a hidden box of overdue bills. Get the box out. Read the writing on the wall (in the letter). Take a stand and do something about it. Target the right players. Don’t waste a waiver claim on the guy who will save you for one week, rather, go big on the one name that could turn your entire season around. In this segment, I’ll detail seven players who hold the potential to flip the switch your 2021 fantasy football season. Many of these names have been discussed in this week’s waiver column, but as I’ll discuss later, not every waiver add has rest-of-season relevance. These players aren’t so much league winners, as they are league savers. 

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It was the middle of the night when the message woke me, it’s incessant buzzing threading the neurons in my brain. It said, Tom Brady’s gonna be useless, start Trevor Siemian today. With my mind on rankings and helping the Average Joe, Jose, and Josephine, I couldn’t fall back into the grasp of the Sandman. I had to tell the people. I had to tell them to run away from Matt Ryan and Baker Mayfield (“Why didn’t they listen to me on Baker?”), and instead ask my unfailing followers to go all in on Gabriel Davis. Wait, did I do that? [checks To Do List] Aww crap I told you to start everybody else. But on the plus side, we didn’t end up with the Bills losing in a battle of field goals, did we? Let’s check out what happened on Sunday for fantasy football: 

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As Axl Rose once said:

And when your fears subside

And shadows still remain, oh yeah

I know that you can love me when there’s no one left to blame

So never mind the darkness, we still can find a way

‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain

We’re in the darkness right now as a football community. Confusion, injuries, controversy, and most strikingly, tragedy. We’re surrounded by it right now and this is already generally a tough spot in “normal” football seasons but it seems obvious this is anything but normal. This has been a real tough one with some big highs and some of the lowest lows in a long time. 

And it’s my job to help guide you, as a fantasy football player, through these lows to succeed at this game we all love. Is the senseless death of a young woman something I want to cover in what should be an entertaining run-over of your roster options for Sunday football? No, of course not but the dice have unfortunately been cast and this is how they’ve fallen and I’d be remiss to ignore the 2000 lb elephant in the room. I’m going to go from here on without some of the sentimentality and just talk football because frankly, as callous as it sounds, that’s what you’re here for and that’s what I get paid patented Razzball Fun Bucks™ (Redeemable at participating Razzball locations) to do. And who really wants to hear me pondering on these deep ethical and moral questions this week have brought about? I spent most of last week’s article talking about the Monster Mash for crying out loud. 

With that being said, let’s jump into it.

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We’ve officially passed the halfway point of the fantasy football season. Some of us are riding high with 6-2 records basking in dreams and visions of fantasy championships on the horizon. The rest of us have located our local friendly time traveling scientist to convert our 2018 Nissan Rogue into a time machine. I honestly need an oil change as I have trouble getting it above 88 miles per hour. So, I guess I can’t go back and should instead focus on digging myself out of this hole without having the kiss my mother or have her see me in my undies. I’m talking of course of the waiver wire and where we’re going, you’ll need the waiver wire.

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At What Age Should You Fade A Running Back in Fantasy?

 

The previous intro worked so well for the wide receiver age analysis article we decided to use it again. 

Whether it is dynasty or redraft understanding when the cliff typically comes for a fantasy asset is key to staying ahead of the game. What we did was review the last 10 seasons of running back production by age to see when the drop off comes for the position. A couple key nuggets that you need to know before we get started.

  1. The years sampled were 2011-2020 for the running back position only
  2. The analysis benchmark we will be discussing today is 100 touches. Every running back ages 21-37 had to have at least 100 touches to qualify
  3. The points and points per game (PPG) are in half point (.5) points per reception (PPR)
  4. When conducting the analysis, it was important to have a baseline for touches as many players who don’t make it typically only play 3-4 years in their early 20s. That means if you don’t have a touch baseline in the analysis then you’re including a lot of young running backs who don’t pan out. This would prevent us from getting a better idea of how age becomes a factor since we want to identify the running backs who were able to sustain some level of relevance throughout the years

Like we always promise we will give you the high-level data first and you can take it for what it is worth. The first chart will include the running backs (RB) age, the average total fantasy points those running backs had at that age and the average points per game (PPG) those running backs had at that age.  If you want a deeper dive, we have included more information later.

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Meet Pat. Pat’s first offensive coordinator gig came back in 2009. That year Pat aka Pat Shurmur gave a little-known back named Steven Jackson back-to-back seasons of 300 plus carries (324 and 330 carries to be exact).

Shurmur turned this RBBC commitment into a head coaching job. His first season as a Head Coach Pat gave former madden cover great Peyton Hillis 16.1 carriers per game. Realizing Hillis has allowed his madden cover experience to go to his head, the Browns decided to draft dynamo Trent Richardson 3rd overall. In Trent’s first season Shurmur gave him a very modest 17.8 carriers per game.

Unfortunately, drafting Richardson didn’t lead to a 3rd season (go figure), but Shurmur landed on his feet alongside a college football offensive innovator named Chip Kelly. In the first two seasons as Kelly’s offensive coordinator, Shurmur gave a slippery running back named LeSean McCoy 314 and 313 carries per year. However, due to some unforeseen differences McCoy left and they replaced him with former workhorse DeMarco Murray.

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Now that the 2020 fantasy football playoffs are upon us, my job overseeing the rest of season top 60 running back rankings here at Razzball are as through as the chances of Carson Wentz inviting Doug Pederson to this week’s Bible study. Last week, I put a bow on that project with one final, playoff edition of the top backs to target for those still in hot pursuit of a fantasy championship. Friends, we’ve come a long, long way from the initial set of rankings I constructed in the preseason edition, when I was young and naïve and my only prior experience with Reddit commenters was through the illegal streaming of countless sporting events. But now, since there are truly only two weeks of fantasy football remaining, my job is done. Instead, for those looking for rankings to use the next couple weeks, look to Donkey Teeth & Co. for further insight. All season long, Razzball’s Donkey Teeth and MB have been providing excellent work as always with their weekly fantasy football rankings. That’s the place to go for any and all remaining decisions. As for me, my final fantasy football post for 2020 will look ahead to 2021. Who is an early favorite for that first overall pick in drafts? Which 2020 rookie backs have put themselves in the conversation for a first round pick? And hey, how about the incoming 2021 rookie class? Any early-round selection potential there? You already know I want me some Najee Harris the same way I wanted to be in bed with Dobbins the Take-it-to-the-House Elf all season long. But first, before you all take your Sunday wizardry robes off,  I’d like to take a few moments to reflect briefly on what we observed in 2020 (in lieu of a trip around the league), and how maybe we can use it as a learning experience to improve as fantasy owners in the years ahead.

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All season long, we’ve been grinding through the top-60 rest of season running backs. There has been a lot of turnover, an excess of movement both in and outside of the top-24, and a heck of a lot of injuries and COVID-19 to navigate around — both in the fantasy realm and the real world. But, alas, we’ve finally made it to Week 14. Hopefully, for many of you, this means the start of a successful playoff run, as Weeks 14-16 is when the vast majority of fantasy playoffs occur. For this very reason, I find myself feeling sentimental as I write this. At times, I led you stray, and at others, I did my job well. Now, as we leave the regular season behind and enter the postseason threshold, I have the opportunity to provide you with one last set of running back rankings as it relates to the 2020 season. In this final installment, I’ll be focusing on the set of matchups each running back faces over the next three weeks, as I’ve replaced the previous “bye” week component in the rankings with a look at each respective player’s “upcoming schedule.” And before you ask, yes — I do have David Montgomery ranked as a top-10 rest of season, fantasy playoff run option for that very reason, among others.

But before we get to the rest of that top 10, let’s take one final, albeit emotional trip around the league together. Feel free to bring a pack of Kleenex or, if you wish, simply deploy your own makeshift snot sleeve. Personally, I haven’t cried this hard since I said goodbye to my foreign exchange student in 10th grade. It was emotional. We played a lot of ping pong together. To fully appreciate this last ROS top-60 segment, I highly recommend playing the song “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Blast it from the speakers as you digest the fickle words to follow.

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