The Eagles were on their bye week, so I took Sunday off from football this week. And by took Sunday off I mean I got up early to set my lineups and monitor the actives and inactives for FantasyPros, went to the movies with my wife around noon, and was back home by 3pm for the afternoon and evening games. That counts as taking the week off from football, right?

Two of the top four scoring running backs this week play for the Saints because it is that kind of year. Another one of them was Dion Lewis, one of the 14 running backs on the Patriots (depending on your scoring settings), who rushed for a touchdown and returned a kick for a touchdown. DeMarco Murray was the fourth guy on the list. Since I mentioned the other three, figured I might as well tell you who the other guy was.

Two other running backs making appearances in the upper tier of scorers in Week 10? Austin Ekeler and Corey Grant? Wut. Yup. Ekeler, who is the running back on the Chargers not named Melvin Gordon, rushed 10 times for 42 yards and added five catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Congrats to Ekeler’s mom, who finally cashed in on that FanDuel lineup that featured Austin Ekeler for like $1,800.

According to Google, Corey Grant is 25 years old, has the same birthday as my dog Young Money (different year), played college football at Auburn, and currently plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also did this on Sunday:

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Well, that was certainly one of the busier NFL trade deadlines in my lifetime. A number of big names got traded, and for our purposes here the biggest name was Jay Ajayi going from the Miami Dolphins to the Philadelphia Eagles. The initial consensus was that this would boost his value, going from a struggling Miami offense to one of the more productive offenses in the league in Philadelphia. However, I’m not so sure.

While the Dolphins have been hot garbage this season, Ajayi at least had the benefit of being top dog. In Philadelphia, he joins a committee that currently features LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner. The Eagles have announced that Blount is, at least for now, still their starting running back. While Ajayi shouldn’t lose much time to the latter three once he gets assimilated into the offense, he will probably lose some touches to Blount, especially near the goal line.

The Eagles also love to throw the ball pretty often, despite the success they have had running the ball. Don’t expect just because they now have Ajayi that they are going to start running the ball 75% of the time. This is still a West Coast offense that runs the ball for the sake of balance rather than some kind of desire to actually run the ball. They like to pass for the lead and run things down when they can. Between that and Blount still being around, don’t expect Ajayi to get the ball 30 times a game.

He should still be a valuable back going forward, but I would be a little worried about starting him this week. Assuming he is active, the Eagles are probably going to have a package of plays for him and not ask him to do too much. They have a bye week next week and will probably wait until after that to fully unleash him.

On the Miami side of things, Damien Williams and Kenyon Drake are going to compete for touches. My money is on Williams getting first crack, but the Dolphins are probably going to split time and roll with the hot hand until (if?) someone takes the job. With how things have gone in Miami so far this year, I wouldn’t want to rely on either one until we see some kind of production.

Now, to the charts!

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The Giants finally got off the schneid this past week when they upset the Denver Broncos. More importantly, they started giving the ball to Orleans Darkwa, something a certain Razzball writer has been asking for for what seems like two years now. Paul Perkins, your reign of terrible tip-toeing to the line of scrimmage is over!

Darkwa took 21 carries for 117 yards with a long of 47 yards and added a catch for 13 yards. OD seemed to always produce when given limited touches, and he did the unthinkable when given a full supply of touches: continued to produce! Who would have thought such a thing was possible! Oh, right, everyone who, like me, have been clamoring for Darkwa for two years.

After turning eight carries into 69 yards for a nice little average of 8.625 yards per carry, OD rushed for more than 5.5 yards per carry on nearly three times as many carries. The logical assumption would be the keep feeding him the ball. However, with this year’s New York Giants, who knows what to expect, but a few things are working in OD’s favor.

For starters, the Giants lost roughly 14 wide receivers to injuries over the last two weeks. And in better news for Darkwa, Ben McAdoo handed over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Now, I don’t know a ton about Sullivan, but he does have one very important quality: he isn’t Ben McAdoo. Oh, and he seemed to enjoy employing a more balanced offense that featured a running back who has been having success.

The Broncos had boasted one of the league’s better rushing defenses heading into last week’s game, but they barely slowed Darkwa down for most of the day. Granted, his yards per carry average is boosted by that one long run, but he was still hitting holes fast and running hard and should have earned himself a steady taste of touches at least in the short term. I have been stashing OD in a deep roster dynasty league for two years now, and it looks like I might finally get to play him. Hooray for me.

Now, to the charts!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Are you sick of the bye weeks already? For player safety I advocate for two while as a fantasy player zero works. The early games on Sunday were, how do you say, not exciting…Red Zone couldn’t even make them all work as I paused the games around halftime, ran an errand, starting watching again and after a few minutes fast-forwarded (zoom-zoomed is the sound I make when I do it) through way more than I expected to.

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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!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Does anyone else get the old Sherwin Williams jingle stuck in their head when they see Kerwynn Williams’s name? No? Just me?

Anyway, welcome to the 2017 Handcuff Report. For those who followed this post last season, welcome back. For those who are new, where were you last year? Too good for us? I have researched other available handcuff reports and tell give you my completely unbiased opinion that none of them are half as good as this one. Shame on you, and welcome.

So, first things first: what exactly is a handcuff? For the fantasy football n00bs out there, or perhaps for those who have taken the last few years off, a handcuff is a backup who will likely take over as the starter in the event of an injury, extreme ineffectiveness, off-the-field trouble, or coach’s decision. There are probably other reasons that I am forgetting here, but those are the most common one.

Most NFL teams now run a running back by committee of some sort. While not every team is as unpredictably maddening as the Patriots, most teams share the load in an effort to keep guys fresh and give defenses different looks. With fantasy leagues more competitive than ever, thanks to sites like Razzball offering great advice, it is important to recognize trends and identify value quickly. If you drafted a stud running back early, you might want to grab his handcuff in case of injury. Or if you went zero RB or went really light on RB early, you might want to squat on a couple handcuffs or, especially in PPR leagues, grab a change-of-pace/pass catching back. With the influx of young running backs and each team having two or three options this season, I tended to do the latter in drafts this year. For every Melvin Gordon, I have like two Shane Vereens or Theo Riddicks this year. Speaking of young running backs:

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Around noon eastern time today, I was enjoying my life. It was another day, and I had a delicious lunch consisting of a PB@J and a granola bar. Pretty great. Matt Bowe (make sure to wish my man a Happy Birthday!) and I were talking about Joe Flacco’s broken back, and everything was going according to plan. It was going to be a normal Friday.

And then from around 12-12:15, it all went to crap. It was confirmed that Ezekiel Elliot was going to be suspended for 6 games. So I began writing about that. But then, Sammy Watkins got traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Okay, no biggie, just write two seperate pieces about it. But then, Jordan Matthews got traded to Buffalo. So screw it, we’re going to talk about all of these moves now.

I really hope Adam Schefter’s phone didn’t get hacked.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

playoffs

If you are reading this, congratulations. And I don’t say that just because you are fortunate enough to be reading one of my articles. If you are reading a fantasy football article in Week 14, it is likely because you are in the playoffs and still have a reason to care about your team and your lineup. So, congratulations. I mean it. To those of you who didn’t make the playoffs: see you in hell, candy boys! This is, unfortunately, the last Handcuff Report of the year. It has been a great ride, but we are wrapping things up as the fantasy playoffs begin!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

markingram

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…

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