Adrian Peterson is free! On Tuesday, AP was traded from the New Orleans Saints (who seemingly never wanted him?) to the running back-desperate Arizona Cardinals. He is here to save the day for all fantasy owners who stashed him through the first few weeks or were able to submit a successful waiver claim for him after the trade. Our prayers are answered. All is right in the world. Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

Right?

Well, kind of. There is no doubt that getting traded from the pass-happy Saints, where Peterson was an odd fit from the second they signed him, to the Cardinal who lost David Johnson in Week 1 and have gotten zilch from the running back position in the weeks since, significantly improves Peterson’s fantasy value. The questions we have to answer now are: just how much has it improved? And what exactly can we expect going forward?

In the last few weeks, AP was not seeing regular touches, and his value was pretty much nonexistent. When he signed with the Saints in the offseason, you could hear a collective “huh?” from football fans and writers everywhere. We gave the Saints the benefit of the doubt and figured they knew what they were doing, but it turned out exactly how we all thought it would. Peterson was an odd fit for a Saints team that likes to pass the ball and likes to operate out of the shotgun, two things that don’t mess with Peterson’s style. Add to that the presence of Mark Ingram and youngster Alvin Kamara, and it is no surprise the team moved on from AP.

With the Cardinals, Peterson should get plenty of opportunities. Chris Johnson has not looked good in a couple years now, and he was a free agent until David Johnson got hurt. With Peterson entering the fold, the Cardinals did not even wait a week or two before cutting CJ. He got cut to make room for AP.

There are, however, a few reasons to roll our Peterson optimism back to “cautious optimism.” For starters, he is moving to a new team with a new playbook in the middle of a season. The complexity of NFL playbooks and schemes is why we don’t see a ton of in-season trading in the NFL. It is very difficult to fully learn everything while also preparing to play every week. To start out, they are going to have to feed him plays in bunches and get him acclimated a little bit more every week. Early playing time/snaps are question marks for Peterson right now.

Next, there is the issue of the Arizona offensive line. They’re bad. They’re really bad. They are particularly bad at run blocking, which is the primary reason the Cardinals have struggled so much on the ground this season. If they can’t open up some room for Peterson, he might have a fairly low ceiling in Arizona.

Lastly, the Cardinals are another team that likes to throw the ball. Carson Palmer currently leads the NFL in passing attempts. Part of that is likely because they have struggled to run the ball so much that they have been forced to pass, but they are not going to flip the script and decide to run the ball 60% of the time just because Adrian Peterson has arrived. Peterson is not much of a pass-catching back, so will he get enough touches to be valuable on a weekly basis for fantasy owners?

These are all valid questions that cause concern. Of course, the upside with Peterson is definitely worth taking the chance on him, even if just to stash him for a couple weeks while you see how he looks in that offense. Just don’t get your hopes up too high until we actually see him getting the ball with some space to work with.

Now, to the charts!

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Alright guys, welcome to Week 5 of the NFL season! We now have official hit #byeszn, so today I’ll be sprinkling in some under-the-radar plays so you guys can get some fillers for those players on bye this week. Enough chatter, let’s get to some Razzball-certified picks!

Check out Rudy’s exclusive DFS and season-long tools that are sure to help you be profitable this fantasy football season!

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I haven’t seen a Carr get sacked like that since I rubbed my nuts all over the hood of my ex’s new boyfriend’s Civic…

For your own notes, I was also considering “Carr Trouble” as the title of today’s recap, but I figured I’d just go full year 2000 (Y2K baby!). Raiders quarterback David Derek Carr left with a back injury suffered late in the third quarter versus the Broncos yesterday and did not return, forcing Jack Del Rio to ask “Is this Carr still covered under the manufacturer warranty?”. Look guys, the automobile puns are endless, so just deal. So now that the E.J. Manuel experience began anew yesterday, I guess this means I can’t read any Raiders hot takes for the next week or so. Granted, 2-2 is not a terrible record when you’ve played three of your first four games on the road, but I doubt the fans will see that. As SON said on this past-week’s pod, their time is now (adding Marshawn Lynch and the top-dollar money thrown at the team’s high-profile offensive line, both Cooper and Crabtree on the roster, etc.) and losing your starting quarterback, even if he is an Alex Smith clone with Joe Flacco eyebrows, is a playoff killer. Del Rio did tell reporters that his back injury did not seem serious, officially labeled as “back spasms” and that Carr’s set to go next week, but a quarterback playing through a back injury? Let’s ask Tony Romo about how he feels about that. Regardless, this is the weirdest week of football I’ve seen in a while (since last week), so let’s get those GIFs, hot takes, and other relevant (more like irrelevant) content into your laps! (Because where else should content go? RAWR.)

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Last week I tried something new by analyzing another expert’s weekly picks. Some of you did not take very kindly to my approach. If I’m being honest, while you are entitled to your opinion, your comments did not phase me as I’m right back at it again. If you’ve read my posts, both here and on the baseball side of business, you will know that I like to mix it up with respect to post topics. Some weeks you will get an advice column while others will be more of a recap rant. Sometimes I’ll use my math and computer science background to try and analyze the numbers, and once in a while I like to go off the rails and hit you with a wild card. That is exactly what I did last week. If you didn’t like it, I’m not sorry. If you’d prefer to ignore what I have to say, then I’m pretty sure you know how to to not click the link when you see my name announced as the author. If you don’t, then I suggest you pick up the following book.

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Welcome everyone to Week 4 of the NFL Season! What a week, huh? I’m not talking about the NFL season, I’m talking about the wonderful week Rudy and the crew had last week and so far this season! If you haven’t heard the news, our Razzball NFL projections are Top 5 on accuracy so far in 2017 on FantasyPros.com, and Top 3 on boldness!

As I have said since the beginning, if you haven’t subscribed yet to our tools, you are simply wasting money!

Anyway, today is Saturday, and you know what that means! It’s time to get to some Razzball-certified picks and players to help you guys out with those lineups.

Let’s get to it!

Check out Rudy’s exclusive DFS and season-long tools that are sure to help you be profitable this fantasy football season!

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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!

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Another week of the NFL season is in the books, and we have a few more developments at the running back position to keep an eye on. There are a few injuries hitting the wire this week, and out in Seattle, a youngster is outplaying some familiar names. Over in Philadelphia, the guy who is supposed to be the lead back barely saw the field…

Razzball Football’s partner FantasyDraft is starting a new sign-up promotion this week, all new depositing signups receive a free $4 “Everyone Wins” NFL GPP ticket for the upcoming Sunday slate along with offering all players 4% cash back on their initial deposits! 

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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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Well, that was… something.  Not a really exciting day, right? We waited months and months for three players to go over 100 yards receiving today and only two rushers to go over 100 yards as well.  We had a game in Green Bay where there should have been 800 points scored but neither team could get to 20.

Welcome to my weekly recap of the action we saw on Sunday.  So, I physically can’t watch every play of all 12 or 13 games that go on during the afternoon, but I do watch about 6.5 hours of Redzone every Sunday, so you could say that me and Andrew Siciliano are kind of a thing.  I’ll let you know how I interpret things that I see watching live and what I see in the box score.  I’m not going to bore you with paragraphs upon paragraphs on each game but, I assure you that you will know the trends that you need to know to make decisions for your lineup the next coming week.  Let’s start with the most exciting game from a fantasy stand point…

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We are here today to point out the differences between the Razzball Rankings (which finished Top-3 in 2016) and those that ESPN has released to the masses. Haha, just kidding. You know, it used to be that Matthew Berry, Tristan Cockraft (lovely human being, totally serious. Met him at the LABR party down in Arizona Spring Training, probably one of the nicest guys in the industry along with Eno Sarris), and Eric Karabell submitted their rankings for the Accuracy Challenge that our friends over at FantasyPros host… After both Berry finishing in the lower 80’s back in 2015 and then Karabell finishing in the same area-ish (“ish” because I can’t remember exactly ) last season, they have yet to be seen this season putting their rankings to the test. So while I used to be able to compare our rankings to what the “industry” had made “standard” (parenthesis for sarcasm I suppose), the first thing you’ll notice with our yearly “Rankings Versus” series is that there won’t be any Matthew Berry. Whether that’s ultimately a good or bad thing, I’ll let you decide. Because, hey, I’m just that kind of guy. But don’t worry! Instead, we’ll be taking a look at how our “industry” leading rankings stack against the ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings), and last season’s top “Accuracy Expert” (no sarcasm), Dalton Del Don from Yahoo! (do I have to yell it every time? Geez, that gets old real fast…) Sports, not to be confused with “Yoohoo! Sports”, which I do all the time. Then again, I usually confuse most things with chocolate drinks. Totally normal.

So be sure to check out our 2017 Fantasy Football Rankings, Auction Values, and our very own Cheat Sheet for any context you may need. I’d say that context needs more chocolate drink to be honest…

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