It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of Webb, it was the age of Sanchez, it was the epoch of Beckham, it was the epoch of Rex…

I can’t remember a more interesting year of QB play in New York. Eli Manning, on the brink of passing his brother on the all-time consecutive regular season game start list and Josh McCown, two years older than Eli at 38 and now on his 8th team since being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2002 — the odds makers would’ve never predicted which one of these two would potentially be threatening for a playoff spot — and the other could be losing his job to a younger QB by mid-season.

But both McCown and Manning have intriguing fantasy match-ups this week and are my ‘start’ options.

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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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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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I’ll warn you right now — there aren’t a lot of great QB fill in options this week. Lots of tough match-ups or under performing players. I had to recommend what remains of Teddy Bridgewater for Pete Carroll’s sake! You won’t see him listed in this article, but my prediction from last week of Colin Kaepernick getting a job still remains! Even if he’s now suing the exact people who could possibly offer him a job…

This week will see the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans getting the week off. You’ll need help replacing Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Miller, DeAndre Hopkins, Golden Tate and Ameer Abdullah.

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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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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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Can you guys feel it? Football is back baby! It feels forever ago that the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, and now, for the first time in 7 months, we now can get back to meaningful football! I can’t wait! I can’t wait to fall asleep on my couch to the soothing voice of Scott Hansen, waking up and getting frustrated that my players are doing absolutely nothing, only to realize that it’s only the 2nd quarter and then falling back asleep to avoid watching Houston vs. Jacksonville.

It’s going to be a fun and hopefully very long season, so let’s jump right into it with my Week 1 rankings!

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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.

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Greetings and welcome to another NFL season and, more importantly, another Fantasy Football season. And even more importantly, welcome to the 2016 Razzball Handcuff Report! And despite the direction of the current NFL, we will not be tracking the players who get arrested every week or the players who Roger Goodell would like to put in handcuffs (hint: all of them). Instead, we will cover the best and worst handcuff options for fantasy football on a weekly basis… For the 2016 season, I, obviously, will be handling the Handcuff Report, which will be posted every Wednesday. For those of you who read my Frankencatcher articles over on the baseball side of things, this will be pretty similar. Also, to everyone who followed my advice and rolled with J.T. Realmuto this year, you’re welcome. I wish you the best of luck in your league’s playoffs.

So, first things first: what exactly is 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 ones…

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I thoroughly enjoyed Alex Lee’s piece about Ezekiel Elliott a couple of days ago. Personally, I don’t have any issue with Elliott in the top ten, however I agree with Alex, it isn’t an ideal position for him to be in. In order to build the most ideal starting lineup, it’s probably wise for Elliott to be your early second round pick after getting a top-end WR1, which is possible in regards to current ADP. But I’d be remiss not to point out that Alex left out a crucial element about the Cowboys backfield as a whole, so I followed up with him…

“I like Dunbar as a deep sleeper option, especially in PPR. I agree that Elliott won’t have a Murray-like workload, I’d expect them to give some whole series to Morris and have Dunbar as a 3rd-down back out of the gate, with McFadden potentially being sidelined at the beginning of the season. He could take the first few weeks of the season to carve out a nice spot for himself as a Sproles-like weapon. If he does well with it early on, that would make it tough for Garrett to force him into a reduced role when DMC comes back. The problem is that McFadden is arguable a more complete player who is a competent receiver (he caught 40 balls last season), and if Dunbar doesn’t impress early on, the team probably wouldn’t hesitate to give his opportunities to McFadden or Elliott. He’s a risky play, but worth a late round stash to see how he looks coming off his knee injury and what kind of role the team has in store for him. He could pay big dividends, or be someone you drop quickly for the waiver wire darling du jour”.

Well, I guess I don’t have to write the article then. Way to go Alex. However, there are some other things I want to say and build off of, and it involves even more Lance Dunbar. So let’s get to it…

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