Kerryon Johnson was ruled out during Sunday’s bout against the Minnesota Vikings with a reported knee injury. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Monday that Kerryon is expected to miss a couple of weeks. Ty Johnson led the backfield in snaps on Sunday and will be this weeks top RB waiver add. JD McKissic, who was slightly more efficient with his touches than Ty, is a speculative add in deeper formats and for RB needy owners in PPR leagues. If Kerryon’s injury is longer than 1-2 weeks, don’t be surprised to see the Lions make an acquisition at the running back position. Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount are names to watch, unless the Lions make a trade with another NFL team. Both Ajayi and Blount have had workouts for other NFL teams in recent weeks. Either would be worth a bench stash if acquired. Kerryon and the Lions running game has underwhelmed this season, tied for the 11th worst in the league in yards per rush attempts (3.8) and 14th worst in yards per game. Unless you own Kerryon or have huge holes at the RB position, I would not waste top waiver priority position OR blow my FAAB money. We know Ty Johnson is expected to take over the #1 spot, but there is too much uncertainty. The Lions could make an acquisition or decide to treat the backfield like a true RBBC with McKissic, until Kerryon returns.

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In a perfect world: there would be no need for handcuff and injury reports, starting backs never lose their job, nor get injured. If there ever was a week that emulated this world, we lived it in week 5. Instead of implosions and injuries, week 5 was filled with fantasy explosions. The first couple of weeks have turned into preseason-esque football: poor performances and athletes getting in “game shape” are the new norm to start the NFL season. October is here and the football that was expected has arrived.

The week 5 fantasy gods were kind to us, avoiding any major injuries to starting running backs. Just because there were no injuries or any major handcuff to report on, it does not mean we get to take our foot off the gas. Now is the time for owners to secure their handcuff and prepare for the end of the fantasy season, as owners give up on under performing handcuffs that were over-drafted. Look for players like Rashaad Penny, Ito Smith, Tony Pollard, Malcolm Brown, Alexander Mattison, Latavius Murray, and Jaylen Samuels to be dropped this week. If you own any of their respective starting backs, you want to make sure you secure your insurance policy before it’s too late and before the price increases.

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It feels just like yesterday that I was writing pre-season articles for you. Now, we are facing the last week(s) of the fantasy football regular season. While we are all getting stuffed on side-dishes (because we all know turkey is just taking up space on our plate), we have crucial decisions to make regarding our rosters. What is your favorite thanksgiving dish?

This week, due to the holiday, I’ll keep it brief and get straight to this weeks culprits. We have a few backfield situations worth monitoring…

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As we mark the halfway point of the NFL season, many fantasy football outlets are performing mid-year reviews. While reflecting on early season analysis can be beneficial, I know you are more concerned about who to start this week for your starter that is on bye and what is going on with the multiple backfield injuries. This is what I am here to give you…

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There is no denying just how important how important the running back position is to fantasy football roster construction. Once you get past the first couple of rounds, the position becomes a cesspool of what ifs. If you’re in a 12 team league, current ADP data says that only eight picks in the first two rounds won’t be a running back. It’s more important than ever to make the right pick.

Just like with wide receivers, this is a pre-training camp evaluation so my opinion is subject to change going into August. But, as of now, I’m going to let you know what running backs that I don’t see myself drafting this season. When I’m drafting running back early, I’m targeting volume second only to skill. Dual-threat is also something that I look for too. I mostly play in PPR leagues. A lot of the time, the past performance and current off season moves at offensive line can also sway me.

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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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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!

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