Welcome! Welcome! To an elite club, an exclusive group, of individuals whose fantasy football skills reign supreme over their peers. Now is the time to showcase your prowess and claim your seat on the pigskin throne. Let us put fear in the eyes of our enemies as we encounter our first foe in our championship quest.

Today I cover my take on the multiple running back handcuffs that will see starting duties this weekend. Unfortunately, as we enter the first round of the playoffs, we are down a few heavy hitters, that have carried us to this point. James Conner, Kareem Hunt, Melvin Gordon, and Matt Breida are a few of the studs that will be missed. If you have followed along all season then you have built your bench depth adequately to compete for a championship. Hopefully, some of these players below can come to our rescue.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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Paulsen, Elkaffas, DiBari: Rankings, Values, and Giggles.

Good news, bad news this week folks. Well, I’m not quite sure if it is good, or bad, so let’s just call it news. If you’ve seen, listened, or heard of the #DWG4 Experience you likely know it is intended to be a short video interview series. Unfortunately, this week the service I use to record these calls decided to crap out. Maybe it was divine intervention, and these are intended to be audio plays only. Maybe it was meddling, as I officially cleared out the last of my contents from my former site. Or maybe, just maybe, it was something different altogether and merely coincidence things went awry this week. Regardless of the reason, this week I only have an audio version to present to you. So again, I beg of you… please let me know if you enjoy these, find them beneficial, or are a complete waste of both mine, yours, and all of these guests time. The guests this week, you ask? Another phenomenal bunch! I talked with John Paulsen of 4for4.com, who has been one of the most accurate Fantasy Football experts the past decade, even winning the Fantasy Pros content twice. I asked him about his methodology, and what are the initial and final factors into his decision making. We also discussed the Texans backfield, and if D’Onta Foreman truly serves as a bigger threat to Lamar Miller, than the Houston O-Line itself. John came second in this episode (but it the bigger name), because I opened things up with Izzy Elkaffas, who writes for Dynasty League Football (DLF), and is co-founder of the Dynasty Trade Calculator. DTC, or The Calculator as Izzy refers to it, has become very prominent in off-season trading, as a barometer for value being exchanged. I asked him how it got its start, what makes up the algorithm, and what improvements have been made, and are in store for the future. Lastly, I spoke with John DiBari of the Fantasy Forty Podcast. John has become a dear friend thru this industry, is a great deal of fun, and has a very blunt and direct way of discussing players. We talked about an assortment of things, and somehow morphed it into a convo about the rookie Quarterbacks to date.

I truly hope you enjoy the episode! These are a lot of fun for me to record and pick the brains of so many talented analysts, and I am trying to ask questions that will be entertaining and informational for you and your fantasy needs. Seriously, please let me know what you think, what works, what doesn’t, and anything else you think I should consider. Appreciate you all. Good luck in Week 7!

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Chris Godwin (vs CLE): All Chris Godwin has done is catch a TD in 4 of his 5 games this season and netted 13 points or more in all 4 of those games. There are a lot of hungry mouths in the Bucs receiving game, but with Jameis Winston back in the fold I can see all those baby birds getting fed by mama Winston especially against a Browns team that has surrendered the 5th most receiving yards.

O.J. Howard (vs CLE): Another mouth to feed in Tampa Bay? Yea, but Howard was well fed even before Winston’s return. In his last three games played he’s had 18 fantasy points, 13 fantasy points and 16 fantasy points respectively. Howard will continue to gobble up a decent amount of targets even against a Browns secondary that has been a little stingy to opposing TEs. Should I end this eating analogy now? OM NOM NOM!

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My weekly goal is not only to inform you on critical RB pickups and injuries but to help equip you to win your league with my weekly strategy soap box. We are nearing the half way point of the fantasy football regular season and I have another nugget for you. 

Stop gloating about your undefeated or one loss team, no one cares and it does not matter. Regular season win/loss records do not mean anything if you are chasing a championship. If your team is great now it does not gaurantee your team to be great come playoffs. Exhibit A: a league-mate of mine last season went 11-2 and did not win the championship. Mid-season, I suggested he should make a trade to help improve his team for the post season. He felt his team was too good and he did not need to make any changes. He exited the playoffs first round and we all got the last laugh. 

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We are now more than two-thirds and less than three-quarters of the way through the NFL season (#math), which means your league should be right at its trading deadline as you try to shore up those running back slots for a playoff run. Making matters more interesting the last couple weeks were a bunch of injuries that should clear up some playing time for running backs who were either riding the bench or snoozing on the waiver wire. Like Samaje Perine, for example.

I liked Perine coming into the season for a number of reasons. The biggest was that I think Rob Kelley stinks, so I figured Perine would take over that job and keep it at some point. Kelley has been injured off an on for most of the season, and Perine has gotten some chances and not done much with them. But those were week-to-week situations, with Kelley lingering in the background as he got healthy, so you knew that Perine would have to get hot in order to keep the job. And even if he did, Kelley would probably still be there to vulture and eat into the share of touches.

But Kelley is gone now and was placed on injured reserve. Making matters more interesting, Chris Thompson, who was averaging roughly a gazillion fantasy points per game earlier this season by taking swing passes to the house, joined him on injured reserve on Tuesday. That leaves Samaje Perine all by his lonesome with all those touches. His backup, Byron Marshall, was on the Eagles practice squad last week and is nothing more than a third-down running back/wide receiver hybrid and return man.

The time has come for you to consider a Perine implant. In his first game as the dude, Perine put up 126 total yards and a touchdown. More importantly, he got 24 touches (23 carries and one reception) on Sunday, while Thompson seeing five before leaving with a fractured fibula. If you need a running back and can find that kind of volume on the waiver wire or in a trade that shouldn’t be very expensive (don’t overpay, but check in on his price), you have to pull the trigger.

If you have a solid team but are maybe one running back short of a real run, Perine could be your guy. Maybe you’re like me and have been alternating one spot between Bilal Powell, Matt Forte, Marlon Mack, and someone from the Seahawks all year. Perine can be our savior, guys.

Now, to the charts!

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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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This season the Eagles thought they had that famous combination, pairing LeGarette Blount and Darren Sproles (only to have Sproles break his arm and tear his ACL, brutal, and get replaced by another Lighting). The nickname for a running back combination, typically a larger, burlier back and a shiftier, quicker back has been passed down through the years. Beginning with the backfield of one Archie Manning, the original Thunder and Lighting were the Saints duo Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath, so dubbed by Hank Stram (I don’t remember this, uh, since I wasn’t born yet, so thanks NY Times, though the link is about the tough life of Muncie, worth the read, but come right back!).

In more recent years we’ve had CJ2K (more on him later) and LenDale White (I still remember winning leagues with White scoring 15 TDs back when leagues weren’t rewarding .1 for rushing & receiving yards and TDs were what won leagues) Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott(and later TJ Duckett), Tiki Barber and Ron (the Cocaine Train) Dayne and I’m sure I’m missing a bunch (so feel free to add your favorite).

A google search yields multiple teams are working on their own T&L this season including the Bears (Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen), the Dolphins (Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake), Atlanta (though I’m not really sure which is which), Cincinnati (Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard formed a piss poor T&L, just let Mixon be the number one already) and…wow, this is such a lazy way to refer to running back combinations so let’s all agree to never use the term Thunder and Lighting…except in the title of this post. But after that, no more, ok?

Onto the Values! At this point I’m going to assume you’ve spent at least half of a $100 budget (If you have more, add a few dollars to the bids, what do you have to lose?) So with that remaining Grant this week we’re spending it on:

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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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?