Is there a better time to be a sports fan? Everyone rooting for the Astros to beat the Dodgers in the World Series, everyone overreacting to every NBA game, fantasy football owners starting to turn their attention to playoff season, the NHL still existing.

Up here in the northeast the leaves are starting to fall just like your fantasy playoff chances if you don’t use Razzball to get you over the hump. If you’ve got league-specific questions — post them below and I will get to them Saturday afternoon/evening.

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There are a lot of obvious start & sit candidates for this week. Patriots vs Falcons? Give me everyone involved in the passing game. Bucs/Bills? I don’t want anything to do with the Bucs offense. Rams vs Cardinals? I’m bullish on the Rams. Start your stars and take a shot on some of these guys below if you’re suffering through the Texans/Lions bye week like I am. I own Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller in one of my leagues. I’m prepared for the L, but will be trusting my own advice in this article. Live by the Razz, die by the Razz!

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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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Welcome back to my weekly rankings, folks! Injuries are ravaging our rosters, but the show must go on. Last week I had some good calls, such as Chris Hogan over Brandin Cooks, Doug Martin was in my top-15 running backs, I had Austin Seferian-Jenkins in my top-7 tight ends, and DeShaun Watson was a top-5 QB for me. I had my fair share of bad calls too. Mike Evans and Todd Gurley did not outperform the rest of their positions, I left Cam Newton just outside of my top 10 quarterbacks, and Devante Parker didn’t get the chance to be a top-10 WR for the week.

Let’s try this again, I will be updating these throughout the week, sometimes 436 times per day! Here are my Week 6 rankings…

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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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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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Welcome to Razzball’s Fantasy Football Preview series, where yours truly will guide you, caress you, perhaps even coddle you through your draft preparations and processes. Mmm, processes. And while none of this may be legal and I’ll end up with multiple restraining orders, rest assured that we’ll all be the better for it. Maybe. We’ll go in depth (that’s what she said) at every position… well, the positions that actually count (I’m looking at you Kickers and DSTs…), going over some analysis, the tiers, and any illuminating observations I might have. Because light bulbs are just the coolest thing. Said everyone from the 1800s. Before you get settled down, please refer to Razzball’s 2017 Fantasy Football Draft Rankings, and specifically for this post, refer to our Running Back Rankings

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This is it, I’ve reached the end of my half of the Razzball Division previews with the rest coming from Zach.  It’s been quite a journey researching the NFC for the upcoming season.  It was great going through all of the players that have disappointed me in the past and still loving them for this year and vice versa. Now, I feel somewhat ready to start my rankings for 2017.  Within a week, I will put out my top 200 for the season and I will also put out a top 100 IDP players post as well.  We’re reaching the home stretch of the NFL offseason, but we still have a lot to cover over here at Razzball.  Without further ado, let’s get to the Starks of the NFC North.

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Wide receiver is a tough position to draft outside of the top 15.  Within the next 35 players of the preseason top 50, there are 10 guys who are going to outplay their ADP, maybe by a lot. There are also 10 other receivers getting hype, who just don’t live up to it, whether they are a complete bust or just somebody who frustrates you to put into your lineup every week.  I’ve been there, I drafted Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins on the same team last season.  This league is a two-keeper league and my keepers were ho-hum going into the draft, and I knew that I had to make a splash.  Doug Martin and Brandin Cooks were career hit or miss guys so I went high upside with my first couple of picks…

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