So yeah, I get it, the title is a bit overused in today’s parlance with the bizarre yet hypnotizing Adult Swim “horror-comedy-90’s sitcom” experience bringing the idiom back into style. Combined with the fact that I’d faint if you told me that this headline hadn’t been used by any other football writer before today when referring to Brandin Cooks (seen above with the 11-yard touchdown)… yeah, that saying’s been here before. But how apt! How meta I say! Because that’s exactly how I felt about last night’s prime time rematch of last year’s Super Bowl (did you know? You’d think they would mention that at least once last night!) that 95% of the Northeast tuned out of in the third quarter. There was some horror, some comedy, and of course Bill Belichek carries the whole 90’s sitcom vibe all by himself… but ultimately, it seemed to be a game that’d we’d all seen before and we were all the worse for it. And sure, while it might have been the Falcon’s gameplan all along, to give the Patriots a 23-point lead only to start a miraculous comeback of their own… problem was, the comeback never came and the Falcons looked about as good in the first three quarters yesterday as they did in the last quarter in the aforementioned Super Bowl. But there was fog! And lots of it! (I can’t find confirmation if it was coming out of Cris Collinsworth’s or Bob Costas’ mouth.) So instead of calling this a Super Bowl rematch, maybe we should call it the “Trent Green Bowl”? Kind of an “NFL’s concept” of what it’s like travelling through Trent Green’s head. You know, minus the purple bears and robot unicorns…

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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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Hello everyone, and welcome to the start of my player analysis series (you can find MB’s first post here) where I take a look at a crap-ton of NFL players and sort them into three categories: Underrated, Overrated, and Sleepers. So let’s get started talking about a rookie player who I believe has the greatest chance of anyone this year to become a player that started with all hype, but might have little production on the field during his rookie campaign. I am of course talking about Christian McCaffrey. Let’s get right to it!

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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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markingram

It’s Week 13, which means we are heading into the fantasy playoffs soon. I know that because my readership has dwindled the last two weeks, as many fantasy owners have been eliminated from the playoffs and are throwing in the towel. But that’s OKAY. That just means we can be more serious and a bit more intimate now. It’s just me and you, playoff hopefuls.

Heading into this week, Tim Hightower was a name to watch because Mark Ingram was still in the concussion protocol and was questionable to play. If Ingram couldn’t go, Hightower was going to be a high-end flex/RB2 to throw into lineups before they locked on Sunday. But word came out on Sunday morning that Ingram was going to play, so many likely left Hightower on the bench or on the waiver wire.

But something funny happened. It didn’t matter that Ingram played. Ingram and Hightower combined for three touchdowns and almost 300 yards, with Hightower accounting for 51 rushing yards, 54 receiving yards, and one of the touchdowns. Although, Hightower’s final stat line would look a bit different if not for the late 50-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Willie Snead. If Hightower can keep producing even with a healthy Ingram, he can help out some of the needier fantasy owners come playoff time.

To the report…

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rawls

If you are like me and drafted Thomas Rawls in August but managed to stay patient and hang onto him until now, take a bow. I’ll bow with you. September and October were some dark times, my friends, but here we are. Rawls is the top dog in Seattle, and it looks like it will stay that way for the rest of the season now that Christine Michael got shipped out of town and C.J. Prosise is hurt. We did it, guys.

Prosise ran for a 72-yard touchdown in the first quarter on Sunday, but he left the game in the second quarter. It was pretty much all Rawls for the rest of the game, with a little bit of Troymaine Pope (who also got hurt). The Seahawks getting rid of Christine Michael meant they were ready to roll with Prosise and Rawls as their top guys and that they were confident Rawls would be healthy and effective. Now that Prosise is out of the picture, it’s all Rawls, baby.

Rawls rushed 14 times for 57 yards (4.1 YPC) and added three catches for 31 yards, giving him 88 total yards on the day. Heading into the fantasy playoffs, getting an every down back like Rawls into your lineup could be just what your team needs to get that extra edge (I know my team, where I went zero RB and took Rawls as my RB1 LATE, is sitting pretty now that I have him back). The best part about the Prosise injury* is that it means Rawls will see more action on passing downs. They will find a way to spell him here and there, but Rawls should be an every down back going forward and should catch his fair share of passes.

Things change quickly in the NFL, and it seems like just last week we were excited about the idea of a Prosise-Rawls backfield combination. But this week was about much more than Thomas Rawls and how happy we all are to have him back.

To the report. . .

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C.J. Prosise rushes against the New England Patriots

If you played your cards right, 2016 may have been one of the best seasons ever to roll with a zero RB strategy in your draft. Not only have there been a litany of running back committees utilized across the league, but legitimate RB1s and RB2s have been emerging all year. Take a look at this list: Jordan Howard, Devontae Booker, Spencer Ware, C.J. Prosise, Robert Kelley. Those guys were all either not drafted at all or were taken later in drafts as a handcuff or dice roll option (I actually drafted Booker in one league but dropped him after a few weeks because I need the roster spot. D’oh!).

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