On Monday Night Football (the second one, not the first one), Todd Gurley finally broke out for fantasy owners (kind of). By “broke out,” I mean that he found the end zone not once, but twice — despite averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. That’s as hot as a lukewarm cup of coffee — as sexy as assless chaps with patches sewn in. It was the kind of performance that you had to be pleased with if you had him in your lineup, but at the same time, you were probably also clapping slowly while shooting those around you sneaky glares out the corner of your eyes to see if they were equally excited. On the plus side, Gurley out-touched Brian Hill 17-to-six, one week after Hill appeared to be the much more explosive back even as Gurley rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown. On the down side, Gurley caught just one pass for the second consecutive week (Ito Smith and Hill combined for five grabs), bringing his season total to a measly four receptions. Gurley clearly isn’t the back he once was, however, he did show some elusiveness inside the green zone on his first rushing touchdown, even shaking a second would-be tackler for the score. This is the point we’re at with running backs in 2020, as both Austin Ekeler and Nick Chubb went down in Week 4 with significant injuries. I am actually, tentatively, kind-of excited about Gurley. This is not good.

On the opposing sideline, Aaron Jones enjoyed yet another strong week, rushing 15 times for 71 yards (4.7 YPC) and hauling in five passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. The Packers look like the cream of the crop in the NFC (right alongside Seattle), as the Super Bowl could (I said could) potentially pit two State Farm figureheads against one another in Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. Can you imagine the marketing potential for State Farm!? Let’s all buy stock now! *does quick Google search* It’s already up 4.2% since Sept. 23 — people must really be catching on. Unfortunately, my popularity stock over on Reddit — and in life — is doing the exact opposite. My parents visited last week, and somehow, my father locked himself in the stairwell three different times. Again, this is 2020. This is real. And this is not good.

Before I lose everyone’s attention, let’s get into the Week 5 rest of season top 60 running back rankings. But first — a quick trip around the league.

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As weekly fantasy standings continue to shift up and down; some owners are sitting atop their standings feeling good about a playoff run, some are in the thick of it where every week is one win away from a healthy spot in the standings or one loss away from the bottom, and lastly some owners are fighting to avoid their fantasy punishment. Regardless of position, preparing yourself for future matchups and protecting your assets down the stretch are vital to your chances of a deep playoff run OR avoiding punishment. Nearing the halfway mark of the NFL season, waivers are thin with starting caliber talent but are rich with valuable handcuffs that need to be owned. Let’s take a look at this weeks handcuff report…

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Opening the week as the highest over/under of the season at 55.5, HOU @ KC now sits as the tied-for-2nd highest point total in 2019 at 55. A clash between offenses that rank #4 (KC) and #9 in points per game. Poorly buried by the NFL in the early slate of games, everyone get their popcorn ready early this Sunday. Both teams rank in the top 10 in total offensive plays ran this season, #3 KC and #8 HOU, and find their way onto this weeks shootout game preview.

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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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QB10 in fantasy scoring and QB2 in NFL passing yards through 4 weeks, Matt Ryan visits the Lone Star State in matchup carrying the tied-for-2nd highest point total in week 5. The 13th toughest fantasy defense against quarterbacks, the Houston D/ST unit look a lot tougher on paper than what I believe will be on display this Sunday. Two of Houston’s best defensive outings were against quarterbacks that entered the season as backups on their respective depth chart. Including 6th round rookie QB Gardner Minshew (JAC) in his first NFL start and 2nd year backup Kyle Allen (CAR) getting the 2nd start of his career. In Houston’s two matchups against top 10 NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, the defense surrendered an average of 327.5 passing yards per game, QB12 (Brees) and QB13 (Rivers) fantasy finishes, and 4 total passing touchdowns. After nearly topping 400 yards passing (397) last week, Matt Ryan failed to pass for a TD against TEN. This is a prime bounce back spot for Matt Ryan to find the endzone through the air in a game where ATL are -4.5 underdogs and an implied score that includes 3 TDs for the Falcons. Rudy projects Ryan as the QB8 this weekend. 

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Week 1 and 2 Handcuff Reports hit on Raheem Mostert, Jamaal Williams, Chris Thompson and Rex Burkhead, so far this season. Handcuff values can fluctuate on a week-to-week basis and injuries are not the only influencers. Efficiency, usage and fumbling issues are additional indicators that can influence the rise of a ‘handcuff.’ The Week 3 Handcuff Report highlights a number of RB situations that need to be monitored heading into week 4 of the NFL season. Enjoy!

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The pronounced offseason ‘champs’ lose 43-13, the quarterback that ‘can’t pass’ tosses 5 touchdowns for over 300yds passing, the defending NFC champs win 30-27 without a starting skill player scoring a touchdown, and former 1st round ‘bust’ WR goes for 158 yds and 2 TDs. Can we get an Allelujah? The NFL is back.

Unfortunately, along with all of the excitement that was brought in week 1, plenty of angst was brought upon starting fantasy rosters. Each week, the handcuff report will highlight key running back waiver acquisitions or necessary watch list candidates. Bench spots are fluid and managing who to add each week is critical in any quest to fantasy football glory. Let’s get started with the bad boyz of week 1….

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We are less than 3 weeks from the start of the NFL season. Redraft leagues are in full swing and Razzball is here to help you dominate. If you haven’t signed up for the 2019 Razzball Fantasy Football subscription to gain access to our tools and league-winning projections, try us out with our 7-day free trial.

If you missed my article last week, I broke down the difference between a traditional handcuff and a scheme based/premium handcuff. Also, I highlighted a few premium handcuffs that you should consider on draft day. If you missed it, check it out here.. Baby, I’m more than just a handcuff. Today our focus moves towards traditional handcuffs.

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Completed Previews: AFC North – NFC North – NFC East Part I – NFC East Part II – AFC East Part I – AFC East Part I

2019 projections referenced below are based on razzball.com 2019 projections managed and updated by our very own @RudyGamble . ADP, and strength of schedule referenced below are based on fantasypros.com consensus data.

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