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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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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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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Nov 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) is stopped short of the end zone by Denver Broncos safety Darian Stewart (26) in the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back, everyone. I apologize for missing last week, but I had a bunch of running around to do and was never able to settle down and hammer out the Week 9 Handcuff Report. Let’s just assume that I gave you great advice last week and that you’re back this week for more. Ok? Ok. Good. Great. Now, about those running backs.

The Oakland Raiders have been really fun to watch this year unless you have been trying to predict running back touches all year. While Latavius Murray was frustrating earlier in the year and then got hurt, but one thing he has done all year is find his way into the end zone. And in a week when a ton of people probably benched him because he was going up against the defense of the Denver Broncos, he decided to get into the end zone three times. Hopefully, you rolled the dice or were forced to start him because of bye weeks and injuries, but I know that many of you didn’t start him. I probably wouldn’t have.

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This week’s waiver wire column is going to explore the returning player. The focus is on the players who are coming back off lengthy layoffs after injuries. Of course, we’ll still try to catch lightning in a bottle too and help your team that way. That said, let’s dive in.

First, let’s talk about Adrian Peterson. He’s not coming back from an injury, but from a suspension… or so we hope. There is going to be some legal wrangling this week over whether or not Peterson can come back to play this season or not, so it will need time to play out. Hopefully a decision gets made this week to give us some clarity. Even if he’s not 100% ready to go, you need to stash him on your roster. If nothing else, ensure that other owners don’t get their hands on him. With his talents and a plush schedule, Peterson could be the ultimate shot-in-the-arm add to any fantasy team. If he doesn’t pan out, you can toss him back and try again. If it does, you have fantasy gold. The thing to keep in mind is there is some internal strife within the Vikings front office about whether or not to bring him back. Minnesota is 4-5 and three games behind 7-2 Detroit for the top spot in the NFC North. Sure, there are other factors at play, but it is worth giving consideration to adding AP. I’ve been picking him up much as in the same way it’s time to get another guy in the same boat.

That other guy is Cleveland wide receiver Josh Gordon. It’s worth checking the wire to see if the dynamic wide receiver is there. He would make awesome trade bait if you can pick him up. Things set up nicely for Gordon with his schedule (HOU, ATL, BUF, IND, CIN, CAR, BAL) and that matchup against Carolina on championship week is inviting. We saw Mark Sanchez abuse the Carolina defense last night and Gordon could go nuts.

Realistically, it would be difficult to see either of them being available on the waiver wire but we mention them anyways. Take a second and scan anyways. Let’s go to reality now.

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“I need a new helmet. OMAHA. Yeah, that’s right, my head’s growing at a rapid rate. OMAHA. ROMO. ELWAY. OMAHA. New helmet on one! SET. OMAHA.”

Well, it would be hard for me to analyze this game with an unbiased viewpoint, seeing as how I’m pretty obvious homer. But hey, at least I’m obvious. That being said, I’d have to say that Mike Carey and myself could have probably been best friends. Essentially every decision he called last night was the opposite of what the refs decided, because, let’s be honest here, the officiating was complete sh*t. A crucial special teams fumble by Denver was called back, even though replays clearly showed the ball moving before the player was down, allowing Petyon Manning to drive for a touchdown before the half. In the third quarter, a Philip Rivers interception that was caught on the ground, with movement, was not overturned. A crucial redzone interception by Eric Weddle was called back because of a defensive holding penalty, which, might I add, was way before the 5-yard mark. And then later, a Juwan Thompson touchdown was confirmed, even though he didn’t break the plane… so… whatever. I suppose things like this happen. At the very least, Ronnie Hillman was negated something like 80 fantasy points, and the Broncos seemed more interested in trolling fantasy players than by any other team I’d seen in recent memory. So even though Denver won, I’m pretty sure most of us lost. Including my liver. What can I say? Misery loves company…

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Greetings, my fine football friends. I told ya when I left that I wasn’t gone…whatever that means. To be fair, I’ve been here all season covering DraftKings content here with the Razz, if ya didn’t know. That’s the lead article on Wednesdays, IYDK part 2. If you’re wondering why I’m here and Jay’s not, well we’re all human and Jay needed a night to himself, though I heard he brought with him a bottle of scotch, some lube, and the family friendly follow up that every Rick Moranis fan has been waiting for: Honey I Blew Everybody. Hope you enjoyed your night, Jay. Now get the eff back to work! Alright, pimping done, primping starts. Namely Joe Flacco‘s eyebrows. I don’t care what he does on the field, he doesn’t get a pass for his forehead caterpillar. You got cash money, bro, clean that ish up. Now that I’ve done my job in covering what needs not be covered – Flaccbrow – let’s get down to the getting down. Flacco had a huge day…oh, who am I kidding he had a huge HALF. All five of the touchdowns he threw came in the first two quarters as the MRSAneers returned home after two hard-fought games games on the road to roll over and pretend they took ‘ludes at home. We all know every decent QB in the league – and yes, Flacco IS decent and mayhap, a gentleman – can put up big numbers against bad defenses and Tampa Bay has been just that most of the year. Flacco finished 21 of 29 with 306 passing yards, 5 TD passes and zero scheduled waxings…minus the one he gave to the Buccs…OOOOOH BURN. Overall, if you picked him up to stream this week, good on you and you might wanna hold for one more as he gets another extremely leaky defense in the Falcons next week at home. After that, you can drop him and pick up whoever else plays TB. In fact, I almost feel bad for Lovie at this point. Seriously, gonna have to change his name to Hatie Smith after this season is over. Poor schlub…either way, let’s move on. Here are some other looks back on the week 6 that was for 2014 Fantasy Football…

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I’d like to begin this week’s installment of the handcuff report by apologizing profusely for ignoring Andre Williams last week. I seriously considered mentioning Williams value as a keeper, but ROS considered him nothing more than a deep bench stash or handcuff for Rashad Jennings. I had him buried down in the Duct Tape tier, with the Stepfan Taylor‘s and Ka’Deem Carey‘s of the world. Zoinks! Imagine a world of Stepfan’s and Ka’Deem’s! Oh snap, there is such a place? It’s my Duct Tape Handcuff tier! It exists in my mind, and it’s a shiny silver world where everything can be fixed with a couple inches of the good stuff. Jeez I went off topic real quick, back to Andre Williams. I knew that Rashad Jennings was quickly approaching his highest usage numbers of his career, and I knew that Jennings had some injuries during his time in Jacksonville. I chose to ignore it. Just as I chose to dismiss Williams’ 15 carry, 66 yard, TD breakout against Washington. I thought it was nothing more than some meaningless garbage time magic. After all, Jennings had been getting almost all the usage in the Giants offense. Before the Week 4 blowout, Williams had seen two games of 6 carries, and one game of 8 carries with four looks in the passing game. There was no reason to pay him much mind, and those touting him as a good stash were working off nothing more than a hunch that Rough Shod would break down.

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Back in March, ex-Denver Broncos’ running back Knowshon Moreno left the frigid air of the Rocky Mountains for the opportunity to spend this season in sunny South Beach, and believe me, he’s not crying about it.  His one-year deal didn’t take over the media the way another famous athlete did when he left a championship runner-up so he could play in Miami, but it did make his former backup with the Broncos a hot commodity in fantasy football drafts.

Despite gaining just 559 yards on 120 carries in 2013, Montee Ball was the 10th overall player taken in this year’s drafts (according to ADP).  The volume wasn’t there for the rookie out of Wisconsin (Moreno excelled as Peyton Manning‘s go-to back), but you could feel the electricity with Ball.  He had some early-season fumble issues in goal line situations (two in his first three games), but his 4.7 yards per carry was definitely something he could build on. Manning and the Broncos broke nearly every offensive record last year, and that’s a big reason why the second-year pro became such a popular draft pick — but Ball’s season is going down the drain faster than a goldfish with an irresponsible four-year-old for a parent.

Not only had Ball been downright awful in his first three games (165 yards, 3.37 YPC), but he left Sunday’s contest vs. the Cardinals with a groin strain.  News broke that the injury was “a significant one”, but that was later changed to a “two-week timetable”.  Based on what I’ve seen from injuries like this before, as well as his current conditioning (he missed nearly all of training camp after an emergency appendectomy), this has the makings of a much longer absence than what the Broncos are letting on.

So what do you do if you’re a Ball owner?

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