Four more games left until most fantasy football playoffs begin. How are you looking? Playoff spot locked up or do you need to go on a run down the stretch?

Another quiet week, we avoided major injuries to our starting backs. Today, I’ll touch on a few handcuffs that are worth monitoring heading in to your playoffs.

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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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20151205-legarrette-603

Welcome to the very last Beyond the Numbers! of the year and also one of the most important. I, and everyone here at Razzball, have put in our best efforts this week to get you closer towards your goal of making the fantasy Super Bowl. Sorry I had to go with another overused Blount pun as the title, but I spent too much time reviewing games to come up with a more clever one. Hell, I’ve been watching so much game tape my NFL Game Pass Replay asked me if I was a robot. To that, I of course sarcastically answered yes and it somehow let me continue watching. I guess my TV is also a robot and vouched for me or something. Let’s just say I definitely did my homework this week. There are way too many scary matchups to not be prepared. That and figuring out the value of injured players’ backups are the most crucial items on the docket. For fantasy owners in just about any situation in the playoffs, I got you covered.

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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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tenor

This could go one of two ways. That smug look on Colbert above is one trajectory: pride. Last week’s Working the Waiver, beyond featuring a GIF and link to perhaps the funniest six minutes on the internet (thank you, Eastbound and Down), couldn’t have been more accurate. Okay, fine, it could have been without the Tajae Sharpe egg, but seriously…you could/should have rostered every name on there. But instead of puffing up my #dadbod chest for the masses to gawk over (eat your heart out, Tehol), the prevailing emotion is the second option: desperation. Seriously, I ain’t to proud to beg.

It’s Week 13. For all you non-math majors, that’s a bakers dozen. And in the fantasy world, you know what that means: One. More. Week. It’s the final week before playoffs begin. If you’re still reading this I assume you’re in the race for a playoff spot. And if you’re not, well…you’re the best kind of person. Thank you. Keep fighting even though the ship is now sunk (I’m doing this in a staff league. Gotta get as many points as possible to make my case that fantasy football involves incredible luck. Fourth most points in a 14-team league but miss the playoffs? Wasn’t my fault.). So, as we prep our playoff rosters, there are plenty of targets to either deepen your bench or shore up your FLEX spot. And guess what? A lot of the names are the EXACT same as last week. I TOLD YOU SO! Pick them up! I beg of you.

Here are the top targets to, well…target heading into Week 13!

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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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faab-boyd

I’ve got a running back heavy edition of FAAB waiver claims to consider, along with a pair of wide receivers. In case you don’t know what I’m doing with this week’s title, an 80s band called the Bangles wrote a song called Walk Like An Egyptian. It was a hit, don’t you know! There’s also a relevant Philadelphia Eagles player, so how about a Fly Like An Eagle reference? This Sunday’s games featured some injuries that can be acted on. Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell now need to be owned in 12-team and deeper leagues. Rex Burkhead can be considered in some leagues. Wendell Smallwood received a bunch of carries and should once again receive more than his usual workload.

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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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