Frank Reich is a fine man. A good man, even. Sometimes, I sit around daydreaming, wondering what it would be like if he were my father. He would no-doubt instill many wholesome values in me, his son, and be a great fishing partner. He simply has that look about him — the one that comes with a Geppetto-eque twinkle in one’s eye — that exudes wisdom and level-headedness. Personally, I believe he’s a tremendous football coach, perhaps one of the most underrated in the entire league. The Indianapolis Colts are incredibly fortunate that Josh McDaniels spurned their head coaching offer back in the February of 2018 to remain with New England, leading to Reich landing the job as a sort of second choice candidate at the time. Since then, he’s done wonders with the team and carries many strengths as the man in charge, but he’s largely been a fantasy enemy to this point — especially as it relates to the running back position. That’s because he treats his backfield like a true father figure would: he believes in all of his backs, especially the young Jonathan Taylor, and is always willing to give dish out a second chance. The issue is… it’s hard to predict when those second chances are going to come. Heading into the week, Nyheim Hines was one of the highest risers up most rest-of-season rankings after receiving 12 carries in Week 10, rushing for 70 yards and one touchdown in addition to his typical receiving workload: five receptions for 45 yards and another touchdown. Jonathan Taylor saw just seven carries in that game, to which he translated to a mere 12 yards, which came on the heels of a Week 9 game in which Reich gave Taylor a measly six carries. Fast-forward to Week 11: Taylor rushed 22 times for 90 yards, also catching four passes (on four targets) for 24 yards. Those 22 carries equated to 68.8% of running back carries (22/32), as his 26 total touches were by far the highest amongst the Indy trio. Jordan Wilkins (four carries, 21 yards; one reception on one target, 15 yards) touched the ball just five times, while Hines (six carries, two yards; three receptions on four targets, 31 yards) registered nine touches. It’s certainly encouraging to see Taylor so involved in a crucial, competitive game that the Colts ultimately won in exciting fashion — but what can we expect from him moving into the home stretch of the 2020 fantasy football season?

After sinking to RB30 overall in my rankings last week, Taylor is back up into RB2 territory thanks in large part to an incredibly easy schedule from here on out. The only truly difficult matchup remaining for Taylor will come in Week 16 against the Steelers, which isn’t ideal as it’s when most fantasy championships will occur, but until then he’ll go up against the Titans, Texans, Raiders and Texans, again. There are certainly RB2 options with safer floors, but Taylor is once again trending up and represents a much more attractive Flex play than he did one week ago.

There’s a lot more to dive into this week, so before getting to the rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.

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THUMP. That was Week 10 crushing us in the face. It was unpredictable, I know, but let’s begin the conversation about the running back position this past week with a look at some of the names that finished inside RB1 territory, with their overall rank listed: RB3 Nyheim Hines, RB4 Ronald Jones, RB5, D’Andre Swift, RB6 Devontae Booker, RB7 Rex Burkhead, RB8 Antonio Gibson, RB10 Wayne Gallman, RB11 Malcolm Brown and RB12 Salvon Ahmed. That’s three-fourths of the past week’s RB1 finishers going to running backs that were likely all drafted outside of the first five rounds in your fantasy draft and at least three, maybe four players who may not have even been rostered in your league as of Sunday night. Next, let’s move over to RB2 territory: RB14 J.D. McKissic, RB15 Boston Scott, RB17 Kalen Ballage and RB23 Alex Collins. Overall, that’s 12, or half, of Week 10’s RB1-2 crop going to names that likely required very little draft capital to make your roster. Some of those names are less surprising, like Swift and Gibson, but for the sake of argument, both running backs finished outside the top-28 running backs drafted in 2020. It’s already been a miraculous year at the position — for some, perhaps heart-breaking is a more fitting adjective — and the madness ensued in Week 10, to put it lightly. Fortunately, we can at least say we did not see the same absurd number of running back injuries as we’ve grown accustomed to.

Even so, it was a truly unpredictable week. Before you begin beating your forehead against the keyboard and your boss yells at you (or partner/child/parents/etc. for those still stuck at home) for disrupting the workplace over fantasy football for the umpteenth time since the onset of September, remember this: we’re all in it together. We’re all playing the same game, with the same weekly uncertainty factored in and with the same information at our fingertips. That’s reason for composure. That’s reason to keep fighting the good fight because, as you may have heard me say many times before, the grinders beat the whiners. I’ve actually never said that before, but you get the point.

It’s time to get to the rankings, but before we do, let’s take a quick trip around the league.

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What. A. Mess. Have mercy on us, 2020. To anyone who owns or has ever owned a pet, or is a parent, you may have experienced a scenario much like the one I am about to lay out. You turn your back for a few minutes, heck, maybe even just a few seconds. Perhaps you had to take the garbage out, or quickly snuck away to take a shower, and left your furry friends unsupervised for a brief moment. Upon your return, you are shocked to find the stuffing of a destroyed pillow strewn about the room, or a box of tissues shredded throughout your home — maybe, for the most unfortunate of souls, even some poopy footprints scattered across the floor. That feeling is what Week 7 felt like, at least to me. We let our guard down for just a second, reclined on the couch to relax and enjoy a pleasant Sunday afternoon of football — and we returned to reality to find an array of crap flung all across our roster and, more importantly of course, the top 60 rest of season running back rankings. Sure, we didn’t see the high-caliber superstars do gown that we saw earlier in the season, but that’s more so because, well, there are only a few healthy ones left unscathed at the position as is.

Let’s run through it. Chris Carson. Kenyan Drake. Devonta Freeman. Phillip Lindsay. Thankfully, one previously injured back, Raheem Mostert, was replaced via a breakout from Jeff Wilson, who finished as Week 7’s RB1 with 31 half-PPR points. Oh, yeah. Right. INJURED. Out several weeks. Then we have the lingering injuries from Week 6 that are accompanied by just as much, if not more, uncertainty than the aforementioned names. Miles Sanders. Joe Mixon. Let’s go a degree deeper. Nick Chubb. Austin Ekeler. All of this, crumpled together one layer after another, has created arguably one of the most clouded RB groups in recent memory. Even the top 24 is incredibly weak, relatively speaking, at the tail end. It’s ugly — and it’s tough to project considering many of these injuries come with timetables of “several weeks.” Or “for a while.” I especially get a kick out of “some time” and wouldn’t be surprised to hear a head coach give a *shrug* followed by “beats me, man, you heard anything?”

In this week’s column, I’ll do my best to make sense of it all. The rest of my colleagues here at Razzball are doing an incredible job attempting to do the same at their own respective positional assignments, so be sure to check out all of our rest of season positional fantasy football rankings. Before I get to mine, let’s take a quick trip around the league.

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The choice for this week’s lede seemed obvious heading into the final game of the Week 6. Fresh off the Chiefs’ signing of Le’Veon Bell to a one-year deal, Clyde Edwards-Helaire erupted for 161 yards on 26 carries, adding another four receptions on four targets for eight yards. Other than the fact that CEH remains allergic to the end zone, it was an outstanding performance, as he cruised to 6.2 yards-per-carry while handling all of his targets with ease. Meanwhile, Bell saw a much different line in the box score: three plane rides, two luxury hotel stays, seven tweets and a new Mahomes. A big boost to the fantasy value? Well, it depends on how you look at it, as they say. All things are relative. It’s certainly a worse landing spot compared to somewhere like Miami or Buffalo where Bell would have a much greater likelihood of handling lead-back duties. However, playing second fiddle to CEH (which we have to assume for now, based on his Week 6 performance) still beats being the feature back for the New York Jets. Hell, being Andy Reid’s butt-scratcher beats being the No.1 running back for Gang Green. Still, I have to mention that it was in fact Darrel Williams (six carries, 16 yards, one rushing TD; one reception, 15 yards) that found pay dirt, running in a 13-yard score in the third quarter.

As of 8:15 ET on Monday night, that was the clear headline for my top 60 rest of season running back rankings. Well, that was until early in the second quarter of the nightcap between the Cowboys and Cardinals, where we saw the second highest paid running back in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott, cough up his fourth and fifth fumbles of the season — and it’s only Week 6! By the way, that gives Elliott a share of the NFL lead for fumbles alongside Joe Burrow, Derek Carr and Carson Wentz. That’s right, he leads all running backs. Notably, the Cowboys actually showed a willingness to move away from Elliott for much of the second quarter after that, likely out of an attempt to both wake Elliott up and prioritize salvaging the game as it quickly got away from them. Tony Pollard ended up with a season-high seven carries in the first half, which he turned into 26 yards on the ground. In the end, however, it was obviously still Zeke’s backfield in the second half. Zeke finished with 12 carries for 49 yards, but he also caught eight of 11 targets (most on team) for 31 yards. Pollard finished with 10 carries for 31 yards, adding another two catches for nine yards. It’s reasonable to be concerned if you own any fantasy weapons in the Dallas offense after their performance on Monday night. Abysmal just doesn’t seem to be the right word, but it’ll do for now. The remainder of Dallas’ schedule is also pretty tough against running backs, so I’ve downgraded Elliott one spot.

Before we get to the Week 7 rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.

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There’s a very important place that I want to start today’s fantasy football conversation. Imagine getting fined $100K at work, just like Pete Carroll, Vic Fangio, Jon Gruden, Sean Payton and Kyle Shanahan did this past week. Not by Feds. Not by the IRS. Not by your local county judge. Think about that — just for one second. Fined 100-grand, at work. For me, this would bring up a concerning follow-up meeting: “So, uhh… are you asking me to quit? No? Ok… so the next three years are just pro-bono? Got it. Okay. I’ll be over here pummeling my head into this wall. Forever.” Although I don’t have a vendetta against any of those five head coaches, it’s an absolutely insane concept to even consider. In Green Bay, head coach Matt LaFleur actually has an assistant whose job it is to make sure he’s wearing a mask at all times. That’s literally his job! I don’t know if this is better or worse than Sean McVay’s “Get Back” assistant. I guess better, because this at least helps promote safety. Meanwhile, we’ve got reigning Super Bowl Champion Andy Reid looking one step away from being the next Power Ranger with the face shield he’s donning out there. Can you imagine being the intern that was tasked with finding a face covering that would please Andy Reid? Bet you it took weeks. I’d rather work as Philip Rivers’ governess. It’s just like I always say, if Julie Andrews can do it, so can I!

Shame on me for using the NFL’s current sideline mask fiasco for a lede two weeks in a row, but everything starts to get hazy on these late Monday nights. There’s a lot of movement in the rankings this week and even more question marks with certain running backs going down with injuries for undetermined periods of time, but it’s a job that has to be done nonetheless. Am I a hero in plain man’s cloth? No, I am but a man. Before we get into the rankings, let’s take our weekly trip around the league.

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Last week my six start selections scored 99 fantasy points. That includes one of whom scored 0 points. Don’t look at me — look at Hunter Henry. That’s on him. How did my ‘sit’ selections do? 51 total points. That included a bold pick of Ezekiel Elliott who the Giants held to an average of 11 fantasy points in 2016. Elliott netted 18 fantasy points. What does it all mean? I’m a great lucky guesser.

If making week 1 picks is difficult because you don’t have any real in-season data from which to make your predictions, week 2 is nigh impossible because you have some fluke games like the Bengals being shutout in week 1 only to lay another turd on Thursday night against the Texans. The same Texans who in week 1 only scored 7 points against the first place Jaguars! What’s a fantasy football prognosticator to do?!

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johnbrowntdcel

Real question, is this the first Sunday Night Football game of the week, or is this the second? True, I believe you could technically call the game a few days ago Thursday Night Football, because, you know, the game was on Thursday. But we didn’t get the “NFL/CBS” production, a combination that I still believe is the end of the world as we know it. Trust me, every time I see Phil Simms open his mouth at Jim Nantz’s bidding, tell me you don’t see visions of a huge asteroid hitting the earth… I sure do. Then again, you could probably consider it a blessing in that situation. Regardless, we got the NBC production crew, and I’m actually trying to recall how they addressed themselves on that day. I’m sure they called it Thursday Night Football, but I don’t really have any recollection. It could be because Cris Collinsworth causes me to go into a medically-induced coma whenever he starts talking about his loving relationship with offensive lineman. WE GET IT CRIS, YOU’RE IN LOVE. KISS ALREADY. But at this point, I think it’s safe to say that I was able to fill enough space in the lede without talking about the actual game, because honestly, there is no Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and it’s at Arizona. I’m pretty sure I know how this going to go…

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Alright, we get it. Everyone is going to win this week because everyone’s lucky number is 13. Enough! Something very interesting happened Monday Night on DraftKings last week. Something that defines how Fantasy Football is such a fickle mistress. The setting? DraftKings’ $600k Blitz. Per RotoGrinders.com-

This one came down to the very last play. “GregieC03” was sitting pretty and looking as if he would lock up the six-figure payday if Cleveland could make the game-winning field goal. Instead, the Ravens blocked the kick and returned it for a TD which catapulted underjones from out of the top five into the lead by the slimmest (.20) of margins. “Underjones” would also take fourth place and win a live final seat to cap off a great weekend for him.

Final Standings:

1. underjones 217.84, $100,000
2. GregieC03 217.64, $50,000
3. FitnessKING613 214.34, $25,000
4. underjones 212.4, $15,000
5. Josh677 211.5, $10,000

At this point you have to laugh and just settle for $50k. I know, what a settle.

Week 12 was a bad week for the chalk WR’s. Players such as Julio JonesDeAndre Hopkins, and Antonio Brown all scored below 10 points, which absolutely destroyed a ton of people’s tournament lineups, as D-Hop was owned by 52.9% owned in Fanduel’s Week 13 Sunday Million. Let’s review the rest of Week 12….

Join myself, Jay, and your fellow readers in a special Razzball-only Contest! Buy-in is just $5.00 and the top-5 finishers in a 22-team league are all part of the prize pool! Sign up here!

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bradee

In what used to be an interesting rivalry back when it when it was Tom Brady against Peyton Manning, the new iteration of Tom Brady versus Andrew Luck hasn’t really lived up to the past, especially when you include the amount of deflating balls we’ve witnessed. Well, to be honest, not even the past has lived up to the past, with the Patriots firmly winning most of these match-ups no matter who the quarterback was. This season’s annual Patriots and Colts game seems no different, as New England is favored to win this game by an estimated bajillion points. So many points, that there were a few in Indianapolis that thought benching Andrew Luck was not such a bad idea. To be fair, only a few actually live in Indiana, so I’m not sure how strong that argument is. That being said, this being a Sunday Night Football game, I’m sure we’re going to get the best game that football could ever offer in all of our lives. LOL.

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