Hey y’all.  Please note that where fantasy position ranks are cited: they were pulled from www.pro-football-reference.com’s NFL Fantasy Rankings. Also note that these are non-PPR rankings.  This list only includes Un-Restricted Free Agents (UFAs), it does not include Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFAs) or Antonio Brown (We can rank Tony once we see if his QB is going to be future HOFer Big Ben or future Gym Teacher Blake Bortles or someone in between, but don’t think either spot or any in between really changes his value much).

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ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 15: Todd Gurley #30 of the St. Louis Rams leaps over Antrel Rolle #26 of the Chicago Bears as he carries the ball in the first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 15, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

What’s up Razzballers (or Razzballas if you’re not one for the “Hard R”) and welcome to this week’s edition of Beyond the Numbers! Looks like all of our rosters are getting put the test early on this year, so I hope you’re using your bench wisely. Injuries, combined with some poor play from “elite” players, are proving why depth is so important in fantasy football.  You’ve got no excuse to still be sporting duds on your team; coaches have shown what kind of offenses they want to run this year, and quarterbacks have heavily targeted the guy they want to be involved. I’ll give you guys some good names to target below, but first, let’s start with the guy everyone seems to have questions about.

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eelliot

Fellow Razzballers: Before I get into the topic at hand, allow me a brief introduction. My name is Alex Lee, long-time reader/first-time contributor, and I have emerged from the desert of my Fantasy Football writing career a weary traveler, thirsty for the love of the masses. In my college years I wrote football articles for a site called KFFL, which the older amongst you will recognize as an early fantasy resource, the younger will think is a radio station, and the youngest will have no idea what I’m talking about because you’ve never heard of the site or listened to radio. Now, after an eight-year absence, I’m back to relive the glorious days of fantasy sports writing, sleeping on piles of money and being fed grapes by your mothers in exchange for small bits of wisdom. [Answers phone call from Jay] I’m sorry, I’ve been informed that this is unpaid and I will have to feed grapes to myself. Ah, what the hell, I’ll do it anyways! And if you’re in the Philly area, you can catch me doing stand-up comedy at any place foolish enough to let me on stage…

With that out of the way, let’s get into a nice, calm discussion of – what is wrong with you idiots!? As a Cowboys fan, it pains me to say this, but why are you drafting Ezekiel Elliott in the top-10?

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Ah yes, the required prime time NFC South showdown that’s required at least twice a year, featuring mediocracy at it’s finest, and always ending with 400 combined points, earned in the derpiest way possible. But this year might be different. Well, with the Saints 1-4, maybe just half different. The Atlanta Falcons, at a surprising 5-0, look to open the season with six straight wins. Which would also mean they would have consecutive road wins for the first time in 13 seasons. That’s basically the most NFC South thing I’ve ever written. Now, six wins would be a strong statement if it weren’t against such a questionable schedule and with such happenstance circumstances. That schedule has included the Eagles, Giants, Romo-less (or Weeden-more!) Cowboys, Texans, and Washington Potatoes. The circumstances? They’ve trailed in the fourth quarter in four of those five games… which essentially means they could be sharing a similar record with the Saints if not for a little bit of luck and something called Devonta Freeman. The same Freeman who used to make Trent Richardson seem useful. Can the Falcons and Freeman (and Julio Jones hamstring) keep the streak going? I don’t know, but if Sean Peyton’s lemon face is in full force tonight, I’d say: MAYBE.

Join myself and your peers in a special Razzball only Contest! Buy-in is just $5.00 and the top 12 finishes in a 55-team league are all part of the prize pool! Sign up here!

Rankings have been updated for tonight’s game and can be found here

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Both Jared and RG-3 have been taken out. If I were Justin Tuck, I'd be worried...

Both Jared and RG-3 have fallen. If I were Justin Tuck, I’d be worried…

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Okay. Not really. And so it was, and so it shall be, which was proclaimed long ago when the Washington Football Team traded what would be Janoris Jenkins, Michael Brockers, Zac Stacy, Stedman Bailey, Greg Robinson, and Alec Ogletree for Robert Griffin III, and then a few days later, drafted his eventual successor in Kirk Cousins. Bible-speech aside, I have to say, maybe Mike Shannahan and company might have been better off just waiting, you know, until their sixth pick and drafting Ryan Tannehill. Sure, hindsight has that amazing 20/20 vision, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s podcast, this quarterback excursion seemed doomed to fail, even as far back to that aforementioned day when both RG-3 and Kirk Cousins were drafted. Obviously, the situation was exacerbated over time by injuries, stunted development, complete coaching failures, further coaching changes, system changes, ownership dysfunction, etc. etc. And this is a normal Monday for the franchise. So here we are and Kirk Cousins is now your Week 1 Starter in Washington. I would go on to establish some fantasy context, but I’m not sure there is any. Just further proof that Washington has now eclipsed the Raiders at being the Raiders. Truly… these are dark days in the District.

In case you guys haven’t noticed, Fantasy Basketball is warming up once again, and our RCLs are open! If you’d like to go keep J.B. Gilpin company for a bit, I ain’t gonna blame you. Afterall, I’m busy keeping his mom company…

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 muscle-hamster

Doug Martin made fantasy owners warm and fuzzy (sorta NSFW) in 2012. After being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 31st overall pick in the NFL Draft, Martin exploded for 1,926 total yards on 319 carries and 49 receptions. He tallied 12 combined touchdowns and ended as the No. 3 running back in standard scoring. Then, 2013 Doug Martin happened. To say Martin was a disappointment is an understatement. Fantasy drafters were selecting him as the No. 2 running back off the board, right behind Adrian Peterson. Before Martin was shut down for the year due to a shoulder injury, he rushed 127 times for 456 yards. He caught 12 balls for 66 yards and only scored one combined touchdown. He ended up scoring 0.8 fantasy points more than Shonn Greene and 2.1 less than Brandon Bolden. So what happened?

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Indianapolis Colts v Arizona Cardinals

And by Black Hole, I mean “Heaven”, which is resoundingly considered as such in Oakland. It makes so much sense! After wondering a few days ago what actually happened to Trent Richardson, the Raiders wasted no time in trying to figure out if this once promising running back can actually produce something north of a 1-yard average run. Or be a better Maurice Jones-Drew. They signed him to a two-year incentive laden deal in what seems to be a natural match, and while I’m hesitant to think that this might change his future fantasy implications, I’d like to think that a change of scenery was needed here and that Richardson could end up being a productive back. Granted, production and Raiders aren’t exactly synonymous, but I want to give the benefit of the doubt here.

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While I would generally lead-off such a transaction filled post with the most important one this past week (Tim Tebow trying out for the Eagles, of course), I’d like to start the lede with a different bit of news. And while it touches on the overall macro of the Philadelphia Eagles transformation into the Philadelphia Oregon Ducks, Ryan Mathews leaving the Chargers has caused an emotional earthquake in house Jay. What? That’s what my house is called. There were some questions concerning whether or not Mathews would sign last week, as after there was an agreement, DeMarco Murray quickly signed as well, putting the whole situation into flux. But we have a clear winner, and those winners appear to be the Eagles, the Philadelphia fanbase, probably the National Football League as a whole, and probably Chargers fans who grew tired of Mathews fumbling at the two-yard line and breaking clavicle bones. Please note: none of the winners were in fantasy football. And why is that? Because along with signing half the free agent class already, the Eagles have decided to sign both Murray and Mathews. Despite what my heart says about Mathews leaving (IT HURTS!), one things for sure, we have the dreaded RBBC (running-back-by-committee) now officially in effect for the Eagles in 2015, which will presumably drag down the value of both. While Murray would probably suffer the most, it appears that even Mathews will be a possibly overrated selection going into the 2015 season. (Many will point to the Kelly’s system and lack of health last year as points.) Sure, that prevents me from calling him underrated for the 20th straight year, but still, while Murray and Mathews going to the Eagles could be quite an interesting duo to watch next year, they’re probably not the duo to own in fantasy. Then again, who knows, Chip Kelly could innovate 600 carries for each of them. Or they could both go down with season-ending injuries. Naaaah, zero-chance of that happening…

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i

You know, I don’t really hate giving the lede to the NFC South, and if you’ve been spending any time here at Razzball, you know that I find this division so very… satisfying. Not in the good way, like, wow, this NFC South man, it gives the greatest head type of way. No… but to be honest, I have felt similar sensations. It’s the satisfying “oh my god, that’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen, so I’ll just laugh at it and celebrate it for being the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen” type of thing. But the fact remains, I don’t hate talking about it. So at what point does it become masochistic? I mean, we are talking about the day after fantasy football “Championship Week”, probably the most masochistic weekend in all of fantasy sports, so yeah, it’s going to be theme. So with the Saints losing to the Falcons, we now have a NFC South “Superbowl” with the Panthers visiting the Falcons to decide who gets the home playoff defeat. Yes, the Saints are as good as eliminated, but if I understand math correctly (I really don’t), if this game ends in a tie, the Falcons, Panthers, and Saints will all just trigger a nuclear reaction that will re-birth the universe. What a place that would be! In other Sunday news, it’s apparent the NFL wants a Patriots vs. Cowboys Superbowl, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it. Then again, I probably wasn’t ready for a 7-8-1 (or a 7-9) playoff team… so there’s that I guess…

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Let me begin by thanking all of you for reading this drivel I produce on a weekly basis. Hopefully you’ve found it helpful, informative, and most of all, put my suggestions here to good use.  Throughout the season so many handcuffs have found their way into starting roles and excelled. Some on a one week fill in, but others took the job and ran with it. We salute you graduated handcuffs. Thanks for making the draft meaningless. Just kidding, but seriously who would you rather have right now, Jimmy Graham or Justin Forsett? LeSean McCoy or Jeremy Hill? You don’t need to answer, the right choice is obvious. It just goes to show how increasingly viable the handcuff stash option is. The beginning of next year pundits, peers, and perts will be lined up by the dozen to tell you handcuffs are a waste of roster spot. To them I say this: if you make a costly investment in a running back, does it really hurt to buy an insurance policy? You would on a car, house, or collection of Star Wars commemorative plates. Right? What you don’t own any Star Wars commemorative plates? More of a Star Trek guy eh? What? You don’t own any commemorative plates! What do you eat your hot pockets on?

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