I am back from my football blogging sabbatical and ready for the off season. I have no interest in this crumby Super Bowl, so I’m ready to dive right into the offseason. What better way to start than to review the 2017 season? There could have been stuff that you missed, you never know. Maybe something that you read in this will stick in your brain until your draft season in August. Will you remember which article you read it from? Probably not, It’s January.

I’m surprised you even clicked on this, you must be bored. What you will probably remember from my posts when your drafts roll around in August is my grotesque misunderstanding of English grammar. I’ll probably over use some commas, or not use enough commas. Do they teach 6th grade grammar at the local community college? Better yet, maybe you would prefer that I disperse of fantasy football knowledge through the use of emojis. That would be edgy, and no one has done it yet! (Simpsons did it!) Alright stop. I’m going to go through the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends to let you know what stuck out to me this season. Today, let’s start with the quarterbacks and running backs.

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If I could, I would focus on Alvin Kamara in this space every week. Is it just me, or does he look more impressive every week? He never goes down, keeps his balance, and keeps moving forward. Really, really impressive. It seems like the Saints are finally taking note, too:

Anyway, welcome back from Thanksgiving break. I hope you remembered to set your lineups and didn’t end up sitting there eating turkey with that feeling that you forgot to do something, then lost your matchup and knocked yourself out of the playoffs. I know there’s at least one of you out there.

Week 12 was a bit of a handcuff special. Injuries led to Jamaal Williams getting the call in Green Bay, and he delivered with two touchdowns and over 130 total yards. A 54-yard reception and run for a touchdown made his numbers look a lot better than they would have otherwise been, but the points still count. Going forward, on the other hand, I wouldn’t count on getting similar production from Jam-Will (just made that up mid-sentence). 

It is looking like Aaron Jones will be out for at least another week, but Ty Montgomery could be back this week. If Montgomery is back, he is going to be the starting back over Williams. At the very least, he will eat into enough of the touches to render Williams worthless. It probably isn’t safe to start Montgomery this week if you are in a must-win for the playoffs, but if you have to start a Green Bay back (a Green Bay Backer, one might say…), he should be the guy over Williams.

Elsewhere on the handcuff landscape, Tevin Coleman proved once again to be one of the more valuable handcuffs as he played for the injured Devontae Freeman for the second week in a row. He was a top-5 running back this week, piling up nearly 100 rushing yards and punching in two touchdowns for the Falcons. Freeman should be back this week, but the timeshare isn’t very clear. With Coleman’s success and Freeman coming back from a fairly serious concussion, the Falcons could turn to a more 50-50 share as opposed to the previous setup that featured Freeman more prominently. Heck, they could decide to roll with the hot hand and lean 60-40 or more on Coleman. They are, however, going up against a Vikings defense that won’t make things easy on them…

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The Eagles were on their bye week, so I took Sunday off from football this week. And by took Sunday off I mean I got up early to set my lineups and monitor the actives and inactives for FantasyPros, went to the movies with my wife around noon, and was back home by 3pm for the afternoon and evening games. That counts as taking the week off from football, right?

Two of the top four scoring running backs this week play for the Saints because it is that kind of year. Another one of them was Dion Lewis, one of the 14 running backs on the Patriots (depending on your scoring settings), who rushed for a touchdown and returned a kick for a touchdown. DeMarco Murray was the fourth guy on the list. Since I mentioned the other three, figured I might as well tell you who the other guy was.

Two other running backs making appearances in the upper tier of scorers in Week 10? Austin Ekeler and Corey Grant? Wut. Yup. Ekeler, who is the running back on the Chargers not named Melvin Gordon, rushed 10 times for 42 yards and added five catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Congrats to Ekeler’s mom, who finally cashed in on that FanDuel lineup that featured Austin Ekeler for like $1,800.

According to Google, Corey Grant is 25 years old, has the same birthday as my dog Young Money (different year), played college football at Auburn, and currently plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also did this on Sunday:

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All over the box score and all up in the backfield in Green Bay is the answer, as Aaron Jones has officially taken the job from Ty Montgomery with his solid performances. The offense overall in Green Bay is going to take a hit with the other A-Aron out for what looks like the rest of the season, but they are more likely to want to run the ball, which is good for Jones owners.

Montgomery is still a solid all-around running back and, really, is a solid all-around player in general, as he is a wide receiver who really became a running back out of necessity for the Packers. He didn’t do anything to lose his job other than get hurt and give Jones a chance.

Jones is the better and more explosive running back, and rolling with him as the hot hand is the right decision for now. Montgomery is not going to disappear, though, and he is going to rotate into the backfield and as a wide receiver going forward as the Packers figure out ways to get him involved and use him as a matchup problem for opposing defenses.

For fantasy purposes, Montgomery’s value is probably going to fluctuate on a week-to-week basis depending on the matchups and the gameplan. He is probably going to light it up some weeks and be a non-factor others, so it is going to be hard to rely on him other than as the occasional flex or RB2 when the bye weeks call for it.

Jones, on the other hand, is going to be the more reliable running back and is coming off his best game as a pro last week. Unfortunately, this is a ROS play and not a Week 8 play because the Packers are on a bye this week.

If you are looking for a Week 8 play, may I interest you in a Jalen Richard now that Marshawn Lynch has lost his appeal and will miss this week? (eyes emoji)

Now, to the charts!

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Adrian Peterson is free! On Tuesday, AP was traded from the New Orleans Saints (who seemingly never wanted him?) to the running back-desperate Arizona Cardinals. He is here to save the day for all fantasy owners who stashed him through the first few weeks or were able to submit a successful waiver claim for him after the trade. Our prayers are answered. All is right in the world. Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

Right?

Well, kind of. There is no doubt that getting traded from the pass-happy Saints, where Peterson was an odd fit from the second they signed him, to the Cardinal who lost David Johnson in Week 1 and have gotten zilch from the running back position in the weeks since, significantly improves Peterson’s fantasy value. The questions we have to answer now are: just how much has it improved? And what exactly can we expect going forward?

In the last few weeks, AP was not seeing regular touches, and his value was pretty much nonexistent. When he signed with the Saints in the offseason, you could hear a collective “huh?” from football fans and writers everywhere. We gave the Saints the benefit of the doubt and figured they knew what they were doing, but it turned out exactly how we all thought it would. Peterson was an odd fit for a Saints team that likes to pass the ball and likes to operate out of the shotgun, two things that don’t mess with Peterson’s style. Add to that the presence of Mark Ingram and youngster Alvin Kamara, and it is no surprise the team moved on from AP.

With the Cardinals, Peterson should get plenty of opportunities. Chris Johnson has not looked good in a couple years now, and he was a free agent until David Johnson got hurt. With Peterson entering the fold, the Cardinals did not even wait a week or two before cutting CJ. He got cut to make room for AP.

There are, however, a few reasons to roll our Peterson optimism back to “cautious optimism.” For starters, he is moving to a new team with a new playbook in the middle of a season. The complexity of NFL playbooks and schemes is why we don’t see a ton of in-season trading in the NFL. It is very difficult to fully learn everything while also preparing to play every week. To start out, they are going to have to feed him plays in bunches and get him acclimated a little bit more every week. Early playing time/snaps are question marks for Peterson right now.

Next, there is the issue of the Arizona offensive line. They’re bad. They’re really bad. They are particularly bad at run blocking, which is the primary reason the Cardinals have struggled so much on the ground this season. If they can’t open up some room for Peterson, he might have a fairly low ceiling in Arizona.

Lastly, the Cardinals are another team that likes to throw the ball. Carson Palmer currently leads the NFL in passing attempts. Part of that is likely because they have struggled to run the ball so much that they have been forced to pass, but they are not going to flip the script and decide to run the ball 60% of the time just because Adrian Peterson has arrived. Peterson is not much of a pass-catching back, so will he get enough touches to be valuable on a weekly basis for fantasy owners?

These are all valid questions that cause concern. Of course, the upside with Peterson is definitely worth taking the chance on him, even if just to stash him for a couple weeks while you see how he looks in that offense. Just don’t get your hopes up too high until we actually see him getting the ball with some space to work with.

Now, to the charts!

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The talk of this week at the running back situation has been Wendell Smallwood. If you don’t believe me, take a scroll through the last dozen or so Razzball articles to see the takes and advice. With Darren Sproles somehow breaking his arm and tearing his ACL on the same play, there are touches available in Philadelphia. LeGarrette Blount is still around and actually looked productive on Sunday, and Corey Clement scored his first career touchdown and could rotate into games going forward, but Smallwood is the guy who stands to benefit the most from the Sproles injury. If you don’t believe me, the Eagles offensive coordinator said as much in his press conference on Tuesday. I have the transcript if you want it.

For me, though, there is a more exciting running back to target. Heading into Week 3, we knew two things: 1. There would be a new offensive coordinator. 2. Marvin Lewis has been coaching the Bengals for 15 years without winning a single playoff game. Number 1 is relevant for fantasy owners, while number 2 is simply fascinating.

The position to watch in Week 3 was running back, as it was expected that we could see more Joe Mixon and less Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. And that is exactly what happened. Mixon looked like the complete running back he was projected to be coming out of college, gaining more than 100 yards from scrimmage on 21 total touches. Expect that trend to continue going forward, as Mixon should only get better and the Bengals should continue to ride him.

I talked up Mixon last week as a great buy-low option prior to the change at offensive coordinator. Hopefully, you either drafted and stashed him or grabbed him on waivers last week because he is less likely to be available this week. But if he is, grab him and go. On the flip side, I would also try to hold onto Jeremy Hill and/or Giovani Bernard if you have the kind of league that provides you with the roster/bench space to do so. It looks like Mixon will be the guy, but we have seen before that one week doesn’t mean everything and that injuries happen all the time. If you have to pick one, I would probably lean Bernard in PPR.

To the charts!

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Well that was a wild week. Some may argue that the week was just the worst for fantasy, but you have to admit, with everyting going on with the outside world and football over the past few days, that Sunday was just the thing we all needed. I mean we got to see another Brady last-second win, another Lions performance cancelled out by their greatest rivals, the refs, another Packers OT thriller, and some big upsets in London, Chicago, New York, Washington, Buffalo, and quite possibly the best of them all, a fantastic 61-yard field goal from Jake Elliott as the Eagles narrowly defeated the New York Football Giants.

Let’s hope Week 4 delivers on all this hype. Let’s get to it!

Check out Rudy’s exclusive DFS and season-long tools that are sure to help you be profitable this fantasy football season!

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Believe it or not I am still going strong in my head-to-head points league in fantasy baseball. It’s the second week of a two-week World Series, but I’ve still got one foot in the fantasy baseball door. Between baseball and my eleven football leagues I haven’t had much time to consider how I’d like to contribute to the football side of things here at Razzball this season. I thought, perhaps, I would give some of you the opportunity to suggest some topics you’d like to see me cover. What subjects could potentially provide you with a weekly post that might help you gain an edge in your league?

In the meantime I’m pretty much going rogue. Just about everyone I know in my personal life that plays fantasy football comes to me with questions. A guy from work, whom I don’t care for very much, swears by the advice of Matthew Berry. He said that his Love/Hate post is his go-to source each week. He even suggested I start reading it if I want to win my league. I responded by asking how many times he has won his league. After a long winded spout of bullsh*t, he said he hadn’t won it yet. I laughed and told him to keep up the good work.

This did give me an idea however. Let’s see what Mr. Berry has to say. What did he say about last week and how would have following his advice helped me. Spoiler alert! His advice blows.

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Another week of the NFL season is in the books, and we have a few more developments at the running back position to keep an eye on. There are a few injuries hitting the wire this week, and out in Seattle, a youngster is outplaying some familiar names. Over in Philadelphia, the guy who is supposed to be the lead back barely saw the field…

Razzball Football’s partner FantasyDraft is starting a new sign-up promotion this week, all new depositing signups receive a free $4 “Everyone Wins” NFL GPP ticket for the upcoming Sunday slate along with offering all players 4% cash back on their initial deposits! 

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Does anyone else get the old Sherwin Williams jingle stuck in their head when they see Kerwynn Williams’s name? No? Just me?

Anyway, welcome to the 2017 Handcuff Report. For those who followed this post last season, welcome back. For those who are new, where were you last year? Too good for us? I have researched other available handcuff reports and tell give you my completely unbiased opinion that none of them are half as good as this one. Shame on you, and welcome.

So, first things first: what exactly is a handcuff? For the fantasy football n00bs out there, or perhaps for those who have taken the last few years off, a handcuff is a backup who will likely take over as the starter in the event of an injury, extreme ineffectiveness, off-the-field trouble, or coach’s decision. There are probably other reasons that I am forgetting here, but those are the most common one.

Most NFL teams now run a running back by committee of some sort. While not every team is as unpredictably maddening as the Patriots, most teams share the load in an effort to keep guys fresh and give defenses different looks. With fantasy leagues more competitive than ever, thanks to sites like Razzball offering great advice, it is important to recognize trends and identify value quickly. If you drafted a stud running back early, you might want to grab his handcuff in case of injury. Or if you went zero RB or went really light on RB early, you might want to squat on a couple handcuffs or, especially in PPR leagues, grab a change-of-pace/pass catching back. With the influx of young running backs and each team having two or three options this season, I tended to do the latter in drafts this year. For every Melvin Gordon, I have like two Shane Vereens or Theo Riddicks this year. Speaking of young running backs:

Please, blog, may I have some more?