As the sun sets on another blistering day on the slope, you reflect on this journey. The hot tea emits a fragrance that escapes the metal mug and warms your cracked, weathered face. There have been terrifying challenges, victorious accomplishments and many days where the best you can do is just grind.

But here you are, with week 9 approaching and you’re still breathing. Even if your team is battered and bruised at 0-8 or 1-7, use this week to stash a trade chip or keeper for next year. All leagues should have some incentive for the unfortunate teams to not give up, even if its just a keeper feature. If you sit at 2-6 or better, there is still time. Take it one week at a time and just keep moving.

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Mattison made the handcuff report back in the pre-season as a premium handcuff, and needs to be rostered by all Dalvin Cook owners heading down the stretch of the fantasy football regular season. Barely on the field for a quarter of the Vikings offensive snaps (26.4%), Mattison’s athletic ability was still on full display. The Vikings are giving Mattison the ball when he is on the field, touching the ball 78.9% percent of his snaps compared to Dalvins 54.9%. In week 8, Alexander took 13 carries for 61 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and now averaging 4.9 ypc on the season. If anything were to happen to Cook, Mattison is fully capable of producing in our fantasy lineups in an offense built around the run. The Vikings rank 3rd in the NFL in rushing attempts per game (32.9). Mattison is averaging 10.8 touches per game over the past 4 weeks, if he is able to find the field for more than 26% of the offensive snaps he’ll start to flirt with weekly flex value.

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Remember when in-season trades never happened in the NFL? That was so, so, so long ago. This season we have had several notable players moved ranging from all-pro defensive backs to noted aerospace engineers (Josh Dobbs). However, the trade of Emmanuel Sanders has opened the opportunity for Courtland Sutton to continue his rise to fantasy glory. Sutton had already made a second-year jump prior to the trade and is currently sitting as the WR12 in half-PPR leagues. Sutton’s metrics support his rise to prominence with his player profiler athletic comparison being Alshon Jeffrey. He is 9th in weighted opportunities, top 20 in air yards, and top 20 in targets per game. His quarterback already stinks out loud so any mid-season change to a rookie, if Drew Lock were to get healthy, should have a minimal effect on his rest of season play. Expect the Denver Broncos to remain generally pesky as they fulfill a 5-6 win team destiny, and their air game to funnel through Courtland Sutton for the remainder of the 2019 season.

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It feels just like yesterday that I was writing pre-season articles for you. Now, we are facing the last week(s) of the fantasy football regular season. While we are all getting stuffed on side-dishes (because we all know turkey is just taking up space on our plate), we have crucial decisions to make regarding our rosters. What is your favorite thanksgiving dish?

This week, due to the holiday, I’ll keep it brief and get straight to this weeks culprits. We have a few backfield situations worth monitoring…

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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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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:

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Welcome back to the RazzBlitz Podcast.  Zach and I were joined by Mike (Mayer) Maher and Justin Mason of Friends With Fantasy Benefits (and pretty much everywhere else).  Along with the who I mentioned above, this league features heavy hitters such as Chris Towers (CBS), Tim Heaney (ESPN, RotoWire), Mo Brewington (Eagleswire on USAToday), Andy Singleton (Fantrax), the boys from The Point After Show, among a few other real experts. This league is 16 teams and the roster features: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 flex, 1 D/ST, and 1 kicker. Before the Podcast, check out how the boys at Razzball fared…

Join my RCL League today! Eight spots left!

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Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Deep Impact! This is the last week of our series, unfortunately, so best of luck any loyal readers lucky enough to make it into the playoffs. I’ll be here in the comments to help answer any of your questions for Week 14, and will be taking the playoff journey with you in five of my six leagues (including a first-round bye in the Razzball Writers League in which someone *cough* Jay *cough* gave me a measly C+ draft rating). It’s been a blast being a part of the Razzball team, I’ll keep navigating you through the deeper waters in seasons to come. If you have any questions in Weeks 15 or 16, you can find me on Twitter (@TheeAlexLee) or wandering between open mics in Philly. As we’ve done all season, let’s take a look at the 10% and under owned players, with one name in there above that threshold just for old times’ sake.

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When I saw that Jay Ajayi (28 CAR, 214 YDS, 7.6 AVG, 1 TD, 53 LONG and 1 REC, 2 YDS, 2.0 AVG, 2 LONG, 1 TGTS) broke the 200-yard rushing barrier yesterday, I assumed it was a career-total type of thing… I mean, what kind of timeline have we been transported to where something like this could happen? We went from:s: It’s Arian Foster, it’s Jay Ajayi, it’s I think I’ll take a pass, to whatever we call this. Arian Foster (3 CAR, 5 YDS, 1.7 AVG, 3 LONG and 1 REC, 4 YDS, 4.0 AVG, 4 LONG, 3 TGTS) is probably safe to ignore now (though I might hold if possible, just because the Dolphins are a weird team that does weird things whenever they can). So now, one has to tackle (see what I did there?) the possibility that we’re seeing Devonta Freeman 2.0. True, the Bills probably wouldn’t be able to tackle Rex Ryan standing still if they tried yesterday, and yeah, the Steelers run defense has somehow morphed into the Colts run defense from the 00’s (zeroes or oh’s?… I have no idea), and that shows up in the numbers: Ajayi has broken as many tackles on 54 handoffs over the last two weeks (13) as Ezekiel Elliott has on 148 touches this entire season. But it’s hard to ignore two 200-yard games in a row, even with caveats. Only three other players have done that: O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, and Ricky Williams. Granted, you probably want to most be like Cambell here, in terms of the law (Simpson) and career longevity (Williams). Don’t kill people and get high, maaaaan… But how do we really know that this is legitimate? Well, since the majority of us didn’t see Freeman’s 2015, we can certainly see some similar parallels with Ajayi forming. In 2014, Freeman was one of the top running backs in the draft (like Ajayi was in 2015), and as a rookie for the Falcons, he was relegated to third string duty, totaling just 65 rushes and 30 catches the entire year. He was unspectacular, and his potential finally forgotten en masse when Tevin Coleman was drafted. The exact same could be said with Ajayi last year, as Lamar Miller’s presence limited him to just 187 total rushing yards and 11 catches. And then, Kenyan Drake was drafted and Arian Foster was signed. While it’s hard to say if Ajayi can sustain RB1 numbers for an Adam Gase and Clyde Christensen run offense that has never drawn up a sh*tty play that they didn’t love and do over and over again, it’s certainly apparent that when you make the lazy comparison that Jay Ajayi is the next Devonta Freeman, it might actually turn out to be right. And then you find yourself wondering, can Devonta effing Freeman be the next Jay Ajayi?… And then you wonder how the NFC West didn’t win a game yesterday, even though the Seahawks and Cardinals played against each other… and then you wonder why your head hurts so much.

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Loyal Razzballers and deep leaguers, we’re changing the format of the Deep Impact series from here on out. Rather than plug some under-owned options to consider for Week 7, instead, we will talk about all the ins and outs of wedding planning. Who says that planning a wedding should only be handled by the bride-to-be? Men, close your fantasy football apps and be an active part of the process… *answers call from Jay* I’ve been informed that the format of the article is actually staying the same, and also to beg all of you to never, ever stop paying attention to fantasy football for any reason. Don’t go anywhere! Please? You still there? Great! As we’ve been doing every week, let’s take a look at some guys below 10% owned in Yahoo that are worth using for Week 7. If you haven’t been reading every week, well, congrats! You’re probably doing pretty well so far this season.

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