FAVORABLE MATCHUPS (CASH/GPP)
Ezekiel Elliott (DK – $9,000/FD – $8,800): Elliott played well last week (128 combined yards with seven catches on 25 touches), but he failed to score a TD for the second straight game. Over his last six games, Ezekiel gained 986 combined yards with five TDs and an impressive 43 catches while averaging 30 touches per game. Tampa ranks 28th defending RBs (2,035 combined yards with 21 TDs and 75 catches) with eight teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. The Bucs allow 4.8 yards per rush, which points to an explosive game from Elliott. A good starting point to build your daily teams this week.
Christian McCaffrey (DK – $8,800/FD – $9,300): After scoring 12 TDs with 960 yards and 46 catches over his previous seven games, McCaffrey didn’t score last week while finishing with 120 combined yards with eight catches. Over his last four games, Christian has 34 catches and 39 targets. He’s on pace for 1,997 combined yards with 15 TDs and 107 catches. In Week 2, he had 139 combined yards with 14 catches against the Falcons. Atlanta allowed the third-most Fantasy points to RBs (2,238 combined yards with 17 TDs and 105 catches). High volume RB who will get plenty of targets in this game while adding upside in TDs with Cam Newton banged up. If the Panthers need to start backup QB Taylor Heinicke, McCaffrey will have a lower chance of scoring multiple TDs. Winning matchup with a chance to post the top RB score of the week.
Nick Chubb (DK – $7,300/FD – $7,900): Chubb is the 16th ranked RB in PPR leagues despite only starting eight games. As a starter, Nick gained 837 combined yards with eight TDs and 16 catches, which works out to 18.47 Fantasy points per game. Over this span, he averaged 20.5 touches per game. In Week 12, Chubb had 28 combined yards with three catches and two TDs against the Bengals on the road. Cinci allows the second-most Fantasy points to RBs (2,426 combined yards with 21 TDs and 76 catches). Six teams scored over 30.0 Fantasy points against the Bengals. An excellent matchup with multi TD upside and I expect well over 100 yards rushing.
Marlon Mack (DK – $5,500/FD – $7,000): Mack carried the Colts on his back last week, which led to his third impact game (31.90, 28.90, and 26.90 Fantasy points). His success last week came out of the blue after posting five straight short games (7.80, 13.90, 11.60, 4.30, and 9.30 Fantasy points). Over his last nine games, Marlon has 819 combined yards with eight TDs and 12 catches. The Giants fell to 26th in RB defense (2,045 combined yards with 18 TDs and 76 catches) after getting run over by the Titans last week (45/215/2). Possible follow through for Mack while having a favorable salary and matchup.
Elijah McGuire (DK – $4,700/FD – $5,700): Over the last two games with starting snaps, McGuire gained 154 combined yards with two TDs and six catches while receiving 20.5 touches per game. The Jets had him on the field for about 75 percent of their plays over this span. The Packers are 13th against RBs (1,992 combined yards with 16 TDs and 62 catches). Pass catching back with scoring ability added to a high volume opportunity points viable low option play this week in the daily games.
MATCHUP RISK / AGAINST THE GRAIN (GPP)
Alvin Kamara (DK – $7,400/FD – $8,100): Kamara dipped to fourth in RB scoring in PPR leagues after fading over his last four games (360 combined yards with one TD and 21 catches on 19.5 touches per game). His best three games (43.10, 34.00, and 41.10 Fantasy points) came over the first four games with Mark Ingram suspended. Over his last ten games, Alvin averaged 88 combined yards with one TD and 4.2 catches per game or 19.0 Fantasy points per game. His opportunity is a clear step down from the top RBs in the game with a split role while still owning the explosiveness to post impact results if he hits on a long play or multiple TDs. The Steelers rank 6th vs. RBs (1,501 combined yards with 13 TDs and 58 catches). Overpriced for his matchup and recent opportunity making Kamara more of an against the grain play.
Jaylen Samuel (DK – $6,700/FD – $6,700): Over the last two games as the starter for Pittsburgh, Samuel gained 264 combined yards while catching all nine of his targets for 94 yards. Last week the Steelers attacked the Patriots with an open backfield on a high percentage of play, which led to 61 percent of the RB snaps. With James Conner having a chance to play this week, Jaylen will have a lot less value. If he does start, I don’t expect a rushing TD (the Saints allow 3.7 yards per rush with one rushing TD allowed over the last six games). If he does start, his floor is helped by his value in the passing game (RBs have 78 catches for 607 yards and four TDs vs. New Orleans). His salary is too high for his expected outcome in this tough matchup.
Jeff Wilson (DK – $3,700/FD – $5,400): With Matt Breida suiting up last week, Wilson only had seven touches for 46 yards. His value wasn’t helped by an early lost fumble. Over the last three games, Jeff already had three fumbles (two lost). He gained 276 combined yards with nine catches over the last three games while averaging 18 touches per game. The Bears have the third best RB defense in the NFL (1,523 combined yards with nine TDs and 79 catches). Wilson should get the starting role this week with plenty of touches, but his matchup does have failure risk with low scoring ability.
Peyton Barber (DK – $3,600/FD – $5,600): Over the last five games, Barber gained 351 combined yards with four TDs and seven catches while averaging 18.4 targets per game. He tends to be on the field for 55 percent of the RB snaps in Tampa. Dallas ranks 9th vs. RBs (1,682 combined yards with 11 TDs and 85 catches). A poor matchup with question upside in playing time, scoring ability, and catches.
BAD MATCHUP (AVOID)
PLAYING TIME / INJURY RISK
Todd Gurley (DK – $9,200/FD – $9,600): Despite battling a banged-up left knee, Gurley finished another strong game last week (124 combined yards with two TDs and ten catches). Todd has 21 TDs after 14 games, but he is behind his 2017 pace (2,093 combined yards and 64 catches) in yards (1,831) and catches (59). If he plays this week, he’ll need 264 combined yards and five catches to match his success last year. The Rams need to stay one game ahead of the Bears to clinch a bye in the playoffs, which may require two wins. The status of Gurley for this week’s game will be in flux mid-week. Todd averages 22.5 touches per game. The Cardinals allow the third-most Fantasy points to RBs (2,379 combined yards with 20 TDs and 71 catches). In Week 2, Gurley had 73 combined yards with three TDs and three catches against Arizona. Favorable matchup just based on his chance to post a high score by volume of touches, but his health makes him tough to trust. Need more info while expecting him to be a fade for me in Week 15.
James Conner (DK – $7,000/FD – $8,3000: Conner may be back this week after missing the last two games with an ankle issue. I didn’t give the full rating as Jaylen Samuel played well enough to at least rotate in for some plays. The Saints have the fourth best RB defense in the NFL with no team scoring over 29.0 Fantasy points at the RB position. Fantasy is tough enough winning with healthy players. It doesn’t make sense to invest in a high dollar RB with a bum wheel. Avoid.
Leonard Fournette (DK – $6,000/FD – $7,300): After killing Fantasy teams over the first half of 2018, Fournette gave them hope after a nice three-game stretch (358 combined yards with five TDs and ten catches). Unfortunately, a missed game and emptiness in his last two starts (105 combined yards and five catches on 39 touches) just solidified his terrible ride this year. Leonard continues to battle a foot injury, which puts him at risk to play on Sunday. Miami ranks 27th defending RBs (2,363 combined yards with 17 TDs and 70 catches) with six teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points from the RB position. A favorable matchup, but his playing time is at risk while Fournette remains in the city of Oz looking for his lost heart.
James White (DK – $5,200/FD – $6,500): Despite being the eight highest scoring RB in PPR leagues, White struggled to make an impact over his last five games (287 combined yards with 20 catches on 8.4 touches per game). In Week 8, he finished with 94 yards with a TD and ten catches against the Bills. RBs have 75 catches for 579 yards and four TDs on 104 targets against Buffalo. Over the last two games, New England had him on the field of 40 percent of their plays. With the Patriots expected to play from the lead, James doesn’t look position to post a playable game.
Josh Adams (DK – $4,400/FD – $6,100): Over the last two games on the road, Adams gained 64 yards with a TD on 22 carries. His playing time faded in over his last four games (62, 55, 40, and 38 percent of the RB snaps in Philly). Houston sits 8th in the league against RBs with rushers gaining 3.6 yards per rush with eight rushing TDs. Poor matchup while being a three-way split for playing time makes Josh an easy avoid this week.
Saquon Barkley (DK – $7,900/FD – $9,000): Barkley had his worst game of the season in Week 14 (56 combined yards with four catches on 18 touches), which came after four straight games with over 100 yards rushing. Saquon has six games with over 25.0 Fantasy points in PPR leagues over the last ten games while scoring over 20.0 Fantasy points in 11 games in 2018. He averages 21.8 touches per game with high value in the passing game (82/654/4). The Colts are league average defending the RB position (1,984 combined yards with 12 TDs and 101 catches). Indy allows 3.9 yards per rush with a viable pass rush (38 sacks). A bounce-back game should be expected, but he’ll need two TDs to reach a winnable Fantasy score in the daily games.
Joe Mixon (DK – $7,100/FD – $8,200): Mixon shined in each of his last two starts (Week 14 – 138 combined yards with one TD and five catches and Week 15 – 130 combined yards with two TDs and two catches). Over these games, Joe had 60 touches. Overall in 12 games, Mixon gained 1,279 combined yards with nine TDs and 40 catches. In Week 12, he had 155 combined yards with seven catches vs. the Browns. In his four road games, Joe gained 390 yards with three TDs and 16 catches. Cleveland is 25th vs. the RB position (2,164 combined yards with 17 TDs and 74 catches). Seven team score two or more rushing TDs against the Browns. The loss of Tyler Boyd does hurt the Cinci’s passing game while expecting a step back in scoring chances on the road. Getting a ton of touches helps his floor, but he can’t post a viable score in the daily games without TD production. Fade for me.
Dalvin Cook (DK – $6,900/FD – $7,100): Cook delivered on his high projections last week by posting the best game of his career (163 combined yards with two TDs and one catch). Even with his success, the Vikings still gave Latavius Murray too many touches (15/68/1) while looking like a turtle compared the electric to Dalvin. Last week the Vikings had him on the field for 61 percent of their plays after seeing over 80 percent of the RB snaps in Minnesota in the two previous weeks. Over the last three games, he gained 6.7 yards per rush with three TDs. In Week 10, he gained 109 combined yards with four catches against the Lions. Detroit is 19th against RBs (2,069 combined yards with 14 TDs and 78 catches) with failure in rushing yards allowed in five games (NYJ – 36/169/2, SF – 28/190/1, DAL – 35/183, SEA – 42/176/1, and LAR – 25/149/2). The talent to shine, but his sidekick remains a thorn in his upside.
Tarik Cohen (DK – $6,400/FD – $6,900): Cohen is the 11th highest scoring RB in PPR leagues with two impact games (30.40 and 34.65 Fantasy points). Tarik gained 386 combined yards over the last four games with two TDs and 28 catches highlighted by his special game (186 combined yards with 14 catches) against the Giants. He averages only 11.1 touches per game with his best value coming in the passing game (68/710/5). RBs have 90 catches against the 49ers on 118 targets for 707 yards and three TDs. Priced a bit high with more of a steady outlook in this matchup.
David Johnson (DK – $6,200/FD – $7,200): Johnson had a productive game last week (101 combined yards with one TD and three catches), but Arizona decided to hook him in the second half due to game score crushing his potential upside. He finished with only 34 of 69 RB plays against the Falcons. Over his last seven games, Johnson gained 750 combined yards with three TDs and 26 catches while averaging 21.8 touches per game. In Week 2, he had 51 combined yards with one catch against the Rams. LA sits 15th vs. RBs (1,876 combined yards with 14 TDs and 75 catches). The bottom line for Johnson is the poor QB play plus the Cardinals have been more willing to give their backup RB time over the last couple of games. Let’s just say the buzz is gone here in 2018.
Jamaal Williams (DK – $5,400/FD – $7,100): With Aaron Jones gaining momentum in the Packers’ backfield, Williams only gained 211 combined yards with one TD and nine catches over a nine-game stretch. Last week after Jones went down with an injury, Jamaal gained 97 yards with four catches on 16 touches. He’s slated to get a full ride in snaps in Week 16 plus Aaron Rodgers is expected to play. The Jets are 10th defending RBs (1,808 combined yards with 14 TDs and 50 catches). Before last week against the Texans’ rushers (17/47), New York struggled to defend the run game in five of their last six games (CHI – 34/179/1, BUF – 46/212/2, NE – 36/215/1, TEN – 22/130/1, and BUF – 31/176/2). Jamaal will be active in this game while his volume sets a floor of mid-teen Fantasy points leaving him a TD away from filling his Fantasy bucket.
Mark Ingram (DK – $5,100/FD – $6,600): Over the last four games, Ingram has 221 combined yards with one TD and seven catches while averaging 13.25 touches. His best success came in Week 10 (162 combined with one TD and three catches) and Week 11 (16/103/2). Overall, Mark averages 14.5 touches per game. Much easier decision when the Saints score 40 points per game. The Steelers can slow down RBs, but home cooking should work in his favor. Maybe next week.
Sony Michel (DK – $4,900/FD – $6,800): Over the last five games, Michel only has 362 combined yards with one TD and three catches on 85 touches (17 per game). His game has been much better in his four home starts (84/379/4). New England turned to the fullback at the goal line four times over the last five games costing Sony multiple TDs. Buffalo ranks 23rd vs. RBs (1,816 combined yards with 18 TDs and 75 catches). I expect a much better game at home with one TD at a minimum and a reasonable chance at 20+ point game.
Tevin Coleman (DK – $4,800/FD – $6,400): Last week it looked like Coleman would get a bump in chances against Arizona with Ito Smith battling a knee issue. Even with Smith logging 43 percent of the RB snaps, Tevin posted his best game (11/145/1) rushing the ball. The Falcons haven’t given him over 16 rushes in any game in 2018 while averaging 11.6 touches over his last ten starts with only one other strong game (156 combined yards with two TDs and 68 catches). In Week 2, Coleman played well at home against the Panthers (125 combined yards with four catches). Carolina is 7th in the NFL vs. RBs (1,546 combined yards with 13 TDs and 63 catches). I’m sure Atlanta will rotate in another RB even with Smith placed in IR, but Tevin still should get close to 20 touches if the Falcons have success moving the ball. Not quite as strong of a play as last week, but he has the big play ability to surprise at this level.
Alfred Blue (DK – $4,500/FD – $5,300): Last week Lamar Miller suffered a right ankle injury, which points him not playing or seeing limited snaps in Week 16. Blue gained 279 yards over his last 82 touches with one TD and three catches. He’s gaining only 3.3 yards per rush in 2018. The Eagles fell to 20th in RB defense (1,964 combined yards with 14 TDs and 99 catches) after allowing over 30.0 Fantasy points to RBs in five of the last six games. His matchup suggests upside, so a Fantasy owner will need to follow the Texans’ backfield this week. At the very least, D’Onta Foreman will get in the way with his opportunity.
Jordan Howard (DK – $4,300/FD – $6,000): Over the last three games, Howard gained 258 combined yards with one TD and three catches on 19 touches per game. Jordan scored six TDs in 14 games with two games with over 100 yards. The 49ers allow 4.2 yards per rush with RBs scoring 11 rushing TDs. San Fran did show fade vs. RBs on the ground over the last four games (31/108/1, 29/168/1, 27/103/1, and 35/168/1). Power back with low resume in 2018. Only a gamble.
Kenyan Drake (DK – $3,900/FD – $5,800): Even with Frank Gore injured in last week’s game, Drake finished with only four touches for 34 yards and three catches despite being on the field for 53 percent of the RB plays in Miami. Over the last six games, Drake gained 326 combined yards with four TDs and 17 catches. RBs have 63 catches for 463 yards and one TD against the Jaguars on 83 targets. Extremely cheap with pass catching value, but his role and opportunity aren’t where they need to be at this point of the year.
Kalen Ballage (DK – $3,700/FD – $5,500): Ballage slid right into the Frank Gore role last week for the Dolphins leading to 12 carries for 123 yards and one TD highlighted by a 75-yard scoring run. Miami thought enough of him to give him almost half of the RB snaps in a chaser game. Jacksonville allow 4.4 yards per rush with RBs scoring ten rushing TDs. Relatively cheap and the Jaguars’ defense isn’t playing at the level we expected before 2018. Viable flier, but he does need at least one TD with some chances in the passing game to payoff.