FAVORABLE MATCHUPS (CASH/GPP)
Melvin Gordon (DK – $8,200/FD – $8,800): With each game that passes in 2018, I’m more impressed with Gordon. He had beast upside in all areas, but he lacks the elite opportunity given to Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Le’Veon Bell. Melvin averages just over 20 touches per game while being on the field for about 72 percent of the plays run by the Chargers. Cleveland struggled vs. James Conner in Week 1 (192 combined yards with two TDs and five catches) while some failure against Marshawn Lynch (157 combined yards with three catches). The Browns did struggle overall vs. RBs in three of their five games (200 combined yards with two TDs and five catches, 203 combined yards with six catches, and 151 combined yards with eight catches). Philip Rivers will use his backs to take away the aggressiveness from Cleveland’s young defense. Viable as long his backfield mate doesn’t steal his TDs.
Latavius Murray (DK – $4,700/FD – $5,600): Murray had a season-high 74 percent of the plays run by the Vikings last week, but he still came up with a boring game (56 combined yards with two catches on 13 touches). Game score crushed his opportunity in Week 3 and Week 4. This season rushers have 174 carries against the Cardinals, which led to 142 yards per game with eight rushing TDs. Even with their failure, Arizona only allows 4.1 yards per rush meaning they’ve been beaten more by volume. Minnesota’s RB gain only 3.4 yards per rush with no rushing TDs. Weakness meets weakness, so something has to give. My gut says Latavius is at least relevant for the daily games in Week 5.
MATCHUP RISK / AGAINST THE GRAIN (GPP)
Ezekiel Elliott (DK – $7,000/FD – $8,100): The Texans held Elliott to 84 combined yards last week with seven catches while receiving 27 touches. On the year, Ezekiel has one special game (240 combined yards with one TD and four catches). Elliott averages 23 touches per game while gaining 5.2 yards per rush. The Jaguars allow 3.9 yards per rush with RBs scoring two TDs. The only RB to post a 20+ point game was Saquon Barkley (138 combined yards with one TD and two catches), but most of the damage came on a 75-yard run. Fade for me whiling being a lower percentage own.
David Johnson (DK – $5,900/FD – $7,500): After five games, Johnson is the 10th ranked RB in PPR leagues. His TD production (5) falls in range with his previous resume, but David is gaining only 3.3 yards per rush and 8.0 yards per catch with both numbers being well below his 2016 season (4.2 and 11.0). This season Johnson averages only 17.8 touches per game, which is below 24 percent below his opportunity in his last full season (23.3 touches per game). The biggest part of his dropoff in chances is the time of possession held by the Cardinals’ offense. Arizona averages about 24 minutes a game with the football. If they held the ball for 30+ minutes, Johnson would get 25+ touches. The Vikings play well vs.the run (4.0 yards per rush) with RBs scoring no rushing TDs. They will give up some big plays to RBs in the passing game (18/275/2 on 26 targets). Not the best matchup on the road. David needs better QB play before reaching his previous impact level of production.
LeSean McCoy (DK – $5,500/FD – $6,200): For the first time all season, McCoy flashed some of his previous explosiveness against the Titans. He still only gained 3.5 yards per rush, but LeSean ran well when given free space at the second level of the defense. He finished with 108 combined yards with two catches while receiving a season-high 26 touches. Buffalo had him on the field for 72 percent of the offensive plays. The Texans allow only 3.4 yards per rush with one rushing TD while facing Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley. Houston can struggle in games vs. passing catching backs (32/200/2 on 43 targets). Priced fairly for his higher volume of touches, but scoring TDs tend to be an issue for Buffalo.
Javorius Allen (DK – $4,800/FD – $5,500): Over the last two games, Allen has 26 touches for 125 combined yards with eight catches. Last week Javorius was on the field for a season-high 57 percent of the play run by the Ravens. Allen has scoring ability (four TDs) while remaining the top option in the passing game (21/131/1) for Baltimore. The Titans played well vs. RBs in the passing game (21/119 on 30 targets) while allowing only one rushing TDs. Low volume option with not the best matchup for the daily games.
Alex Collins (DK – $4,600/FD – $6,200): Collins did look better last week. He gained 59 yards on 12 touches (4.9 yards per rush) while catching one ball for seven yards. Alex hasn’t had over 50 percent of the RB snaps in Baltimore in any game. Tennesee allows 3.9 yards per rushing with RBs scoring two rushing TDs. Weak opportunity with no real upside in the passing game and the Ravens pull him at the goal line in favor of Javorius Allen.
Derrick Henry (DK – $4,000/FD – $5,500): Henry doesn’t have a TD in 2018 while failing to gain over 60 yards rushing in any game. He averages 13.6 touches per game with only three catches. The Ravens allow 3.9 yards per rush with two rushing TDs. I thought I saw a spark last week, which may lead to a breakthrough in production. This is a below-par matchup.
BAD MATCHUP (AVOID)
Carlos Hyde (DK – $4,900/FD – $6,600): Hyde continues to get plus touches in the Browns’ offense, but his window won’t last long. Carlos averages over 21 touches per game while gaining only 3.5 yards per rush and 4.8 yards per rush. His Fantasy value is helped by five TDs. The Chargers played well vs. the run in four games (27/106, 22/84/1, 21/76, and 13/41) with their failure coming against the Rams (35/171/1). Disaster downside when Cleveland finally makes the flip to the more explosive Nick Chubb. I don’t like this matchup.
Dion Lewis (DK – $4,700/FD – $5,500): Over the last four games, Lewis 197 combined yards with 16 catches while averaging almost 14 touches per game. RBs only have 18 catches for 102 yards on 35 targets vs. the Ravens. Pure fade in this poor matchup.
Kenyan Drake (DK – $4,600/FD – $6,300): Drake had his best game of the season last week (115 combined yards with one TD and seven catches), but the Dolphins still gave Frank Gore 41 percent of the playing time. On the year, Kenyan has 277 combined yards with two TDs and 17 catches while averaging about 11 targets per game. RBs only have 13 catches for 89 yards and one TD on 21 against the Bears with losing value on early downs (76/256). Pure avoid especially when consider Miami can’t be trusted to give him winning touches.
PLAYING TIME / INJURY RISK
Chris Thompson (DK – $6,100/FD – $6,100): Early in the week. I have Thompson out with a rib injury. After a fast start to the year in Week 1 (128 combined yards with one TD and six catches) and Week 2 (93 combined yards with 13 catches), Chris came up empty in Week 3 (17 yards and one catch) with a mid-tier game (62 combined yards and six catches_ vs. the Saints. His yards per rush (4.3) and yards per catch (7.7) no longer look to offer an edge. Overall, Thompson is still on pace for 100+ catches. RBs have 17 catches for 149 yards and two TDs on 23 targets against the Panthers. Need more info, but I would avoid injury risk in the daily games plus his salary is now above his opportunity.
Adrian Peterson (DK – $4,800/FD – $6,900): Peterson left last week’s game with a dislocated shoulder, which puts him at risk to play on Sunday. Adrian has two strong games (166 combined yards with one TD and two catches and 120 yards and two TDs). Tough to trust, but a full ride without Chris Thompson on the field Peterson may surprise.
Lamar Miller (DK – $4,700/FD – $6,100): The Texans expect to have Miller back in the starting lineup this week, but he’ll have more competition for touches with Alfred Blue showing a spark last week and D’Onta Foreman expect to play. Miller only has one TD in four games while averaging over 16 touches per game. RBs have seven TDs while allowing 3.9 yards per carry. Can’t trust his health or opportunity.
Austin Ekeler (DK – $4,200/FD – $6,200): After five games. Ekeler is the 17th highest scoring RB in PPR leagues while only touching the ball fewer than ten times a game. Austin has a receiving TD in three of his five games while averaging 14.8 yards per catch. Playmaker, but his touches set a low floor.
Mike Davis (DK – $4,100/FD – $5,700): Davis played great over the last two games (199 combined yards with three TDs and six catches). He’ll work as the backup RB for Seattle with sneaky upside if given starting snaps.
Royce Freeman (DK – $3,900/FD – $6,000): Freeman continues to run the ball well (5.1 yards per rush), but he only has 38 touches over the last four games. He did score a TD in three straight games. High upside back, but he lacks opportunity.
Todd Gurley (DK – $10,000/FD – $9,500): Gurley has two games in 2018 with three TDs and two other games with over 150 combined yards. Todd averages 24 touches per game leading to 28.10 Fantasy points per game in PPR leagues. Denver played great over the first three games against the run (16/64, 27/32/1, and 28/77/2), but they struggled vs. the Chiefs (26/142/2) while falling totally on their face against the Jets (38/323/1). RBs have 23 catches for 176 yards and one TD on 30 targets against the Broncos. Huge salary with tempting upside based on Denver’s failure on defense last week. I can’t see a 40+ point game, but he could be still an edge based his high-value production in the RB1 slot.
Christian McCaffrey (DK – $8,300/FD – $8,400): McCaffrey scored his first TD of the year last week, but he fell short of expectations in combined yards (93). Christian has 22 touches or more in each of his last three games with 21 of those chances coming in the passing game. His floor should be 15+ Fantasy points in most weeks even if he doesn’t score a TD. Over the last two games, he’s been on the field for 136 of 137 plays run by the Panthers. On the year, RBs have 27 catches for 161 yards with no TD on 36 targets against the Redskins. Washington allows 4.0 yards per rush with RBs scoring four TDs. His salary is high for his scoring ability while owning opportunity and high upside in the passing game. Love his playing time, and McCaffrey has big-play ability, which gives him a chance to fill his salary bucket at this level.
James Conner (DK – $7,700/FD – $8,200): Bell finished with his second impact game of the season last week against the Falcons. He gained 185 combined yards with two TDs and four catches to push him to 5th in RB scoring in PPR leagues. For the record, the “Bell” lead-in wasn’t a typo. I was just making the reference to show how similar both players are in production at this point of the year. James averages about 21 touches per game. The Bengals will give up catches to RBs (34/287/2 on 43 targets) while showing risk vs. the run in two games (CAR – 41/230/2 and Miami – 22/128). His best two games came when Pittsburgh played from the lead. Slightly underpriced with special value on all three downs. An uptempo scoring game would be fun for his daily game value.
Joe Mixon (DK – $7,500/FD – $7,500): The Bengals leaned on Mixon in his first game back in the starting lineup after suggesting that he was going to be in a split role. Joe has 69 touches in three games, which is an elite opportunity while averaging 117 combined yards with three catches and 0.67 TDs per game. Pittsburgh played better vs. the run in their last three games (16/63, 30/96, and 19/62/1) while doing a good job defending RBs in the passing game (17/104/2 on 27 targets). His rising salary looks to match his expected playing time, but Mixon needs to prove his value in TDs to be played in the daily games.
Jordan Howard (DK – $6,500/FD – $6,200): Howard is well behind his expected pace after four games. He has 281 combined yards with one TD and ten catches while averaging 18.5 touches per game. Jordan doesn’t have one run over 20 yards, leading to only 3.2 yards per carry. In Week 4, Howard was on the field for 54 percent of the plays run by the Bears compared to 48 percent by Tarik Cohen. In that game, Cohen gained 174 combined yards with one TD and seven catches on 20 touches. The Bears need to find a balance of their top two RBs, but the success of Tarik will command more chances. Miami allows 3.7 yards per rush with four TDs. Jordan is a much better player than his start to the year, which means a correction game is on the way. Coming off a bye week, Howard may surprise.
T.J. Yeldon (DK – $6,400/FD – $7,100): Over the last two games, Yeldon has 222 combined yards with three TDs and 11 catches. His success over this span works out to 19.6 Fantasy points in PPR leagues, which is good enough to cover Leonard Fournette and rank in the top ten in RB scoring. Last week T.J. was on the field for 93 percent of the plays run by the Jaguars. The Cowboys allow 3.4 yards per rush to RBs while scoring three rushing TDs. Dallas will rush the QB, which may lead to a bump in catches for Yeldon. RBs have 37 catches for 259 yards on 44 targets against the Cowboys. Favorable salary with a growing opportunity, but his matchup will limit his explosiveness.
Tevin Coleman (DK – $5,400/FD – $6,300): The mid-week injury report has Devonta Freeman trending toward being out this week. Over three games with starting snap, Coleman had 249 combined yards with one TD and nine catches while being on the field for about two-thirds of the time. Tampa allows 3.9 yards per rush with RBs scoring six TDs. The Bucs struggled to cover RBs in the passing game in Week 1 (9/112/1) and Week 4 (7/121/1). The Falcons continue to give Ito Smith touches at the goal line, which does hurt Coleman’s upside in TDs. 50/50 matchup with his best chance for upside coming in the passing game.
Marshawn Lynch (DK – $5,300/FD – $6,500): Lynch had a season-low 11 touches last week leading to 41 combined yards with two catches. Game scored pushed him to the bench in the second half in favor pass-catching back Jalen Richard. Marshawn averages 17.8 touches per game with three TDs and one game with over 100 yards rushing. He’s listed on the injury report with a hip issue. Seattle struggled in three games against the run (DEN – 32/146, DAL – 19/166, and LAR – 30/155/3). A rebound game in touches with a reasonable chance at a TD. Soft and steady with minimall explosiveness.
Nyheim Hines (DK – $5,100/FD – $6,300): Over the last three games, Hines has 21 catches for 133 yards with two TDs while gaining a season-high in rushes (15) and yards (45) last week. Indy had him on the field for about 70 percent of their plays over the last three weeks. This week Marlon Mack turned a full practice, which gives him a chance to play this week. RBs have 34 catches for 260 yards and one TD on 41 targets vs. the Jets. Passing catching back who will lose value this week on early downs. Not ideal at this level.
Isaiah Crowell (DK – $5,000/FD – $6,700): Crowell had his best game of the career in Week 5 (15/219/1), which was helped by a 77-yard run. Isaiah has five TDs on the year with one other game of value (102/2). Crowell is now on pace for 1,363 combined yards with 15 TDs and 18 catches. He averages 12.6 touches per game. RBs gain 4.0 yards per rush against Indy with four rushing TDs. His downside is that he’s only on the field for 42.2 percent of the plays run by the Jets. Possible follow through.
Tarik Cohen (DK – $4,600/FD – $5,900): Cohen only had 124 combined yards with seven catches on 21 touches over the first three games. In Week 4, the Bears finally found a way to get him into open space leading to an impact game (174 combined yards with one TD and seven targets). RBs have 35 catches for 292 yards and three TDs on 46 targets against the Dolphins. I expect a better opportunity again this week, but Cohen needs a TD and plenty of catches to fill his salary bucket.
Bilal Powell (DK – $4,500/FD – $5,800): Powell gained 99 yards on 20 carries last week while Isaiah Crowell played at a high level. On the year, Bilal has 379 combined yards with one TD and ten catches while averaging almost 14 touches per game. RBs have 40 catches for 340 yards and one TD on 56 targets against the Jets. I expect him to be the better RB to own on the Jets in Week 6.
Phillip Lindsay (DK – $4,500/FD – $6,100): In each game this year, Lindsay gained over 4.7 yards per rush. He’s averaging 13 touches per game with two TDs. Over the last two games, Phillip has 160 combined yards with one TD and five catches. Denver continues to rotate in three back with Lindsay seeing just under 40 percent of the RB snaps in his last three full games. The Rams struggled vs. the run in two of their last three games (LAC – 20/141/1 and SEA – 32/190/1). Plays well, but he isn’t a lock to get the most catches or all of the goal line carries.
Chris Carson (DK – $4,400/FD – $6,400): In his last two starts, Carson has over 100 yards rushing. In Week 3, he gained 124 yards on 34 touches with one TD and two catches follow up with more strength in Week 5 (127 combined yards with one catch on 20 touches). Last week the Seahawks had him on the field for 58 percent of their snaps. Oakland struggled vs. the run in three games (26/104, 28/168/2, and 31/208/3). A favorable matchup, but he isn’t a lock to get 20+ touches.
Ronald Jones (DK – $3,900/FD – $5,600): In his first game in 2018, Jones rushed for 29 yards on ten carries while being on the field about one-third of the plays run by Tampa. The Falcons allow 4.9 yards per rush with RBs scoring nine TDs while also showing risk defending RBs in the passing game (46/385/1 on 59 targets). May surprise if Tampa gives him starting snaps and touches. GPP type swing.
Peyton Barber (DK – $3,500/FD – $5,600): Over the last three games, Barber rushes for 79 yards on 31 carries while also catching two balls for 13 yards. His lack of success should open up the door for Ronald Jones to seize the starting job going forward. If Peyton retains the starting job for the Bucs in Week 6, his matchup gives him a live chance of producing a special game.