The Divisional Round brings us some incredible football games this weekend, but once again we’re lacking viable options at the running back position. The good news is that your opponents won’t like the position either. We only have a few backs who are safe bets for 15+ touches, so your cash game strategy should include these high-floor options.
Looking for a different position? Check out the rest of the positional targets:
If you’re new to the daily fantasy community, welcome, you’re in for a whole lot of fun. If you have questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Green Bay Packers) -$6,000
As noted above, the running back position is such a collective dumpster fire this week, making it extremely difficult to fade Arizona’s David Johnson. He’s solidified himself as a clear lead back down the stretch, and his three-down skill set is attractive to the DFS crowd. Johnson’s Cardinals are also the biggest favorite on the board and their implied team total of 28.5 is the highest on the slate, as well. Johnson should be 100% owned in cash, and I’d rather be overweight than underweight in tournaments.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (@ Carolina Panthers) -$6,400
Marshawn Lynch not traveling with the team to Minnesota last week was the most Marshawn-Lynch-thing ever. I’m not saying that he saw the weather reports and gave it a straight ‘nah wave’, but would you be surprised? It’s hard to know what’ll happen but if he’s a full-go heading into the weekend you have to consider him here. The matchup is clearly not ideal, but I can’t envision him losing many snaps to Christine Michael ($4,600) if he’s active. He’s been practicing, just like he was last week, so keep an eye on the news before locking him in anywhere.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (vs. Seattle Seahawks) -$5,800
The Panthers took their time with Jonathan Stewart, who hasn’t played for nearly a month since going down with an ankle injury back in Week 14. The reports out of Carolina should give us confidence in his health, as Stewart reportedly will have “no limitations’’ come Sunday. If that’s the case than J-Stew might be the best bet for 20+ carries at the position this week. It’s hard to get excited about the upside within those carries as Seattle enters play with the league’s third best run defense according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, but Stewart is viable on volume alone.
Middle of the Pack
Fitzgerald Toussaint, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Denver Broncos) -$4,200
DeAngelo Williams missed practice on Wednesday and was spotted in the locker room with a walking boot on his foot. Fire up Toussaint! Full disclosure: I can’t stand the Steelers but even I feel bad for them right now. You get to the playoffs and have to play without your top-2 running backs, will likely be without the league’s best wide receiver, and your quarterback is slightly-to-severely injured depending on the true severity of his shoulder injury. Woof.
I can’t see the Steelers running Toussaint or teammate Jordan Todman ($3,800) very often, but Toussaint could carve out an important role in the passing game, particularly if they scheme things differently if Antonio Brown isn’t able to suit up. Toussaint was targeted eight times last week, and a pass-heavy game plan should yield a similar result this week.
Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs (@ New England Patriots) -$4,500
There are a number of things working against Spencer Ware this week, but if we see that he practiced on Thursday and Friday than he’s my preferred play over teammate Charcandrick West ($5,500). Ware has clearly out-played West of late, and his size makes him the likely short-yardage back if the situation presents itself. I’m of the mindset that Kansas City won’t be in a position to grind out a second half lead, and will be forced to play a style that differs from what we’ve seen from them over the past few months of unbeaten football. New England will be full strength on both sides of the football for the first time in months and their front seven is deep and stout against the run.
Rest of the Field
C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers) -$3,700
This Denver backfield is as close to a 50/50 split as it gets, so I’ll list Anderson for $400 cheaper than his teammate Ronnie Hillman ($4,100). Anderson has been slightly more effective over the past few games and we’ve seen Denver ride his hot-hand in the second half when he’s rolling. The public will likely use the same train of thought, so spending up to be contrarian on Hillman might be the better play for tournaments.
Steven Jackson, New England Patriots (vs. Kansas City Chiefs) -$3,300
Feeling good about this one? No? I hear ya. I think New England tries to neutralize Kansas City’s pass rush by leaning on their short passing game, but if one of their backs is to find paydirt I think Jackson is the safest bet. James White ($5,200) is too expensive and will be used exclusively as a pass catcher and pass catching backs have had little to no success against the Chiefs this season (3rd in passing DVOA to the running back position).
James Starks, Green Bay Packers (@ Arizona Cardinals) -$4,000
I don’t want any Packers’ running back, but Starks would be my play if forced to pick one. The good news is that we aren’t forced to pick one. This is a terrible spot for their running game and snaps are being split three ways between Starks, Eddie Lacy ($4,400) and John Kuhn ($3,000).