FAVORABLE MATCHUPS (CASH/GPP)
Alvin Kamara (DK – $9,600/FD – $9,100): Over the first three games, Kamara has 430 combined yards with three TDs and 30 catches. He's on pace for 160 catches with 1,541 yards receiving. His missing ingredient is his upside is the run game (37/141/2). Alvin had a TD called back in each of his last two games while still looking for his first run over 20 yards. The Giants struggled vs. the run in the first three games (72/334/1), but about one-third of the damage came from QBs (16/123). After removing the QB rushing yards and carries, RBs have gained 3.8 yards per rush against New York. They did allow two RB TDs via the catch while minimizing the damage in RB catches (17) and receiving yards (86). Kamara is just a beast on all downs and his playing time grew to 85 percent in Week 3. Possible long TD with another in close. His floor in yards and catches sets up another special week.
Ezekiel Elliott (DK – $7,700/FD – $8,200): Last week Elliott had his first 100-yard rushing game, but he still doesn't have 20 carries in any start in 2018. He's gaining 5.7 yards per rush but struggling to find space in the passing game (11/37 - 3.4 yards per catch). Last week he did have a fumble after a long run. Overall, Ezekiel has 311 combined yards with two TDs and 11 catches while averaging just under 20 touches per game. The Cowboys have scored only four TDs on their 33 possessions. Detroit had a huge problem vs. the run in Week 1 (36/169/2) and Week 2 (28/190/1). They allow 5.4 yards per rush with RBs scoring four TDs with 16 catches for 116 yards on 23 targets. A favorable matchup, but Elliott needs the Cowboys to create more scoring chances to help his TD upside.
Giovani Bernard (DK – $6,300/FD – $6,400): In his first start for the Bengals with Joe Mixon out, Bernard gained 86 combined yards with one TD and five catches while receiving 17 touches. The Bengals had him on the field for 88 percent of their offensive plays, which is a winning opportunity. The Falcons have injuries on their defense, which has been a big win for RBs over the last two weeks in the passing game (14/17 and 18/131/1 on 40 combined targets). They did face two of the top pass-catching backs in the league over that stretch (Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara). Atlanta allows 4.8 yards per rush to RBs with backs scoring four rushing TDs. An excellent matchup in what looks like another shootout game in Georgia.
MATCHUP RISK / AGAINST THE GRAIN (GPP)
Jordan Howard (DK – $6,800/FD – $7,200): It's been tough sledding for Howard over his first three games. He's averaging only 3.4 yards per rush while receiving 21 touches per game. Jordan is on pace for 50+ catches, which is a step up in opportunity. He's still looking for his first run over 20 yards. The Bears had him on the field for about 68 percent of their plays. The Bucs come into this game with huge issues defending the pass (1126/7), but they’ve been very good vs. the run (59/212). Even with their success as far as yards per rush (3.6), Tampa allowed five TDs to RBs over the first two games. Many will fade Howard in this game, but I expect a correction game. Jordan is a beast, and he has multi TD upside in this matchup. His salary is in a range where most will fear his overall potential in Week 4. Enjoy a fun game while being on many winning tickets.
Corey Clement (DK – $4,700/FD – $5,300): Clement led the Eagles in RB snaps (45) in Week 3 with about 55 percent of the playing time. Even with an edge in playing time, Corey failed to score the needed to score the TD needed to fill his salary bucket. Clement finished with 19 touches leading to 75 combined yards with three catches. The Titans allow 4.8 yards per rush, but they’ve still not allowed a rushing TD. Last year Tennessee played well vs. the run, which gives Corey a below-par matchup especially when you add in Wendell Smallwood into the equation. There is also a chance that Jay Ajayi plays this week.
Sony Michel (DK – $4,500/FD – $5,900): Over his first two games, Michel struggled to get to the second level of the defense leading to only 3.5 yards per rush. He has 90 combined yards on 26 touches with two catches. With Rex Burkhead out, New England can't help but give him a high-volume opportunity if they play from the lead. I'm sure the Patriots won't work him too hard, which points to about two-thirds of the RB playing time. Miami only allows 3.3 yards per rush with RBs scoring two rushing TDs. Priced to shine and New England needs to come into this matchup with motivation after losing two straight games. I can't give him the green light based on matchup, but he does have it for playing time.
Isaiah Crowell (DK – $3,700/FD – $6,400): Crowell has two TDs in two different games in 2018 helping mask a couple of short games. A long run in Week 1 helps his yards per rush (4.5). Overall, Isaiah has 42 touches for 192 combined yards with four TDs and four catches. He's in a pure split for snaps with Bilal Powell. The Jaguars allow 4.2 yards per rush with RBs scoring on TD. Last year at home, New York rushed for 256 yards with two TDs on 32 carries against Jacksonville. Below par matchup with question upside.
BAD MATCHUP (AVOID)
Dion Lewis (DK – $4,400/FD – $5,700): The excitement of Lewis in Week 1 (110 combined yards with one TD and five catches) ended over the last two games (83 combined yards with four catches) while receiving 28 touches. He's been on the field for just over 50 percent of the RB plays in Tennessee in the last two games with the Titans playing from the lead. RBs have 15 catches for 96 yards on 19 targets against the Eagles. Dion only works in a chaser game, but his offense doesn't create enough offense for him to be viable at this level.
Derrick Henry (DK – $4,100/FD – $6,000): Over three games, Henry has 47 touches for 144 yards with one catch putting him on a path well below his expected value from his previous resume. Last week with the Titans playing from the lead, Derrick had over 50 percent of the RB snaps in Tennessee for the first time. The Eagles allow only 3.4 yards per rush with RBs gaining 145 yards on 50 carries in 2018 with one rushing TDs. A poor matchup with growing concern with his upside.
Bilal Powell (DK – $3,800/FD – $5,900): The best RB in New York has been an every other week player. Over three games, Powell has 218 combined yards with six catches while failing to score a TD. Bilal averaged about 12 touches per game with about 49 percent of the RB snaps in New York. A date with the Jaguars' defense can't be a great sign for upside.
Peyton Barber (DK – $3,800/FD – $6,000): Barber remains the lead back in Tampa despite averaging only 2.9 yards per rush. Peyton has 131 combined yards with one catch while receiving 44 touches. He's been on the field for 65 percent of the RB snaps for the Bucs. Chicago hasn't allowed a rushing TD in 2018 with RBs gaining only 3.4 yards per rush. A bad matchup with job loss risk.
PLAYING TIME / INJURY RISK
Matt Breida (DK – $5,800/FD – $6,400): Breida ran the ball again in last week (10/90) giving him six runs of 20 yards or more in his last two games. In his last two contests, Matt has 27 combined touches for 276 yards with a TD and six catches. The 49ers had him on the field for about 43 percent of their snaps on the year, which fell in a tight range in each game (45, 41, and 43 percent). Last week he looked to have suffered a major injury, but he was able to come back in the game while coming out of the week with a hyperextended knee. The Chargers played pretty well vs. RBs in Week 1 (27/106) and Week 2 (2/84/1) while being exposed last week against Todd Gurley and the Rams (35/171/1). RBs also have 14 catches for 185 yards and one TD. The change at QB will be a negative in offensive production across the board for the 49ers' players. Seems overpriced for his opportunity (13 touches per game) while being dinged up.
LeSean McCoy (DK – $5,600/FD – $6,500): I have McCoy out again this week. He turned in a limited practice on Wednesday with a rib issue while stating that he intends to play on Sunday. Last week ChrisIvory had 136 combined yards with three catches while receiving 23 touches, which is an improved opportunity for a Bills’ RB. Tough to trust him coming off an injury even if he starts. I need more info, but I'm staying away in the daily games.
Jay Ajayi (DK – $5,500/FD – $6,600): The early report on the week gave Ajayi a chance to play on Sunday. He missed practice on Wednesday with his back issue, so I would temper my expectations for Jay this week. With so many healthy choices in the daily games, it makes no sense to take an injured option. Avoid even with a better update on his playing time.
Chris Carson (DK – $4,600/FD – $6,400): I know Fantasy owners were excited to see the success of Carson last week, but his outcome was delivered more on volume than talent. He finished with 34 touches, which led to 124 combined yards with a TD and two catches. The Seahawks had him on the field for a season-high 72 percent of their plays while playing from the lead. His heavy workload led to Chris showing up on the injury report this week with a hip issue. The Cardinals have allowed six TDs to RBs, but they've allowed only 3.7 yards per rush. Game score has led to teams averaging 35+ runs a game against Arizona. Too much injury risk for me if you want a PENNY for my thoughts.
Jamaal Williams (DK – $4,300/FD – $5,400): Fantasy owner bought into Williams in the season-long games after a comment by the Packers' head coach. After three games, Jamaal has 41 touches for 163 combined yards with five catches. He's gaining only 3.8 yards per rush and 5.6 yards per catch, which points to Aaron Jones stealing his job. Last week Williams was only on the field for 43 percent of the plays run by the Packers. Going in the wrong direction with fading snaps.
Austin Ekeler (DK – $4,200/FD – $6,200): Ekeler continues to make explosive plays. Over his last 31 touches in 2018, Austin averages 8.1 yards per rush and 12.0 yards per catch. He's the 14th highest scoring RB in PPR leagues while being on the field for about one-third of the plays run by the Chargers. Tough bet without a step up in playing in the daily games. Mop up snaps could work in his favor in this matchup.
Tarik Cohen (DK – $4,100/FD – $5,600): Cohen had his best game of the year last week (68 combined yards with three catches while receiving eight touches). Over three games, Tarik has 134 combined yards with seven catches on 21 touches. His opportunity is about 25 percent lower than last year. Cohen needs a chaser game to have any playable value. If you believe in Tampa scoring in this game, Tarik may surprise.
Jordan Wilkins (DK – $3,900/FD – $5,300): Wilkins is tough to trust. Over three games as the lead back for the Colts, he has 145 combined yards with seven catches on 37 touches. Last week he was out snapped by Nyheim Hines (43 to 17). A see no reason to go further trying to find upside here.
Rashaad Penny (DK – $3,900/FD – $5,700): Penny is rated high this week considering Seattle only had him on the field for ten plays last week. The Seahawks played from the lead while riding Chris Carson. With C.J. Prosise injured, the pass-catching opportunity is up for grabs at RB in this offense. Carson has a hip issue as well, which is another sign that Rashaad may see better than expected touches. Possible Sunday value if he’s named the starter.
Wendell Smallwood (DK – $3,600/FD – $5,500): Smallwood played well off the bench for the Eagles in Week 3 leading to 91 combined yards with one TD and three catches while receiving 13 touches. Philly only had him on the field for 29 of 82 plays (35 percent). He paid off last week, which may lead to more snaps vs. the Titans if Jay Ajayi can't go. Need more info.
NEUTRAL (MME GPP)
Melvin Gordon (DK – $8,300/FD – $8,700): Gordon has looked explosive over his first three games while delivering 316 combined yards with four TDs and 17 catches. He already has three runs over 20 yards compared to five in 2017 over 16 games. His only negative is the thorn in his side (Austin Ekeler). Melvin has been on the field for about 72 percent of the plays run by the Chargers compared to 33.5 percent by Ekeler. Gordon has value on all three downs and scoring ability, but he's only averaging 18.7 touches per game. San Fran will allow catches to RBs (26), but they tend to go for short yards (7.0) with no TDs. The 49ers allow 3.7 yards per rush with two rushing TDs allowed to RBs. With LA expected to play from the lead, Gordon should have a bump in workload. His higher salary does require 30+ Fantasy points, which seems harder with Ekeler stealing some of his upside. In my thoughts, but team structure will lead to him being bounced for a lower option at RB in Week 4.
Saquon Barkley (DK – $8,300/FD – $8,000): Barkley is the fifth highest scoring RB in PPR leagues after three games while delivering 20+ Fantasy points in each start. He's gaining 4.7 yards per rush thanks to an early season 75-yard TD run. Overall, Saquan has 353 combined yards with two TDs and 21 catches. The Giants have had him on the field for 78.1 percent of their plays. The Saints played well vs. the run over the first three games (83/253/2) while doing a very good job defending RBs in the passing game (9/71/1 on 11 targets). This game sets up better for the pass for the Giants, but Barkley may be motivated to out battle Alvin Kamara. If he scores two TDs, Saquon will be on target to fill his salary bucket. His matchup isn't as good as Melvin Gordon or Ezekiel Elliott, which will lead to him being a lower percentage own. I expect a winning day.
Leonard Fournette (DK – $7,000/FD – $7,700): After looking like he would play last week, the Jaguars held Fournette out vs. the Titans. I expect him to play this week while earning a full share of playing time. Over the first three games, the Jaguars don't have a rushing TD. Their RBs have 224 yards rushing on 56 carries (4.0 yards per rush) plus 22 catches for 151 yards and one TD. The Jets allow 3.9 yards per rush with RBs scoring three TDs. New York has done a decent job defending RBs in the passing game (17/100/0 on 20 targets). I expect a TD with productive yards. The Jaguars' defense should create some turnovers creating short fields that favor the run game. Not an explosive matchup when you add in his injury concern plus Jacksonville lost their left tackle last week.
David Johnson (DK – $6,600/FD – $7,600): After a slow start to the year, Johnson is the 20th highest scoring RB in PPR leagues. David has 179 combined yards with two TDs and ten catches while gaining only 3.4 yards per rush and 6.3 yards per catch. Fantasy owners hope the change at QB unlocks the key to the upside for Johnson. Seattle struggled vs. the run in Week 1(DEN - 32/146) and Week 3 (19/166), but they haven't allowed a rushing TD on the year. The Seahawks haven't been challenged in the passing game by RBs in 2018 (11/103/1 on 18 targets). For him to regain his elite status, David needs a huge step up in offensive play leading to 25 touches per game. At this point of the year, Johnson averaged just under 15 touches per game. He’s getting closer to being too cheap to ignore. If the shoe fits, ride it to the promise land.
Tevin Coleman (DK – $5,900/FD – $7,200): Coleman struggled to find running lanes vs. the Saints, which led to a short game in yards (47) and catches (2). He saved face by scoring a TD while receiving 17 touches. Last week the Falcons had him on the field for a season-high 78 percent of their plays. Over the last two games, Tevin has 39 touches leading to 29.20 Fantasy points in PPR leagues. Cinci played well vs. the run in Week 1 (22/75) and Week 2 (22/66), but they had no answer for
Christian McCaffrey last week and Cam Newton (41/230/2) last week. The Bengals also have risk vs. pass-catching backs (21/179/1). Solid touches, but Coleman tends to be frustrating to watch. He has talent and explosiveness, but Tevin needs shine in the red zone while becoming a higher valued option in the passing game. Coleman has a boring feel, which will make him fly under the radar in this matchup.
Carlos Hyde (DK – $5,600/FD – $6,800): Hyde ranks 10th in RB scoring, but about half of his Fantasy points have come on his four TDs. Carlos has 218 combined yards while averaging just over 21 touches per game. Even with some success, he gained only 3.3 yards per rush and 3.8 yards per catch. The Browns have had him on the field for 128 of 228 plays (56.1 percent). Oakland allows 5.1 yards per rush with RBs scoring two TDs. Front-runner back for the Browns, but he has the skill set to deliver empty games if Cleveland is forced to throw early.
James White (DK – $5,400/FD – $6,100): The ball finally dropped on Rex Burkhead this week, which locks James White into a great pass-catching opportunity with a chance at getting a few more early-down carries. Over the first three games, White has 191 combined yards with 14 catches and two TDs while receiving nine touches per game. New England had him on the field for about 52 percent of their plays. RBs have 18 catches for 149 yards against Miami. A respectable floor in PPR leagues, but he'll need a TD and a chaser game to reach a playable number at this level in the daily games. Brady likes to throw to the RB in close, which increases his pulse.
Kenyan Drake (DK – $5,200/FD – $6,300): Game flow worked against Drake in Week 3 leading to a poor showing vs. the Raiders (ten yards with two catches on seven touches). Despite a short outing, Kenyan was on the field for two-thirds of the plays run by Miami, which falls in line with his opportunity in the first two games. Last season Drake had a strong game at home against the Patriots (193 combined yards with five catches) with shorter success at home (47 combined yards with one TD and three catches). New England allows 4.7 yards per rush with RBs scoring on TD. A chaser game gives Kenyan a chance at a much better game this week. A favorable salary for his opportunity, but he’ll need a TD to pay off.
Lamar Miller (DK – $5,000/FD – $6,500): In most weeks, Miller is a player that tends to fall short of his weekly projections. Last week he finished with 51 combined yards with a TD and five catches or 16.1 Fantasy points in PPR leagues. On the year, he has 230 combined yards with one TD and eight catches while averaging just over 17 touches per game. The Colts allowed 537 combined yards to RBs over the first three games with two TDs and 29 catches. Lamar does have opportunity, but he needs a fight on the scoreboard while finding the end zone at least once. His matchup does give him a chance to be in play.
Marshawn Lynch (DK – $4,800/FD – $6,400): Lynch has a TD in each game this year while averaging over 18 touches per game. He's gaining only 3.5 yards per rush and 4.7 yards per catch, which gives him a snail's pace. The Raiders had him on the field for 51.1 percent of their plays, but he'll come off the field if Oakland is trailing on the scoreboard. The Browns allow 3.7 yards per rush with RBs scoring four rushing TDs. Marshawn will get his chances, and Oakland should be better offensively. He just needs more big plays to reach 100+ yards.
Chris Ivory (DK – $4,600/FD – $5,500): With LeSean McCoy out last week, Ivory delivered a surprising game (136 combined yards with three catches while receiving 23 touches) against what was considered a top defense. The Bills had him on the field for 81 percent of their plays. The Packers do have risk vs. the run (4.7 yards per rush with three rushing TDs) plus they lost their best defensive lineman against the run. May surprise if McCoy doesn’t play this week.
Kerryon Johnson (DK – $4,400/FD – $5,700): Johnson may have risen in Week 3 against the Patriots. He gained 110 combined yards with two catches while receiving a season-high 18 touches. Even with his success, Kerryon was only on the field for 45 percent of the Lions' plays. Dallas has an aggressive defensive line, which allows 3.4 yards per rush with RBs scoring two rushing TDs. Like his direction, but I still can't trust that he'll get goal-line carries or a high volume of catches. More of a season-long play than an impact play in the daily games.
Aaron Jones (DK – $4,100/FD – $5,500): Jones looked sharp in Week 3 (6/42 with one catch for five yards) while receiving only 25 percent of the playing time in Green Bay at RB. The Bills allow 3.6 yards per rush with RBs scoring four rushing TDs. If you want to bet on the come, Aaron may find the end zone with a respectable game in yards while making more sense in the season-long games.
Duke Johnson (DK – $3,600/FD – $4,800): With Tyrod Taylor behind center, Duke delivered no Fantasy value for three games. So far this year, Duke only has 15 touches for 68 combined yards with five catches while being on the field for about 30 percent of the Browns' plays. RBs have only seven catches for 79 yards and one TD on 14 targets against the Raiders. Baker Mayfield should awaken his pass catching ability.