This is it. The NFL regular season is over and now it’s win or go home for 8 teams. This week offers a nice mix of studs and sleepers so there will be lots of options in DFS. Let’s help make those decisions easier by looking at the running back matchups for Wild Card weekend.
Oakland @ Houston
Latavius Murray/DeAndre Washington/Jalen Richard, OAK
The Texans finished the regular season ranked 17th in DVOA and 15th in points allowed. With Connor Cook expected to make his first career start it seems likely this offense will struggle to move the ball. After taking control of the backfield for a few weeks Murray once again finds himself at the top of a 3 headed monster. In week 17 the running back touches were Washington (9), Murray (7) and Richard (4). With Matt McGloin and Cook behind center last week the Raiders could only muster 57 yards on the ground. It seems likely the Texans will “dare” the Raiders to throw and make life tough on all three running backs. I would not feel comfortable playing any this week.
Lamar Miller, HOU
The Raiders ranked 18th in DVOA and 23rd in points allowed. They gave up 4.5 YPC and 18 touchdowns on the season. Miller is coming off an ankle injury but all signs point to him making his post-season debut this week. If he’s healthy he should be in line for 20 touches. Unfortunately Brock Osweiler will also be starting for Houston which could hinder this offense that was playing better under Tom Savage. Still, Miller is a solid start this week.
Detroit @ Seattle
Zach Zenner, DET
The Seahawks ranked 2nd in DVOA and 5th in points allowed. They allowed the fewest YPA (3.4) in the league. As the only healthy running back in week 17, Zenner carried the ball 20 times for 69 yards and a touchdown while also catching 4 passes for 41 yards. Zenner looks to be the workhorse once again, unfortunately the matchup is tough. Still his work in the passing game gives him value in PPR formats and could make for a good play in DFS tournaments as the matchup will likely keep his ownership low.
Thomas Rawls/Alex Collins, SEA
The Lions ranked 23rd in DVOA but did finish as the 8th best in points allowed. Still signs point to Seattle being able to run the ball as the Lions gave up 4.4 YPA and over 106 yards per game. The real problem with starting either Rawls or Collins is that since late last year Seattle has become one of the pass heaviest teams in the league. Against a San Francisco defense that got destroyed by running backs all year the Seahawks threw the ball 38 times and ran it just 23. To make matters worse Rawls saw 8 carries and Collins just 7. Game script should be in Seattle’s favor but it’s hard to trust either of these guys in such a pass heavy offense.
Miami @ Pittsburgh
Jay Ajayi, MIA
The Steelers ranked 11th in DVOA but 26th in points allowed. They gave up 4.3 YPA and 15 touchdowns. Ajayi continues to be a workhorse for Miami, and even in a negative game script against New England saw 19 touches. When these teams met in week 6 Ajayi exploded for a 25-204-2 line. He makes for a top option this week in all formats.
LeVeon Bell, PIT
The Dolphins ranked 22nd in DVOA and 18th in points allowed. They gave up 4.8 YPA and over 140 yards per game. The only thing they did well was limit touchdowns having only given up 12 on the year. Still Bell should see 30 or more touches in this game and makes for the no-brainer chalk play this week.
NY Giants @ Green Bay
Rashad Jennings/Paul Perkins, NYG
The Packers ranked 14th in DVOA and 12th in points allowed. They allowed just 4 YPA and less than 100 yards per game. Both Jennings and Perkins should see their share of work in this one as long as the Packers offense doesn’t pull away. With the Giants defense sporting a lock-down secondary and a front 7 that gets tons of pressure that doesn’t seem likely. If I had to choose I’d pick Perkins as he has looked like the better back of late.
Ty Montgomerey/Christine Michael/Aaron Ripkowski, GB
The Giants ranked 3rd in DVOA and 6th in points allowed. They allowed just 3.6 YPA and just 88 yards per game. Montgomerey holds the most value as he should see a decent number of targets on top of his carries. Ripkowski and Michael are tough starts this week against a stout front 7. I would have a hard time starting any Green Bay running back this week.