If you are new to TQE, here is a brief description of what each stat means. If you aren’t new, scroll down to the RB matrix!
Adjusted line yards
These are the yards the O-line is responsible for producing. For example, if a running back gets tackled for a loss, most of the time this is because the line did not block the defenders well enough. On the other side, if a running back has a five-yard rush, this is likely due to solid line play and a hole being created. This is the base of a running game.
These are rushes that occur on third or fourth down with two yards or less to reach a first down. It also includes rushes inside the two-yard line at the goal line. This metric isn’t weighted as heavily for me, but still worth noting.
These are rushes that go for no gain or tackles for loss. This metric is more useful in assessing cash plays. As the running back continuously picks up yards, he should end up with a solid yardage total if the volume is there.
However, our ceiling (or tournament) metrics are the next two.
Second level yards
These take into consideration runs that go for five-to-10 yards. This is where the running back gets to the LBs and safeties. We can use this to predict 100-yard games. A running back that is continuously getting to the second level, is going to be more likely to pick up that 100-yard rushing bonus.
Open field yards
These factor in runs that go for 11+ yards. This is where your heaviest weighted factor for predicting a ceiling game as the bigger plays lead to higher yardage totals and the longer TD runs.
To summarize, we want to weigh adjusted line yards, second level yards and open field yards the heaviest.
Below is the matchup matrix for Divisional weekend. I have highlighted in blue the offenses that rank in the top 10 in their metrics, as well as the defenses that rank in the bottom 10 in their metrics. The RBs that are facing the defenses on the right are listed in the middle.
The highlighted RBs are the ones who I think have the best matchup on paper. This is not factoring in salary, snap counts or anything of that nature. This is solely a matchup chart.
There are two matchups on the ground that stand out. Zeke against the Rams is a lock button for me. Not only is the rushing matchup good, but we have seen him involved in the pass game all year. I can’t get off Zeke here. The other matchup is the New England backs against the Chargers. Michel should be effective on the ground, but it is also James White that I have some pretty heavy interest in. The Chargers have funneled pass targets to the RB position and the Pats love to use White in the playoffs.
Gurley would be a lock for me if I knew he was fully healthy. I have my doubts though. Yes, the Rams’ opponents were pretty weak the last two weeks of the season; however, they were still playing must-win games, as they could have lost the second seed to the Bears. Gurley ended up not playing in either of those must-win games. In tournaments, you absolutely can take a shot on Gurley here. However, it sounds like he is going to be the highest owned player on the slate as early ownership projections come out. If you can stomach the risk that he could be limited, then fire him up.
Marlon Mack is extremely interesting this weekend. There are two paths for Mack this weekend. Path 1: The Colts decide they want to establish the run using their top five offensive line against the KC bottom five defensive line. This would allow the Colts to control the time of possession and keep Mahomes off the field. Path 2: The Colts go down by two scores early and they completely abandon the run game and rely on their franchise QB to bring them back in it. This would favor Hines over Mack. The way I am approaching Mack this weekend is I am going to do the opposite of what the market does. If Mack is popular this weekend, I don’t want much exposure. If he is going to go overlooked, I am going to take a shot on him.
Melvin Gordon is a complete stay-away for me with his injuries. He shouldn’t be playing, but he is because it is the playoffs. I don’t expect him to be effective and Ekeler and Jackson should be mixed in pretty regularly.
Kamara and Ingram are very interesting. If you think the Eagles get blown out, then Ingram is in play. I am not sure what I am doing with Kamara yet. I went back and rewatched the Saints-Eagles game from earlier this year, and there were multiple occasions where Kamara (and Michael Thomas) were being double teamed by the defense. This led to MT seeing only four targets and Kamara seeing only one target in a game Brees threw 30 times. Here’s a couple of those instances:
I think Kamara is still in play this weekend, but I think that his ceiling could be capped with his pass catching possibly limited here with this Eagles’ gameplan.
Another guy I actually love this weekend is Damien Williams. Spencer Ware isn’t fully healthy and Williams has done nothing to give up his new role. He is very explosive in the pass game and this is a game the Chiefs should be looking to pass first and often. The Colts (as seen above) have been very strong against the run. Meanwhile, they struggle with pass catching RBs and play a ton of zone. Mahomes should be able to shred the zone and should be able to include Williams when doing so.
Matt Dickason has been playing DFS NFL, MLB and NBA for 3 years now. I have been in season long football leagues since the age of 10, so football has always been a passion of mine. Outside of fantasy sports, I played baseball for 19 years including college and eventually Semi-Pro. MLB and NFL are my two strongest sports when it comes to betting and DFS.