If you are new to this article, I encourage you to read the stats used in this matchup matrix. I use these advanced stats to identify top running back matchups on paper for the week. These advanced stats are rushing only. This is meant to help supplement the usual pass catching research, such as targets or receptions allowed to running backs.
If you have checked out this article before, you understand the stats used, and can jump right to the good stuff in the 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 Week 13. 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.
Another day ending in Y, and another day Gurley is the top RB to play. The addition of Snacks Harrison has helped Detroit slightly, but they are still ranked at the bottom of the league in most metrics.
Aaron Jones is my favorite point per dollar play on this slate. He is getting an elite workload over the last few games and now, he gets an elite matchup to go with it.
Lindsay is my favorite cheap RB this week. The Broncos are still in the playoff hunt, and he has been the soul of the offense. This is a great matchup.
CMC might feel like point chasing here, but he gets another incredible matchup. Right now, I side with just paying a few hundred more for Gurley though.
Collins and Edwards seem to be in a great spot here. However, the Falcons are scheduled to get Deion Jones back. This should bolster the run D quite a bit and has me off this Ravens run game.
The only concern with Kareem Hunt this week is the blowout factor. Everything else is working in his favor against the Raiders.
Mixon is going to go overlooked this week and it is a mistake. Denver has been a great matchup to attack with RBs all year. The Bengals should lean on Mixon here with Driskel at QB whether it be running the ball or dump offs. Also, Driskel is a very good runner, as he runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. This should open up running lanes for Mixon even more.
D.J. is going to go overlooked this week and it is a mistake. He is matchup proof due to pass game involvement and TD equity. Even though this game is on the road, D.J. should be able to put together a great game here at almost no ownership. This is a perfect spot to load up in tourneys.
We have played RBs against the Giants since they traded Snacks. Barber went for 100+ and a TD two weeks ago and Josh Adams would have gone for 136 and two TDs if his 52-yard TD didn’t get called back due to a bad holding call. This is a sneaky spot to pay Jordan Howard, especially on FD where TDs matter more. He leads the Bears with 20 red zone rushes, while Cohen only has six.
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.