It’s the best time of the year, the fantasy playoffs. I could not be more excited to compete for a few championships. If you’re reading this, you’re likely looking to make a run in the playoffs too.
If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance that your stable of running backs isn’t exactly the prettiest. Without two superstars at running back, there’s a good chance you are shuffling out running backs occasionally.
Properly attacking matchups for your players is the easiest way to make or break a week. In the playoffs, it’s especially important to make the decisions that lead to victories.
CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
With Chiefs’ starting running back Isaiah Pacheco sidelined for another week, we must once again decide which Chiefs running back should be started.
Last week a close game with the Bills played out in favor of Jerick McKinnon. However, I believe this week’s game with the Patriots will end with Clyde Edwards-Helaire scoring more fantasy points.
Let’s first take a look at how each back was used in Pacheco’s absence last week.
CEH functioned as the early down ball carrier while McKinnon was the pass-catching (3rd down) and two-minute drill back. In fact, 17 of McKinnon’s 30 snaps came in the two-minute drill of a game the Chiefs were losing.
The Chiefs are 8-point favorites against the Patriots on Sunday, suggesting a game script to favor Edwards-Helaire. In a game where the Chiefs will be looking to bounce back, I expect CEH to see a lot of work and can be placed into lineups this week.
If necessary, McKinnon could be started as he will see opportunities. However, Edwards-Helaire is the 1a in Kansas City for now and can be started with this favorable matchup.
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT VS KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
In the absence of Rhamondre Stevenson, Ezekiel Elliot returned to a workhorse role and proved an asset in fantasy. Elliott turned 22 carries into an unimpressive 68 yards but was a difference-maker as a receiver. He turned seven receptions into 72 yards and a receiving touchdown. This is the second time he’s produced when given the opportunity.
Based on volume alone, Elliott is a fantasy starter. However, I don’t expect Elliott to crack the 20-carry mark in a game against Kansas City. Even if Elliott doesn’t get as much work on the ground, a negative game script should lead to Zeke maintaining a big role as a receiver.
The Patriots made it quite clear that they would like to feature Zeke in the absence of Stevenson. Regardless of what you think of Zeke, he’s found himself with a coveted role for a running back in fantasy. He’s taking all of the touches and his only “competition” is a player who is somehow even more washed in Ty Montgomery. Until something changes in New England, Elliott is a starter in fantasy.
ANTONIO GIBSON AT LOS ANGELES RAMS
If you’re one of the sickos who couldn’t let go of Antonio Gibson this season, you’re in luck. The Commanders have ruled out their featured back Brian Robinson Jr. for their Week 15 matchup with the Rams.
Primarily used as a pass catcher, Gibson will now have the opportunity to be the featured back for the Commanders. Gibson was clearly the lead back in the second half of Week 13 following Robinson’s injury and he will continue in this role. Chris Rodriguez will likely factor in during this game, but he shouldn’t take away too many opportunities from Gibson.
Sunday’s game script should also play directly into Gibson’s strengths. The Commanders are underdogs by a touchdown in a game with a total set at 50.5. There’s a great chance that the Commanders will be trailing in a fast-paced, high-scoring matchup, which should lead to plenty of targets for Gibson.
You held on to Gibson all season for a game like this. If you have a question mark at RB2 or flex, don’t be afraid to let Antonio Gibson see the starting lineup.
DEVIN SINGLETARY AT TENNESSEE TITANS
In a season full of hope brought on by young talent in Houston, injuries are piling up at the wrong time and things don’t look great for the Texans. Budding stars CJ Stroud, Nico Collins, and Tank Dell are all set to miss a critical game in Week 15. These absences will have a significant impact on Devin Singletary this week.
This is terrible news for Texans fans, but it also creates a less-than-ideal environment for fantasy football. Without Stroud and their top pass catchers, the passing game will have a very hard time producing this week. This will likely be the case for the offense as a whole, and I don’t expect high production levels from the Houston rushing attack.
Aside from a less than ideal offensive outlook, Singletary’s role in the Houston backfield is murky at best. His usage has been all over the place for the last month.
There have been massive fluctuations in Singletary’s rush share, route rate, target share, and more. These changes certainly have to do with the improving health of Dameon Pierce, but these massive changes in usage are concerning regardless.
With an unpredictable role and an offense that should struggle, benching Devin Singletary will likely be in your best interest.
KENNETH WALKER VS PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Kenneth Walker returned from injury in Week 14 with a less-than-stellar performance. Walker handled eight carries and four receptions for 54 total yards. This was the third time Walker failed to see double-digit carries this season. But this instance isn’t terribly shocking, considering Walker was returning from a multi-week injury.
Those who own Walker in fantasy football are likely looking for Walker to return to form and see a larger workload in Week 15. Unfortunately for those owners, Walker does not have a great matchup this week.
The Seahawks host the Philadelphia Eagles team that desperately needs a bounce-back win. The Eagles have also kept running backs in check all season, allowing the 4th least fantasy points per game to running backs.
Kenneth Walker could easily be taken out of this game due to the game script. Even if this doesn’t happen, Walker must deal with a strong Philadelphia defensive line. There are many ways for things to go wrong for Walker this week and this is a risk I wouldn’t be thrilled to take.