Last week, there was not a high priced running back I remotely considered for DFS in the Wild Card Rounds.  Here we are in the Divisional Round and my tune has drastically changed.


1. David Johnson ($6000)


Green Bay 50
Arizona -7

Believe it or not, David Johnson is the best healthy running back left in the playoffs.  I firmly believe he should also be the most expensive, but DraftKings threw us a bone making him the 3rd most expensive at the position.  Depending on where the Steelers/Broncos line falls, the Cardinals are the heaviest favorite and rightfully so.  David Johnson has all of the tools a head coach is looking for in a premier bell cow RB.  He has size (6'1" 224 lbs), speed (4.5 40), and GREAT hands.  He is capable of playing all three downs.  Johnson has enough power to be used in goal line situations as well as enough burst to get to the edge.  Johnson will close in on 25-30 touches through both rushing and receiving.   If the Cardinals do in fact get up in the game, Johnson will be used heavily in clock-killing mode late in the game.  David Johnson will have a full workload this week.  When he receives a full workload (20+ touches), Johnson has averaged 157.3 yards from scrimmage.  In those same three games, Johnson also added four combined touchdowns.

It quickly gets more interesting as we move down the list of possible running backs for the Divisional Round.

2. Jonathan Stewart ($5800)


Seattle 44
Carolina -2

The Panthers made a point of getting Stewart healthy for the playoffs.  He is now practicing for the first time since Week 14 and does not appear to be limited.  Stewart is limited due to the Red Zone rushing attempts of Cam Newton.  Stewart did not have a single touchdown until Week 6 of the regular season.  Since that point, Stewart has combined for seven touchdowns. Keeping in mind, he did not play Weeks 15-17, all of his touchdown production came through Weeks 6-14.  Similar to David Johnson, Stewart is in line for a full day of work this weekend. The Seahawks have been very stout against the run.  They held Adrian Peterson to just 45 yards on 23 carries in the Wild Card weekend.  The different here is, Cam Newton.  Newton adds another layer to the entire offense with his ability to make plays with his legs.  The last time these two teams faced off, Stewart ran the ball 20 times for 78 yards while adding two scores on the ground.  Projecting another two touchdown performance is hard to do but projecting 20-25 total touches is well within the range of possibilities.

The top two backs are by far the safest two of the week.  I was able to work a line-up with both Johnson and Stewart in.  The remaining backs have major hurdles due to split playing time, injury concerns, or simply bad match ups.

  • Spencer Ware ($4500):  Ware doubled the number of rush attempts compared to Charcandrick West in the Wild Card game.  He is priced $1K cheaper than West making him an attractive option.  Ware will undoubtedly share some carries with West but we don't know to what extent.  The Patriots have not allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 12 where C.J. Anderson popped two in.  This is a tough spot for the Chiefs rushing attack but Ware has a price tag to help us consider him in our DFS line-ups this week.
  • Christine Michael ($4600): This play is obviously fully dependent on the health of Marshawn Lynch ($6400).  Just like last week, I am not willing to pay the price of admission to see how effective Lynch is this week.  Lynch is a strange dude.  He could easily play a couple downs and decide it just isn't in the cards today.  Michael, on the other hand, has a much cheaper price tag and will certainly go 100% given the opportunity.  Lynch was a full-go all week last week right up until he chose not to board the team plane on Friday.  I'm not willing to saddle up with him, but if Lynch is another late scratch, I would go all in on Michael once again.
  • Fitzgerald Toussaint ($4200): I told you last week we were simply mining for gold where plenty of gold had been in the past.  It worked out well.  This week is vastly different for many reasons.
    • Uncertainty of Ben Roethlisberger
    • Uncertainty of Antonio Brown
    • Denver Defense
    I do not think we will know how effective Roethlisberger will be until they strap their cleats on and play.  Toussaint only cost $4200 but with all of the unknowns in Pittsburgh, this long shot bet just got a lot longer.  The Steelers offense may struggle in a bad way this weekend.
  • James White ($5100): I do believe White will be the most productive running back for the Patriots this weekend.  The problem is, I don't know if he is worth the $5100 it cost to find out. James White is overpriced by about $1K this week.  He should get 5-10 targets out of the backfield but his rushing attempts will once again be limited. For $700 more, I much prefer Jonathan Stewart.

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