Another tremendous NFL regular season is over, but the games continue as the playoffs now get underway. The Wild Card games can be just as unpredictable as Week 17, with injuries and high-stakes situations forcing backups into key roles. Many fantasy players participate in playoff leagues and the daily leagues never stop, so with that in mind we will continue to look at lesser-owned running backs that could make an impact.
This article will aim to highlight playoff league targets and DFS plays for running backs, players that you should consider targeting for your various fantasy football leagues and lineups. Running backs will be split up into three tiers - from most desirable, to most desperate.
Instead of a FAAB amount, I will list DraftKings prices for those looking for value DFS plays beyond the obvious RBs.Editor's Note: Do you play in fantasy leagues with auction drafts? Starting to think about this year's draft? AuctionDraft is a mobile-friendly app, built specifically for running your football auction drafts and leagues. It's the only place to have interactive auction drafts on a big screen TV, with downloadable draft results or five-week mini seasons. Take 20% off with code ROTOBALLER, and enhance your draft experience this year. Try It Now!
Frontrunners for Wild Card Round - Running Back Targets and DFS
Marcus Murphy, Buffalo Bills - 0% owned ($3700 DK)
Cinderella story? The Bills snapped an 18-year playoff drought by reaching the Wild Card game. They come in as an underdog against the top defense in the league in Jacksonville. Now they may have to do it without their leading rusher and best all-around player, LeSean McCoy. His replacement could be a player that entered Week 17 with one career rush attempt in the NFL. Murphy was a return man in New Orleans for two seasons that never saw the field on offense, but the Bills are left with few other options at this point. Travaris Cadet was put on IR just last week and Jonathan Williams was released before the season began--a move the Bills may rue now. Murphy was adequate against Miami, carrying seven times for 41 yards. It's a longshot to think he'll have a big game versus the Jags, but he may be in line for a big enough workload to be a deep tournament play at his current price.
Mike Tolbert, Buffalo Bills - 1% owned ($3600 DK)
Tolbert is the veteran of the group and could be the actual starter at RB for Buffalo, but he's still a fullback in halfback's clothing. He'll get most of the pass-catching duties and goal-line work, which makes him a worthy play even in a tough matchup. Expect him to split carries with Murphy, though, which limits his ceiling. He's only seen 20+ carries in a game twice, both back when he was a 24-year-old with San Diego. Tolbert has only had a double-digit carry game six times in the past six years. He's better utilized in cash games than tournaments this weekend.
Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars - 21% owned ($4000 DK)
Leonard Fournette seemed in good health and got a bigger workload than expected in Week 17, even though the Jags were locked into the #3 seed. That said, he's had ankle issues late in the season and is at least a slight risk to leave the game based on recent history. Ivory didn't see a carry against the Titans, but on the season he is second on the team in carries with 110. In fact, his red zone work almost rivals Fournette, even though the results haven't been the same. Ivory has 21 RZ carries on the season, resulting in one touchdown, compared to 27 for Fournette for six touchdowns. The fact that Buffalo has a terrible run defense makes Ivory even more desirable, although he's not assured of much usage as long as Fournette is in fact healthy.
In The Running - Wild Card Round Running Backs and DFS Targets
Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs - 2% owned ($4200 DK)
The Chiefs will surely give Kareem Hunt a huge workload, as he is the heart and soul of their offense (sorry, Alex Smith lovers, but it's true). West will still be around in case catastrophe should strike KC in the Wild Card round again, a la Jamaal Charles four years ago. Otherwise, West is extremely hard to recommend in any format. He's gotten just a six percent market share of rush attempts and one red zone touch all season long. For essentially the same price, you're better off going with one of the Bills or Jags as a cheap RB.
T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars - 12% owned ($3200 DK)
Yeldon hasn't retained much of a role this season, even in the pass game. Much like Ivory, he has close to no value as long as Leonard Fournette is active. While Buffalo does have a weak run defense, it hasn't translated into a lot of receiving production for RBs. The Bills are 21st in receiving yards allowed to RBs, with just two touchdowns. Yeldon is best left alone this weekend unless you expect either a Fournette injury or a complete Jags blowout.
Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams - 4% owned ($3900 DK)
Of all the backups/handcuffs this weekend, Brown is least likely to see much action. Todd Gurley didn't step on the field in Week 17, yet Brown only managed 54 yards on 14 carries and four yards through the air. Granted, that was with Sean Mannion and a group of backup offensive linemen, but it also wasn't a playoff game. If worse comes to worse and Brown has to see extended action against the Falcons, he doesn't carry much value. He averaged just 3.9 yards per carry this season, raising his career average to 3.6, and scored once all year.
Dark Horses - Wild Card Round Running Backs and DFS Targets
Zach Line, New Orleans Saints - 0% owned ($3000 DK)
Fullback John Kuhn is practicing and working his way back from Injured Reserve, but that probably won't happen until next week. For now, Line plays the role of TD vulture for Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara near the goal-line. He did so in Week 17, with a three-yard touchdown reception that was his first as a Saint. He is as completely touchdown-dependent as you can get, but in such a potent offense that is missing its starting tight end, he has a chance to do it again.
Khalfani Muhammad, Tennessee Titans - 0% owned ($3000 DK)
Want a deeper than deep sleeper? Muhammand was activated just ahead of Week 17, due to DeMarco Murray's injury, and could be the backup to Derrick Henry if Murray is unable to go against the Chiefs. Muhammad is a seventh-round pick that spent all year on the practice squad, but now could find himself in a vital situation. Don't bet on it, though. He didn't touch the ball in Week 17 and likely won't be trusted in the playoffs, even if Murray is still sidelined.
Akeem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs - 1% owned ($3200 DK)
The other Hunt was a popular punt play in Week 17, as starter Kareem was due for a short game. He only carried the ball four times for 25 yards and then suffered an apparent ankle injury in the game. Even if he is ready to play for the Wild Card game, he has virtually no value and is best left alone.