If you’re serious about DFS, you should be around when inactives come out every Sunday to adjust lineups if necessary. That’s especially true in Week 17, when teams have all different levels of motivation and are apt to sit starters.
I’ll update this article as needed leading up to kickoff.
Editor's note: January 2 and 3 updates in bold.
Derrick Henry ($9,400) and Alvin Kamara ($9,500)
The way this slate is setting up, I think it’s optimal to play 2 of Henry, Kamara and Davante Adams ($9,200). I tend to lean toward paying up at RB.
I’m definitely playing Henry vs. a Texans squad that sits 30th in Football Outsiders’ run defense rankings and dead last in adjusted fantasy points allowed to RBs. Henry demolished Houston for 264 yards and 2 scores back in Week 6. Note that he needs 223 rushing yards on Sunday to hit 2,000 for the season. I think he’s got a shot.
Kamara has been priced way up after his 6-TD explosion last week, but I still think he’s a nice play. The Saints still have a shot at the NFC’s #1 seed with a win coupled with a Packers loss. And they draw a Carolina defense that Football Outsiders ranks 21st against the run and 29th in RB coverage. Kamara scored 22.8 DraftKings points in his 1st meeting with the Panthers, despite not finding the end zone.
Malcolm Brown, Rams ($4,300)
Dare Ogunbowale ($4,500), Ty Johnson ($4,300) and Rodney Smith ($4,000) are also in play as cheap RBs. (And you could play 2 cheapies if you want Davante Adams.) But I feel best about Brown.
Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson’s absences leave the Rams with Brown, Raymond Calais and Xavier Jones in the backfield. The latter 2 have combined for 0 NFL carries. So in a win-and-in game, the Rams are unlikely to mess around with Calais and Jones. Brown could garner 100% of the team's RB touches.
He’s a middling talent, will be playing alongside QB John Wolford and gets an neutral matchup vs. the Cardinals. But Brown is a nice play just based on price and projected volume.
Latavius Murray, Saints ($5,600)
He's the freest of free squares with Alvin Kamara out for Week 17 due to COVID. In the 2 games Kamara missed last season, Murray racked up 48 carries and 18 targets. He scored 30.0 and 30.7 DK points. As mentioned above, Sunday's matchup vs. the Panthers is a good one.
Alexander Mattison, Vikings ($6,100)
Mattison isn't listed on the final Week 17 injury report and has been cleared from his concussion to play vs. the Lions on Sunday. He's the favorite to lead the backfield in touches -- and even 15 or so opportunities in this matchup would make him a nice play. It's worth noting, though, that Mattison has had an appendectomy, sustained that concussion and played just 6 snaps over the past month. There's some risk that he underwhelms from a volume standpoint this weekend, so I don't think he's a must in cash.
* SUNDAY UPDATE *
What started as a deep pool of cash-viable RBs has really thinned out. Latavius Murray joined Alvin Kamara on the COVID list, while Malcolm Brown will be out of cash consideration if Cam Akers ends up active.
We're now down to Derrick Henry, Ty Johnson ($4,300) and Ty Montgomery ($4,000) as our top cash plays.
Johnson should operate as the Jets' lead back today with both Frank Gore (lung) and La'Mical Perine (COVID) sidelined. He racked up 117 total yards back in Week 13 when Gore exited early and gets a Patriots squad that Football Outsiders ranks dead last in run defense.
Montgomery is suddenly left as the Saints' top back, with only practice-squad call-up Tony Jones behind him. New Orleans might expand Taysom Hill's role, so we're not projecting big rushing volume for Montgomery. But the former WR should do enough in the passing game to pay off his dirt-cheap price tag.