The final game of the preseason is all about roster battles, especially at a position like running back. For DFS players, finding the players who maximize their opportunities usually translates into profitable evenings. Some teams will be playing some starters on Thursday, but for fantasy purposes, we are looking for the high-volume guys at running back. Here is our take on this final preseason slate.
Washington-Tampa Bay Buccaneers "Postponement"
For those who might be unaware, an impending tropical storm moved the game back to Wednesday, taking them off the slate on sites like DraftKings. If you have players from this game still in your lineups, get them out immediately.
Darius Jackson (Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys)
Jackson was the DFS darling at running back early in the preseason, and with the Cowboys announcing that no starters will be playing in this game, he once again has a chance to get volume and produce. Jackson averaged 6 yards a carry in limited duty last week against the Seahawks, so things bode well if gets the majority of carries in this one.
Byron Marshall (Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets)
Wendell Smallwood is in concussion protocol and Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner are expected to sit this game out, so Marshall becomes the main back in this one. The Eagles re-signed Cedric O’Neal this week with Smallwood hurt, but he is not a long-term option, while Marshall, a rookie, should be given plenty of snaps to show he belongs.
Tyler Gaffney, D.J. Foster (New England Patriots vs. New York Giants)
Gaffney and Foster are locked in a battle for a roster spot, which means they should both see time in this one. Gaffney has looked good the entire preseason and with a final chance to earn a roster spot, you have to like his chances to put on a show against the Giants. Foster is a pass-catching specialist, so he provides PPR value. Both are solid options.
Mike Davis (San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers)
With Carlos Hyde and Shaun Draughn not expected to play and facing a shaky defense against the run, Davis should have an excellent chance to separate himself from DuJuan Harris and perhaps position himself for a Week 1 start if Hyde and Draughn can’t recover in time. Davis had 72 yards two weeks ago against Houston and seems to have solved his fumbling issues with a solid outing last week. He is a top option with volume and opponent factored together.
Malcolm Brown (Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings)
Brown has done everything he can to earn a roster spot, but his status remains up in the air going into this final preseason game. That means Brown will be plenty motivated to make a strong final impression, and the carries should be there to let him do it. He has excelled as a runner and pass-catcher and could take advantage of a Vikings team reeling after the shock of the Teddy Bridgewater injury.
Akeem Hunt/Tyler Ervin (Texans vs. Cowboys)
The Texans still have a bit of a roster battle at running back, but the field is just crowded enough to downgrade Hunt and Ervin to "maybe" status. Both should get opportunities in this one, but picking the optimal play could be difficult. Guess right and you likely have a low-owned difference-maker.
DeAndre Washington/Jalen Richard (Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks)
Another roster battle, but perhaps with better definition, as Washington is more likely to play in the first half and Richard should get his work in the second. Both are solid options, with Richard the better pass-catcher. If it is confirmed that each is expected to play a half, you might even play them together as a contrarian play.
Kapri Bibbs (Denver Broncos vs. Arizona Cardinals)
This is Bibbs’ last chance to show the coaching staff he deserves to be ahead of Ronnie Hillman on the depth chart. Bibbs was not as sharp in the Broncos’ third preseason game as he had been in the first two, which could be enough reason to give him extra work in this one to prove himself.
C.J. Ham (Vikings vs. Rams)
Ham has been solid for the Vikings this preseason, and with the team even more unlikely to risk injury to players assured of a roster spot, someone like Ham could get extra run to try and crack the 53-man roster. If he gets the volume, he has shown this month that he can take advantage of it.
Brandon Wilds (Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Falcons actually have no healthy running backs listed as available in this one. Anyone want to suit up?