If you’re here, you’re one of the rare fantasy football managers who are bold enough to play into Week 18. The final week of the regular season is daunting, as we have to overcome teams resting their stars on top of the usual weekly roadblocks to winning. We’re digging deep to help find your roster a few difference-makers.
Two running backs who could produce are Alexander Mattison of the Minnesota Vikings and Corey Clement of the Arizona Cardinals. We’re on top of all angles in this matchup for fantasy managers and bettors alike — let’s dive into whether you should start Mattison or Clement in Week 18.
Should You Start Alexander Mattison vs. the Bears?
Mattison’s fantasy value is directly linked to whether Dalvin Cook sits or not. It’s hard to imagine the 12-4 Vikings would risk injury to Cook even as they chase the No. 1 seed when facing a team that could end up with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Cook won’t be the difference between winning and losing this game for Minnesota.
If Cook plays even half the game, Mattison is unlikely to be a strong starting option for fantasy managers. Mattison has zero games with double-digit carries and has just three games with multiple receptions. He has only four touchdowns on the season and hasn’t totaled more than 44 yards in a single game.
The only time when Mattison has been fantasy-viable has been when he’s the go-to guy without Cook stealing touches. That includes three games with 124 or more total yards last year and four of more than 69 yards in 2020. Those are the types of games you’d need from Mattison to justify starting him.
With this in mind, take part in an Underdog Fantasy Best Ball league and throw Mattison into your lineup to help separate yourself from the pack if Cook is unlikely to play.
Mattison is currently ranked as the RB51 in our Week 18 PPR fantasy football rankings. If we get word that Cook will be out of extremely limited in his role, then Mattison becomes a dramatically better option this week. Only the Houston Texans allow more fantasy points per game to backs than the Chicago Bears. Chicago has been dominated for 122.4 yards and 1.13 touchdowns on the ground.
Adding Mattison now is a good low-risk, high-upside pickup that could pay off massively as the game nears and his value increases.
Should You Start Corey Clement vs. the 49ers?
Is it possible for an RB with two touches entering Week 17 to swing your Week 18 championship game? Absolutely, because this season has been incredibly unpredictable. Clement logged seven carries in Week 17 for the Cardinals after their depth chart was ravaged by injuries. He played 43% of snaps, marking the first time he had more than three total offensive snaps all season.
Clement performed admirably, considering he was playing with a fourth-string quarterback and a porous offensive line. He finished with 32 yards and was targeted once as a receiver. It wasn’t a noteworthy performance, but it was better than expected, considering the miserable state of the Cardinals’ depth chart.
If Clement was entering another favorable matchup, he could absolutely be a decent fantasy option in Week 18. But, he’s not, as the San Francisco 49ers have the best defense in the NFL against running backs. They’re allowing only 16.3 fantasy points per game to backs, a full 1.6 points lower than the No. 2 defense.
The 49ers need to win this week as they chase the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. I would do anything it takes to not start Clement in your lineup this week. If you simply have no other choice, you’re hoping he gets an unlikely touchdown as the 49ers let off the gas in what’s likely to be a lopsided game.