He wasn’t Washington’s first choice. That was Robert Kelley. He wasn’t Washington’s second choice. That was Chris Thompson. But, third time’s a charm for the Washington backfield, as Samaje Perine finally has his chance to shine. Both Kelley and Thompson are out for the year, and Perine is the undisputed backfield master in Washington. With his firm grip on the role, is he a preferred fantasy football starter this week as Washington travels to the west coast to take on the Los Angeles Chargers?
First, let’s take a look at Perine. The fourth-round rookie out of Oklahoma is a banger between the tackles who easily sheds tacklers. What he isn’t is someone who can be exceptionally elusive, but if he’s given a straight line he can do a lot with it. He had a down week last week, getting only 38 yards on twelve carries. He was in-and-out with a concussion evaluation and never really got his week going. In the two weeks prior, however, he turned 47 carries into 217 yards and a score. He has also turned in a 3/30 line in each of the last two games, giving him an additional layer of value. With Perine being the most competent back left in town, it doesn’t look like he will dip anywhere below fifteen touches this week.
That should be plenty as Washington takes on an extremely talented L.A. Chargers defense, a defense that completely stifles the pass. While they crush the pass, they do bleed points to running backs. Jay Gruden isn’t as he looks, and he will get Perine the rock to avoid having to throw toward Casey Hayward and the incredible Chargers pass defense. That works for Perine, as L.A. allows the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs. Since their week ten bye, they have yielded three touchdowns in four games to RBs, and every back with at least nine carries averages at least 4.0 yards per carry in that span.
Samaje Perine isn’t the most dynamic running back, but his profile will create reliable production in the NFL, at least in the short-term. He’s currently the only decent running back in Washington, which means there will be a ton of volume for him this weekend. Every back who has gotten volume recently against the Chargers has produced. Perine should be in your lineup but is not a necessity. If you’re in a bind, feel good about starting Perine, but don’t try hard to figure out a way to get him into your lineup this week.