Depending on how you chose to complete your lineup, either two or three running backs are needed each week. The days of just one running back controlling the backfield are waning but not lost. Securing these running backs will generally prove to be more costly but it is necessary. When working with a salary cap, this can be a real problem. It is also why when a low-priced running back appears to have the role in hand, they generally end up being a highly popular selection. But are they worth it?
That is a question to be answered on a case by case basis in the analysis that follows. The goal here is to look at game flow to ensure that touches will be at a maximum, it is a favorable situation against the opposing defense, and most of all that there is talent and expected fantasy success.
For those who have yet to subscribe, what are you waiting for? Until then you will get one free pick to whet your appetite. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($6,800 DK, $7,900 FD) burst onto the scene in the first game of both the season and his professional career and through the first four weeks of the year that remains his best effort. Despite that fact the rookie has continued to be a steady contributor as he works to adjust to life in the NFL. Things should pick up for him again this week against a Raiders team that is allowing the most fantasy points to opposing running backs so far this season. While the Chiefs were victorious against the Patriots last week, things weren’t easy and New England always proves to be a tough defensive opponent. Edwards-Helaire was no different as he gained just 64 yards on 16 carries while adding three receptions for 29 yards. We would like to see the rookie build on the one rushing touchdown he has so far this season but it is clear he is the leader in Kansas City’s backfield with 71 carries for 304 yards and a touchdown. Over the last three weeks he also has 14 receptions and that is a welcome development for the rookie. He is in prime position pick up the second, and maybe third, rushing touchdowns of his career this Sunday.
Subscribers can now expect to get six more picks as we take a closer look at some more running backs at varying price points who deserve our attention this week along with a few from whom we should keep our distance. And not all will break the back either which will leave plenty of room for help at other positions. So, keep on going and take a look at what we have to offer.
The options this week aren’t exactly plentiful at the elite level (Ezekiel Elliot is the most expensive at $7,800 on Draft Kings and then it drops to Derrick Henry at $7,000) so that brings us back to James Robinson ($6,700 DK, $6,600 FD). Last week Robinson was in a spot where he was set up to smash in Cincinnati but instead he let us down with 17 carries for 75 yards and four receptions for 32 yards. But I’m not sure how bad the performance really was as any time a player eclipses 100 total yards on the day it’s never truly negative and in reality all he was missing was a touchdown. Robinson is in clear control of Jacksonville’s backfield which we like and so far this season he has 283 yards and for touchdowns on 60 carries while ranging between 17 and 21 touches each week. This week Robinson has another great match-up in Houston as he looks to rebound.
And now for the boring part of our program. If there is going to be one week this season when Todd Gurley ($5,700 DK, $6,700 FD) is going to be worth our attention, this is it. Gurley faces the Panthers who not only have allowed the second most points to opposing running backs so far this season but they also have given up seven rushing touchdowns to start off the season. While Gurley is a one-dimensional player who doesn’t play a role in the passing game he did rush for 57 yards and two touchdowns last week and a repeat performance is highly likely. With 64 carries over the first four weeks of the season Gurley has carved out a regular role for himself in Atlanta and there are still times when we get flashbacks to his days with the Rams and with four rushing touchdowns he hasn’t forgotten where the end zone is either.
I don’t like to have repeats here in back to back weeks David Johnson ($5,200 DK, $6,400 FD) is back following a price drop. If he fails to perform this week then Johnson likely will get filed away into the in case of emergency, season league only cabinet. Johnson has struggled to find room to run against the Ravens, Steelers, and Vikings so far this season but in a good match-up against the Jaguars where we saw Joe Mixon go off (more on him shortly) let’s give it one more shot. Last week Johnson did carry the ball 16 times so we know that role isn’t going to be a problem but with just 63 rushing yards performance is. On the season Johnson is averaging just under 50 yards per carry but he has it in him and this could be the week that makes up for the first four. Ask Mixon owners how that goes because they certainly aren’t complaining.
Now here we go with the young and exciting pick. For the first three weeks of the season Antonio Gibson ($5,000 DK, $5,800 FD) was working to get acclimated to life in the NFL and to make matters worse, the Washington offense isn’t very good. With Kyle Allen now taking the reins, perhaps the Washington offense will kick things up a notch or two but Gibson put himself in strong position for that last week. In a blowout loss to Baltimore we still saw the rookie carry the ball 13 times for 46 yards which catching four passes for 82 yards. There were a few moments Gibson truly looked explosive as he getting acclimated with his new role where he is the clear number one back in Washington’s backfield. Things will be moderately tougher against the Rams this week but Gibson is priced right and should only get better.
Nick Chubb is going to be out for the next six weeks but that doesn’t mean we need to rush off to roster his replacements. Even with Chubb in action Kareem Hunt ($6,500 DK, $7,000 FD) had carved out a legitimate role in Cleveland’s offense but now his expectations and price has changed. Last week Hunt carried the ball 11 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns but it remains to be seen how much his role will change going forward. Hunt has just eight receptions for 42 yards through the first four weeks of the season so there isn’t much value from that aspect of his game but there is also the competition with D’Ernest Johnson ($4,700 DK, $5,300 FD). In the previous three weeks Johnson had just one carry but last week gained 95 yards on 13 carries. Before I invest in this backfield from a DFS perspective I want to see a week for free. But this week I’m also keeping my distance as the Colts have allowed the third fewest points to opposing running backs so far this season and its possible Hunt and Johnson are no different.
Don’t go chasing last week’s production. In fairness, Joe Mixon ($6,300 DK, $6,900 FD) is still a very good running back but he isn’t going to score three touchdowns every week either. Mixon crammed four weeks of production into one game last season as he gained a combined 181 yards while reminding fantasy owners what is possible. My concern is that others will be rushing to capture that production while paying a premium for it considering the fact that Mixon has a tough match-up this week in Baltimore.
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