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. No I’m not trying to put everyone to sleep but James Robinson ($6,800 DK, $6,500 FD) has some real value this week. By no means is Robinson a stud and to be honest most, if not all, of us had no idea who he was in the middle of August. But here he is starting at running back for Jacksonville and this week he goes against a Detroit team that has allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing so far this season. Robinson had a rough go of it in Houston last week as he rushed for just 48 yards while adding another 22 yards on five receptions but the workload continues to be there. It just the second week this season where Robinson failed to reach the 100-yard mark and he is averaging 4.6 yards per carry while scoring three touchdowns. The fact that Robinson has also caught 19 passes for 183 yards helps to give him a solid floor as well.
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.
It took into his third season but we are finally seeing what Ronald Jones ($6,000 DK, $5,800 FD) was expected to do when Tampa Bay selected him in the second round. Jones was only Buccaneers running back to register a carry last week as he eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the second straight week as he averaged 6.2 yards per carry on 17 carries while adding three receptions for another 19 yards. This week Jones faces a Green Bay team that has struggled against opposing running backs and there is no reason why he can’t make it a third straight 100-yard game as the heavy lifting in Tampa Bay’s backfield will fall to him.
In case you haven’t realized by now, the Main Slate on Sunday doesn’t offer us much in the way of excitement at the running back position. That means I’m not trying to be too fancy and instead the objective is to look for running backs with secure workloads at an affordable price. Myles Gaskin($5,400 DK, $5,700 FD) fits that criteria as over the past three weeks he has 48 carries and 13 receptions for the Dolphins. Gaskin is clearly the main running back for Miami but last week he did have tough go of it against San Francisco. It could have been worse in an unfavorable match-up as Gaskin salvaged the day by scoring a touchdown but the fact that he got 21 touches (16 carries for 57 yards and five receptions for 34 yards) made a big difference. So far this season Gaskin has 23 receptions for 147 yards which is a nice supplement to his 249 rushing yards. And can things really get much better than facing the Jets this week?
Alright if you want that exciting stud in your lineup, I present Derrick Henry ($7,300 DK, $9,000 FD). The first thing we have to note is that there is a big price difference between the two sites on Henry but either way he is an attractive option. Against a tough Buffalo defense, Henry still came through with 57 rushing yards and two touchdowns. For the price we obviously want more but we have to take the match-up into account and fantasy owners likely weren’t walking away disappointed. Through the first four weeks of the season Henry is averaging 25 carries a game (101 for 376 yards and four touchdowns) but his ceiling is limited by a lack of role in the passing game (six receptions for 32 yards) although with that success on the ground, does it really matter? This comes down more to roster construction but it also a reminder that you can’t just copy your lineups from Draft Kings to Fan Duel and expect to win. With a $1,700 price difference we very easily could call Henry a bad play on Fan Duel and it would have nothing to do with his performance.
Or we could look to James Conner ($7,100 DK, $7,100 FD) who is a good pick on either site thanks to his identical prices. That is just on the surface though as it’s important to remember than Fan Duel’s salary cap is $10,000 higher than Draft Kings so in reality, Conner is really cheaper than $7,100 if you are looking to compare the two. This is more based on role and a reasonable price than anything else as Conner is the number one guy in Pittsburgh’s backfield. While he is averaging 4.9 yards per carry so far this season, Conner doesn’t have the same workload as other bell cow options (if that is even a thing anymore), he does have two games with more than 100 rushing yards. His other two games weren’t nearly as successful and with just 11 receptions for 82 yards he is limited in the passing game. I know this sounds more like a cons list than a pros list but there is something to be said about his solid performance and the fact that he has a rushing touchdown in each of the last three games.
This might just be me being cheap and having sour grapes. I know I’m not alone here but I love a good bargain. Rooting for an injury is just plan wrong and I’m all about that good karma although injuries do begat opportunity. I just want my injury replacements to be cheap and in the case of Alexander Mattison ($7,200 DK, $7,000 FD) the websites just didn’t oblige. Now I know that we preach in season long leagues how great it is that Mattison is the perfect handcuff for Dalvin Cookas it is just a plug and play option for your lineup and you won’t notice much difference. That certainly was the case on Sunday as after Cook exciting with due to injury Mattison stepped right in and carried the ball 20 times for 112 yards while catching three passes for another 24 yards. Now there is nothing wrong with that performance, and you could argue it is worth the price, but there is a reason why Cook is the starter and Mattison is the backup. On the season Mattison is averaging 5 yards per carry with 219 rushing yards and on paper it’s hard to argue with his match-up against Atlanta. But with the Falcons changing coaches this past week they might come out like a different team. If Mattison was a little cheaper I would likely be advocating for him, but his could be a me problem since I wasn’t expecting him to be priced this high.
Stay away. Don’t get all proud of yourself that you uncovered a “hidden” gem following Le’Veon Bell’s release. The price is right on Frank Gore ($4,000 DK, $5,000 FD) and La’Mical Perine($4,000 DK, $4,600 FD) but the production is not. Now in season long leagues I’m running to my waiver wire to grab Perine while filing his name away for later on my DFS radar, but this week I’m staying away. With Gore it’s pretty easy as with 204 rushing yards and 3.2 yards per carry so far this season, including the three weeks when Bell was sidelined with a hamstring injury, there isn’t much to see. Perine is talented and explosive but he is also young, raw, and inexperienced. Now this change very quickly but his NFL track record is 15 carries for 56 yards while Bell was out. Early on the Jets will likely lean on Gore but at least for this week, there is nothing to see from a DFS perspective.
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