Daily Fantasy Football Running Back Primer: Week 6
When building daily fantasy football lineups, tackling the running back position first is a great way to kick off your research process. Due to the volume of the position, you'll typically find less variance at running back compared to their counterparts at wide receivers and tight end, and unlike quarterbacks, you can roster up to three backs in any given FanDuel lineup. Figuring out your favorite core plays is important for establishing a foundation in both cash games and tournaments.
With that in mind, let's start building that core! In this piece, we'll go through the top overall plays at various price points on FanDuel's main slate every week. Then, we'll follow that up by taking a look at the riskier or lower-owned guys you might want to target in tournaments.
Stud of the Week
Dalvin Cook ($8,200): Dalvin Cook is one of just two running backs priced in the $8k range this week, and no running back is priced above $8,500. With Minnesota checking in as three-point home favorites against Philadelphia, numberFire's projections like Cook as the top-scoring back of the slate.
Cook has been a beast this season, averaging 18.4 carries and 4.8 targets per game, and he hasn't dropped below 16 FanDuel points in any game yet. The Eagles' defense has allowed the fifth-fewest FanDuel points per game to opposing running backs, which is no surprise given that they've allowed the lowest Rushing Success Rate to the position.
That's not the most encouraging matchup, but the caveat is that Philadelphia also ranks 28th in Target Success Rate allowed to opposing backfields, so Cook could still terrorize this defense in the passing game, particularly since he's seen an uptick in targets the last few weeks. Regardless, Cook's volume alone makes him a strong play pretty much every week -- Minnesota has the league's second-highest rushing play percentage.
As for the other back above $8k, we're still waiting for Ezekiel Elliott ($8,500) to have that big spike week, as he's comfortably scored double-digit FanDuel points every game, yet failed to quite reach 20. Despite being on the road, Dallas is the second-biggest favorite of the slate (7.5 points) over the Jets, so the game script should favor Elliott. However, New York ranks fourth in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, so much like Cook, his matchup isn't necessarily ideal.
As this week's most expensive back, there are arguably better point-per-dollar values on the board, but Elliott's tied with Christian McCaffrey for the league's most red zone carries (excluding Sony Michel, who already played on Thursday), so a multi-score game could be coming sooner rather than later.
Alvin Kamara ($7,900): The mid-range provides plenty of roster possibilities, with Alvin Kamara looking especially intriguing at his lowest price so far this season. Although the results have been somewhat inconsistent, Kamara continues to see excellent usage, averaging 15.0 carries and 6.2 targets per game, and Jacksonville's rushing defense has been one to attack, ranking 30th by numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics.
However, Kamara wasn't seen at Friday's practice after being limited with an ankle issue on Thursday, so keep an eye on his situation over the weekend. He's officially listed as questionable. If he sits out on Sunday, Latavius Murray ($5,000) would immediately fly up the ranks as a value play.
Nick Chubb ($7,800): For all of the Browns' woes on offense, Nick Chubb has largely remained unaffected due to his consistent volume (18.8 carries and 4.0 targets per game), and he's dominating red zone carries (11), including 8 inside the 10-yard line.
The Seahawks have been stout against the run when adjusted for schedule (sixth), and they're slight favorites over the Browns -- neither of which necessarily bodes well -- but Cleveland is at home, so this should theoretically remain a tight and competitive game. Chubb still managed 17 touches in a blowout loss to San Francisco on Monday night, though, so his volume should remain high even in a negative game script.
Leonard Fournette ($7,300): Leonard Fournette finally got that elusive first touchdown last week, but his salary remains all too low as one of just three running backs to exceed a 90% snap rate for the season. He's seen a massive workload in close games against the Panthers and Broncos the last couple weeks (31 and 27 touches), and we should see more of the same in Week 6 at home against the Saints. Fournette leads the team with 13 red zone carries (no one else has more than 2), and as of this writing, he's numberFire's second-best point-per-dollar value on the main slate.
Le'Veon Bell ($6,800): Fournette may be a great value, but Le'Veon Bell is arguably even better, coming in as our model's best point-per-dollar running back -- at least before we see who's inactive on Sunday (more on that in a bit). Alongside McCaffrey and Fournette, Bell is the other back who's averaged over a 90% snap rate, along with 17.8 carries and 8.0 targets a game despite some overwhelmingly negative game scripts.
With Sam Darnold due back, that should theoretically help the Jets remain a bit more competitive against Dallas, which is sorely needed for an offense that has struggled mightily to score. Despite all his work, Bell has only logged two red zone carries all season -- the Jets have three as a team -- and none inside the five-yard line (he's also seen two red zone targets). That leaves some questions about Bell's touchdown potential, but the Cowboys are hardly impervious to running backs, ranking 30th in Rushing Success Rate and 27th in Target Success Rate against the position.
Malcolm Brown ($4,800): Todd Gurley is doubtful for Sunday's game against San Francisco, putting Malcolm Brown in line for a big workload as the Rams' lead back. The 49ers are numberFire's top-ranked overall defense and 11th against the run, so it's not perfect from a matchup perspective, but playing for a home favorite in a game with a 50.5-point over/under should provide plenty of scoring opportunities. Gurley was averaging 76% of the snaps, and considering Darrell Henderson ($4,500) has barely played at all this season, Brown should scoop up the lion's share of playing time, making him one of the week's top values.
Also keep an eye on David Johnson ($6,900), who could be looking at a game-time decision. The Cardinals don't play until 4:05 pm ET, potentially dropping Johnson's ownership in what could be a shootout against the Falcons (51.0 over/under). If he's ultimately ruled out, then Chase Edmonds ($5,200) will be another super-cheap value to go with Brown and possibly Latavius Murray.
Chris Carson ($7,200): With all the value potentially emerging on the low-end and some notable names in the mid-range, Chris Carson may not draw as much attention despite tallying 26 and 28 touches the last two weeks. So much for all fumbling issues, eh? Most notably, even with Rashaad Penny back last week, Carson actually saw his highest snap rate of the season (84%). His passing game usage is still modest (3.4 targets per game), but it would be surprising to see Seattle fall far behind the struggling Browns as road favorites. Cleveland ranks in the bottom third against the run by numberFire's metrics.
As 12.0-point home favorites over the Bengals, Baltimore's Mark Ingram ($7,500) is someone else to consider in tournaments. With a lack of passing game work (nine total targets) and a mediocre 53% snap rate, Ingram carries more risk than we typically like, but he has multiple-touchdown upside against a Cincinnati defense that's allowed the most FanDuel points per game. The Ravens have a slate-high 29.75 implied total, and Ingram entered the week leading the league in red zone carries inside the 10-yard line (13) and 5-yard line (7).