Daily Fantasy Football Running Back Primer: Week 9
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.
Studs of the Week
Christian McCaffrey ($9,700): Volume tends to trump matchup, and sure enough, Christian McCaffrey came through with yet another big performance in Week 8 despite facing the vaunted 49ers defense (25.5 FanDuel points). He's scored over 19 FanDuel points in six of seven games and is averaging just over 27 a game, which not only bests every running back on the slate but also every quarterback. Averaging 20.1 rushes and 7.1 targets per game, McCaffrey has a whopping 45.7% market share of the Panthers' opportunities -- the highest on the slate -- and his 94% snap rate leads all running backs this season. The price tag remains high, and the Titans have been stout against the run, but McCaffrey remains a top play as usual.
Dalvin Cook ($9,000): Dalvin Cook has also been about as consistent as they come, exceeding 20 FanDuel points in six of eight games. Although Minnesota is on the road, Kansas City's defense has allowed the third-most FanDuel points to opposing running backs, ranking 32nd against the position in both Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry allowed and Rushing Success Rate allowed. Cook is averaging 19.5 carries and 4.3 targets per game, and only the 49ers call running plays at a higher rate than the Vikings.
Nick Chubb ($8,100): On the road against Denver in a game with a ho-hum 39.0 over/under, this isn't necessarily a spot that really jumps out for Nick Chubb, but his elite usage always leaves open the possibility of a spike week. Though it was partially marred by a pair of fumbles, Chubb rumbled for 131 yards on the ground against the Patriots last week, so he should be able to get things going against a Broncos run defense that ranks 22nd in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. Chubb is averaging 19.1 rushes and 3.9 targets per game, good for 42.3% of the Browns' opportunities.
Le'Veon Bell ($7,000): Le'Veon Bell is coming off a disappointing outing against the Jaguars, getting a season-low 13 opportunities, but he's expected to see his volume climb back up, and a date with the winless Dolphins is certainly the ideal place to start. Despite last week's clunker, Bell's 43.4% market share of opportunities and 91% snap rate trail only McCaffrey on the slate. Unfortunately, playing on a struggling offense hasn't provided Bell many scoring chances, leaving him as more of a floor play midway into the season -- he's scored over 20 points just once in seven games. Still, Miami presents a golden opportunity to change that, ranking 31st in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and 31st in Target Success Rate allowed to running backs. According to numberFire's projections, Bell is the top point-per-dollar value at running back entering the weekend.
Mark Walton ($5,700): On the other side of that Jets-Dolphins game, it's easy to question Mark Walton's upside -- he plays for Miami after all -- but he did show some encouraging usage in his first game as the lead back. Walton tallied 11 rushes and 6 targets against the Steelers, and while it didn't amount to a whole lot (4.9 points), that can be forgiven against numberFire's second-ranked run defense. But most notably, despite a negative game script, Walton saw a robust 87% snap rate -- only McCaffrey, Bell, and Leonard Fournette have averaged a snap rate of 90% or better this season. In what should be a closer game against a weaker opponent, it wouldn't be outlandish to see Walton come through as a solid value in Week 9.
Jaylen Samuels ($5,000): James Conner ($7,300) missed practice on Thursday and is listed as doubtful. If he's ruled out on Sunday, Jaylen Samuels will rocket up the running back ranks at just $500 above the minimum. Samuels would be in line for a potential bell-cow role against Indianapolis, which ranks 24th against the run by numberFire's metrics.
Aaron Jones ($7,700): Jamaal Williams ($5,400) prevents Aaron Jones from seeing the same usage as the elite fantasy backs (61% snap rate), but that hasn't prevented him from displaying a sky-high ceiling, dropping scores of 45.7 and 38.1 FanDuel points in Weeks 5 and 8 (though it's worth noting Williams was sidelined in Week 5). But even with Williams active the past three weeks, Jones has averaged a solid 12.0 carries and 6.3 targets per game, and he's been the clear go-to guy in the red zone all season. Against a Chargers defense that ranks 29th against the run and 20th in Target Success Rate allowed to opposing backs, Jones once again looks great for tournaments this week.
Josh Jacobs ($7,200): Josh Jacobs' 57% snap rate, fluctuating usage, and modest passing game work (he hasn't seen more than three targets in any game) prevent him from being a high-floor play, but he's also garnered 24 or more opportunities on three different occasions, giving him the upside we're looking for in tournaments. As Oakland's primary red zone back, there's multi-score potential as a home favorite in a possible shootout against Detroit (50.5 total). The Lions have coughed up the second-most FanDuel points per game to running backs and rank 28th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to the position.