Daily Fantasy Football Running Back Primer: Week 11
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 ($10,500): Christian McCaffrey is priced up over $10k again this week, so the margin for error remains small, but he put up 23.1 FanDuel points last week, marking the eighth time in nine games he's exceeded 19 FanDuel points. Any minor quibbles over his recent snaps and passing game work were also promptly squashed, as he logged 100% of the snaps for the first time since Week 4, and his seven targets were his most since Week 5. He'll inevitably disappoint at some point, but he owns the largest team share of carries and targets on the board, and he's a set up for more success as a home favorite with a 26.75 implied total against the Falcons. According to numberFire's projections, he's the top projected player across all positions.
Dalvin Cook ($8,600): Among running backs, Dalvin Cook is projected for the second-most fantasy points behind McCaffrey, but the significant gap in price also makes Cook the best point-per-dollar value. Although Denver may be a middle-of-the-road matchup for running backs, game script should strongly favor Cook as a double-digit home favorite. Playing for the third-most run-heavy team in the league, Cook is averaging 20.3 carries and 4.8 targets per game this season.
Ezekiel Elliott ($8,400): Ezekiel Elliott is coming off a quiet game against Minnesota and is averaging a disappointing 3.8 targets per game (just 3 total targets over the last two weeks) after averaging a healthy 6.3 last year. But Detroit is a potential bounce-back spot against a defense that ranks 23rd in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play and has allowed the second-most FanDuel points per game to running backs. Elliott's still averaging just under 20 rushes per game and has exceeded a 90% snap rate in four of the past six.
Josh Jacobs ($8,000): Hitting the $8k mark for the first time, Josh Jacobs' 56.5% snap rate is pretty modest for this price, but he's still averaging over 20 opportunities a game (18.7 rushes and 2.3 targets) and even saw a season-high 5 targets in Week 10. Oakland carries the highest implied total of the slate (30.00) as 11.5-point home favorites over Cincinnati, giving Jacobs multi-score upside. The Raiders tend to give Jacob's volume a sizable boost in positive or close game scripts, and he saw a season-high 30 opportunities just a couple of weeks ago in a win over the Lions.
Leonard Fournette ($7,200): Coming off his bye week, Leonard Fournette continues to be underpriced for his usage due to his rotten luck in the touchdown department, still sitting on just one for the season. He's averaging 19.3 rushes and 5.7 targets per game, and his 88.9% snap rate ranks behind only McCaffrey and Le'Veon Bell at the position. Jacksonville is a slight road underdog to Indianapolis, and the Colts are a pretty average running back matchup at best, but Fournette's elite volume projects him as a top-three value. Positive touchdown regression will come around one of these days.
Tevin Coleman ($6,700): Matt Breida is expected to miss this week's game against Arizona, and while Raheem Mostert ($4,600) should pretty much slide into his role, this is a pretty banged up 49ers offense that could rely on Tevin Coleman more this week. In addition to Breida, George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders are shaky to play, and San Francisco is already the most run-heavy team in the league as is. Despite the injuries, the 49ers remain 10.5-point home favorites over the Cardinals, presenting the potential for a game script where Coleman can thrive. Arizona ranks 24th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play.
Brian Hill ($5,900): While it's fair to have some skepticism around Brian Hill's role with Devonta Freeman expected out, he still projects as one of the week's top value plays at under $6k. With Freeman going down last week, Hill would go on to log 20 rushes and 2 targets with a 50.6% snap rate, while fellow backup Kenjon Barner only saw a single carry and a 13.9% snap rate. Coach Dan Quinn has suggested Hill will be the lead back with Freeman sidelined, but as we've seen on past slates this season, these sorts of backfield situations don't always play out exactly as expected. It wouldn't be surprising if Barner and perhaps even Qadree Ollison have roles on Sunday, and Atlanta is an underdog in Carolina, leaving the possibility the Falcons abandon the run game. That said, Hill's price is right, and so is the matchup against the Panthers, who rank 32nd in schedule-adjusted run defense and have allowed the third-most FanDuel points per game to opposing backfields.
Alvin Kamara ($7,800): The Saints' offense shockingly face-planted in a gimme spot against the Falcons in Week 10, somehow only managing three field goals on their home turf. That naturally led to a disappointing result for Kamara, and he now gets a rough matchup against Tampa Bay, numberFire's top-ranked rush defense that's allowed the second-fewest FanDuel points per game to opposing backfields. Between that and Latavius Murray still potentially stealing away work, this isn't the ideal get-right situation, but anytime you can get a talent like Kamara at lower ownership, it's worth considering in tournaments. And while it may have had more to do with the negative game script, Kamara still played 78.3% of the snaps last week, so Murray didn't really eat into his playing time much anymore than usual. A 49.5 over/under suggests some shootout potential, and the Saints have the fifth-best implied total (27.00), so don't rule out Kamara bouncing back this week.