Daily Fantasy Football Running Back Primer: Week 12
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): Despite being priced at $10,500 for the third straight week, Christian McCaffrey continues to be a strong weekly play, even cracking the FanDuel perfect lineup in Week 11. He's now exceeded 19 FanDuel points in 9 out of 10 games and is averaging a ridiculous 27.3 FanDuel points per game, easily besting everyone on the slate, including quarterbacks Russell Wilson (24.30) and Dak Prescott (24.11).
However, New Orleans could prove to be a tougher test this week, ranking first in Rushing Success Rate allowed to running backs and fourth in Target Success Rate allowed to the position. As a result, the Saints have allowed the fourth-fewest FanDuel points per game to opposing backfields. While matchups haven't typically mattered for McCaffrey, it's worth noting that his two worst games of the season came against the Buccaneers, one of the most difficult matchups for running backs.
Given the salary and opponent, McCaffrey isn't necessarily a must-play, but we all know he's fully capable of coming through yet again. To no one's surprise, numberFire's projections peg him for the most FanDuel points at the position this week.
Alvin Kamara ($8,300): On the other side of that game, Alvin Kamara is projected for the second-most FanDuel points among running backs, and his far more palatable salary ranks him as the third-best point-per-dollar option, too.
Carolina is a fantastic matchup, ranking 32nd against the run in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, and Kamara should enjoy a positive game script as a 9.5-point home favorite with a 28.00 implied total.
While a potential big lead also likely means Latavius Murray will get his share of work as he did in last week against Tampa Bay, Kamara still tallied 13 carries and 10 targets in that win, so a lower snap rate isn't necessarily something to be overly concerned about. Since returning in Week 10, Kamara has seen a 25.3% target share, good for second on the team.
Nick Chubb ($8,200): And speaking of excellent matchups, it doesn't get much better than Nick Chubb's against the Miami Dolphins. The Browns are the only double-digit favorites on the slate, and they lead the way with a 28.25 implied total against a defense that ranks 27th in Rushing Success Rate and 29th in Target Success Rate allowed to running backs. Kareem Hunt's presence as a pass-catching back has eaten into Chubb's targets, but his overall workload has remained strong, having seen 28 and 24 opportunities the past two games with Hunt in action.
Le'Veon Bell ($7,300): It's fair to question how much upside Le'Veon Bell has on a shaky Jets offense, but he's still getting steady volume and has scored in back-to-back weeks. Although he saw a drop in snaps last week, that likely had more to do with the score in an easy win over Washington, and it didn't stop him from registering a rock-solid 20 opportunities anyway.
A matchup against Oakland figures to be more competitive -- the Raiders are favored by just three points -- and Bell will face a defense that ranks 22nd in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and 28th in Target Success Rate allowed to backs. Bell projects favorably as the second-best point-per-dollar value in numberFire's model.
Leonard Fournette ($7,000): Leonard Fournette continues to search for that elusive second touchdown, though a negative game script against Indianapolis didn't help his cause last week. In that blowout loss, Fournette's 15 opportunities and 71.4% snap rate were his lowest marks of the season, but coach Doug Marrone later said it was a "big mistake" to limit Fournette's touches, so we should be back to business as usual against the Titans.
On the year, Fournette's 87.3% snap rate is second to only McCaffrey among running backs, and he's averaged a robust 18.2 carries and 5.8 targets per games. Although Tennessee is tough to run against -- they're numberFire's third-best schedule-adjusted run defense -- they're susceptible through the air, ranking just 19th in Target Success Rate allowed to running backs.
Fournette projects as this week's top point-per-dollar value at the position.
While Sanders didn't make a ton of noise against the Patriots with Howard out -- hardly surprising given the opponent -- he logged 11 carries and 4 targets with a season-high 85.3% snap rate, hinting at his potential in a more favorable spot. The Seahawks should be an easier opponent to get things going against, as they're middle of the pack against the run and rank 25th in Target Success Rate allowed to opposing backfields.
News that Jay Ajayi could see a "notable role" this weekend may throw a wrench in things, but Sanders should still lead this backfield in touches if Howard is inactive and remains viable at such a low price point.
Saquon Barkley ($7,900): It's mostly been a disappointing season for Saquon Barkley, though much of that can be blamed on the high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 3 that's hampered him ever since. But perhaps a much needed bye week will help Barkley get back to being a fantasy monster again, and after scoring single-digit FanDuel points against the Jets his last time out, he figures to see lower ownership this week.
The Bears may seem like a less-than-ideal matchup for a turnaround -- they're numberFire's 7th-ranked run defense after all -- but they aren't as imposing against running backs through the air, ranking 15th in Target Success Rate allowed to the position. In fact, Chicago has allowed the second-most receptions to running backs this season and is actually in the top 10 in most FanDuel points per game given up to opposing backfield. That falls right into Barkley's wheelhouse, possibly giving him a path to a bigger-than-expected performance this week.