Daily Fantasy Football Running Back Primer: Week 15
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 ($10,400): After scoring "just" 19.0 FanDuel points in Week 14, we're actually getting a price drop for Christian McCaffrey, but he's still far and away the slate's priciest player. Despite back-to-back modest performances by his ridiculous standards, McCaffrey's 25.8 FanDuel points per game leads all players on the slate, and he's dropped below 19.0 FanDuel points only twice in 13 games. Seattle ranks 30th in Target Success Rate allowed to running backs, which falls right in McCaffrey's wheelhouse. As usual, he's projected as the top-scoring back in numberFire's model.
Dalvin Cook ($8,500): After an injury scare in Week 13, it wasn't surprising to see Dalvin Cook get rested late in an easy Week 14 win over the Lions, ultimately only playing 46.6% of the snaps. However, with backup Alexander Mattison already ruled out for Week 15 and a much more competitive game expected against the Chargers, Cook should be a full-go this time around. Even with the lower snap count, he logged 20 opportunities, so he should well surpass that mark this week. The Chargers rank 21st in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play and 19th in Target Success Rate allowed to opposing backs.
Saquon Barkley ($8,300): Saquon Barkley hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 8 and has since been held to 13 or fewer FanDuel points in five straight games. Still, he's averaged a solid 16.0 rushes and 5.4 targets during this dry spell, and the Dolphins could be the antidote he needs to break through. Miami ranks 25th in schedule-adjusted run defense, and against running backs specifically, they're 25th in FanDuel points allowed and 27th in Target Success Rate allowed. Entering the weekend, Saquon Barkley projects as the top point-per-dollar running back value on the board.
Leonard Fournette ($7,700): Practically a mainstay in this space, Leonard Fournette gets a plus matchup against the Raiders, who rank 24th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and 31st in Target Success Rate allowed to running backs. Fournette is averaging nearly 25 opportunities per game (18.1 rushes and 6.7 targets), yet still only has three scores this season. On the bright side, the lack of touchdowns continues to keep his price down, making him a solid value.
Chris Carson ($7,400): Chris Carson faces the Panthers, who are 32nd in both Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and FanDuel points allowed to running backs. They've coughed up 21 rushing scores to opposing backs, while no other team has allowed more than 14. Carson has averaged 18.9 carries and 3.4 targets this year, and with Rashaad Penny now out of the picture, there's no need to overthink this one.
Patrick Laird ($5,500): Playing for the Dolphins against a Giants team that actually ranks 11th in schedule-adjusted run defense, Patrick Laird's upside is obviously pretty questionable, but he did see 15 rushes and 5 targets with an 81.9% snap rate against the Jets last week. With DeVante Parker trending towards playing, Ryan Fitzpatrick and this Dolphins offense might be able to do some damage against a poor Giants pass defense, which could set up Laird to cash in on some red zone opportunities.
Phillip Lindsay ($6,400): Phillip Lindsay is still splitting snaps fairly evenly with Royce Freeman, but he's the clear lead back in terms of actual opportunities, totaling 18, 16, 20, and 18 over the last four games. Lindsay hasn't popped for many big games this season, but he gets a possible spike week matchup against the Chiefs, who rank 29th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and 31st in FanDuel points allowed to running backs. Drew Lock appears to have this offense moving in the right direction after pulling off an upset over Houston, adding to the likelihood that this game can remain somewhat close and grant Lindsay scoring chances.
Kenyan Drake ($6,200): Kenyan Drake hasn't done much in the box score since his fantastic Cardinals debut in Week 9, but this week's matchup against the Browns is easily his best since switching uniforms. Cleveland ranks 28th in schedule-adjusted run defense and ranks 21st in Target Success Rate allowed to opposing backfields. David Johnson is an afterthought at this point, as Drake has led the way with 18 and 14 opportunities since the Week 12 bye. He should be able to exceed those marks in what could be a close game with shootout potential -- the over/under has risen to 49.0 since opening at 46.5.