Daily Fantasy Football Running Back Primer: Week 16
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 ($10,800): Christian McCaffrey went back to doing Christian McCaffrey things last week, racking up 19 carries and 10 targets on his way to 33.5 FanDuel points against Seattle. The price tag remains exorbitant, so McCaffrey pretty much needs to hit paydirt to achieve value, but his truly massive market share of both overall opportunities and red zone opportunities have helped him score touchdowns in 10 of 14 games.
And while Indianapolis has allowed just the sixth-fewest FanDuel points to running backs, they rank 15th against the run in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expect Points (NEP) per play, so this isn't a shy-away matchup, either. Our model projects McCaffrey as the top-scoring back as usual.
Chris Carson ($8,200): Both Saquon Barkley ($8,800) and Ezekiel Elliott ($8,700) project well in terms of raw points, but their high salaries make them more suitable for tournaments. Of the other backs priced over $8k, a slightly cheaper Chris Carson is the better point-per-dollar value in a fantastic spot against Arizona, which ranks 20th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. Carson saw 26 opportunities last week against Carolina, and the Seahawks enter the weekend as 9.5-point home favorites with a slate-high 30.25 implied total, so another hefty workload should be in store.
Leonard Fournette ($7,500): Leonard Fournette continues to see encouraging volume but typically hasn't made it count for much in the fantasy box score. He tallied 15 carries and 7 targets last week versus Oakland, his fourth straight week with over 20 opportunities, but it also marked his third straight under 100 yards from scrimmage and without any touchdowns. Fournette still only has three scores for the entire season.
But the usage and salary keep him in play as the second-best value in numberFire's projections against Atlanta. For the year, the Falcons are a decent 14th in schedule-adjusted run defense, but they've been the worst team in Rushing Success Rate allowed to running backs since Week 8. They also rank just 23rd in Target Success Rate given up to opposing backfields this season, too. The risk is that with Jacksonville sitting on a 19.50 implied total as 7.5-point road underdogs, Fournette could have trouble finding the end zone yet again.
Alvin Kamara ($7,200): Enduring his own touchdown drought, Alvin Kamara inexplicably hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3, but he projects as the best point-per-dollar running back value on the board. Unlike Fournette, Kamara's part of an offense that scores in bunches, and New Orleans is pegged for a 26.50 implied total in a potential shootout against Tennessee (50.5 over/under).
Although the Titans rank 4th in schedule-adjusted run defense, they rank just 20th in Target Success Rate allowed to running backs, which suits Kamara perfectly -- he's averaged eight targets over the past six games since coming back from injury. He's also averaged double-digit carries in five straight, too, so he figures to flirt with around 20 opportunities. It's been a disappointing season for Kamara overall, but the game environment is right to finally get back in the touchdown column.
Devonta Freeman ($6,200): Devonta Freeman hasn't shown a high ceiling very often this season, with just one FanDuel performance over 20 points, but the Jaguars are a defense we love to attack with running backs. Jacksonville ranks 30th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play, 26th in Target Success Rate allowed to running backs, and 31st in FanDuel points given up to the position. Since returning from injury in Week 13, Freeman has logged 22, 21, and 15 opportunities, and game script should be in his favor with Atlanta favored by over a touchdown.
DeAndre Washington ($5,600): Josh Jacobs has been ruled out for Week 16, so DeAndre Washington will take over as the Raiders' lead back versus the Chargers, numberFire's 22nd-ranked run defense. When Jacobs was out in Week 14, Washington saw the field for 63.5% of the snaps and tallied 14 carries and 7 targets. Oakland is a 7.0-point road underdog, but Washington's passing game work is an encouraging sign that he'll stay involved in a negative game script.
Joe Mixon ($7,800): Joe Mixon shouldn't exactly slip by anyone in a fantastic spot against Miami, but he's priced in no man's land between this week's studs and top point-per-dollar values, which could limit his overall popularity. Even playing for the one-win Bengals, negative game scripts haven't prevented Mixon from getting loads of opportunities, averaging 21.7 carries and 2.8 targets across six games since the Week 9 bye.
He's rolled off over 150 yards from scrimmage in back-to-back games -- including one against a tough Patriots defense -- so we can only imagine what he might be able to do against the Dolphins. Miami ranks 25th in schedule-adjusted run defense and has allowed the fifth-most FanDuel points to running backs.