Fantasy Football: Running Back Touch, Target Projections Divisional Round

Here is where I’ll examine and project touches and targets for two high-priced and two value running backs who can help your divisional round DraftKings fantasy football lineups.

STUDS

Todd Gurley, LAR v. DAL, $8,000 — Gurley should have fresh legs coming into this matchup, resting since Week 16, and now gets a Dallas defense that has given up the seventh-most run plays on the road to opposing backfields this season. Dallas still ranks inside the top five in rush defense per DVOA but has given up an average of 33.3 DKFP over the past four games.

The Rams might be shaking off some rust early, but this shouldn’t be a worry as the Rams rank first in second-half scoring, averaging 17 points per game at home. Zeke Elliott ($8,200) is still a great play, but I’m rostering Gurley at his cheapest price all season in a decent leverage spot.

Projections:
Rushing: 21 Attempts
Receiving: 6 Targets; 5 Receptions
Total: 26 Touches




Marlon Mack, IND at KC, $5,800 — Performing well against the highest ranked rush defense per DVOA in Houston last week, Mack now gets the polar opposite by the same metric against Kansas City, which ranks 32nd in rush defense. With 81 percent of the snaps last week, the Indy running back faces a Chiefs defense that’s given up 144.6 yards at home to opposing RBs over the past five home games, allows the third-most DKFP and is giving up a little over seven targets per game. The Colts hold the seventh highest time of possession (53.3 percent) on the road and should deploy the best gameplan to keep Patrick Mahomes ($7,000) and the Chiefs’ offense off the field for as long as possible.

Projections:
Rushing: 16 Attempts
Receiving: 4 Targets; 3 Receptions
Total: 19 Touches




VALUES

James White, NE v. LAC, $4,900 — This is a hedge on the Austin Ekeler pick below, especially if the Chargers get out to an early lead, which they’re fully capable of doing, averaging the fifth-most points in the first half (13.4) on the road this season. While the Chargers’ defense ($2,400) is playing really well, they’re still quite generous to opposing running backs in the passing game, giving up the fourth-most targets and receptions as well as the most yards to pass-catching backs during the regular season.

White is averaging just under nine targets over his past four playoff games, and it wasn’t too long ago the Chargers allowed Royce Freeman to get 10 targets and eight receptions, a running back who ranked 235 spots behind White in receptions this season.

Projections:
Rushing: 5 Attempts
Receiving: 8 Targets; 7 Receptions
Total: 12 Touches




Austin Ekeler, LAC at NE, $4,500 — The Patriots’ defense ($2,600) has difficulty defending change-of-pace backs this season, giving up 16 DKFP to Nyheim Hines in Week 5 and 22 DKFP to Tarik Cohen in Week 7. Ekeler comes into this game seeing 33 percent of the team’s carries and registering a 38 percent touch rate last week. He’s an integral part in the Chargers’ offense, especially on the road, averaging 14 total touches over the past three games. Ekeler has hit or exceed the 14 total touch mark five times this season and totaled double-digit fantasy points four of the five games, averaging 15.5 DKFP. The Patriots are giving up just under eight catches and 50 yards to pass-catching running backs, which ranks 22nd per Football Outsiders.

Projections:
Rushing: 7 Attempts
Receiving: 8 Targets; 7 Receptions
Total: 14 Touches




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