Here is where I’ll examine and project touches and targets for three high-priced and three value running backs who can help your Wild Card Weekend DraftKings fantasy football lineups.
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL v. SEA, $9,000 — Elliott is the only RB who gets a rush defense outside the top 10 per DVOA coming into this week. Seven of the eight teams this weekend rank inside the top 10 per DVOA, and Seattle is ranked 17th. With that being said, Elliott doesn’t need a low-ranked rush D to excel. Throughout the regular season, he’s averaged 26.5 total touches and just under 20 DKFP per game against four of the top 10 rush defenses per DVOA (HOU, JAX, NO, IND).
The Seahawks have allowed 111 yards per game over their past three games as well as the seventh-most targets (7.8), the seventh-most receptions (6.2), and the third-most receiving yards (57) per game to opposing backs. Elliot is 23rd in receptions per game this season and will need to surpass his season averages for Dallas to win. Expect Dallas to feed him often.
Rushing: 24 Attempts
Receiving: 7 Targets; 6 Receptions
Total: 30 Touches
Chris Carson, SEA at DAL, $6,800 — Nothing new here, play the lead back on the team with the second highest rush offense per attempts over the past three games (37.3). Carson has hit 20-plus DKFP in each of the past three games, and Dallas has been on a little slide over its past three, allowing 128 yards per game in this timeframe (11th highest). One of the most efficient backs of the season, Carson is averaging 119 yards on 52 percent of the snaps.
Rushing: 18 Attempts
Receiving: 2 Targets; 1 Receptions
Total: 19 Touches
Lamar Miller, HOU v. IND, $4,900 — Miller’s numbers from the regular season say he shouldn’t see a ton of targets — only averaging three per game at home — but could see a slight increase against a Colts defense that gives up the most targets (8.75) and the second-most receptions (6.9) to opposing running backs per game. Miller’s floor should be safe as well, as Houston’s running the ball 45 percent of the time at home, the ninth highest in the league.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,700) didn’t fill the stat sheet the most recent time these teams met, and the Colts rank 17th per DVOA defending the No. 1 receiver. This could be a Hopkins game and Miller has the lowest success correlation with Hopkins, so I’m not stacking the two, but Miller provides the highest ceiling from all the running backs in this game. Marlon Mack ($6,000) gets the No. 1 rush defense as well as the No. 3 defense against pass-catching backs per DVOA, so I’m staying away. Miller got into the end zone last time these teams met and has good chance to score again this weekend with the Texans averaging the seventh-most red zone opportunities at home.
Rushing: 18 Attempts
Receiving: 4 Targets; 2 Receptions
Total: 20 Touches
Tarik Cohen, CHI v. PHI, $5,400 — Cohen might be my favorite running back play for this Wild Card Weekend slate. The Eagles have some major issues defending passing-catching running backs, ranking 24th per DVOA to pass-catching backs coming into this game. Cohen is third in yards per touch (7.0) and No. 1 in big-play percentage, hitting a play of 15 yards or more 9.5 percent of the time. Cohen is averaging six targets and a little over 16 DKFP per game at Soldier Field, and Philly has given up the third-most targets and receptions per game this season.
Rushing: 6 Attempts
Receiving: 8 Targets; 7 Receptions
Total: 13 Touches
Darren Sproles, PHI at CHI, $4,100 — If or when the Nick Foles magic fades, the Eagles will lean on Sproles to help them get back in this game. Sproles should be the top beneficiary of all positive and negative game script passing situations. Sproles has registered his top two games via snap counts in Dallas, where the Eagles played catch-up for most of the game, and against Houston, where the game totaled 60-plus points and the Eagles came out victorious. Sproles has four red zone touches in the past two games, and if there’s a chink in the Bears’ defensive armor, it’s defending the pass-catching running backs, ranking 10th per DVOA.
Rushing: 12 Attempts
Receiving: 5 Targets; 3 Receptions
Total: 15 Touches
Kenneth Dixon, BAL v. LAC, $4,000 — Dixon gets the nod over Ty Montgomery ($3,100) in this matchup, registering 42.6 percent of the snaps over the past three games. Lamar Jackson ($5,800) has proven to be a competent passer but doesn’t target his running backs in the passing game very often, which might need to change. The Chargers have given up the fourth-most targets (8.3) and the fourth-most receptions (6.7) this season to RBs but have surrendered only the ninth-fewest rush attempts (19). Dixon is arguably the Ravens’ most complete back and, per Fantasy Labs, has the highest correlation in success score when the Ravens D ($3,400) plays well.
Rushing: 11 Attempts
Receiving: 3 Targets; 3 Receptions
Total: 14 Touches
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