Week 10 was a strange one at the running back position, with Marshawn Lynch and his four-touchdown outing checking in as the only truly elite performance. It was also one of the first weeks in awhile that there weren’t any obvious low-priced bargains at the position. In past weeks, we’ve seen running backs like Jeremy Hill offer a ton of value as backups thrust into the starting lineup.
Running back production is always highly correlated with workload, so any time you can identify cheap opportunities at the position, that’s a huge advantage. There might not be much of that again this week, which means running back assessments will be very important. Here’s a look at the top options in every tier to help you take down the $27 Millionaire Maker in Week 11.
Top Five Running Backs
Matt Forte, Chicago vs Minnesota, $10,100 – Despite a lackluster performance against the Packers on Sunday night, Forte’s price has risen $100. This could be due to Forte being the only truly elite running back available with DeMarco Murray on his bye. Forte also has a very favorable matchup at home against the Vikings.
To me, Forte is still more of a GPP option this week. I think his usage will be low enough to really justify paying up for him in tournaments, but otherwise the price might be prohibitive in cash games.
Arian Foster, Houston at Cleveland, $8500 – The Browns’ defense has been decent against the run this year, but I still like Foster a lot if he’s healthy. The key is if he’s 100 percent. This is a situation to monitor throughout the week because the Texans could very well be in a position in which they’ll scale back Foster’s reps to make sure he’s available later in the year. I don’t think this is a safe enough situation to warrant cash-game consideration.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle at Kansas City, $8200 – Lynch went Beast Mode against the Giants in Week 10, but now he gets the Chiefs in Kansas City this weekend. The Chiefs have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, and Lynch isn’t the type of player whose production comes independently of the opponent. For that reason, he’s a fairly easy player to project and one who could be over-owned in Week 11.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh at Tennessee, $7200 – After a red-hot start to the season, Bell has cooled down considerably over the past two weeks with just 56 total rushing yards. Even while he’s disappointed, though, Bell has contributed as a receiver, catching 13 passes in the past two games and no fewer than five in each game over the past month. This is a quality matchup and probably an underrated cash-game option for Week 11.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City vs Seattle, $7100 – Charles is a really unique player in Week 11 because, while the matchup against the Seahawks isn’t ideal, it’s probably not as bad as you might think, for a couple reasons. The first is that Charles’ value doesn’t really decline much when the Chiefs get down in games since he’s so dangerous as a receiver. The second is that he accounts for such a high percentage of Kansas City’s touchdowns that he’s a favorite to score in any game against any opponent; the last time Charles failed to score a touchdown was Week 5. He’s regularly -200 to score in Vegas.
Three Others to Consider
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay vs Philadelphia, $6800
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia at Green Bay, $6400
Andre Ellington, Arizona vs Detroit, $6400
Five Mid-Priced Running Backs
Mark Ingram, New Orleans vs Cincinnati, $6200 – Considering his workload of 30 touches, Ingram had a “down” weak against the Niners with only 139 total yards and no scores. But the important part is that he’s getting the carries; Ingram has at least 24 carries in each of the past three games. He’s worth the price due to that fact alone, but especially when you consider the matchup in New Orleans.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis vs New England, $5700 – This just seems like a really good spot for Bradshaw. Yes, he has caught more touchdowns than he “should have” thus far in 2014, so he’s due to regress in that department, but he also could be a checkdown monster for Andrew Luck in Week 11. We know that the Pats try to take away the opposition’s top weapon. In this case, that’s the Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton tandem, so Bradshaw could be a good bet for a bunch of receptions.
Shane Vereen, New England at Indianapolis, $5500 – Vereen has a season-high of just 11 carries. Yes, he has additional value in a PPR format, but his upside is seriously limited since he doesn’t get a lot of touches or score many touchdowns. This is the type of player that I generally avoid on DraftKings because there’s a really poor floor/ceiling combination.
Alfred Morris, Washington vs Tampa Bay, $5400 – Morris is the anti-Vereen as a running back who doesn’t catch many passes, but gets a significant workload and has the ability to score touchdowns. Even though I generally want at least moderate pass-catching ability out of my backs, I think Morris is an interesting GPP play in this matchup. With the lack of red zone options in Washington, Morris has three-touchdown upside here.
Branden Oliver, San Diego vs Oakland, $5200 – Oliver is most likely going to be overpriced and unusable at this price tag. It all comes down to Ryan Mathews’ health; if Mathews returns, even in a limited fashion, Oliver is off-limits. Otherwise, he can contribute enough as a receiver to be worth a flier in GPPs.
Three Others to Consider
Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota at Chicago, $4800
C.J. Anderson, Denver at St. Louis, $4800
Matt Asiata, Minnesota at Chicago, $4600
Five Value Running Backs
Frank Gore, San Francisco at NY Giants, $4500 – There aren’t many times that I like an old running back who doesn’t catch passes, but this might be one of them. I actually don’t prefer Gore in tournaments because I don’t think the workload will be there to give you a ton of upside, but he’s a good value at this price facing a Giants run defense that just got torched for 350 rushing yards against the Seahawks. New York has allowed at least 156 yards rushing in three of the past four games.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati at New Orleans, $4500 – Hill is very similar to Oliver in that we’re waiting on the health of the starter; if Gio Bernard returns, Hill’s value obviously plummets. Even if Hill is the lead dog, though, this isn’t the same situation as when Bernard originally went down. With how poorly Cincy is playing, it’s very likely that they get down to the Saints in New Orleans, in which case Hill’s value is limited as a running back who doesn’t catch many passes. I still like him if Bernard is out, but I won’t have him in every lineup by any means.
Steven Jackson, Atlanta at Carolina, $4400 – With 34 carries in the past two games, Jackson is at least worth consideration at this price against one of the league’s worst defenses versus running backs. However, I just don’t see the upside or the safety to justify using S-Jax in any format.
Terrance West, Cleveland vs Houston, $4400 – West had 26 carries and a touchdown in Week 10. Coming off of 10 days rest, I kind of like the rookie in this matchup. The presence of Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell is enough to scare me a bit, but I’m willing to take a chance on West at only $4400 given that he’s seeing more touches than any back in his price range.
Darren McFadden, Oakland at San Diego, $4300 – McFadden isn’t going to get a ton of carries, but he has failed to catch four passes only three times this season. Again, this isn’t a situation on which I’m overly bullish, but I definitely think Run DMC has some upside relative to his cost.
Overall, though, it isn’t a week to consistently go cheap at running back.
Three Others to Consider
Reggie Bush, Detroit at Arizona, $4100
Bishop Sankey, Tennessee vs Pittsburgh, $4100
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay at Washington, $4000