I felt like there was a clear top tier last week, and this week is very similar. Current pricing has opened up the depth of our options though, so I think we’ll see a bit more diversity among the highest owned backs this week. Let’s take a look.
We’re on to Week 10.
Looking for a different position? Check out the rest of the positional targets:
We’ve reach a stabilization point for a lot of metrics now, so it’s easier than ever to trust the data behind the analysis. Having more actionable in-season data that we can lean on makes the second half of the season a lot of fun. The process of understanding how good or bad a player’s matchup is each week is getting easier and will continue to get easier with each passing week. Most of the stats that I’m referencing here are either opponent or schedule-adjusted, making it easier to contextualize what is actually happening instead of just pulling raw data points.
Thanks to amazing sites like Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders, and 4for4, there has been a tremendous wave of actionable analytics in football over the past few seasons. The more that you can incorporate them in to your lineup building process, the better off you’ll be. I’ll also be referencing the Expert Consensus Rankings from FantasyPros in order to understand how players are viewed each week, and then related it to their price here on DraftKings.
If you’re new to the daily fantasy community, welcome, you’re in for a whole lot of fun. If you have questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (vs. Chicago Bears) -$7,300
Todd Gurley is the man this weekend. You can’t have a better spot as a lead rusher and I fully expect Gurley to deliver on what will be extremely high expectations. Gurley’s role as the primary weapon in St. Louis’ offense has grown each week, with 87% of the backfield touches last week including five targets in the passing game. This game is in St. Louis and Vegas has the Rams as 8-point favorites, so game script appears to be strong. If you needed one more reason to use Gurley this week than you can layer on the fact that the Bears are 31st in the league against the run according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.
DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Cleveland Browns) -$6,500
The Browns are one of the league’s worst teams against the run, giving up nearly 150 yards per game so far this season. They’re among the bottom few teams in both DVOA and schedule-adjusted fantasy points against to running backs, and that bodes well for DeAngelo Williams this week. He barely came off the field on Sunday against the Raiders and is likely to continue seeing 95%+ of the backfield work. The Steelers aren’t huge favorites with Landry Jones under center, but this is a great spot to fire up Williams nonetheless.
Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys (@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers) -$4,900
There just shouldn’t be a running back available for less than $5,000 who’s getting 25-30 touches per game, but we get one more week of Darren McFadden at this current rate. He handled 28 of 28 running back touches on Sunday. That’s 100%, folks. That’s a good thing. Opportunity is king in fantasy football, and there’s no reason to expect any Dallas back will eat in to McFadden’s path to 25 touches in this spot against Tampa Bay. The Cowboys are slight underdogs here, but it’s irrelevant for McFadden’s usage because he’s their passing down back as well.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (@ Washington Redskins) -$6,400
I’m not going to try and predict Mark Ingram’s ownership this week, but I believe it’ll be less than it should be. Recency bias will come in to play because he was fairly average in a cushy spot last week and was extremely popular at the same time. On the road in a neutral spread game doesn’t jump off the page, but Washington’s run defense has been terrible lately. They’ve given up 191 yards per game to the running game this season and I like Ingram’s chances to take advantage of this trend. Ingram wasn’t great against the Titans but he did receive 90% of the touches while C.J. Spiller played just six of New Orleans’ 76 snaps.
Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears (@ St. Louis Rams) -$4,800
The fantasy community gasped as Monday Night Football opened with Kadeem Carey starting for the Bears and handling the backfield work on the first drive of the game. Things worked themselves out and Jeremy Langford took over the rest of the way. He looked good in doing so as well, running for 72 yards and a score and hauling in 70 yards worth of receptions, looking very Forte-like along the way. His matchup isn’t quite as good this week, on the road against one of the league’s top defenses in St. Louis, but he’s still a viable option for both cash and tournaments due to a lack of competition for touches.
Middle of the Pack
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (@ Oakland Raiders) -$7,100
I think Adrian Peterson was tired of answering questions about Todd Gurley all week leading up to last week’s game, and the ‘Old Dog’ came out motivated to show he still has it. The Vikings fed him 29 carries and Peterson responded with 125 yards and a score against an impressive Rams’ defense. The Raiders aren’t quite the unit that the Rams are, but they’re still an above average group, one that can focus on stopping Peterson if Teddy Two Gloves isn’t able to suit up for this one. Bridgewater’s status is key to Peterson’s viability this week and if he plays I think Peterson is a strong tournament option because of his multi-touchdown upside any time he plays.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (@ Tennessee Titans) -$4,300
I rail on Jonathan Stewart every week. I think he’s a talented runner and he’s ridiculously cheap yet again, but I just struggle to click on his name when I’m building my lineups. Clearly a running back who’s receiving 75%+ of his team’s snaps in a game where they’re favored is something we need to consider, but Carolina likes to do pretty much anything other than pound the ball with Jonathan Stewart when they’re inside the 10. That’s why he’s still $4,300 and why he’s difficult to trust in cash. The Titans are 23rd in DVOA against the run so Stewart can return value without finding the end zone, which is the most likely scenario here.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (@ New York Giants) -$4,900
No Dion Lewis is a bad thing for the Patriots, but a great thing for LeGarrette Blount’s fantasy value. As is, he was already seeing a climbing percent of the snaps and touches and his touchdown upside is always strong. He’s the clear lead back in goal-to-go situations and New England presents Blount will plenty of opportunities with their consistent 30+ implied team totals each week. I can confidently call for 15+ carries for Blount this week, something that we haven’t been able to do yet this season.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets (vs. Buffalo Bills) -$5,900
The Thursday night game this week is an AFC East battle between the Bills and Jets, one that won’t have a ton of fantasy goodness in it because both defenses can be stingy. One of the better plays in the game though is Chris Ivory despite his pedestrian outputs of late. He’s carried it 38 times for 43 yards in the past two outings. Yeah, not good. It’s a bad short-term sample and one that won’t likely continue for Ivory, who’s seeing over 90% of the snaps for the Jets over the past month. The Thursday spot will boost his ownership if you’re playing the slate, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get in on this matchup.
Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars) -$6,000
I’m surprised to see the Ravens with an implied team total of 26.75 this week. I’m not sure where those points are coming from but perhaps their best offensive weapon, Justin Forsett, can get in on the action. The problem with that theory though is that Baltimore doesn’t love handing the ball off to Forsett in the red zone and we’re seeing more and more Buck Allen as the season moves along. Also, Jacksonville is better against the run than you think (2nd in DVOA).
Rest of the Field
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Dallas Cowboys) -$5,600
Doug Martin can’t shake Charles Sims, and that’s enough to keep Martin in the rest of the field section for me. He’ll occasionally have his strong games because he’s running well, but Tampa Bay is using a near 50/50 split in their backfield right now. When we have multiple back who are getting nearly 90% of their team’s work for less than $5,000 it’s difficult to justify spending on Martin.
DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Miami Dolphins) -$6,200
Miami was thought to have an excellent run defense entering the season but that hasn’t exactly come to fruition. They’re currently 28th in run DVOA, have allowed 124 yards and a score on average this season and they’re fresh off of allowing the Bills to run for 266 and three scores in Week 9. DeMarco Murray is the easiest of the Eagles’ backs to trust, but $6,200 is too much to spend on the a back who’s sharing 40% of the teams’ snaps and touches.
Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (vs. Minnesota Vikings) -$5,700
We’ll need to watch Latavius Murray’s practice status this week before considering him against the Vikings because he’s currently in the league’s concussion protocol after getting laid out late in Sunday’s game against the Steelers. He’s been running well of late but his touchdown upside is limited and he’s likely going to be an easy fade with all the question marks for him this week
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (@ Philadelphia Eagles) -$5,400
The Dolphins still haven’t played in a close game under Dan Campbell. They opened with two blowout wins against the Titans and Texans and then proceeded to get curbed by the Patriots and Bills. I bring this up because I still don’t think we know what a close game’s workload would look like for Lamar Miller. He’s still not a safe bet for 20+ touches, and that makes him risky on the road as a 6-point underdog. We saw the debut of rookie Jay Ajayi last week and we’ll likely see more of him moving forward since Miami released Jonas Gray on Tuesday. I’m not confident that he’ll impact Lamar Miller’s status this week, but it’s something to watch for moving forward.