Exploiting FBG Tools for DFS Success: Site Projections

Using Footballguys Site Projections to find running backs with the greatest opportunity to exceed their salary-implied value in DFS.

Winning DFS lineups start with accurate projections, which are incredibly difficult to produce on your own. Incorporating Vegas lines, offensive run and pass ratios, estimated rushes, targets, and efficiency stats for each player, factoring strength of opponent, distributing touchdowns, aligning passing and receiving stats, and finally putting it all together, takes time, patience, and know-how most people simply don’t possess. 

If you’ve been a Footballguys subscriber for any length of time, you know our forecasters save you the trouble by providing some of the most accurate projections in the industry each week. And if you’ve been reading this column all season, you also know we provide you with a tool to leverage those projections for DFS.

While the Interactive Value Charts (IVCs) provide you with the fastest and easiest way to turn the site projections into actionable guidance for DFS roster construction, there are other ways projections can be used to spot outliers and value plays the rest of the field might be missing.

If you need to know where to find the site projections, how to tailor them to DraftKings & Fanduel scoring formats, or want to learn how to use them to find the best weekly dollar per touch values, check out this brief instructional video that includes some Microsoft Excel tips:

Based on David Dodds’ early projections (final projections for the week are typically posted by Friday evening), below are the top dollar per touch plays at running back for Week 10. Keep in mind, these are not necessarily the running backs who will score the most raw fantasy points -- that's what the projections are for. The main goal here is to identify players whose projected workloads put them in the best position to exceed their salary-implied value:

Darren Sproles

After playing on 80% of the Eagles offensive snaps the last two weeks, Darren Sproles was finally endorsed as the team’s lead back by head coach Doug Pederson. Sproles has seen 65% of Philadelphia’s total backfield touches over the last two games, which makes Dodds’ 17 touch projection (13 carries, 4 receptions) a fair baseline in what should be one of the highest scoring games of the week.

The Eagles opened as one-point home favorites against the Falcons (now down to a pick ‘em), with an implied team total over 25 points, which suggests a positive (or at least neutral) game script for Sproles. But as the team’s primary pass catching back, Sproles is game flow independent. He won’t go lacking for touches, even if the game veers off script in the Falcons favor.

Atlanta has allowed 20 fantasy points per game to running backs, but when normalized for strength of schedule, that number increases to 22 points per game, which is the second-largest discrepancy vs. the running back position. In particular, the Falcons have struggled to contain backs who catch passes out of the backfield. They’ve allowed 547 receiving yards to running backs, which is the most in the league.

Sproles makes for a much better cash game play than tournament option, particularly on full PPR sites. Even though his playing time has dwindled, Ryan Matthews has handled all nine of the Eagles goal line rushing attempts this season, which limits Sproles’ touchdown potential.

LeGarrette Blount

There’s always a wide range of outcomes with LeGarrette Blount, and his matchup with the Seahawks third-ranked rush defense (DVOA) leaves plenty to be desired, but he’s a great leverage play in tournaments this week.

New England is playing at home (where they averaged over 30 points per game last season), favored by more than a touchdown, projected to score 28 points, and Seattle is traveling on a short week. While tournament ownership for all Patriots might be slightly depressed due to the perceived poor matchup, there will still be plenty of entrants eager to use Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and the Patriots passing game weapons this week.

But if we trust Vegas’ implied game script, New England should be running the ball in the second half to close out a decisive victory, which suggests a Blount game. In the 22 games Blount has played when the Patriots are favored by seven points or more, his fantasy points per game average has increased by 69% (nice), compared to his other 29 games played over the same span.

Blount has handled over 74% of the Patriots’ backfield touches this season -- the seventh highest workload share in the league -- and his nine rushing touchdowns tie him with Melvin Gordon III for the NFL lead. If New England has a shot at four offensive touchdowns this week (as the Vegas line implies), it’s a safe bet Blount will have some involvement in their scoring. According to Dodds’ projections, no running back priced at or below Blount’s $6,400 Fanduel salary will have more rushing attempts (20) or a higher touchdown probability (0.7).

DeMarco Murray

All DeMarco Murray has done this season is score between 16 and 25 fantasy points (FanDuel) in all games but one. He’s coming off a slightly subpar (for him) 17.5 point game in a blowout loss to San Diego, yet his salary dropped a staggering $700 from last week on both major sites.

Sure, Green Bay has a tough rush defense (second-fewest raw fantasy points allowed to running backs), but Murray’s involvement as a receiver has made him game flow independent and virtually matchup-proof. Only Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon III, and David Johnson have handled a higher percentage of their team’s total backfield touches than Murray’s 76% this season, and with Derrick Henry sidelined, we might even see that percentage increase. Plus, the list of running backs Green Bay has faced this season includes plenty of forgettable names, and they’ve allowed four total touchdowns to running backs in the last two weeks.

Vegas has Tennessee pegged for a respectable 23 points, but there’s room for them to exceed that projection. The Titans have scored between 26 and 36 points in each of their last five games. While some of their high scoring can be attributed to an easy schedule, the Titans defense continues to force the offense into catchup mode, which is great for Murray’s receiving upside (his 35 receptions trail only Le’Veon Bell and Duke Johnson Jr) and scoring potential (his 41 touches + targets in the red zone trails only Melvin Gordon III). It’s a safe bet Aaron Rodgers and company will put pressure on the Titans offense to keep pace in this matchup.

Play Murray in GPPs on both major sites, where his perceived tough matchup will mask the fact he’s mispriced based on a projected 23 touch workload and 0.6 rushing touchdown probability. It’s not often you’ll find a back with Murray’s talent level at such a great combination of moderate price and low ownership.

Matt Forte

Matt Forte is the second-highest scoring running back on FanDuel over the last three weeks, on the strength of five total touchdowns and a massive 24.6 total touches per game average. Despite the uptick in usage and counting stats, Forte’s price continues to hover near the bottom part of the top-10 running backs, where it’s been most of the season.

He faces a tough test against a Rams defense that has allowed over 35% fewer fantasy points per game to running backs than the league average over the last five weeks, but Forte is positioned as a home favorite, in a rare winnable game for the Jets (provided Bryce Petty doesn’t get the start).

Dodds has Forte projected for 21 total touches. In the four games Forte has received at least 20 touches since coming to the Jets, he’s posted an average stat line of 26.75 rushing attempts, 94.5 rushing yards, 1.25 rushing touchdowns, 3.25 receptions, and 34.5 receiving yards per game. If the Jets have any shot at scoring the ~22 points the Vegas lines imply, Forte figures to be heavily involved. His tournament ownership will be on the lower side as usual (about 10% or less), making Forte a worthy pivot option off some of the other higher priced backs.

Melvin Gordon

Melvin Gordon III has the third-highest salary on FanDuel, yet he checks in as the fifth-best dollar per touch value, which tells you all you need to know about the volume he’s seeing this season. Gordon leads the NFL in touches per game (24.6) and over the last three weeks, he leads all running backs in total fantasy points by a 28% margin over the second-highest scoring back (Forte).

This week’s home matchup with Miami does not look like a letdown spot. The Chargers are favored by 3-½ points vs. the Dolphins and have a 25.5 point implied team total. Gordon’s league leading 11 total touchdowns have accounted for 42% of San Diego's scores this season. If the Chargers are good for three touchdowns in this matchup, it’s a safe bet Gordon -- the NFL leader in red zone touches by a mile -- accounts for at least one of them.

With San Diego’s offensive line back to full health, Gordon is thriving as both a runner and receiver. When combined with his unmatched touchdown upside, RB1 will be within his range of outcomes each week regardless of matchup, which makes this week’s tilt with a fairly tough Dolphins run defense nothing to sweat. Dodds has Gordon projected for 24 total touches, which almost feels like a floor projection when you consider he’s received no less than 27 touches in a game since Week 6.

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