DFS Roundtable: Running Back Management

How will you fill out your RB allotment in Week 16?

Ezekiel Elliott's return cements him in a lot of lineups, and not having Le'Veon Bell in our main slate (again) opens up our running back spots in a major way. Assuming you're rolling with Elliott – and if you're not, please elaborate – how will you fill out the rest of your RB allotment? If you play DraftKings or FantasyDraft, do you anticipate using 3-4 RBs? Is there another bank-breaker you want to shoehorn in, or do you like the value plays? Are there any site-specific values you're snatching up on one platform or another?

James Brimacombe: For starters, I will be playing all of the Elliott this week, in every format and site that I can. The other names I like at running back this week are Melvin Gordon III, Todd Gurley, and Mark Ingram II at the top, but most likely I will be paying down a little with already having Elliott as my locked-in RB1. I will look to Devonta Freeman and Dion Lewis as two names that I want to have exposure to. I think Lewis makes for a nice pairing with Elliott in cash games, and I like Freeman for more of an upside GPP play. If Tevin Coleman were to miss this week for Atlanta, I would probably just lock in Freeman for cash and GPP games paired with Elliott.

I prefer playing on FanDuel, but if I were to play DraftKings and had to jam in another running back with my flex position, I would look to Carlos Hyde at $5,000. Even in a tough matchup against the Jaguars he has touchdown potential, and for the price he makes you feel like you are getting some extra bang for your buck.

Dan Hindery: Elliott is strongly in cash-game consideration for me this week, though I am waiting to see how some injury issues shake out before locking him in. Most important is star left tackle Tyron Smith’s status. He is currently listed as questionable and reportedly has a knee sprain. On the other side of the ball, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner will be a key to Seattle’s ability to slow the Cowboys running game. If he is out, it helps Elliott’s chances of having a big game.

Melvin Gordon III is also a strong cash-game option, especially on DraftKings, where his pricing (just $7,200) and pass-game usage (6 catches for 91 yards last week) make him an excellent play. He could see extra targets with Hunter Henry and pass-catching backup Austin Ekeler out.

As a cost-saving flex-option on DraftKings, I am strongly considering Wayne Gallman ($3,900). Over the last 2 weeks, he has 13 receptions for 80 yards and has been the clear lead back for the New York Giants. With nothing left to play for, the Giants should use these last few games to continue to see what they haven Gallman and whether he is a player they want to build around going forward.  Gallman’s matchup against Arizona is solid: The Cardinals have allowed 80 receptions to opposing running backs in 14 games and have given up big receiving games in recent weeks (Kapri Bibbs 4-47-1 and Todd Gurley 6-84).

Justin Bonnema: Count me in on the Elliott love this week. I'll have a lot of exposure to him in all formats. The other guy I like is LeSean McCoy, especially on DraftKings, where he's priced as RB6. Not only does he have a great matchup against a team that struggles to defend pass-catching backs, McCoy leads the league in opportunity share (rushing attempts + targets) in accounting for over 50% of the Bills' opportunities. He has 32 and 24 touches over their last 2 games, which he’s parlayed into 252 yards and 3 touchdowns. I'll take that kind of production and opportunity every week, especially when his ownership projects to be down slightly.

Justin Howe: Yes to Elliott, of course, who’s underpriced and looks to fcarry a baseline projection around cash value. Next to him, I do like the idea of paying up – there are some fantastic outlooks at the top of the ladder. This looks like a week built for multi-entry play to take advantage of all of these RBs, and definitely a week to cram in as many upper-shelf guys as possible. Gurley’s and Kareem Hunt’s price tags have reacted violently to recent success, but both deserve it. (I discussed Hunt’s awesome outlook here.) And McCoy, who’s hit both ends of the spectrum all year, projects exceptionally well.

Since it would be near-prohibitive to squeeze in both Elliott (the must-play) and another back that sucks up 17-18% of your budget, we need to find some volume upside down the ladder. Samaje Perine has, and while the matchup is rough, he comes too cheaply for that kind of usage. Theo Riddick is the unquestioned snap leader in Detroit; he’s seen 14, 20, and 11 opportunities (carries plus targets) over the last 3 weeks and sees red zone work as well. There are ideally GPP plays, of course, but they’re generally cash-viable. If you’re seeking incorruptible, slam-dunk value in Week 16, sanitized and free from question marks, then you’re doing this wrong.

Jason Wood: I am also going to be investing heavily in Elliott this week. The combination of rest, a must-win scenario for his team, and "narrative street" all suggest Elliott will get a shot at a jaw-dropping workload. I’d say 30+ touches would not be surprising. I'm also a big fan of Freeman, Leonard Fournette, and Hunt. There aren't many high-priced receivers I'm enamored with, so this week will be a combination of two high-priced runners in most of my builds. That goes for both cash and GPP.

John Mamula: Sign me up for Elliott as a must play in cash games and one to be overexposed to in GPP tournaments. Other running backs that I will be targeting are Gordon, McCoy, Lewis, Kenyan Drake, Freeman, and Christian McCaffrey.

Most builds this week will focus on two high-priced running backs with the lack of quality options at the top of the wide receiver tier. It makes sense to invest in backs with your flex positions even more this week.