DFS Roundtable: Running Back Assembly

How will you build at running back this week? If you're paying up heavily – which has its merits at this pricing – which 2-3 are you rostering? And if you're incorporating cheap value, where do you plan on getting it from?

Like the quarterback spot, running back also features semi-relaxed pricing for Week 9. With no Le'Veon Bell or LeSean McCoy on the main slate and generally fair pricing on the remaining bell cow types, we're looking at more options across the board. How will you utilize your RB spots this week? Will you seek actively to put a RB into your DraftKings flex spot? If you're paying up heavily – which has its merits at this pricing – which 2-3 are you rostering? And if you're incorporating cheap value, where do you plan on getting it from?

Justin Bonnema: The guys I'm targeting this week are DeMarco Murray, Mark Ingram II, and Kareem Hunt. Hunt hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3 but his workload is as safe as anyone's. The Cowboys defense can be pushed around despite their relatively good stats against running backs. Murray has an especially great matchup at home against the Ravens, whose defense has allowed the second-most rushing yards and whose offense might get shutout. Ingram gives me some concern given how much playing time Kamara is getting, but his production is safe, especially at home.

For more affordable options, I'm tempted to fire up Adrian Peterson again, despite being burned by him in Week 7. He's the answer to the offense now that Carson Palmer is done for the season. The 49ers can't defend anyone; I see 20-plus touches and a good chance at two scores coming.

John Mamula: On DraftKings, it makes sense to load up at running back in the flex position this week. There are multiple mid-priced options that project for a high floor/high ceiling in cash games or GPP tournaments. Currently, some mid-priced running backs that I will be rostering are Christian McCaffrey, Lamar Miller, Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris, and DeMarco Murray. Sprinkling these running backs throughout multiple GPP tournaments can be a recipe for success.

If I have the salary cap space, I plan to pay up for one high-priced running back on many of my rosters. I would rank the high-priced running backs as follows: Hunt, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette.

I have little to no interest with cheap value at running back this week. It makes more sense to find value at the wide receiver and tight end positions.

James Brimacombe: Hunt and Gurley are two names that are at top of the price point and at top of the volume this week. Hunt has 174 total touches (146 rushing attempts, 28 receptions) on the year and Gurley has 172 touches (145 rushing attempts, 27 receptions). Both of their salaries are sky-high, but you are paying for 20-25 touches and real touchdown upside. Other names that I would consider this week are Leonard Fournette, Lamar Miller, DeMarco Murray. and Mark Ingram II. All these backs are in great shape to have big games, and I won't be moving off of rostering these six.

Jeff Pasquino: All good names put forth so far by the guys. In my initial build on DraftKings, I'm looking firmly at Ingram and McCaffrey as strong plays. Miller is another I'm looking to work in as well. All three have strong cases. Ingram has been an integral part of the success for New Orleans, and I see no reason that they will stop giving him the ball this week. With the Saints as home favorites, the game script fits for Ingram to get 100 total yards and gives him a good shot at finding the end zone. Miller is in a similar position, and I love him even more given the sad news about DeShaun Watson's ACL tear. McCaffrey has an excellent shot at 8-10 catches this week and 100 yards receiving, as Atlanta is not good against receiving backs and Kelvin Benjamin is now a Buffalo Bill.

On FanDuel, I'm looking at Miller and Ingram as they have more touchdown upside and less PPR neediness that McCaffrey represents. Taking two RBs under $8,000 also gives me room to pay up at quarterback and tight end and still get three wide receivers in the mid-range that I am happy to have in cash play.

Danny Tuccitto: I'm going to have to disagree with Jeff about Watson's injury helping Miller. I'm becoming more and more keen on the idea that we don't fully appreciate how much performance in the two phases of an offense are symbiotic with one another. Watson becoming the starter unlocked Houston's passing game, which therefore unlocked their running game. Until that happened, Miller had been a Frank Gore-esque "8-12 points and a cloud of dust" option for a long while with the Texans. Since, he's had two games with over 20 Draftkings points. He was my No. 1 running back this week in both formats before Watson's injury. Now, he's a middling cash-only option simply because of his inherent volume.

So if I'm pivoting away from Miller, my new No. 1 running back on DraftKings is Ingram – for the reasons everyone else has laid out already. Just to add my value probabilities as a cherry on top: based on his price and projection, Ingram has a 40% chance of achieving 3x value for cash games, which I'm confident in because he's actually achieved 3x in 42% of his games with the Saints. For tournaments, his 4x value probability is only 13%, but I'm not worried about that because a) no running back this week reaches the desirable 25% threshold, and b) Ingram's actually achieved that 4x a much higher percentage of the time (21%) than most.

Speaking of that lack of tournament value on DraftKings: as I've said before in these roundtables, it's a cue to pay up at the position. Aside from Ingram, Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley are my – and it seems everyone's – other high-priced options in two-running back tournament lineups. I'll also have plenty of three-running back lineups utilizing the mid-priced path John mentioned and the mid-priced backs everyone else has already brought up.

Justin Howe: The guys have summed up my list quite well. Fournette, Gurley, and Hunt are stout options in solid-to-good situations, and all have nearly unimpeachable cash-game cases. Ingram looks like the crown jewel, checking every box imaginable: he’s high-volume, he catches plenty of passes, he sees goal line work, his team is favored comfortably at home with a high Vegas projection, and his defensive matchup is cherry.

I’m also looking into the two big-time receiving backs up the board (Chris Thompson and Alvin Kamara). They’re ideally GPP backs, bringing a little salary relief with their diversification off that popular top tier. But they’re both utilized so often – and see so much short-yardage work compared to most third down backs – that they’re cash-viable if you’re spending up (wisely) elsewhere.

Miller deserves a quick look as well, though like Danny, I’m far less intrigued after Watson’s injury. He’ll face more stacked boxes than he’s seen in six weeks with the walking calamity of Tom Savage under center. His running room will tighten, and his touchdown opportunity – which was never very high at its zenith – will likely go into the toilet.


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