DFS Roundtable: Running Back Derby

Rank for us your top five running back options for the week from a value standpoint. Be sure to include your favorite deep-value play within the group.

This week there are a handful of bell cows available for 12% (or less) of your budget; we can't say there's a lack of running back value in Week 12. Rank for us your top five RB options for the week from a value standpoint. Be sure to include your favorite deep-value play (under $4,500 DK / $6,000 FD) within the group.

Justin Bonnema

1. Devonta Freeman (assuming he returns this week) – He hasn’t been reliable all season and may be one of the most disappointing players so far. But he gets the Buccaneers’ soft defense at home and should resume RB1 duties.

2. DeMarco Murray – The Titans were just embarrassed in a primetime matchup but are still just one game back in the AFC South. They’ve never won a game at Lucas Oil Stadium, and that changes this week. Murray should have no trouble finding lanes against the Colts defense, and his involvement in the passing attack gives him value in all formats.

3. Carlos Hyde – The matchup isn’t great, but Hyde has been dominating both touches and snaps. He has 229 total yards on 40 touches over his last 2 games. He enters Week 12 as RB11 in both FanDuel and DraftKings scoring despite the fact that the 49ers just won their first game of the season. His floor is solid. He just needs touchdowns.

4. Dion Lewis – There’s never much comfort in rostering Patriots backs, but Lewis has been a lock for double-digit touches on one of the best offenses in the league. The Patriots are going to cruise past the Dolphins and I think we’ll see a lot of work from their running department.

5. J.D. McKissic – The Seahawks can’t run the ball and when they try, their backs get injured. Hopefully McKissic can stay healthy this week. He played 74% of snaps last week and gets a phenomenal matchup against the 49ers’ last-ranked run defense.

Jason Wood

My top choices are:

1. Alvin Kamara – Kamara and Mark Ingram II are both dominating, but I'm giving the nod to the rookie against a Rams defense that hasn't been as stout as I’d expected under Wade Phillips.

2. Mark Ingram II – I can't see how you build winning lineups this week without having exposure to both Kamara and Ingram. The odds both disappoint are virtually nil.

3. Joe Mixon – Mixon is my bargain choice as he gets the Browns defense. I'm calling my shot: This is his breakout game. 100+ yards and at least one touchdown.

4. Kareem Hunt – Have you seen the Bills defense since they sent Marcell Dareus packing? Calling it bad would be an affront to the word "bad." Hunt's ownership will be lower than it should be thanks to nearly two months of limited touchdown output, but he'll get right this week.

5. Christian McCaffrey – The Panthers are putting everything together and McCaffrey's role continues to increase as both a receiver and a runner.

Chris Feery

1. Ingram – The Saints are producing on the ground against every opponent they face, and the train should keep rolling in what looks like a great game against the Rams. The game checks in with the highest projected total of the week at 53.5 points, and there will be more than enough opportunities for Ingram to make some noise.

2. Tevin Coleman – This one hinges on the availability of Freeman, but signs point to him being questionable at best for Sunday. If he’s out, the stars should align for Coleman to have a nice day against a Tampa Bay squad that has had some struggles against the run.   

3. Lewis – The Patriots have a bevy of backfield options, but Lewis has been separating himself from the pack of late. While there’s always the risk that Bill Belichick will throw a major wrench into things, it looks like Lewis is the back to own on a weekly basis from one of the league’s top offenses. 

4. Mixon – While we could spend all day discussing the plethora of problems facing the Cleveland Browns, the club’s run defense is actually a strength of the team. However, we shouldn’t let that deter us when a great value opportunity pops up. Mixon is affordable across the industry, and he should see more than enough volume to easily achieve value.

5. McKissic – As of right now, it looks like McKissic will be the man in the backfield for the Seahawks in a primo matchup against the 49ers. Monitor the news as Sunday gets closer, but McKissic could wind up one of the week’s top values.

Justin Howe

1. Hyde – Hyde is becoming a matchup-proof, script-independent volume stud, boasting 21.0 touches per game over the last 5 weeks. Injuries will always be a concern, and he seems to be the NFL’s Anthony Davis, checking out of seemingly every other game to be looked at. But he’s priced far too cheaply across the industry for his volume and dynamism profiles. And while I’m not a fan of looking at vs. team histories, it’s interesting to note that in his last 2 meetings with Seattle he’s run for 103 and 124 yards, with 2 touchdowns.

2. Todd Gurley – His price tag is scary, but this matchup screams a Gurley blowup, and he’ll be a GPP staple of mine. The Rams project to 28 points, they’re favored at home over a shaky run defense, and they’re missing their WR1 (Robert Woods) for the foreseeable future. Le'Veon Bell is a stronger play on FanDuel, but Gurley looks like the best pay-up otherwise.

3. Kamara – I love Kamara because he’s just a hair more script-independent than Ingram yet costs a little less. As Jason said, this backfield will tip every DFS contest this weekend, and fading both Saints backs looks silly. Given the small discount and attractive volume/dynamism outlook, Kamara probably deserves a little more of your exposure.

4. Mixon – The fellas have said it best: Mixon isn’t sexy at all, but his volume is, especially in this price tier.

5. Leonard Fournette – Few will be on Fournette due to his wild recent news cycle, but he proved last week that he’s as entrenched as one could be and that his ankle is no hindrance (at the moment). Game script (currently Jaguars -5.5) favors him wildly, and given what we can expect the Jaguars to do to poor Blaine Gabbert, he projects to short fields and plenty of garbage time.

Dan Hindery

1. Lewis – I will want to make sure Mike Gillislee is inactive for the third straight game before locking in Lewis. Assuming Gillislee is out, Lewis safely projects for double-digit touches in a great matchup against Miami. Lewis has had at least 10 carries in each of the past 5 games. He also looked great catching the ball out of the backfield last week (4 receptions for 40 yards and 1 touchdown). The Patriots are massive 16.5-point home favorites against the Dolphins. With Gillislee out, Lewis has been the back that the Patriots have leaned on to close out games late. The game script sets up great for Lewis. At $4,800 on DraftKings and $5,700 on FanDuel, Lewis is my favorite play of the week. 

2. DeMarco Murray – At just $5,200 on DraftKings, Murray is priced attractively given his role and pass-game involvement. He has averaged 3.7 receptions per game over his last six outings, which helps to give him a solid floor. He also has some real upside with Tennessee favored by three points against Indianapolis in a game with sneaky shootout potential. Murray and Derrick Henry combined for 232 total yards and 2 touchdowns in their Week 6 matchup against Indianapolis. 

3. Duke Johnson Jr – Johnson is a great value at just $4,600 on DraftKings. The Bengals have allowed the 10th-most yards and the third-most receptions to opposing running backs, and Johnson has quietly been one of the league’s best pass-catching backs. Cleveland doesn’t have much talent on offense, so throwing the ball to running backs out of the backfield is their only favorable matchup on paper. Johnson has averaged 5.8 targets per game since Week 6. The Browns are eight-point underdogs and if they fall behind early, Johnson could see major volume.

4. Gurley – Gurley is expensive but worth paying up for in a potential shootout against the Saints. Gurley has been a workhorse, averaging 18.7 carries and 5.2 targets per game. New Orleans has allowed 100+ yard rushing yards to an opposing back (Samaje Perine, Jordan Howard, and Aaron Jones) in 3 of their last 5 games.

5. Mixon – The Browns defense is stout against the run (first in DVOA) but still allowing 22.1 DraftKings points per game to opposing running backs. With Jeremy Hill on injured reserve and Giovani Bernard getting only a handful of touches per game, Mixon is locked as the workhorse back for the Bengals. The Bengals are 8-point home favorites and the game script sets up well for Mixon, who is a great bargain at $4,400. The Browns offense is a mess and DeShone Kizer is incredibly turnover-prone, which could mean some short fields for the Bengals offense to work with. Cleveland has allowed the fourth-most points in the NFL, which means Mixon has a very solid touchdown expectation.

Danny Tuccitto: Because it's Thanksgiving, I'll be extra-generous and list my Top 10 running backs with respect to their probability of achieving 4x value on DraftKings:

Mixon 33% (but please see my answer to this week's question about fading)

Devontae Booker 32%

McKissic 31%

Rex Burkhead 27%

Lewis 26%

Elijah McGuire 26%

Duke Johnson Jr 24%

Frank Gore 23%

Hyde 22%

DeMarco Murray 20%

Of course, despite his value probability, Gore isn't a tournament play these days, so I'll add that No. 11 is Marlon Mack at 17%.


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