DFS Roundtable: Just So Much Running Back Value

Rank the prominent injury-replacement plays in a cash-game setting, and give us your thought process as to how to target these guys.

Thanks to a massive injury bug sweeping the NFL, Week 6 drops into our laps a bevy of underpriced running back options that look poised to take on big workloads. Rank the following plays in a cash-game setting, and give us your thought process as to how to target these guys:

Aaron Jones
Javorius Allen
Elijah McGuire
Jerick McKinnon

Danny Tuccitto: Here is how the five rank according to my DraftKings cash game value probabilities (in parentheses):

Jerick McKinnon (61%)

Javorius Allen (43%)

Elijah McGuire (35%)

Aaron Jones (27%)

Except for one or two changes, that's how I would rank them as well. I prefer home running backs, especially in cash games, so Jones should be at the bottom of the list. Among the home backs, as both have guaranteed volume in the passing game, I might be inclined to move Allen ahead of McKinnon due to a higher likelihood of clock-killing carries in the fourth quarter of a win. Meanwhile, McGuire's too much of an unknown at this point to use him in cash games.

Jeff Pasquino: It's rather simple for me - I'm looking at (A) who is likely to be the lead back, (B) who will get the most touches, and (C) who is most likely to find the end zone.  A and B are related, while C is a bit more random – but you do need touches in the red zone to find the end zone, more often than not. So here are my rankings:

Jerick McKinnon – Fits all three categories. I think Latavius Murray is no longer a lead back, while McKinnon can be, and he most certainly is a three-down back. Green Bay also has not done well with pass catching RBs.

Elijah McGuire – More of a "who else?" play than anything, if both Matt Forte and Bilal Powell are out, McGuire is the main man by default. He is a solid receiver, too, so another three-down back.

Aaron Jones – Most likely in the group to be the top back for Green Bay, even if Ty Montgomery is healthy. Minnesota isn't the best matchup, though, so I move him down.

Javorius Allen – Can we say he's "not good at football" yet? How many shots does Allen get to prove us wrong?  The Ravens-Bears game could easily be a "Stover Special", err, I mean a Justin Tucker-based offense with a whole lot of defense against Chicago, resulting in a 15-9 type of contest that is just plain ugly.

Chris Feery:

Aaron Jones – Jones was certainly impressive last week, but I’m a little skittish about leaning on him too heavily with a matchup with the Vikings on the docket. Add in the fact that Ty Montgomery is inching closer to returning this week, and I’ll be passing.

Javorius Allen – While Allen should have plenty of opportunities on his plate against a Bears defense that’s not striking fear into the hearts of their opponents, my enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that the Ravens offense has been thoroughly unimpressive overall. I’d rather pay up for a back in a more reliable offense.

Elijah McGuire – I’m definitely intrigued by McGuire this week if the injury situation for the Jets stays on the same track. He’s a GPP-only option, but he’s one that I’m examining closely.

Jerick McKinnon – I can certainly be talked into rostering McKinnon off of the strength of last week’s showing, but he’s not a must-start in my book. I’ll keep him in mind for GPPs, but I’ll look further north on the salary scale for cash game purposes.

Jason Wood:

Javorius Allen – Allen is the top option of this quintet, particularly on DraftKings given the PPR format. Terrence West is going to miss time and Allen got both the volume (20+ touches) and the productivity last week. It's hard to envision a scenario where Allen isn't part of the game script in Week 6.

Jerick McKinnon – All in. McKinnon won't stay healthy, but for a single week? How can I not love what he did this past week and get excited about his role as the focal point of the Vikings offense in a key divisional game?

Aaron Jones – In redraft leagues, Jones looks like a potential game-changer, but I'm not sure at his price if he'll factor into my DFS plans this week. I need to see more from him to justify paying his current salary. 

Elijah McGuire – Color me intrigued. McGuire faces a terrible Patriots defense, and the Jets could be without Bilal Powell and Matt Forte. My enthusiasm wanes a bit if either veteran running back is active.

James Brimacombe:

For DFS purposes, I will pass on all of these fill-in running backs as I prefer to pay up at the position. If I had to pick one, though, I would have Jones at the top of my list.

Aaron Jones – Jones did well against the Cowboys in his first career start, rushing for 125 yards and 1 touchdown on 19 carries. This week against the Vikings, the matchup is much tougher, but it is hard to ignore the 20-touch opportunity.

Jerick McKinnon – It was great to see McKinnon given a full workload against the Bears on MNF. He was well ahead of Latavius Murray in the game and showed a quick burst while looking like a great asset in the passing game. A line of 16 rushing attempts for 95 yards and 1 touchdown along with 6 catches for 51 more makes him stand out for a 1-week DFS plug-in.

Javorius Allen – Allen now has the opportunity for more touches for the Ravens who are struggling to find an identity on offense this season. Allen put together a strong performance against the Raiders, receiving 25 total touches for 85 total yards and a rushing touchdown. This week he gets a Bears team that just gave up a career game to Jerick McKinnon, so it will be hard to ignore Allen in this spot.

Elijah McGuire – McGuire could be the guy this week for the Jets if both Powell and Forte were to miss, and getting a Patriots defense that has been handing out big games, you have to mention him. He is a “sit back and watch” candidate for me this week, though, as I won't be investing any shares into him.

Dan Hindery:

Elijah McGuire – Based on the assumption that both Bilal Powell and Matt Forte are going to be inactive, McGuire tops my list. The Patriots defense has given up a lot of points to opposing running backs and McGuire is a safe bet for at least 20 touches.

Jerick McKinnon – McKinnon had 67% of the snaps and running back touches for Minnesota last week. A similar workload seems likely this week. The Packers defense is stout against the run when Mike Daniels is in the middle but McKinnon can do damage as a pass catcher.

Aaron Jones –Tough call here because it's so hard to know how involved Ty Montgomery will be. My read on the situation is that Montgomery will probably be back in a limited role and Jones will lead the team in touches. In a tough matchup and no guarantee as to how touches will be split, Jones is a GPP-only player for me.

Javorius Allen – Allen received over half of the snaps last week but Alex Collins has looked like the best back on the team. Terrance West is still getting touches as well. Allen is the best bet to lead the team in touches but there is enough uncertainty that Allen is also a GPP-only player for me. 

Moderator: So, that gives us the following composite rankings:

  Danny Jeff P Chris Jason James Dan H Comp
Jerick McKinnon 1 1 4 2 2 2 2.00
Aaron Jones 4 3 1 3 1 4 2.50
Javorius Allen 2 4 2 1 3 3 2.67
Elijah McGuire 3 2 3 4 4 1 2.83

Moderator: What about Matt Breida? Carlos Hyde is apparently healthy – as of Thursday, at least – but he’s still ceding half the 49ers’ snaps to Breida. Any interest there?

Danny Tuccitto: Breida would be at the bottom of that list. 

Jeff Pasquino: Was last week just a wake-up call (again) for Carlos Hyde?  Breida could be in a timeshare with Hyde this week, and San Francisco is supposed to be trailing.

Chris Feery: I’m incredibly intrigued by Breida’s long-term prospects, but that does not equate to trusting him as a DFS option for a tough matchup against Washington.  

Jason Wood: I have no interest in Breida for DFS purposes. Carlos Hyde is the (much) better back and this posturing is... just posturing. If Hyde isn't going to succeed, Breida won't, either.

James Brimacombe: Not interested at all in Breida. Carlos Hyde is the only 49ers player that has any value in DFS right now. If Hyde can't play, I wouldn't even consider Breida in a fill-in spot.

Dan Hindery: The most likely scenario is that Hyde goes right back to getting most of the touches. Best case for Breida is something like a 50/50 split, and this offense isn't good enough for me to invest in a back that isn't even guaranteed to see 10 touches. 


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