DFS Roundtable: A Saucerful of Running Back Value

Fill us in on your construction strategy at running back. Will you insist on paying up for one, two, or even three of the active studs? If so, whom? And if you're mixing in some value plays, give us your two best low-dollar options.

Surprisingly, we're being given gobs and gobs of potential for running back value in Week 8. With Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette on bye and Le'Veon Bell (Sunday night) off some main slates, it seems the RB-building process has been somewhat streamlined for us this week. Fill us in on your construction strategy at RB. Will you insist on paying up for one, two, or even three of the active studs? If so, whom? And if you're mixing in some value plays from further down the board, give us your two best low-dollar names (under $6,000 DK / $6,500 FD).

Danny Tuccitto: Just to put a hard number on the premise of the question, 17 of my Top 20 tournament value probabilities at running back have a DraftKings salary below $6,000. I believe, yes, that does qualify as "a saucerful." So, because this tournament math makes it almost unavoidable to go cheap at running back, that's what I'll be doing. My two favorites among the sub-$6,000 value options are Joe Mixon and Chris Thompson. At 28%, Mixon has the highest tournament value probability at the position – and for good reason. In addition to the defensive stats already mentioned in this thread, it's worth noting that, per Football Outsiders, the Colts' defense ranks dead last in efficiency on passes to running backs. As for Thompson, his value probability ranks in the back half of the Top 20 (i.e., 13th), but what's not to like about being at home against a Cowboys defense ranked 31st in run efficiency and 30th in pass efficiency on running back targets?

All of the above doesn't apply in cash games, however, where only 12 sub-$6,000 backs rank in the Top 20 of value probability. Not only that, the prici-er group of eight actually includes the prici-est two running backs on the Sunday Main slate -- Ezekiel Elliott ($9,200) and LeSean McCoy ($8,700). Put simply, the math suggests a world of possibilities in cash games, offering similar value to one-, two-, or three-stud lineups.

Dan Hindery: I will probably approach running back differently on the two sites. With the tighter pricing on DraftKings, it makes sense to take some chances at running back and roster a pair of relatively cheap backs in good matchups. The full-PPR format also helps the floor of players like Joe Mixon ($4,700) and Christian McCaffrey ($6,200), who are involved as pass catchers. The full-PPR scoring and 3-point bonus for 100+ receiving yards also make rostering top wide receivers like Antonio Brown, A.J. Green and Julio Jones even more attractive. If a couple of your wide receivers rack up big reception totals and top 100 receiving yards, they can carry your roster even if you suffer mediocre running back performances.

On FanDuel, I expect some of the cheap running backs to be popular. However, I am looking to pay up this week. I will likely roster 2 backs priced above $7,000 in cash games and on most of my tournament rosters. First, the pricing is relatively loose. You can pay up at running back (for example, Le'Veon Bell at $9,400 and Mark Ingram II at $7,200) and still afford plenty of top players at other positions – as long as you look for one near-minimum priced wide receiver. Second, touchdown expectation is much more important in FanDuel’s half-PPR scoring. The top running backs have much higher touchdown expectation than some of the cheaper backs like McCaffrey and Mixon.

Jason Wood: I echo Dan's views that my interests vary this week on the respective sites.

On DraftKings, I have a hard time passing on exposure to Lamar Miller at $5,200, am intrigued by the Joe Mixon narrative (if not now, when?), and am particularly fond of Jalen Richard for $4,300 in GPP formats. I think interest in Richard will be offset by those preferring DeAndre Washington, so Richard's ownership percentage should be manageable. The full PPR format makes Melvin Gordon III ($8,100) attractive against the Patriots on DK, though I'm fading him completely on FanDuel.

On FanDuel, I'm paying up for LeSean McCoy ($8,400), Ezekiel Elliott ($9,000), Devonta Freeman ($8,000), and Mark Ingram II. I don't see as much value arbitrage on the lower-priced plays like Miller ($6,400) and Mixon ($5,900).

Chris Feery: I’m also in line with Dan’s strategy for the week. It makes sense to find the value backs on DraftKings, while there’s a bit more flexibility to pay up for the studs on FanDuel. The guys have already mentioned some of the more intriguing value plays on the former, but there’s a few more we can add to that list: Chris Thompson at $5,800, LeGarrette Blount at $5,100, Dion Lewis at $4,600, and Marlon Mack at $4,000. There’s risk associated with each selection, but there’s plenty of GPP upside if they hit on all cylinders.

For FanDuel, you can easily make a case for any of the expensive studs, but I’m most intrigued by Le'Veon Bell ($9,400) and LeSean McCoy. They’ll likely find their way onto many of my rosters, but I’ll also mix things up with some of the more intriguing value plays – e.g. McCaffrey, Mixon, Thompson, and Blount – to round things out.

James Brimacombe: When I built my first FanDuel lineup this week, I had Christian McCaffrey ($6,300) and Joe Mixon in there without much thought at all. For me, Week 8 is all about attacking the previous 7 weeks’ worth of data. McCaffrey has a matchup against Tampa Bay that grades out as a top-10 situation, as they are giving up the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. More importantly, they are coming off back-to-back games in which LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson have rushed for a pair of touchdowns and averaged 6 receptions and 46 receiving yards. McCaffrey will thrive as he is averaging 6.3 receptions per game and has an average of 14 touches over the last two weeks.

The Joe Mixon play is even an easier call, as the Colts are the second-worst team against opposing running backs giving up 107 rushing yards and 1.1 rushing touchdowns per game (plus a 5/53/0.3 line in the receiving game). Over the past two weeks, there have been four touchdowns scored on the ground against this team, by the likes of T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory, Derrick Henry, and DeMarco Murray. Mixon saw limited touches (7 rushes, 3 receptions) in Week 7 and the coaches had to answer to that; will likely get Mixon back to the 20-touch range that he saw in Weeks 3 and 4. I will be saving salary this week with a McCaffrey/Mixon combo at running back so I can pay up for some of the big-name wide receivers in great spots, namely A.J. Green, Julio Jones, and Mike Evans.

John Mamula: I agree that Joe Mixon and Christian McCaffrey are the two cheaper running backs that I will be building around this week. I will be squeezing A.J. Green into the majority of lineups, and paying down at running back helps with that strategy.

On DraftKings, both Mixon and McCaffrey are priced where they make sense for cash games and an overweight exposure to the field in GPP tournaments. Most GPP lineups will consist of at least one of these running backs along with one high-priced back (Ezekiel Elliott or LeSean McCoy).

On FanDuel, I prefer playing either McCaffrey or Mixon (whichever one fits your lineup build) along with one high-priced RB (Leveon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, or LeSean McCoy).


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