DFS Roundtable: Low-Cost Running Backs

The DFS team discusses the low-cost running backs for Week 13

Going the cheap route at RB2 allows for an elite RB1 in lineups. Which cheaper running backs strike you as values (or too risky) this week?

*Post-Release Update* Spencer Ware is the chalk running back with a low salary across platforms with Kareem Hunt being waived by the Chiefs.

Phil Alexander:

Gus Edwards (at Atlanta) - Yes, please. Name a reason Baltimore would go back to Alex Collins, even if he's healthy. I'll wait. Edwards is still sub-$5K on DraftKings despite back-to-back 100+ yard rushing games and Atlanta has been trampled by opposing running backs over the last three weeks. He might be a smart fade in tournaments, however, depending on his projected percent rostered.

Dalvin Cook (at New England) - It doesn't seem likely the Vikings go into New England and force a run-heavy game script on the Patriots. In a 60/40 timeshare with Latavius Murray, Cook is almost entirely reliant on big plays to reach value.

Jordan Wilkins-Nyheim Hines (at Jacksonville) - If Marlon Mack can't clear the concussion protocol, Hines warrants heavy tournament exposure. He looked electric on limited touches last week and showed a strong rapport with Andrew Luck in the red zone when Mack missed time earlier this season.

Carlos Hyde-T.J. Yeldon (vs. Indianapolis) - Hyde's presence means Yeldon won't be as strong a play as he was earlier in the season when Leonard Fournette was out, but he's the better choice of the Jaguars running backs. Indianapolis struggles to defend pass-catchers out of the backfield, and with Cody Kessler starting for Jacksonville, the dump-off figures to be a big part of the game plan. Advantage Yeldon.

Elijah McGuire (at Tennessee) - The Titans run defense was gashed on Monday night, but the Jets have shown zero indication they want to feature McGuire. He's a platoon back in one of the worst offenses in the league.

Doug Martin (vs. Kansas City) - The good news -- Martin hit his ceiling last week. The bad news -- his ceiling is 16 PPR fantasy points. Basically, you need a top-10% outcome just for Martin to barely reach tournament value. Pass.

Chris Carson (vs. San Francisco) - Why not? 18-20 touches all but locked in, with upside to boot, in what should be a positive game script.

BJ VanderWoude: I don't have much confidence among this group of running backs, but the outliers are definitely Gus Edwards, Chris Carson, and Carlos Hyde/TJ Yeldon. Dalvin Cook is not getting enough volume to depend on at his price, although there is some appeal to playing him in that if you can be ahead of the curve and guess right that the Vikings are going to give him a starter's volume, then he can certainly reward you with his upside. Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines draw a tough matchup, and neither has distinguished himself from the other in terms of playing in both the running and the passing game. Wilkins is more involved in the run game, and Hines is more of a pass catching back, so it becomes hard to trust either one of them. Doug Martin is stuck in an awful situation on an offense that is having trouble upon trouble moving the football, not a good look for a touchdown-dependent back. Elijah McGuire is stuck in that middle position between looking good when given an opportunity, yet not being able to overtake Isiah Crowell as the Jets lead back. His week to week production is very game-flow dependent.

As several of my colleagues have mentioned over the last two weeks, Edwards is not the most talented running back, but he has played himself into a golden opportunity by being a decisive, downhill runner who can take advantage of good blocking. Despite back to back 100+ yard rushing performances (40 total carries in last two games), Edwards price is still very affordable across the industry, and his lack of pass-catching prowess does not reduce his ceiling to a point where he cannot reach GPP value. There is definitely some downside, but if you are going to rock with a player in his price range, I would much rather go with the one who is seeing ample opportunity.

Chris Carson is what he is at this point of the season. Pete Carroll is comfortable enough in his overall skill set to feature him ahead of Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny, but, is not involved enough in the passing game to make him a rock-solid option week to week. With that said, his price point is attractive, and he has scored a touchdown in three of his last four games. If you are going to play a mid-tier running back, Carson is certainly one I would consider.

The choice between Carlos Hyde and TJ Yeldon is going to be important for GPP players this week. Hyde has struggled since joining the Jaguars, but he also hasn't seen the type of extended opportunities that he is likely to enjoy this weekend. The problem is that TJ Yeldon is much better suited to play alongside Cody Kessler (and with a new offensive coordinator) as even a weak defense like the Colts will sell out on the run and make Kessler try to beat them through the air. That should mean quite a few dump-offs to Yeldon, a situation he was able to exploit earlier in the year on the way to 46 catches for 423 yards and four receiving touchdowns already this season. Between these two running backs, I clearly favor Yeldon. He has a better understanding of the offense, and is a much more complete back than Hyde, especially in a game-script where the Jaguars are going to be forced to score points.

James Brimacombe: I am going to go with T.J. Yeldon as my guy this week with Leonard Fournette sidelined with a one-game suspension. Yeldon has failed to really deliver on the ground this year as he only has 385 yards and a single touchdown on 92 rushing attempts. The damage that Yeldon has done this year has been in the receiving game where he has 46 catches, 423 yards, and four touchdowns on 66 targets. That is six targets per game when he wasn’t even the starting running back. I like his chances of some big volume numbers this week and if the Colts get up in the second half it will be Yeldon seeing even more targets trying to play catch up.

Will Grant: I feel like Gus Edwards isn't really a 'value' play after his performance the last two weeks. The Falcons have a pretty weak rushing defense, and rank 5th with 13 rushing touchdowns allowed, but with Lamar Jackson stealing carries, and Edwards having performed so well over the last two games, I don't think I'll have many shares of him this week.

The Seahawks have the #1 rushing offense in the league, posting almost 10 yards per game more than any other team in the league. Their running game is money and Chris Carson looks like he's the feature back. He's averaging 4.4 yards per carry, but he only has four touchdowns this year and the Seahawks only have eight rushing touchdowns as a team. I Like Carson's opportunities, but I think his upside is limited as well.

For my bet, I think that Nyheim Hines could be the value play for your lineup this week. Marlon Mack is still in concussion protocol and has not practiced this week. Assuming he scratches this week, that means that Hines has the best opportunity to contribute for the Colts at running back. He hasn't gotten a lot of touches with Mack in the lineup, but with Mack out of the way, Hines will see an increase in carries and receptions. His price is cheap because his production has been down, but he Hines can reach the end zone this week, his receptions give him a great chance to exceed value.

Dan Hindery: If Marlon Mack is out, Nyheim Hines will be my favorite cheap running back, especially on DraftKings. In the four games Hines has played more than 30 snaps, he’s averaged 7.0 receptions on 8.5 targets per game. His pass-game usage gives him a really solid floor for the price.