DFS Roundtable: Finding Backfield Clarity

The DFS team examines the NFL backfields up in the air heading into Week 3

Through two weeks there is a lack of clarity with a number of NFL backfields.

Where is there enough value and clarity for Week 3 DFS plays?

Phil Alexander: Phillip Lindsay went over 100 yards from scrimmage for the second straight game, yet his price curiously came down $200 on DraftKings. It's hard to say how much clarity exists in Denver's backfield, but it should be easy to agree Lindsay being priced in clear backup territory is a mistake. He has touched the ball at least 15 times in each game and shown a knack for breaking off fantasy-friendly chunk plays. Baltimore is a perennial tough matchup for opposing running backs, but the implied game script (Ravens -5) favors the quicker Lindsay over Royce Freeman if the Broncos are playing catch up.

While Lindsay is a solid dollar per projected touch play, it's hard to envision much scoring in the Denver at Baltimore game. If Darren Sproles scratches again, Corey Clement is the top ambiguous backfield running back to target on full PPR sites. Indianapolis leads the league in receptions allowed to running backs and only Kansas City has allowed more receiving yards to the position. Even Adrian Peterson generated six PPR fantasy points via the passing game against Indianapolis, making it safe to say teams are picking on their linebackers.

Dan Hindery: The situation I am watching most closely is Philadelphia and each tidbit of injury news later in the week will be crucial. The year started with a messy three-way committee featuring Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, and Corey Clement. To date, Clement has played just over 30% of the snaps. He has 11 carries for 56 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and has 5 catches for 55 yards. However, he could be the only one of the top three backs available against Indianapolis on Sunday. Sproles missed Week 2 and looks doubtful for Week 3 due to a hamstring injury. Jay Ajayi is dealing with a back injury and is listed as questionable for Week 3. Even if he is able to play, he may be limited and used sparingly.

Early in the week, everything is pointing to Clement being the lead back. Given the Eagles talented offensive line and Clement’s impressive, well-rounded skill set, he could explode for a big game if he plays 60% or more of the snaps. He is a strong GPP play and may even be worth consideration in cash games pending late-breaking injury news.

James Brimacombe: Tevin Coleman looked the part in his role as Freeman's replacement and looks like he can handle a bigger load moving forward. At home against the Saints, this week looks like a strong spot for him. Taking some shots on rookies Sony Michel or Kerryon Johnson seems like a worthy GPP flier to try to get ahead of the crowd of when they might have their big breakout games. I think you can also just play the running back carousel game and just look for the banged up or injured starting back that scratches and plug in his backup. Some of the names that come to mind are Coleman, Yeldon, and Clement.

Justin Howe: I like Aaron Jones' chances to step in and immediately seize the Packers' lead role. It seems clear by now that Williams doesn't add much to the offense that, say, James Starks didn't a few years ago. Slow and lumbering with no real wiggle, he's miscast as the lead dog. Jones, on the other hand, took on a heavy role in camp and preseason whenever he was healthy. If the Packers want to establish a ground game that's not laughable, they'll install Jones quickly.

I'm also bracing for Sony Michel to take over lead duties in New England. We all know what a nightmare it is to project the Patriots backfield, but it was telling that, in his NFL debut, Michel took over most early-down work quickly. He ran well - about as well as anyone can against the Jaguars - and looks suited for the grinder role. With the Patriots currently favored by ****, there's a ton of volume and scoring to project on that grinder. And Rex Burkhead isn't it. Michel is a GPP target for me at his dirt-cheap DFS salary.

Will Grant: I agree with Phil on both accounts. Lindsay is the first guy who comes to mind when I think of questionable backfields who can possibly yield high-performance backs. I don’t think he’s going to push Freeman completely out of the lineup, but Lindsay will be a guy to keep an eye on. This week does look tough though, especially on road against a Baltimore team that has an extra three days to prepare because they played on Thursday night.

And the Colts are a team I’m looking to target because their defense just has plenty of question marks. Jay Ajayi returned to the game last week despite back issues, but it’s unclear how much his play will be limited this week. Look for Clement to pick up the slack as the Eagles will be looking to rebound after a tough loss last week to Tampa Bay. Indianapolis may be just what the doctor ordered and given the injuries that are piling up at wide receiver for them, you can see them leaning on the running game a little harder this week. Carson Wentz is back, and that can only help as the Eagles won’t want him throwing 50 passes in this game either. A lot of R(un) in the RPO this week means Clement is a guy to target as well.

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