DFS Roundtable: Assessing the Value PPR Running Backs

The Footballguys staff looks for DFS value among the high-scoring and under-performing PPR running backs from Week 1

Chris Thompson, Austin Ekeler, Phillip Lindsay, James White, Javorius Allen, and Nyheim Hines were among the efficient PPR scorers at running back despite tepid snap counts in Week 1.

Are you trusting one more than the rest of the underrated PPR backs from week 1 in Week 2?

Conversely, expected strong snap running backs like LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Williams, Alex Collins, Devonta Freeman, and Kareem Hunt disappointed in Week 1.

Who sees the strongest bounce-back this week?

Phil Alexander: James White is in play for at least as long as Sony Michel remains sidelined. This week, in particular, it would make sense for Tom Brady to use White underneath often in an attempt to avoid Jacksonville's elite cornerbacks.

Chris Thompson, however, is the clear choice out of this group in any given week. He was a cumulative top-10 PPR running back before fracturing his fibula in Week 10 last year and accounted for four top-12 weekly finishes, which trailed only Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Alvin Kamara, Le'Veon Bell, and Melvin Gordon III III at running back through 10 games.

Thompson's explosive 24.8 Week 1 performance is proof he's fully healthy and suggests last season's efficiency can continue. He belongs in your GPP lineups every week moving forward, especially in Week 2 against a porous Indianapolis defense Joe Mixon just torched out of the backfield.

James Brimacombe: Chris Thompson looked fully healthy and looked like Alex Smith is more than willing to trust him moving forward. He is the big name in this group and with what he showed last season you know he only needs a handful of touches to break one for a touchdown. I will be passing on both Lindsay and Hines for a couple of more weeks just to see what types of performances they can put up. Ekeler, White, and Allen are all decent GPP darts in your flex spot but I think we kind find more value elsewhere.

Both Williams and Freeman have tough matchups this week so I won't be looking for them to bounce back just yet. McCoy and Collins are intriguing but I think I will wait another game to see how they rebound. It would be Kareem Hunt that I think has the best shot at a big game this week as it should be a high scoring contest against the Steelers and Andy Reid will look to get the running game going once again.

Will Grant: I drafted Chris Thompson in a lot of DRAFT best ball leagues, and I like his upside, especially in a PPR league. Adrian Peterson still has some gas in the tank, and he’ll get some decent play this week too, but Thompson is a great compliment and he’ll see plenty of looks as well.
I’ll keep an eye on Hines for now, but he won’t be in any of my lineups this week until I see more out of him. I’m not confident in the Indianapolis offense yet to see how to project it, so Hines remains a guy I like but don't own yet.

Alex Collins got into the end zone last week, and I think his limit was more a factor of how completely dominant the Ravens were over Buffalo. I think he’s still reasonably priced and I’ll definitely have some of him in my lineups this week. He’s a guy who is going to see a lot of action this year, and his salary is reasonably priced in DFS. Hunt should also have a good season overall, but I’ll only have a little of him against the Steelers on the road. Pittsburgh is going to be mad that the Browns were able to tie them, and I think that they fire up against a Chiefs team who looked solid this week, but anyone not named Hill was a fantasy disappointment last week

Jason Wood: Phil has it exactly right. The star here is Chris Thompson. I'm legitimately excited by Ekeler and Lindsay though, too. Both are undersized but their coaches gave them heavy workloads as both runners and receivers, and they flourished. While I'm not as excited by James White, save for as a GPP differentiator, he's clearly capable of monster scores if the game script goes his way.

Alex Collins faced a perfect negative game script last week. He lost a fumble, in a blowout where the passing attack was working perfectly. It was easy for the coaches to punish Collins since the game was already in hand. He's far too talented to not get another chance this week, and beyond. I wouldn't touch McCoy or Williams from this list, and Freeman is enticing but only if he's a full go at practice in the next few days. While Collins is the favorite here for a bounce back, Kareem Hunt is close behind. He led the NFL in rushing last year and the Chiefs showed they can still be explosive with Patrick Mahomes under center.

Justin Howe: I assure you, I'm always trusting Ekeler. His snap counts don't pop off the page, but he's capable of wildly - and consistently - maximizing them. He's a change-of-pace guy, but Ekeler is no Dri Archer type: he was a 75th-percentile athlete last offseason after a workhorse career at Western State. It's bizarre to me that much of the fantasy world expected him to lose this job outright to seventh-rounder Justin Jackson. In a fast-paced offense that likes to keep Melvin Gordon III fresh, Ekeler is the sexiest name of the bunch.

I think the best bounce-back candidate, as Jason pointed out, is Collins. I'm not reading into the touch totals for Allen and Kenneth Dixon, both laughably out-talented by the underrated Collins, who was clearly a victim of game flow in Week 1. The Ravens won't win by 44 again, and Collins should regress at least somewhat toward his typical weekly expectation - around 16-18 touches. Consider that his breakout 2017 came without road-grading guard Marshal Yanda, and you see what he's capable of in a high-volume Ravens offense. Few know or appreciate that, since 2015, only the Texans and Eagles have snapped more plays.

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