DFS Roundtable: Changing Running Back Landscape

The DFS team discusses the changing running back landscape for Week 8

Changing Running Back landscape: Add a few sentences on each of the below topics-backfield heading into Week 8

  • Kerryon Johnson posted his best career game in Week 7 with Theo Riddick out. Is Johnson's viability for DFS lineups in Week 8 dependent on Riddick being out again or is Kerryon riding the wave of momentum and will not go back in the bottle for Detroit's offense?
  • Marlon Mack exploded for a big-play infused Week 7 breakout performance. With a tepid salary, is he in the RB2 DFS mix against Oakland?
  • Nick Chubb saw his first NFL start in Week 7 with the Carlos Hyde trade to Jacksonville with 80 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Browns are big underdogs at Pittsburgh, but Chubb is affordable.

Justin Howe:

  • Doug Martin doesn’t carry much value to since he lacks in both safe floor and demonstrable upside. Richard, who’s caught 31 passes thus far, is intriguing. He boasts a career 5.3 per-carry average and could snake the lead role from Martin, who does nothing week.
  • Kerryon Johnson is officially out of the bottle, and I don’t see Riddick as a major obstacle for him. Riddick takes a lot of snaps, but not ground opportunities. Last week’s eruption was likely based on a hot hand that never let up, not on Riddick’s paltry rushing role opening up.
  • Marlon Mack is squarely in the RB2 mix against the Raiders. Oakland’s run defense has improved a bit of late, but it looks relatively hollow – the Raiders have packed it in for the year. Mack is the unquestioned lead runner in Indianapolis, and game flow (Colts -3 on the road) is on his side in a big way.
  • Nick Chubb is affordable and explosive. He makes some sense in cash games - Hue Jackson’s Browns don’t rotate their runners, and his flow-agnostic usage seems secure. But he’s a much stronger tournament play in a game Duke Johnson Jr should lead the way in snaps.

Phil Alexander:

Marshawn Lynch to IR

Yawn. Lynch owed the moderate success he enjoyed earlier this season entirely to his own talent and skill levels. His 3.46 yards after contact per attempt ranked sixth in the NFL among running backs with at least 50 carries. Martin, on the other hand, has done little in three years to dispel the notion he's completely washed. Given the Raiders bleak offensive outlook, Martin is likely to provide the least impactful 15 touches per game in all of fantasy football.

Richard is at least mildly interesting on full-PPR sites. His role as the team's featured back in hurry-up situations is solidified and the Raiders should be playing from behind more often than not. Is this a week to bank on negative game script with the Colts visiting Oakland as short favorites? Probably not, but Richard at least provides a comfortable floor given his low salary (DraftKings).

Kerryon Johnson posted his best career game in Week 7 with Theo Riddick out. Is Johnson's viability for DFS lineups in Week 8 dependent on Riddick being out again or is Kerryon riding the wave of momentum and will not go back in the bottle for Detroit's offense?

We're still at the mercy of the assumption of rational coaching when it comes to Kerryon Johnson. Despite Riddick's absence and the fact he was gashing the Dolphins from the opening whistle last Sunday, Johnson only played on 59% of the team's offensive snaps -- by far a season-high. Even if his stellar performance was enough to force Riddick to the bench permanently, we're still looking at Johnson as the lead in a 60/40 timeshare, with most of the goal-line carries being fed to LeGarrette Blount. He's fairly priced this week at home against the Seahawks middling rush defense, but his percent rostered will likely be inflated by last week's performance, which came against the Dolphins dismal linebackers. I expect to end up with less Johnson than the field in GPPs this week.

Marlon Mack exploded for a big-play infused Week 7 breakout performance. With a tepid salary, is he in the RB2 DFS mix against Oakland?

He certainly is. Mack became the first Indianapolis running back to add value to his runs this season, a feat made more impressive by the fact he did it against a top-7 rush defense (DVOA). If Mack can make the Bills look foolish, he should be able to rip off a handful of chunk plays against the Raiders plodding linebackers. The game script isn't quite as friendly as it was last week when the Colts were favored by more than a touchdown at home, but Mack still warrants a spot in your GPP portfolio. Exactly how much will depend on his projected percent rostered. The need for entrants to find a reasonably-priced RB2 to pair with Gurley will be high this week and we could see the crowd chase Mack's Week 7 box score.

Nick Chubb saw his first NFL start in Week 7 with the Carlos Hyde trade to Jacksonville with 80 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Browns are big underdogs at Pittsburgh, but Chubb is affordable.

The Steelers have allowed 34%fewerfantasypointsthanleagueaveragetoopposing running backs over the last five weeks. Chubb is still one of the best dollar-per-projected-touch values on the slate but the matchup and implied game script are working against him for cash games. I'm with Justin on Chubb being a more interesting option in GPPs. His debut as a starter last week was solid, albeit a tad underwhelming, and entrants should be scared off by the Steelers defense, who have an extra week to prepare. If he goes overlooked as a result, Chubb's big-play ability is a welcome addition to your tournament rosters.

Justin Brimacombe:

  • Marshawn Lynch -- If you are playing on a full PPR site (DraftKings), I think you have to consider Jalen Richard as he is basically playing a receiver roll with the team and in five out of six of the games he has played in he has 37 targets for 31 catches and 253 receiving yards. He has yet to score a touchdown so playing him on a site like FanDuel makes it much harder right now. As far as Doug Martin goes I don't want any part as he is an aging running back on a team that is about to throw in the towel on the season.
  • Kerryon Johnson -- I think you ride the wave with Johnson right now and expect that he will continue to see an increased workload. The Lions have really took the slow approach with Johnson to start his career but it will be hard to downplay his 6.4 rushing yards per carry as he has potential to continue to keep this Lions offense more balanced than it has been in some time. I feel like Johnson is a great option as an RB2 this week in DFS against a shady Seahawks run defense.
  • Marlon Mack -- I feel like Mack is a solid RB2/flex type of play this week for GPP's. With back to back weeks of solid performances he looks healthy and that looks like he has the trust in Andrew Luck and the offense. The Colts could look to get Mack another heavy workload as they try to control the game against Oakland.
  • Nick Chubb -- This was Chubb's first taste of a full workload in the NFL and 18 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown was a great coming out party. With a division matchup this week it will be more of the same as the Browns will look to keep a balanced approach and he should be in line for 15+ touches once again. I think he is a viable RB2/Flex play this week in DFS as he has a built-in floor with a decent ceiling.

Dan Hindery:

Marshawn Lynch to IR: Doug Martin and Jalen Richard remain as low-salary options. The Raiders are a pick 'em by the Vegas line vs. the Colts this week.

The line looks like it has moved to where Oakland is now a 3-point home underdog, which seems right given the seeming lack of morale in the Oakland locker room right now. I have little interest in Martin, who looks mediocre and is running behind a bad line. Richard is of some interest, especially on DraftKings (due to full PPR scoring) and if you feel like Oakland might get blown out. When the Raiders fall behind by multiple scores, Carr constantly dumps it off short to Richard.

Kerryon Johnson posted his best career game in Week 7 with Theo Riddick out. Is Johnson's viability for DFS lineups in Week 8 dependent on Riddick being out again or is Kerryon riding the wave of momentum and will not go back in the bottle for Detroit's offense?

I think Johnson is here to stay as a consistent contributor who should see almost 20 touches every week. Detroit is now committed to establishing the run and Johnson is clearly the top back on the roster.

Marlon Mack exploded for a big-play infused Week 7 breakout performance. With a tepid salary, is he in the RB2 DFS mix against Oakland?

I’m buying into the chances of Mack having another good week against this bad Oakland defense. The Raiders are allowing 131.8 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry. Plus, I expect Indianapolis to be able to control this game and be playing with a lead most of the way, which sets up well for Mack to see extra carries in the fourth quarter.

Nick Chubb saw his first NFL start in Week 7 with the Carlos Hyde trade to Jacksonville with 80 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Browns are big underdogs at Pittsburgh, but Chubb is affordable.

I like Chubb as a player but don’t like him this week. The Steelers have been excellent against the run, allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game, and are 8-point home favorites. The game script sets up better for Duke Johnson Jr in a week I think Cleveland might get blown out.

Jason Wood:

I'm fully onboard Jalen Richard outplaying Doug Martin and will be using Richard liberally in lineup builds this week. We can't rule out Martin being the lead back, or a full-blown committee, but Richard's price is too enticing to ignore this week. It's a calculated risk.

I viewed Kerryon Johnson as a three-down bell cow coming out of Auburn, and the veteran depth chart kept his talents at bay to start the season but now we're seeing what the rookie can do with ample touches. Assuming rational coaching, there's no reason Johnson shouldn't continue to be featured now that he's shown an ability to play on all downs and distances.

Marlon Mack is absolutely in the mix, particularly against a Raiders team that's effectively punting 2018 for future seasons. Vegas expects the game to be a nail-biter, which means both teams should be able to keep running the ball and not forced into a pass-heavy catchup situation.

The Steelers defense is not impressive; although we could say that about 30 other NFL teams this year. I don't think Nick Chubb is the best option at the position, but his price and his underlying abilities require some exposure.

BJ VanderWoude:

I see the Raiders as a clear example of scoring systems dictating which is the correct play. On sites that offer full point per reception (PPR) scoring, I actually prefer Richard at his salary, as he has caught six or more passes in four of seven games, and should only see more work with Lynch on IR. Richard topped all running backs in an elusiveness metric last season, he just has not seen the volume that would really put his full talent on display...yet.

Doug Martin has only 24 carries to date this season, but should take the reigns as the Raiders workhorse back moving forward. It remains to be seen how much he has left in the tank, but he has always been a player that increases efficiency as his volume goes up. The Raiders gave Lynch nearly full reign in the red zone, and it appears that Martin will have a similar role. He is a sneaky play against Indy in week eight.

Kerryon Johnson is a really tough call because all signs point to Detroit not being able to keep Johnson off the field. He is a dynamic runner who gives the Detroit big-play ability that neither Blount or Riddick can duplicate. With that said, Matt Patricia seems hell-bent on giving Blount a defined role, even when it is hurting his running game. The same can be said for Riddick, although that one is more understandable given his talent as a pass catcher, and as a veteran presence who understands pass blocking and protection schemes. I don't think you can make this call, because it has nothing to do with talent or production, but rather a coaches preference on personnel.

Yes, Marlon Mack is firmly on my radar as an option, but I would put him more in the flex consideration, as opposed to him being an RB2. He is averaging six yards per carry on 41 rushes this season, and has a knack for scoring touchdowns, using his lateral quickness to get to the edge and avoid tacklers in the short field.

Nick Chubb is affordable across the industry and has ascended into the lead role in the Browns backfield. I am not paying too much attention to the fact that the Browns are huge underdogs because they seem to find a way to play every team to the final whistle. With the exception of the Chargers game, the Browns other six games have been decided by a TOTAL of 16 points. With the volume that the Browns like to give their lead back and their lack of democracy when it comes to the division red zone touches, Chubb is definitely a solid play this week.

Will Grant:

I think Jalen Richard is a good cash play this week. Martin has done nothing all season and it looks like Richard will be the primary back in an offense that lacks weapons. He’s a value pick because of the volume + low salary, and they’re playing an Indianapolis defense that isn’t great. If you’re going to have Gurley in your lineup, Richard makes a great option to pair with Gurley.

The key with Kerryon Johnson is touches. If he approaches 20 touches, he seems to have a better game. The problem is he has only had two games with 19 or more touches, so he’s been very cold given where people thought he would be to this point. At home against the Seahawks this week, Johnson seems like a good play.

I was down on Marlon Mack this season, but the reality is over the last two weeks he’s posted some big numbers. Against a soft Oakland defense this week, Mack looks like a solid play. Nyheim Hines will still get touches, especially in the passing game, but Mack should see the bulk of the carries given his juicy 6+ yards per carry.

Nick Chubb is going to see plenty of volume this week, so he’s a good DFS play from a high floor perspective. However, the Steelers are coming off a bye week and are playing at home in a game they need to win. Vegas expects a shootout, so the Browns will put some points on the board, but it will most likely come from the receivers and Baker Mayfield.


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