DFS Roundtable: Underperforming Running Backs

The DFS team discusses underperforming running backs from Week 5

Running backs coming off notably weak performances offer bounce-back value with the right matchup and game script potential.

Who is one of the underperformers from Week 5 you trust in Week 6?

Justin Howe: He certainly hasn't been weak with his 6.1 yards-per-rush average, but Aaron Jones looks on the verge of a breakout. By far the most dynamic runner in the Green Bay backfield - and the only one capable of carrying a run game - Jones is still working through a split in backfield time with converted wideout Ty Montgomery and the anti-explosive Jamaal Williams. But we've seen that movie before - last year as a rookie, Jones shared snaps with those two before erupting onto the scene with a pair of 100-yard games. Jones let down a lot of DFSers last week with disappointing volume, but it's kept him a relatively cheap play, and he's one of my favorite GPP targets this week.

I'm also intrigued by David Johnson at a sub-$6,000 DraftKings salary. He's not producing much of anything on the ground, but there's rising volume here, and the Vikings have given up a ton of receiving yardage to opposing backs. Four have topped 44 yards already, and they haven't been the usual suspects - Kyle Juszczyk, Chris Ivory, and Wendell Smallwood are all on that list. The last two they've faced, Smallwood and Todd Gurley, each caught touchdowns. This still isn't a tasty rushing matchup, but it's a good reminder of Johnson's value as a three-down workhorse and weekly candidate for 25 touches. With the Vikings struggling and Johnson still catching passes, game flow may not be the problem we'd expected in this matchup.

Phil Alexander: Miami's inexperienced linebackers are having trouble containing running backs, particularly those who catch passes out of the backfield. Jordan Howard's role is in question after a dismal 2.5-point Week 4 performance, but he can easily bounce back coming off a bye week. Howard handled 26 touches in a game as recently as Week 3 and was averaging a solid (for him) 3.6 targets per game before getting shelved in favor of Tarik Cohen in Week 4. Cohen's dangerous speed plays well against the Dolphins also. The duo of Howard and Cohen would need to score about 45 points in PPR formats to bring back a 4x multiple on their combined salaries. Stacking both Bears running backs in the same lineup is not an illogical way to differentiate a GPP lineup this week.

Will Grant: Marshawn Lynch takes a walk down narrative street this week as he faces Seattle for the first time since 2015. The Seahawks have been vulnerable to opposing running backs this season, and only Chicago back in week two did not have a running back who posted more than 100 yards from scrimmage. The Raiders don’t have a lot to look forward to after their 1-4 start, but watching Lynch get into beast mode and run all over his former team is going to be their key to victory this week.

James Brimacombe: I am going to go one step further as Jordan Howard is coming off a bye in Week 5 but back in Week 4, he was almost game planned out. I like Howard as a GPP play this week as his price has been decreased and his ownership will clearly be at an all-time low after his 11 rushing attempts for 25 yards against Tampa Bay in Week 4. Miami is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs as teams are averaging 26/102/0.8 line on the ground against them. There is no doubt that you can’t forget about Tarik Cohen in this game as well but I think his carries will reduce and but he will still remain the pass-catching back and see a bunch of targets. I am banking on Howard seeing an increased workload and having some quality goal-line looks in this game.

Dan Hindery: Marshawn Lynch is in a nice spot to bounce back after a tough Week 5. When Lynch has had poor fantasy games this season, it has been when the Raiders have fallen behind by multiple scores early in the game. When that happens, Oakland switches to a pass-heavy attack and Jalen Richard becomes the top option at running back. This is exactly what happened last week, with the Raiders falling behind 20-3 early in the second half. The game script limited Lynch to a season-low 11 touches.

Unfortunately for Lynch, the Raiders are one of the worst teams in the NFL and aren’t going to have a lot of games with great game scripts. However, playing at home against a mediocre Seattle offense as just 3-point underdogs is about as good as it will get for Lynch. The Seahawks are giving up 4.7 yards per carry and 129 rushing yards per game. The Raiders should look to establish the run early and as long as the game is as close as expected, Lynch should see 20+ touches.