In this piece, I highlight running backs who stand out in our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models. While the models are built for DFS contests, this is an all-purpose fantasy article with actionable information for all formats.
As news breaks throughout the week and we adjust our projections (powered by Sean Koerner), player ratings in our Player Models will change. For updates, visit the models directly.
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Top NFL DFS Running Back Picks in the FantasyLabs Models
On DraftKings, there is one running back who ranks near the top of the individual Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Cash Game, and Tournament Player Models.
- Christian McCaffrey
We’ll discuss why he is popping in our models, as well as take a look at some other running backs.
Top Model NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Christian McCaffrey ($8,000 DraftKings, $9,000 FanDuel): San Francisco 49ers (+2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles (46.5 total)
Christian McCaffrey was still able to deliver a solid day last week despite having a tough matchup. He carried the ball 10 times for 35 yards and a touchdown while catching six of eight targets for 22 yards. He’s one of the main engines of this offense and will likely be leaned on again this weekend.
His 17.7 DraftKings points were one of his lower totals since joining San Francisco, which shows just how effective he’s been since joining Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He’s now had 17 and 18 opportunities in their two playoff games, and we can expect a similar number this weekend.
The matchup is actually alright, as Philadelphia has allowed the 16th-most DraftKings points to opposing running backs on the year. The Eagles have improved against running backs over the second half of the season after they added Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, which is noteworthy. They’ve allowed a top 10 success rate on opposing running back carries, as opposed to a bottom-five rate in the first half of the year.
When you look at the slate of running backs suiting up this weekend, it’s obvious that McCaffrey is the top choice.
That’s why he leads all four of our models.
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Other Notable NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Joe Mixon ($6,500 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel): Cincinnati Bengals (+1.5) at Kansas City Chiefs (48 total)
Joe Mixon had his second-best fantasy performance of the season last week, as he eclipsed 100 yards on the ground for the second time in the year. He carried the ball 20 times for 105 yards and a touchdown while catching two of three targets for 18 yards. His 23.3 DraftKings points were his second most of the year, only trailing his insane 58.1-point performance in Week 9 against Carolina.
Mixon missed the first matchup against Kansas City, but the Bengals RBs were successful. They turned 29 touches into 166 yards and a touchdown in that matchup. The Chiefs have allowed the third-most receiving fantasy points to opposing backs, which appears good for Mixon.
However, Samaje Perine has actually run more pass-routes than Mixon in recent weeks, so he may take the bulk of that advantage. Mixon is the safest bet for a strong workload for any back not named Christian McCaffrey.
Jerick McKinnon ($5,400 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel): Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (48 total)
Jerick McKinnon’s miraculous run of finding the end zone came to a screeching halt last week as he carried the ball 11 times for 25 yards en route to 2.5 DraftKings points. He did play 44 snaps, which tied McCaffrey as the most played among running backs in the Divisional Round. The Chiefs like to get Isiah Pacheco the ball, but they trust McKinnon in high-leverage situations due to his ball security and ability to block on passing downs.
The Bengals have allowed the ninth-fewest DraftKings points to opposing running backs but the 19rh-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs through the air. With the Bengals doing a good job taking away top targets, McKinnon may get a handful of looks underneath this weekend.
Miles Sanders ($5,200 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel): Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers (46.5 total)
Miles Sanders is a very frustrating player to play in fantasy, as he’s entirely reliant on efficiency and touchdowns. He has just 20 catches total on the year, showing Philadelphia’s lack of interest in throwing him the ball. Not finding the end zone is practically a death sentence for Sanders’ fantasy value, as he hasn’t found paydirt in five straight games, leading to five single-digit DraftKings point performances.
The 49ers allow the least DraftKings points to opposing running backs, which causes even more concern for Sanders. His appeal is that he’ll likely have low ownership, and he should see around 12-15 carries on a slate with only two games.