Through four weeks, we are on pace for a record-breaking NFL season with a current average of 24.0 points per game per team. The fantasy gods continue to shine their light upon us, gifting us a 12-game main slate that kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. ET.
While I’m not one to complain about football, this main slate isn’t as enticing as the one we had last week. With two teams on bye and the exclusion of the prime-time games, we are without the following teams and running backs.
- Thursday Night Football: Colts (Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins) at Patriots (James White, Sony Michel)
- Sunday Night Football: Cowboys (Ezekiel Elliott) at Texans (Lamar Miller)
- Monday Night Football: Redskins (Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson) at Saints (Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram)
- Bye Week: Bears (Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen), Buccaneers (Peyton Barber)
Even so, there are four games on the slate with over/unders in excess of 50 points. Five teams have implied totals of at least 27 points. It’s always a good time to play some daily fantasy football.
For analysis on the smaller slates, consult Chris Raybon’s premium strategy guides (released throughout the week).
In writing this piece, I’ve relied primarily on the FantasyLabs Models.
This breakdown is less of a comprehensive analysis of each quarterback and more of an introduction to this week’s players via our large suite of analytic DFS Tools. We’ll start with the three quarterbacks at the top of the salary scale, follow with four passers at the top of our individual Pro Models and finish with the rest of the slate’s starting quarterbacks.
For updates on Vegas spreads and over/unders, check out The Action Network Live Odds page.
Highest-Priced Running Backs
This week, there is a clear tier of two at the top of the salary scale.
- Todd Gurley: $9,400 DraftKings; $9,100 FanDuel
- Melvin Gordon: $8,600 DraftKings; $8,700 FanDuel
Todd Gurley: Los Angeles Rams (-7) at Seattle Seahawks, 50.5 O/U
We mentioned on the midweek edition of The Action Network NFL Podcast that most DFS players will need to choose between Gurley and Gordon. Even though we’re projecting Gurley for high ownership rates, he still warrants consideration in guaranteed prize pools. Ever since head coach Sean McVay joined the Rams, Gurley has easily been the best back in football, leading the position with 27.3 DraftKings points per game, a +7.90 Plus/Minus, and 2,625 yards and 25 touchdowns from scrimmage. Gurley has an 84.3% market share of snaps, and he’s the unquestioned alpha on the No. 1 team in The Action Network NFL Power Rankings. Barring a mid-game injury, he’s a mortal lock for 18+ opportunities, a threshold he’s hit in every game in the McVay era.
Last year Gurley led the league (in 15 games) with 37 opportunities inside the 10-yard line, and he’s pacing for even more this year. Through four games, he has 13 carries and two targets inside the 10, and that doesn’t take into account his two successful two-point conversions in Week 2. With his goal-line opportunities and scoring prowess, it’s not a surprise that Gurley leads all non-quarterbacks with his +1400 odds to win the 2018 MVP award.
While most players tend to struggle against divisional opponents and on the road, especially in Seattle, Gurley is unique in that with McVay he has exhibited significant reverse home/road and division/non-division splits. As a result, he’s in something of a personal smash spot.
- Home vs. Away: 22.8 DraftKings points vs. 31.7
- Division vs. Non-Division: 29.6 DraftKings points vs. 26.3
- Away in Division: 36.9 DraftKings points
The sample is small, but Gurley’s +18.61 DraftKings Plus/Minus as a divisional visitor is outstanding.
Although the Seahawks as recently as 2016 had a league-best 90.8 Pro Football Focus (PFF) run-defense grade, Gurley’s matchup with the Seahawks is no longer imposing. Last year they were 19th in run defense (79.4), and this year they are 17th (73.1). Free safety Earl Thomas (leg, IR) and linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) are out. Cornerback Richard Sherman, strong safety Kam Chancellor, and edge defenders Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril — all of whom were Pro Bowlers in Seattle — are no longer with the team. The Seahawks defense is no longer the Seahawks defense.
In the McVay era, Rams game have a 13-7 over/under record, and on the road the Rams have hit the over at a 7-2 rate, which is good for a 52.4% return on investment for over bettors (per Bet Labs). The sample is small, but it’s probably not a fluke, considering that the McVay Rams have hit their implied Vegas totals in 15-of-20 games overall.
With his high usage, three-down ability and multi-touchdown upside, Gurley is a game script-independent potential GPP winner. For tournaments, use our Lineup Builder to stack Gurley with quarterback Jared Goff. Since 2014, No. 1 backs on average have had a 0.34 correlation with their quarterbacks. With Goff, Gurley has had a robust 0.52 correlation.
Gurley leads all backs with his median and ceiling projections and his 13 Pro Trends on FanDuel, where he has a position-high 98% Bargain Rating.
Melvin Gordon: Los Angeles Chargers (-5) vs. Oakland Raiders, 53.5 O/U
As good as Gurley has been this year, MG3 has been almost as good on a per-game basis. On a salary-adjusted basis, he’s probably been the better of the two.
- Gurley (four games): 28.3 DraftKings points, +6.30 Plus/Minus, 23.5 opportunities, 133 scrimmage yards, 1.5 touchdowns
- Gordon (four games): 27.9 DraftKings points, +10.4 Plus/Minus, 19.5 opportunities, 118.8 scrimmage yards, 1.25 touchdowns
The Chargers are in a good spot at home as big favorites in a game with a high total. Their offense has been consistently strong this year, hitting the implied Vegas totals in every game and averaging 2.81 points above expectations. Against a Raiders team allowing the league’s second-most points (30.75 per game), the Chargers could run up the score.
And the Raiders are especially exploitable in run defense, ranking 28th with a 2.9% mark in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Just last week, they were dominated by Cleveland’s backfield — in a game the Browns lost:
- Nick Chubb: 25.5 DraftKings points, 3-105-2 rushing
- Carlos Hyde: 14.2 DraftKings points, 22-82-1 rushing
- Duke Johnson: 13.6 DraftKings points, 2-11-0 rushing, 4-45-0 on six targets, two 2-point conversions
If Browns backs can do that in a loss, MG3 could destroy the Raiders in a win. And even if the Chargers fall behind, MG3 is a three-down back capable of producing in any circumstances: He’s one of only three backs (along with Gurley and Le’Veon Bell) with 250+ carries and 50+ targets in each of the past two seasons.
Gordon leads all backs with his ceiling projections as well as his nine DraftKings Pro Trends. Regardless of game script, he’s in a great spot, as is his change-of-pace running mate.
- Austin Ekeler: $4,200 DraftKings; $6,200 FanDuel
Normally when it comes to secondary backs, I write just a sentence or so — but for the second week in a row, I’m unbelievably hot for Ekeler. He leads all backs with his 8.9 overall PFF grade and 4.5 yards after contact per attempt. Of all backs with more than 10 carries, he’s first with 0.78 points per opportunity in point-per-reception (PPR) scoring. He’s first at the position with 8.6 yards per touch and 6.3 true yards per carry (per PlayerProfiler).
The second-year undrafted back is likely to regress in efficiency at some point, but he’s a viable fantasy contributor in every slate, considering his …
- College production: 7,072 yards and 63 touchdowns from scrimmage in 40 games
- Physical profile: 5-foot-9, 199 pounds with a 4.43-second 40 time and 6.85-second three-cone
- NFL role: Latter-day Danny Woodhead
Ekeler has had at least six opportunities in 11 career games (with nine such games in his last 12 appearances). He’s averaged 12.9 DraftKings points in those 11 appearances. Just last week, the Raiders allowed two backups to put up 39.1 DraftKings points on nine touches and a couple of 2-point tries. That makes Ekeler an very attractive tournament play, especially if he were rostered with Gordon as a lineup differentiator.
Over the past month, even though they’ve both been productive, Gordon and Ekeler have been rostered together in a low percentage of Millionaire Maker lineups.
- Week 1 (vs. Chiefs): Gordon (14.71%) + Ekeler (0.07%) –> Together in 10 lineups (0.00%)
- Week 2 (at Bills): Gordon (19.21%) + Ekeler (3.20%) –> Together in 881 lineups (0.33%)
- Week 3 (at Rams): Gordon (6.54%) + Ekeler (3.58%) –> Together in 452 lineups (0.18%)
- Week 4 (vs. 49ers): Gordon (21.99%) + Ekeler (4.87%) –> Together in 2,798 lineups (0.59%)
Together, Gordon and Ekeler make for a high-upside, low-owned contrarian pairing. Most people will stay away from the MG3-Ekeler stack because of negative backfield correlations, but their inherent upside and advantageous matchup make them viable together.
On Sunday morning, I will probably look for action on Ekeler’s rushing yardage prop. He’s hit the over in 3-of-4 weeks. To find the best bets in the props market, use our Player Props Tool, which is powered by our industry-leading projections. Since Week 1, the props with a bet quality of 10 have gone 90-45-3, which is good for a 65% win rate.
Without question, you should supplement your DFS action with player props.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention: Ekeler is the No. 1 DraftKings back in the Bales, CSURAM88, Koerner and Freedman Models — for the second week in a row.
Model Running Backs
Besides Ekeler, there are three running backs atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
- Christian McCaffrey: $8,000 DraftKings; $8,100 FanDuel
- James Conner: $7,500 DraftKings; $7,800 FanDuel
- Alex Collins: $5,000 DraftKings; $6,500 FanDuel
Christian McCaffrey: Carolina Panthers (-6.5) vs. New York Giants, 44.5 O/U
Returning from the bye week as a big home favorite, McCaffrey should be rested and ready to exploit a Giants rush defense ranked 29th with an 8.2% DVOA. Any concerns there might have been at the beginning of the year about how McCaffrey would do in offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s offense as a lead back have been allayed by his year-to-date performance.
- Week 1 (vs. Cowboys): 14.5 DraftKings points, +0.08 Plus/Minus, 10-50-0 rushing, 6-45-0 receiving on nine targets
- Week 2 (at Falcons): 30.9 DraftKings points, +14.78 Plus/Minus, 8-37-0 rushing, 14-102-0 receiving on 15 targets
- Week 3 (vs. Bengals): 24.4 DraftKings points, +6.02 Plus/Minus, 28-184-0 rushing, 2-10-0 receiving on two targets
Amazingly, McCaffrey is the No. 5 DraftKings back, even though his usage has been variable game to game, and even though he’s yet to score a touchdown. Last year, he scored at a 3.04% rate. Whenever touchdown progression kicks in, he could be a GPP winner.
It’s also worth noting that McCaffrey’s production has come despite the roster issues around him. Continuity is crucial along the offensive line, and three of last season’s starters are not on the field: Left tackle Matt Kalil (knee, IR) and right tackle Daryl Williams (knee, IR) are both out, and 2017 All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell is now on the Jaguars. Even so, McCaffrey has become more efficient as a runner.
- 2018: 5.9 yards per carry, 56.8% early-down rushing success rate
- 2017: 3.7 yards per carry, 43.2% early-down rushing success rate
Over the past four weeks, the Giants have been handily exposed. Just last week, they allowed Saints running back Alvin Kamara to score 44.1 DraftKings points on 19-134-3 rushing and 5-47-0 receiving. Each week, at least one back has scored 15+ DraftKings points against them. Facing a Giants defense allowing 31.6 DraftKings points per game to running backs, McCaffrey could have a 40-point performance.
McCaffrey is the highest-rated FanDuel back in each of our Pro Models except for one (Bales). Levitan and Raybon also have him as the No. 1 back in their DraftKings Models.
James Conner: Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) vs. Atlanta Falcons, 57.5 O/U
It’s officially October, but this Cinderella isn’t quite ready to turn back into a pumpkin. In a week with a historically high number of 50-point over/unders, it should come as no surprise that the Steelers-Falcons game has the highest total of the season. Since his 192-yard, two-touchdown smackdown in Week 1, Conner has on the whole failed to impress.
- Week 2 (vs. Chiefs): 19.5 DraftKings points, +4.23 Plus/Minus, 8-17-1 rushing, 5-48-0 receiving on five targets, one 2-point conversion
- Week 3 (at Buccaneers): 14.5 DraftKings points, -2.89 Plus/Minus, 15-61-0 rushing, 5-34-0 receiving on six targets
- Week 4 (vs. Ravens): 9.4 DraftKings points, -8.13 Plus/Minus, 9-19-0 rushing, 3-25-0 receiving on seven targets, one 2-point conversion
But this week he’s the lead back on a home favorite in a high-scoring game. Conner has played on 86.4% of the offensive snaps and seen a whopping 93.6% of the backfield opportunities. He’s the only Steelers back with a red-zone carry (six) or target (three). His production hasn’t been great over the past three weeks, but his usage has been elite.
And now he gets to face a Falcons team that is 30th in rush defense with an 11.9% DVOA and has allowed the third-most DraftKings points per game (35.9) to running backs. Each week, the Falcons defense has been a fantasy factory, allowing lead backs to get 20+ DraftKings points.
- Jay Ajayi (Week 1): 20.2 DraftKings points, 15-62-2 rushing
- Christian McCaffrey (Week 2): 30.9 DraftKings points, 8-37-0 rushing, 14-102-0 receiving on 15 targets
- Alvin Kamara (Week 3): 37.0 DraftKings points, 16-66-0 rushing, 15-124-0 on 20 targets
- Giovani Bernard (Week 4): 25.6 DraftKings points, 15-69-2 rushing, 4-27-0 on four targets
And the Falcons could be even worse this week. They’ve been without middle linebacker Deion Jones (foot, IR) and free safety Keanu Neal (knee, IR) since the middle of Week 1. Strong safety Ricardo Allen (Achilles, IR) suffered a season-ending injury in Week 3. And defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (ankle) exited Week 4 early because of an injury, and he’ll be out for at least a few games. With a slate-high implied Vegas total of 30.25 points, the Steelers could conceivably give their lead back 30 touches against an injured Falcons unit.
Conner is the No. 1 FanDuel back in the Bales Model.
Alex Collins: Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Cleveland Browns, 47 O/U
Collins is frustrating to roster because he’s played on just 44.7% of Baltimore’s offensive snaps and scored only three of the backfield’s eight touchdowns — and he is also dealing with a lingering knee injury — but he’s likely to play this week and in a good spot. The Ravens are fifth in the league with 30.8 points per game, and the revitalization of the team’s passing game has enhanced the upside of all the offense’s skill-position players.
The Ravens have hit their implied Vegas total in every game this year, and with a top-four defense by scoring, yards allowed, PFF grade and total DVOA, the offense has gotten extra opportunities throughout the season to score points.
Despite his reduced usage — he’s averaged just 13.8 opportunities through the first month of the season — Collins has still gotten two opportunities inside the 10-yard line per game and has produced in accordance with his salary-based expectations (+0.05 DraftKings Plus/Minus). Scoring is up this year, so Collins has underwhelmed relative to his 2018 peers, but in the big picture he hasn’t been a massive disappointment. He’s been merely average.
But even as a league-average player, he’s probably still good enough to produce against the Browns, who are improved this year but still just 31st with a 61.5 PFF run-defense grade, giving up big performances to running backs on a weekly basis.
- James Conner (Week 1): 38.2 DraftKings points, 31-135-2 rushing, 5-57-0 on six targets
- Alvin Kamara (Week 2): 17.9 DraftKings points, 13-46-0 rushing, 6-53-0 receiving on six targets
- Isaiah Crowell (Week 3): 19.1 DraftKings points, 16-34-2 rushing, 2-17-0 on three targets
- Marshawn Lynch (Week 4): 21.7 DraftKings points, 20-130-0 rushing, 3-27-0 on five targets
Over his past 16 games, Collins has averaged 14.5 carries and 2.8 targets per contest. If he sees usage like that against the Browns, he could have 20+ DraftKings points.
Collins is the No. 1 DraftKings back in the SportsGeek Model.
Also on the Ravens:
- Javorius Allen: $4,700 DraftKings; $5,400 FanDuel
The Sith Lord is a pass-catching, touchdown-stealing menace to Collins investors with 19 targets, three 1-yard scores and a backfield-leading 46.0% of snaps played through four weeks. Only five players have more than his four carries inside the five-yard line. On the season, Allen has outproduced Collins, 13.5 DraftKings points per game to 11.7. If Collins doesn’t have a big game this week, Buck probably will.
Running Back Rundown
Here’s a quick look at the remaining fantasy-relevant backs on the slate.
Saquon Barkley: New York Giants (+6.5) at Carolina Panthers, 43.5 O/U
- $7,700 DraftKings; $7,900 FanDuel
No running back in NFL history has gotten more targets and receptions in his first four career games than Barkley has with 35 and 27 — but the Panthers have allowed a league-low 19 targets to running backs this year.
Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard & Mark Walton: Cincinnati Bengals (-5) vs. Miami Dolphins, 48.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/6): Bernard (knee) is out and Mixon reportedly is not expected to see his prior workload, so Walton could be relied upon for more snaps.
- Mixon: $6,900 DraftKings; $7,100 FanDuel
- Bernard: $6,800 DraftKings; $6,900 FanDuel
- Walton: $3,400 DraftKings; $4,700 FanDuel
Mixon (knee) returned to practice on Wednesday and is on track to play in Week 5. Bernard (knee) suffered an injury late in Week 4 and has missed the Wednesday and Thursday practices: He should be considered questionable at best to play. Walton (concussion) left Week 4 early with a head injury. If active, Walton will likely be the unused backup to Mixon this week.
Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman & Ito Smith: Atlanta Falcons (+3) at Pittsburgh Steelers, 57.5 O/U
- Freeman: $6,500 DraftKings; $6,800 FanDuel
- Coleman: $6,400 DraftKings; $6,900 FanDuel
- Smith: $3,000 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
Freeman (knee) will play after missing the past three weeks. Coleman (shin) had a limited practice on Wednesday but is expected to play in Week 5. If Coleman is out, Smith will serve as a functional if uninspiring change-of-pace back. Dating back to last season (including playoffs), the Steelers have allowed per-game averages of 28.4 points, 21.9 first downs, 381.6 scrimmage yards and 126 rushing yards without Pro Bowl inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (back, PUP).
David Johnson & Chase Edmonds: Arizona Cardinals (+4) at San Francisco 49ers, 40 O/U
- Johnson: $6,300 DraftKings; $7,600 FanDuel
- Edmonds: $4,300 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
Last week, Johnson had a season-high 25 touches, but he’s still lining up in the slot or out wide on just 5.9% of his snaps this year vs. 20.4% in 2016. Edmonds has unfortunately averaged 5.5 touches per game. Since former head coach Jim Harbaugh’s departure following the 2014 season, the 49ers have allowed an NFL-high 6,952 yards and 60 touchdowns rushing.
Kareem Hunt: Kansas City Chiefs (-3) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 49 O/U
- $5,800 DraftKings; $7,800 FanDuel
Hunt isn’t getting the receiving usage he saw last season, but he’s getting 18.8 touches, 87 scrimmage yards and one touchdown per game as the lead back on a team with a league-high 36.3-point average. Hunt has a position-high 97% DraftKings Bargain Rating.
Matt Breida, Alfred Morris & Kyle Juszczyk: San Francisco 49ers (-4) vs. Arizona Cardinals, 40 O/U
- Breida: $5,700 DraftKings; $6,200 FanDuel
- Morris: $3,600 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel
- Juszczyk: $3,100 DraftKings; $4,700 FanDuel
Quarterback C.J. Beathard isn’t Jimmy Garoppolo (knee), but at least he has targeted running backs at a league-high 33.3% rate since last year. Breida (shoulder) had a limited practice on Wednesday but is expected to play and ranks first at the position with 3.14 yards created per carry (per PlayerProfiler). Morris leads the backfield in carries (44 to Breida’s 41), and he’s top-five in the league with five carries inside the five-yard line, but he massively trails Breida in scrimmage yardage (398 vs. 203) and is a non-entity in the passing game (five targets). Juicy has averaged just 2.6 targets and 11 yards receiving per game with Beathard vs. 3.8 and 37.8 with Garoppolo.
T.J. Yeldon & Corey Grant: Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at Kansas City Chiefs, 49 O/U
- Yeldon: $5,600 DraftKings; $6,500 FanDuel
- Grant: $3,700 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
Leonard Fournette (hamstring) is out once again. Since last season, Yeldon has scored 12.2 PPR points per game in five games without Fournette. In the two games Fournette has missed this year, the explosive Grant has played 42.3% and 35.1% of the snaps, averaging 9.5 opportunities per game. The Chiefs have allowed a league-high 38.7 DraftKings points per game to opposing backfields.
Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin & Jalen Richard: Oakland Raiders (+5) at Los Angeles Chargers, 52.5 O/U
- Lynch: $5,500 DraftKings; $6,500 FanDuel
- Martin: $3,700 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
- Richard: $3,400 DraftKings; $4,600 FanDuel
Lynch is the team’s only running back to touch the ball inside the 10-yard line (seven carries and three receptions). Muscle Hamster is an ornamental player yet to hit a snap rate of even 25% in any game this year. Richard is a game script-dependent back who hasn’t touched the ball in the first quarter.
Dion Lewis & Derrick Henry: Tennessee Titans (-5) at Buffalo Bills, 39.5 O/U
- Lewis: $5,400 DraftKings; $5,700 FanDuel
- Henry: $4,400 DraftKings; $5,800 FanDuel
The Titans are the most run-heavy team on the slate with a 47.8% rush rate. Lewis leads the backfield with a 61.7% of snaps played, but he’s had just nine and four carries over the past two weeks for 26 yards. Only four of Henry’s 57 touches have come after second down. Last year the Bills allowed a league-high 29.1 DraftKings points per game to running backs. This year, they have allowed 30.8 to the position.
Dalvin Cook & Latavius Murray: Minnesota Vikings (+3) at Philadelphia Eagles, 46.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/6): Cook (hamstring) is a true game-time decision.
- Cook: $5,300 DraftKings; $6,300 FanDuel
- Murray: $4,500 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
Cook (hamstring) has averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and hasn’t looked the same since suffering a season-ending knee injury last year. He played last week but is dealing with a lingering soft-tissue issue and is questionable for Week 5. Since last year, Murray has averaged 12.2 PPR points in his 13 games without Cook, but the Eagles defensive line presents the Vikings offensive line with the slate’s most disadvantageous trench matchup.
Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb & Duke Johnson: Cleveland Browns (+3) vs. Baltimore Ravens, 45.5 O/U
- Hyde: $5,200 DraftKings; $6,700 FanDuel
- Johnson: $3,900 DraftKings; $4,800 FanDuel
- Chubb: $3,800 DraftKings; $5,300 FanDuel
Hyde easily leads the league with nine carries inside the five-yard line and has 16+ rushes in each game this year. Johnson led all running backs with 1,741 yards receiving in his first three seasons, but he had just 39 yards on five receptions and 10 targets in Weeks 1-3. Last week, though, in quarterback Baker Mayfield’s first start, Johnson had his best receiving game of the year with four receptions and 45 yards on six targets. Chubb is the back of the future, and after the Georgia alum’s 3-105-2 rushing performance, HC Hue Jackson has said that the rookie needs to “get some.” The Ravens have held opposing backfields to a slate-low 14.6 DraftKings points per game this year.
Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles & Wendell Smallwood: Philadelphia Eagles (-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings, 46.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/6): Clement (quad) missed practice all week and is a game-time decision. Sproles (hamstring) is out.
- Ajayi: $5,100 DraftKings; $6,300 FanDuel
- Clement: $4,500 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
- Sproles: $4,400 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
- Smallwood: $3,500 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
Over his past 10 games, Ajayi has an average of 15.3 opportunities per contest despite missing almost half of Week 2 with an injury. Clement (quad) and Sproles (hamstring) both missed last week and Wednesday and Thursday practices this week and are questionable for Week 5. Smallwood saw 10 opportunities (five rushes, five targets) as the change-of-pace option in Week 4.
LeSean McCoy & Chris Ivory: Buffalo Bills (+5) vs. Tennessee Titans, 39.5 O/U
- McCoy: $4,900 DraftKings; $6,300 FanDuel
- Ivory: $3,900 DraftKings; $5,300 FanDuel
McCoy has position-high 97% leverage scores on DraftKings and FanDuel but is yet to have even more than 13 touches in a game. Ivory has just four touches per game in McCoy’s three starts.
Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman & Devontae Booker: Denver Broncos (PK) at New York Jets, 42.5 O/U
- Lindsay: $4,800 DraftKings; $6,100 FanDuel
- Freeman: $4,200 DraftKings; $6,000 FanDuel
- Booker: $3,700 DraftKings; $4,900 FanDuel
Lindsay has been the league’s most north/south runner this year with a 2.81 Efficiency Rating. Freeman has faced boxes with 8+ defenders on a league-high 54.6% of his carries (Next Gen Stats). Booker has just 19 touches and is yet to play even 40% of the offensive snaps in any game. This game is currently a pick’em, but as Chad Millman and Bob Scucci discuss on the Wednesday edition of The Favorites podcast, by game time the Broncos will probably be favored.
Kenyan Drake & Frank Gore: Miami Dolphins (+5.5) at Cincinnati Bengals, 48.5 O/U
- Drake: $4,700 DraftKings; $5,900 FanDuel
- Gore: $3,900 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
The Dolphins play at a league-worst pace of 31.0 seconds/play, and Drake has just 11 touches for 26 scoreless yards over the past two weeks. Gore has more scrimmage yards (174 to 162) than and the same number of touchdowns (one) as Drake with fewer snaps (133 to 83) and fewer touches (43 to 38).
Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick & LeGarrette Blount: Detroit Lions (PK) vs. Green Bay Packers, 51 O/U
- Johnson: $4,600 DraftKings; $6,100 FanDuel
- Riddick: $4,000 DraftKings; $5,400 FanDuel
- Blount: $3,600 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
Kerryon is the 2017 SEC Offensive Player of the Year and the most talented back on the team, but he’s played just 38.0% of the offensive snaps. Blount has gotten just two of his 38 touches after second down. Across his career, Riddick has averaged 5.0 targets per game in losses vs. 3.7 in wins.
Bilal Powell & Isaiah Crowell: New York Jets (PK) vs. Denver Broncos, 42.5 O/U
- Powell: $4,400 DraftKings; $5,700 FanDuel
- Crowell: $4,100 DraftKings; $5,900 FanDuel
Powell is the Jets’ long-yardage back, with 32-of-39 carries and 14-of-16 targets coming with 7+ yards to go. Crowell has all of the Jets’ rushing touchdowns, but he also has radical scoring splits with 22.2 DraftKings points per game in his two outings with touchdowns and just 3.6 points in his two scoreless games.
Aaron Jones, Ty Montgomery & Jamaal Williams: Green Bay Packers (PK) at Detroit Lions, 51 Over/Under
- Jones: $4,300 DraftKings; $6,100 FanDuel
- Montgomery: $3,800 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel
- Williams: $3,700 DraftKings; $5,400 FanDuel
Since last season, Jones has been the best runner with 5.7 yards per carry. TyMont has been the best pass-catcher with 7.50 adjusted yards per attempt from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and could see additional action this weekend with wide receivers Davante Adams (calf), Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (concussion) all questionable for Week 5. And Williams has been the best pass protector of the trio with just one sack allowed in 75 pass blocks. This is a true three-headed backfield with a one-legged quarterback.
Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny & Mike Davis: Seattle Seahawks (+7) vs. Los Angeles Rams, 50.5 O/U
- Carson: $4,100 DraftKings; $6,000 FanDuel
- Penny: $3,600 DraftKings; $5,200 FanDuel
- Davis: $3,500 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel
The Seahawks are playing an all-important #RevengeGame for OC Brian Schottenheimer, one of the most run-appreciative play-callers in the league. I expect all three of his backs to clear 30 touches, easily.
Positional Breakdowns & News
Be sure to read the other Week 5 positional breakdowns.
• Wide Receivers (on Friday)
• Tight Ends (on Saturday)
For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs.
Photo credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports.
Pictured above: James Conner