The Week 10 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 1 p.m. ET. In this piece, I highlight the running backs who stand out in our large suite of analytical DFS Tools, most specifically the industry-leading FantasyLabs Models.
Odds as of Wednesday evening and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
Top Running Backs in the FantasyLabs Models
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.
- Saquon Barkley: $8,800 DraftKings; $8,600 FanDuel
- Le’Veon Bell: $7,700 DraftKings; $7,000 FanDuel
- Ronald Jones: $4,300 DraftKings; $6,300 FanDuel
Saquon Barkley: New York Giants (-2.5) at New York Jets, 43.5 Over/Under
UPDATE (Nov. 9): WR Sterling Shepard (concussion), TE Evan Engram (foot) and C Jon Halapio (hamstring) are out. RT Mike Remmers (back) is doubtful. Jets LB C.J. Mosley (groin) and CB Trumaine Johnson (ankle, IR) are out while LB Neville Hewitt and CB Darryl Roberts (calf) are doubtful.
I love Barkley, but let’s be honest: This year has been a disappointment. I don’t hold against him that he suffered an injury early in Week 3 and missed all of Weeks 4-6. NFL players get injured, especially running backs.
But even when we remove his injury-shorted Week 3 game from the sample, Barkley has suffered some significant year-over-year regression (per our FantasyLabs Trends Tool).
- 2019 (five games): 17.8 FanDuel points, +2.13 Plus/Minus, 60.0% Consistency Rating
- 2018 (16 games): 21.3 FanDuel points, +6.44 Plus/Minus, 81.3% Consistency Rating
Barkley’s decline in Plus/Minus value is significant. Last year, he outperformed his salary-based expectations more than any other starting running back. He was prolific. This year, he trails a whole host of lead backs in the metric.
If we look at his on-field stats, we can get a great sense of where his production has declined (per RotoViz Game Splits App).
- 2019 (five games): 16 carries for 78.2 yards and 0.4 touchdowns rushing, 7.2 targets for 4.8 receptions, 40.2 yards and 0.2 touchdowns receiving
- 2018 (16 games): 16.3 carries for 81.7 yards and 0.69 touchdowns rushing, 7.6 targets for 5.7 receptions, 45.1 yards and 0.25 touchdowns receiving
No surprise: He is getting a little less volume and is a little less efficient with it, but the big difference is that he’s scoring 0.34 fewer touchdowns per game. That’s what happens when a running back’s team scores 23.1 points per game in one season and just 19.6 the next.
With his locked-in three-down workload, Barkley still has a high floor each week, but his decline in scoring has significantly lowered his ceiling (per RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
Last year, Barkley had 25-plus FanDuel points in five games. This year, he hasn’t hit that mark once. Last year, he was a fantasy RB1 in 75% of his games. This year: 60% if you discount his partial Week 3, 50% if you include it.
I think an underappreciated factor in his underperformance has been the absence of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Even when we remove the injury-tainted Week 3, Barkley’s OBJ-less decline is notable.
- Without Beckham (nine games): 18.1 FanDuel points per game, 16.2 carries, 7.3 targets, 4.6 receptions, 118.2 yards and 0.67 touchdowns from scrimmage
- With Beckham (12 games): 22.2 FanDuel points per game, 16.3 carries, 7.6 targets, 6.2 receptions, 129.7 yards and one touchdown from scrimmage
With OBJ gone, opposing defenses are much freer to focus their attention on stopping Barkley, and the offense doesn’t give him as many high-leverage opportunities to score.
But there are a couple of reasons to like Barkley this week.
First, he’s on the positive side of his splits as a favorite.
- Favorite (four games): 24.9 FanDuel points, +9.49 Plus/Minus, 100% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (18 games): 18.6 FanDuel points, +3.60 Plus/Minus, 66.7% Consistency Rating
The sample is small, but historically Barkley has been the type of back who’s crushed when he’s had the opportunity to lay it on.
Additionally, Barkley’s matchup is better than it initially seems. By the numbers, it looks horrible, given that the Jets are No. 2 against the run (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA). But I think that ranking is very misleading.
For the first seven games of the season, the run defense was anchored by Pro-Bowl tackle Leonard Williams, but the Jets traded him to the Giants shortly before the trade deadline. Additionally, the Jets seem likely to be without starting inside linebackers C.J. Mosley (groin) and Neville Hewitt (neck, knee), both of whom have missed the past two games.
Not many backs are comparable to Barkley, but the three most Saquon-similar backs to face the Jets this year — Nick Chubb (Week 2), Ezekiel Elliott (Week 6) and Leonard Fournette (Week 8) — averaged 19.6 FanDuel points with a +6.32 Plus/Minus and 100% Consistency Rating.
I’m not sure if I want to go with Barley in cash games, because I’m somewhat loath to trust any skill-position player who has to rely on quarterback Daniel Jones, but Barkley will probably be popular in guaranteed prize pools.
Barkley leads all backs with his median, ceiling and floor projections and is the unanimous No. 1 option in the Pro Models for FanDuel, where he has a position-high 98% Bargain Rating. For good measure, he’s also the top back in the Levitan and SportsGeek Models for DraftKings, where he’s the No. 1 back with eight Pro Trends.
Le’Veon Bell: New York Jets (+2.5) vs. New York Giants, 43.5 O/U
UPDATE (Nov. 9): Bell and TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) are expected to play. LT Kelvin Beachum (ankle) and RG Brian Winters (knee, shoulder) are questionable while C Ryan Kalil (knee, elbow) is doubtful.
Opposite Barkley in the Jets-Giants matchup is Bell (knee, ankle), who had a relatively disappointing scoreless 111-yard performance on 26 opportunities (carries plus targets) last week against the tanking Dolphins and is now reportedly dealing with an injury. He had an MRI on Monday and is yet to practice (as of writing on Wednesday).
The severity of his injury and his availability for Week 10 are unknown, so I’m going to be cautious with Bell. Unless he gets in at least one full practice session this week, he absolutely cannot be considered for cash games. And even if he does practice, he still strikes me as excessively risky because he could aggravate the injury and/or see a reduced workload. Plus, the Jets offense is incredibly subpar. Even if Bell weren’t dealing with the knee injury, it would be hard to trust him in cash.
But if he suits up, he’s in play for tournaments. He’s regrettably played two of his eight games against the stalwart Patriots, who have allowed just one fantasy RB1 performance this year. In his six non-Pats games, Bell has averaged 16.6 DraftKings points with a 66.7% Consistency Rating.
For the season, he has an elite 91.1% snap rate and is tied for No. 7 with 22 opportunities per game. And since his 2014 breakout, Bell is No. 1 among all backs with 26.2 opportunities and No. 2 — behind only Barkley — with 23.2 DraftKings points per game. Although he’s on a sinking 1-7 team, Bell still has upside.
Because of his injury and offense, Bell is likely to have a reduced ownership rate, and his matchup isn’t bad: Bell adds the most value through the passing game, and the Giants are No. 26 in pass defense against running backs (19.4% DVOA).
The Giants haven’t faced many backs similar to Bell in comparable situations: Ezekiel Elliott was on a snap count in Week 1, and David Johnson played only three snaps in Week 7. But against the three-down backs to get heavy usage against them — Dalvin Cook (Week 5), Chase Edmonds (Week 7) and Zeke (Week 9) — the Giants allowed 28.2 DraftKings points per game with a +11.17 Plus/Minus.
When facing a back of Bell’s talent, the Giants can be exploited.
Bell is the No. 1 back in the Raybon Model, where he currently has a position-high +4.47 Projected Plus/Minus.
Ronald Jones: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals, 51.5 O/U
UPDATE (Nov. 9): Cardinals slot CB Tramaine Brock (hamstring) and defensive end Brooks Reed (hamstring, IR) are out.
This is it. RoJo’s career has been leading to this moment.
Last week, he got his first NFL start and played a career-high 53% snap rate. He still split work with Peyton Barber, and he annoyingly missed out on a goal-line touchdown that went to Dare Ogunbowale, but on his 42 snaps, he had outstanding usage with 18 carries and two targets.
He wasn’t hugely productive, but he had an acceptable 82 yards from scrimmage and found the end zone, and after the game, head coach Bruce Arians said that Jones “has earned the right to start and play more snaps” (per Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com).
After entering the league last year as a young 21-year-old high-upside second-rounder, Jones bitterly disappointed in his rookie campaign, averaging just 1.9 yards per carry and 3.7 yards per target on limited action. But this year he has flashed with 505 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns on 92 carries and 11 targets, and now he has the opportunity to establish himself as the clear-cut lead back.
As Hamlet puts it: “If it be not to come, it will be now.” For Jones, the time has come. The readiness is all.
And he has an ideal opponent for this moment. The Cardinals are No. 26 with a 61.4 run defense grade (per Pro Football Focus) and No. 29 in pass defense against running backs (21.2% DVOA). Collectively, the nine backs to lead their teams in opportunities against the Cardinals averaged 19.6 DraftKings points per game with a +5.16 Plus/Minus.
If Jones leads the Bucs backfield in Week 10, he should have a real chance to produce. It definitely doesn’t hurt that the Bucs-Cardinals game has a slate-high 51.5-point over/under.
With his advantageous matchup, projected opportunity and low salary, Jones seems likely to be a popular play in all formats.
Jones is the No. 1 back in the Bales, CSURAM88, Koerner and Freedman Models for DraftKings, where he has a 97% Bargain Rating.
Upside Running Backs for Guaranteed Prize Pools
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers ($10,500 DK, $10,500 FD): For the second week in a row, Run CMC is priced at an all-time high on DraftKings and FanDuel, but he’s earned the high salaries as an official member of Team Jam ‘Em In. McCaffrey is the No. 1 running back in our Week 10 fantasy football rankings. The Packers have allowed opposing backfields to hit top-six marks with 29.6 DraftKings and 25.9 FanDuel points per game. McCaffrey is the league’s most north/south runner with his 3.22 efficiency rating (per Next Gen Stats), and he’s the most voluminously blessed with his 89.3% opportunity share (per Player Profiler). Last week, McCaffrey had a Millionaire Maker-winning, slate-best 40.6-point performance. He’s in peak form. UPDATE (Nov. 9): WR Curtis Samuel (hamstring) is in. LT Greg Little (concussion) is still out. Packers CB Jaire Alexander (groin) and S Adrian Amos (hamstring) are questionable but expected to play.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints ($8,200 DK, $8,300 FD): Kamara (ankle, knee) last played in Week 6 but is tentatively expected to suit up this weekend. The Saints have a slate-high 32-point implied Vegas total: Points upon points will be scored at the Coors Field of fantasy football. With quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints have a 64-45-2 record to the over at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, good for an A-graded 15.2% return on investment (including postseason, per Bet Labs). Kamara averaged 23.9 DraftKings points per game last year in his two matchups with HC Dan Quinn’s Falcons. Long-term team-specific production patterns can be analyzed with our FantasyLabs Correlations Tool: Over the past year, Kamara has had a strong 0.42 correlation with Brees, thanks primarily to his pass-catching role. For GPPs, use our Lineup Builder to stack Kamara with Brees. UPDATE (Nov. 9): RB Alvin Kamara (knee, ankle), WR Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) and Jared Cook (ankle) are in. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant (toe) is a questionable game-time decision.
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers ($7,400 DK, $7,600 FD): Jones is the No. 3 fantasy back with 21.6 DraftKings and 18.5 FanDuel points per game. He’s coming off a scoreless 29-yard Week 9 performance, but over the past month he’s still averaged 99.5 yards and 0.75 touchdowns from scrimmage per game. The Panthers have an extreme funnel defense that ranks No. 3 against the pass (-18.7% DVOA) but No. 32 against the run (11.8% DVOA). UPDATE (Nov. 9): WRs Davante Adams (toe) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) are in. Panthers CB James Bradberry (groin) is questionable but expected to play.
Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints ($7,300 DK, $7,000 FD): If starter Alvin Kamara (ankle, knee) is unable to play, Murray will once again fill in as the lead back. In his two Kamara-less games this year, Murray has balled out with a 48-221-3 rushing, 14-86-1 receiving performance. Even if Kamara returns, Murray will probably have a defined role that comes with double-digit touches and goal-line opportunities. UPDATE (Nov. 9): RB Alvin Kamara (knee, ankle), WR Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) and Jared Cook (ankle) are in. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant (toe) is a questionable game-time decision.
Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens ($7,100 DK, $8,000 FD): Ingram is locked in for 14-plus touches per game as the lead back in an offense with a militant 57.2% run rate in quarterback Lamar Jackson’s 16 career starts. Ingram leads the league with six touchdowns inside the opponent five-yard line. He had a respectable 14.4 FanDuel points against the Bengals in Week 6, and they have allowed the second-most FanDuel points to opposing backfields with 28.3 per game. UPDATE (Nov. 9): Jackson missed practice on Thursday with an illness but practiced fully on Friday. He’s playing. WR Marquise Brown (ankle, thigh) popped up on the Friday injury report with a questionable designation, but he got in a limited practice and is expected to play. Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) is out.
Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns ($7,000 DK, $7,900 FD): Chubb might lose some work due to the return of Kareem Hunt (suspension), but dating back to last season, Chubb has averaged 107.6 yards and 0.78 touchdowns from scrimmage in his 18 games as the team’s lead back. For 2019, Chubb trails only Christian McCaffrey with his 100.4 yards rushing per game. The Bills have a back-friendly funnel defense that ranks No. 5 against the pass overall (-6.8% DVOA) but No. 25 in pass defense against running backs (17.6% DVOA) and No. 30 against the run (5.1% DVOA).
Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts ($7,000 DK, $7,400 FD): Mack is No. 2 with 19.9 carries per game, and the Colts are No. 4 with a 46.8% run rate. In his 15 career games as a favorite, Mack has averaged 14.5 DraftKings points with a +3.57 Plus/Minus. He has a glorious matchup against the Dolphins, who are No. 31 against the run (9.0% DVOA) and No. 32 in pass defense against running backs (55.5% DVOA). UPDATE (Nov. 9): QB Jacoby Brissett (knee) is out. QB Brian Hoyer is expected to start. Dolphins CB Ken Webster (ankle) and S Reshad Jones (chest) are out.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans ($6,400 DK, $7,000 FD): Since becoming a locked-in lead back in Week 14 last year, Henry has averaged 18.2 FanDuel points as well as 108.8 yards and 1.15 touchdowns from scrimmage per game. He could have negative game script as an underdog, but the Titans will likely lean on the ground game as much as they can. The Chiefs are No. 32 with a 60.0 PFF run defense grade. UPDATE (Nov. 9): TE Delanie Walker (ankle) is out and WR Corey Davis (hip) is doubtful.
Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6,300 DK, $6,200 FD): Starter James Conner (shoulder) missed last week and is currently uncertain for this week. In Conner’s stead, Samuels had 20.3 DraftKings points in Week 9, and in his four Conner-less starts dating back to last year, Samuels has averaged 102.8 scrimmage yards on 12.5 carries and 6.3 targets. Samuels is one of the best receiving backs in the league — last week he had 13 receptions on 13 targets — and the Rams are No. 27 in pass defense against running backs (19.7% DVOA). UPDATE (Nov. 9): Conner and RB Benny Snell (knee) are out as is LG Ramon Foster (concussion). RB Trey Edmunds (ribs) is in.
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams ($6,100 DK, $7,200 FD): Gurley should be rested and ready coming off the Week 9 bye. He had a season-low 11 opportunities in Week 8, but that came in a 24-10 victory over the 0-8 Bengals in the London game. In a game that should be more competitive, Gurley seems likely to see more touches. Despite his decline in volume, Gurley still has seven touchdowns on the season and 49 in 40 games under HC Sean McVay (including playoffs). UPDATE (Nov. 9): WR Brandin Cooks (concussion) is out. RB Malcolm Brown (ankle) is in.
David Montgomery, Chicago Bears ($5,300 DK, $6,400 FD): The Bears offense has been weighed down this year by the magnitude of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s outsized regression, but Montgomery at least is starting to break out. Over the past two weeks he’s emerged as the clear lead back with 111.5 yards and 1.5 touchdowns from scrimmage on 20.5 carries, 4.5 targets and 3.5 receptions per game. The Lions have allowed a league-high 33.6 DraftKings points per game to opposing backfields. UPDATE (Nov. 9): Lions DT Da’Shawn Hand (elbow) is out, while DTs Mike Daniels (foot), Damon Harrison (groin) and A’Shawn Robinson (ankle) are questionable. S Tracy Walker (knee) is out.
Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills ($5,000 DK, $6,700 FD): The third-rounder is starting to kick dirt onto the down-in-a-hole body of Frank Gore. Although the undead veteran is still seeing action, the rookie has played the supermajority of offensive snaps, taken all of the backfield’s receiving work, out-carried Gore 23-20 and averaged 94.5 scrimmage yards and one touchdown per game over the past two weeks. The Browns are No. 30 with a 57.9 PFF run defense grade. UPDATE (Nov. 9): Browns DE Olivier Vernon (knee) and CB Eric Murray (knee) are out. S Damarious Randall (hamstring) is questionable.
Ty Montgomery, New York Jets ($4,100 DK, $4,600 FD): Starter Le’Veon Bell (knee, ankle) is uncertain to play. If he’s inactive, Montgomery seems likely to lead the backfield. Although Montgomery has just a 13.3% snap rate, he has a three-down skill set and would benefit from a soft intrastate matchup with the Giants. UPDATE (Nov. 9): Bell and TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) are expected to play. LT Kelvin Beachum (ankle) and RG Brian Winters (knee, shoulder) are questionable while C Ryan Kalil (knee, elbow) is doubtful.
Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins ($3,800 DK, $4,600 FD): Kenyan Drake (trade) and Mark Walton (suspension) aren’t suiting up for the Dolphins this weekend, so Ballage has a chance to get some sustained run. The Dolphins are big underdogs, but Ballage is a good pass catcher (82 receptions in college), and the Colts are No. 31 with a 57.8 PFF run defense grade. UPDATE (Nov. 9): Colts S Malik Hooker (knee) is in while CB Pierre Desir (hamstring) is questionable but seems likely not to play.
Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns ($3,000 DK, $4,500 FD): Hunt (suspension) is ready to make his season debut this week, and there’s an off chance that the flailing 2-6 Browns will give Hunt more work than expected simply for the sake of trying something new. The 2017 NFL rushing leader as a rookie, the min-priced Hunt has averaged 20.2 DraftKings and 17.8 FanDuel points on 108.3 yards and 0.93 touchdowns from scrimmage across his 28 career games. Even with starter Nick Chubb, the Browns would be foolish not to give Hunt at least a few touches.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.
Pictured above: Ronald Jones
Photo credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports.