The Week 6 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 13, 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.
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Top Running Backs in the FantasyLabs Models
There are nine 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.
- Ezekiel Elliott: $8,500 DraftKings; $8,500 FanDuel
- David Johnson: $7,600 DraftKings; $6,900 FanDuel
- Leonard Fournette: $6,700 DraftKings; $7,300 FanDuel
- Mark Ingram: $6,600 DraftKings; $7,500 FanDuel
- Chris Carson: $6,000 DraftKings; $7,200 FanDuel
- Joe Mixon: $5,500 DraftKings; $6,400 FanDuel
- Tevin Coleman: $4,400 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
- Carlos Hyde: $4,400 DraftKings; $6,000 FanDuel
- Duke Johnson Jr.: $4,100 DraftKings; $5,300 FanDuel
Let’s take a closer look at all nine.
Ezekiel Elliott: Dallas Cowboys (-7.5) at New York Jets, 42.5 Over/Under
Zeke has had something of a mixed season so far.
- Week 1 (vs. Giants): 12.8 FanDuel points, 54.4% offensive snaps, 13-53-1 rushing, 1-10-0 receiving on two targets
- Week 2 (at Redskins): 19.0 FanDuel points, 75.7% offensive snaps, 23-111-1 rushing, 2-9-0 receiving on two targets
- Week 3 (vs. Dolphins): 14.9 FanDuel points, 66.7% offensive snaps, 19-125-0 rushing, 2-14-0 receiving on three targets
- Week 4 (at Saints): 13.5 FanDuel points, 96.6% offensive snaps, 18-35-1 rushing, 6-30-0 receiving on seven targets
- Week 5 (vs. Packers): 16.1 FanDuel points, 93.1% offensive snaps, 12-62-1 rushing, 2-29-0 receiving on four targets
Zeke is the No. 12 FanDuel back, averaging 15.3 points per game. He has underperformed his salary-based expectations with a -0.40 Plus/Minus, and his 40% Consistency Rating speaks to how mediocre he has truly been.
In just one game this year has he finished as a top-12 fantasy back (per the RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
But his 2019 production needs to be put into context.
In Weeks 1-2, he was working his way back into shape after his Cabo-located offseason holdout. In Week 3, he played sparingly in the second half of a 31-6 win as backup Tony Pollard got extra work.
In Week 4, Zeke and the Cowboys simply sucked, but at least he played almost all the snaps and was No. 2 on the team in targets. And in Week 5, he fell victim to an extremely pass-heavy game script as the Cowboys abandoned the run and looked to push the ball downfield because of a 28-point deficit.
Given the circumstances, I think it’s clear that Zeke still has a high floor and significant role within the offense. I will probably die believing that the Cowboys shouldn’t have drafted Elliott No. 4 overall in 2016, but since he entered the league, only Le’Veon Bell and Saquon Barkley have averaged more FanDuel points per game than Zeke’s 18.7 (including playoffs).
Zeke doesn’t have a great matchup this week. The Jets defense is No. 3 with a stuffed run rate of 27%, No. 11 in rush DVOA with a -16.6% mark and No. 9 against running backs with a pass DVOA of -15.4% (per Football Outsiders).
The Jets have allowed a middle-of-the-road 21.4 FanDuel points per game to opposing backfields.
Plus, it’s not great for the Cowboys that they seem likely to be without All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle), who they’ve significantly underperformed without in the Zeke era (including playoffs).
- With Smith (44 games): 24.9 points, 365.5 total yards, 8.6 offensive expected points
- Without Smith (12 games): 18.8 points, 344.6 total yards, -1.4 offensive expected points
Because of the matchup and Smith’s absence — not to mention his position-high salary — Zeke probably isn’t in play for me in cash games.
But he deserves exposure in guaranteed prize pools: The Cowboys are favored, and Zeke is the clear lead back in an offense that leads the league with 7.2 yards per play. This could be his 150-yard, two-touchdown breakout week.
Zeke is the No. 1 back in the Bales and Freedman Models for FanDuel, where he leads the position with his median projection and 12 Pro Trends.
David Johnson: Arizona Cardinals (+2.5) vs. Atlanta Falcons, 51.5 O/U
Johnson (back) is uncertain to play, so be sure to monitor his status throughout the week. If he’s inactive, backup Chase Edmonds ($4,600 DK, $5,200 FD) will be popular.
Even if Johnson is able to suit up for Sunday, I’ll probably steer clear of him in cash games because of his preexisting injury: Back injuries are nothing to fool around with, especially when it comes to upright runners.
But Johnson will be an option in tournaments. Despite his underwhelming rushing production, Johnson is the No. 8 FanDuel back with 16.2 points per game.
His production hasn’t always been pretty, but at least it’s been there.
- Week 1 (vs. Lions): 22.7 FanDuel points, 18-82-0 rushing, 6-55-1 receiving on seven targets
- Week 2 (at Ravens): 7.9 FanDuel points, 7-14-1 rushing, 1-0-0 receiving on one target
- Week 3 (vs. Panthers): 15.5 FanDuel points, 11-37-0 rushing, 6-28-1 receiving on nine targets
- Week 4 (vs. Seahawks): 17.9 FanDuel points, 11-40-0 rushing, 8-99-0 receiving on 11 targets
- Week 5 (at Bengals): 17.1 FanDuel points, 17-91-0 rushing, 3-65-0 receiving on five targets
In four of five weeks this year, Johnson has been a top-12 fantasy performer at the position.
The big factor Johnson has in his favor is his pass-catching prowess. He’s No. 4 among all backs with 33 targets and No. 6 with 9.8 expected receiving fantasy points per game (per the RotoViz Screener).
He’s no longer the 2016 All-Pro compiler who had an NFL-high 373 touches, 2,118 yards and 20 touchdowns. But Johnson has been significantly more productive this year than he was last year.
- 2019 (five games): 16.2 FanDuel points, +4.55 Plus/Minus, 80% Consistency Rating
- 2018 (16 games): 13.9 FanDuel points, +1.18 Plus/Minus, 50% Consistency Rating
He’s still a three-down lead back who gets 19.4 opportunities per game, sees 78.6% of the offensive snaps, has 100% of the team’s backfield goal-line work and plays in a fast-paced system that’s No. 2 in the league with 24.0 seconds per play.
Johnson has two large factors in his favor this week.
First, Johnson is cheap on FanDuel. He’s priced outside the top eight even though he has a top-four ceiling projection. If you use the FantasyLabs Trends tool to sort through Johnson’s game log by salary, you’ll see that Johnson is near historically-low personal pricing levels.
In Week 1, Johnson was $1,200 more on FanDuel than he is now. Perhaps he was too expensive then, but he’s way too cheap now.
Additionally, Johnson has a good matchup against the Falcons, who have been exploited by backs with 12-plus carries against them.
- Dalvin Cook (Week 1, home): 25.0 FanDuel points, 21-111-2 rushing, 2-9-0 receiving on two targets
- Marlon Mack (Week 3, home): 15.8 FanDuel points, 16-74-1 rushing, 2-14-0 receiving on three targets
- Derrick Henry (Week 4, away): 11.3 FanDuel points, 27-100-0 rushing, 1-8-0 receiving on two targets
- Carlos Hyde (Week 5, home): 12.0 FanDuel points, 21-60-1 rushing, 0-0-0 receiving on one target
Most importantly, under defense-oriented head coach Dan Quinn, the Falcons have historically funneled targets — and thus fantasy points — to opposing backs with their Cover 3 defense.
- 2018: 30.0 DraftKings points (4th), 117 receptions (1st)
- 2017: 23.5 DraftKings points (21st), 110 receptions (1st)
- 2016: 28.1 DraftKings points (4th), 109 receptions (1st)
- 2015: 29.6 DraftKings points (3rd), 118 receptions (1st)
If Johnson is able to get 12 carries and seven targets against the Falcons, it’s hard to imagine him not having another top-12 fantasy performance.
Johnson is the No. 1 back in the CSURAM88, Koerner and Raybon Models for FanDuel, where he has a position-high 99% Bargain Rating.
Leonard Fournette: Jacksonville Jaguars (+1) vs. New Orleans Saints, 44.5 O/U
Remember when Fournette entered the league three years ago and people assumed he was just an early-down grinder?
This year, he’s No.7 among all backs with 19.3 DraftKings points and No. 8 with 8.9 expected receiving fantasy points per game. With 30 targets, Fournette is a significant part of the passing attack.
Here’s what’s intriguing to me about Fournette: There seems to be this perception that he’s finally starting to break out. While he’s having a good season, it’s not as if he’s doing significantly more than he did in his first two seasons.
- 2019 (five games): 19.3 DraftKings points, +5.56 Plus/Minus, 60% Consistency Rating
- 2017-18 (24 games): 17.8 DraftKings points, +1.51 Plus/Minus, 54.2% Consistency Rating
The big difference with Fournette isn’t that he’s scoring way more points per game. The difference is that he’s cheaper now than he was previously, so his outperformance is magnified and all the more valuable.
Then again, in backup rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew’s starts, Fournette actually has seen a pretty significant increase in production.
- Fantasy production (four games): 21.0 DraftKings points, +7.25 Plus/Minus, 75% Consistency Rating
- Football production (four games): 82-446-1 rushing, 26-115-0 receiving on 24 targets
Fournette hasn’t gotten into the end zone often over the past month, but with all his usage and yardage, the touchdowns will come. Fournette is No. 3 at the position with 97.7 total expected fantasy points, so he’s likely to enjoy some positive scoring regression, and he has all five of the team’s backfield carries inside the opponent 10-yard line.
I’m not a huge fan of Fournette’s matchup: The Saints are No. 8 with a 75.2 PFF run-defense grade, and they are yet to allow 100 scrimmage yards to a back. Plus, Fournette is on the negative side of his career reverse splits.
- Home (11 games): 14.7 DraftKings points, -1.83 Plus/Minus, 36.4% Consistency Rating
- Road (17 games): 20.4 DraftKings points, +4.74 Plus/Minus, 64.7% Consistency Rating
- Favorite (13 games): 17.5 DraftKings points, -2.38 Plus/Minus, 30.8% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (16 games): 20.5 DraftKings points, +5.94 Plus/Minus, 75% Consistency Rating
As a home favorite, Fournette has averaged just 14.0 DraftKings points with a -3.79 Plus/Minus and 28.6% Consistency Rating. That’s terrifying. And it highlights how dependent Fournette is on his receiving workload and how inefficient the Jags have been at lining up and running the ball when the defense expects a run. The Jags are No. 30 with a 47.0 PFF run-blocking grade.
Because of the matchup and splits, I’m going to tread lightly on Fournette in cash games, but I do see his appeal in tournaments. He’s gone off in each of the past two weeks with performances in excess of 25 DraftKings points, and since entering the league in 2017, Fournette trails only Le’Veon Bell and Zeke with his 23.5 opportunities (carries plus targets) per game.
Fournette is the No. 1 DraftKings back in the Raybon Model.
Mark Ingram: Baltimore Ravens (-11.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 48 O/U
It’s easy to undermine what Ingram has done this season because he has only nine targets and looks like a downright plodder. And even though I’m something a longtime Ingram stan, even I must admit that his production this year has been amazingly uneven.
Even so, Ingram is the No. 6 FanDuel back with 16.9 points per game. What does it matter that he has a +4.96 Plus/Minus with only a 40% Consistency Rating? That just means he’s too risky for cash games but perfect for tournaments.
There’s really a lot to like about Ingram. He’s locked into 12-plus touches per game as the lead back on the team that leads the league with 32.2 points per game. In quarterback Lamar Jackson’s 13 career starts, the Ravens have had a 1940s-esque 57.2% run rate. This year, they have an NFL-high 180 rush attempts.
On top of that, they lead the league with a 0.57 rushing success rate. The Ravens don’t just run the ball to keep opposing defenses honest. The Ravens run to win. And they run when the get close to the goal line.
Ingram has an NFL-high seven carries inside the five-yard line and 13 carries inside the 10. As a result, he’s No. 2 in the league with six touchdowns rushing. Ideally, Ingram wouldn’t be so reliant on touchdowns to score fantasy points, because touchdowns can be fickle: In his two games without a touchdown this year, Ingram has managed just 8.7 and 7.6 FanDuel points and finished outside of the top 24 in fantasy scoring.
But are you willing to bet that Ingram won’t get into the end zone against the Bengals?
Last year, the Bengals allowed the second-most production to opposing backfields with 27.4 FanDuel points per game. This year, they have somehow gotten worse: They have allowed a league-high mark of 34.3.
The onslaught has been relentless. With the exception of Bills backup T.J. Yeldon, if a back has gotten eight carries against the Bengals, he’s given them the Johnny Sack treatment.
Fantasy scoring for every RB with 8+ carries vs. Bengals:
W1: Carson – 21.1
W2: Mostert – 22.6, Wilson – 15.4, Breida – 13.7
W3: Gore – 15.9, Yeldon – 3.9
W4: Conner – 22.5, Samuels – 19.5
W5: Johnson – 17.1, Edmonds – 16.1
Mark Ingram vs. Bengals in Week 6
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) October 9, 2019
Do you think Ingram is going to get eight-plus carries this weekend? Because I do.
Linebackers Nick Vigil and Preston Brown are especially to blame for the Bengals’ generosity to opposing backs. They have both been exposed on the ground and in coverage.
The Bengals are fortunate to be only No. 26 with a 1.7% run-defense DVOA. They’re at their worst in the intermediate range of the field, where they rank No. 31 with 1.59 second-level yards allowed per run: Once opposing backs get 5-10 yards past the line of scrimmage, the Bengals linebackers have been incapable of limiting yardage.
To make matters worse, the Bengals are No. 30 against running backs with a 43.4% pass-defense DVOA. Last year, they were No. 31 with a 22.0% mark.
On the ground or through the air, they can’t stop anyone.
Vigil and Brown specifically have been among the worst defenders on the team, and that’s reflected in their PFF grades.
- Nick Vigil: 43.9 overall, 51.8 run defense, 42.7 coverage
- Preston Brown: 43.2 overall, 41.1 run defense, 51.1 coverage
Ingram and the Ravens should smash. The first start of Jackson’s NFL career came last year in Week 11 against the Bengals. In that game, the Ravens had a collective 53-267-2 rushing line. For Ingram, 100 yards and two touchdowns is well within the range of outcomes, especially since he’s likely to have a run-heavy game script as a double-digit favorite.
Ingram is the No. 1 back in the SportsGeek Model for both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Chris Carson: Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at Cleveland Browns, 47 O/U
Even with 2018 first-rounder Rashaad Penny syphoning snaps and touches, Carson is locked in as the lead back. He’s had 15 carries each week and is averaging 3.4 targets per game.
He fumbled three times in the first three weeks of the season, but the coaching staff stuck with him. In fact, his rushing workload increased from 15 carries per game in Weeks 1-3 to 22 and then 27 in Weeks 4-5. Carson is one of the true backs with truly bankable volume each week.
But even with his usage, Carson has been an inconsistent producer.
With three weeks inside the top 12 and two weeks outside the top 24, Carson is hard to trust in cash games. He’s averaging a mediocre 4.0 yards per carry and yet to hit the 5.0 mark in any game. His volume is great, but if he doesn’t score a touchdown or produce as a receiver, Carson could tank a lineup.
Additionally, he’s on the negative side of the home/road splits he’s exhibited since becoming the lead back last year.
- Home (11 games): 17.1 DraftKings points, +6.00 Plus/Minus, 81.8% Consistency Rating
- Away (nine games): 13.4 DraftKings points, +2.35 Plus/Minus, 55.6% Consistency Rating
Carson hasn’t been bad on the road, but he’s just been significantly better at CenturyLink Field.
Still, he’s on the positive side of his favorite/dog splits.
- Favorite (11 games): 18.0 DraftKings points, +6.62 Plus/Minus, 81.8% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (10 games): 11.6 DraftKings points, +1.15 Plus/Minus, 50% Consistency Rating
And he’s got a great matchup against the Browns, who rank No. 31 with a 51.8 PFF run-defense grade. Just last week, they were destroyed by the 49ers backfield, as running backs Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert plus fullback Kyle Juszczyk combined to go 34-245-2 rushing and 5-35-1 receiving on six targets. In total, 49ers backs put up 54 DraftKings points on the Browns.
The 49ers lead the league with a 56.6% run rate, but the Seahawks aren’t too far behind them at No. 5 with a 47.7% rate. Carson and his backfield mates probably won’t approach 54 DraftKings points, but they could still have a big game against a defense that just got brutalized.
And here’s an underrated factor in Carson’s favor: The Browns just played on Monday Night Football, and they were physically worked over in a disheartening 31-3 loss. And now they have one less day than usual to prepare for Sunday. And the Seahawks played on Thursday Night Football, so they have an extra three days on top of the normal week.
So the Browns are running a four-day deficit to the Seahawks in terms of rest and readiness.
Against a weary and less prepared opponent that has disappointed with its 2-3 record, Carson and the Seahawks could run amok.
Carson is the No. 1 back in the Koerner Model for DraftKings.
Joe Mixon: Cincinnati Bengals (+11.5) at Baltimore Ravens, 48 O/U
Do I really want to write about Mixon? He’s a prisoner of circumstance on an 0-5 team averaging just 16 points per game. The Bengals are dead last with a 29% stuffed run rate, and Mixon is getting no help from his offensive line, which has been hollowed out by injuries.
Just once this year has Mixon been a top-12 fantasy back.
In the other four weeks, he was outside the top 24.
For the season, he’s averaging 9.8 DraftKings points per game with a -3.83 Plus/Minus and 20% Consistency Rating. That’s a Peyton Barber-level of production.
But it’s not all bad for Mixon. Since his unfortunate eight-touch Week 1 letdown, he has averaged 15 carries and 3.3 targets per game. That kind of volume can’t be ignored, especially from a back who just last year put up 1,464 yards and nine touchdowns from scrimmage in 14 games.
And Mixon’s matchup against the Ravens isn’t altogether bad. The Ravens defense ranks just No. 24 with a 0.7% run DVOA and No. 23 with a 15.5% pass DVOA against running backs. This year, there have been six backs with at least eight opportunities in a game against the Ravens.
- David Johnson (Week 2, away): 8.4 DraftKings points, 7-14-1 rushing, 1-0-0 receiving on one target
- LeSean McCoy (Week 3, home): 23.0 DraftKings points, 8-54-1 rushing, 3-26-1 receiving on three targets
- Darrel Williams (Week 3, home): 15.9 DraftKings points, 9-62-0 rushing, 5-47-0 receiving on five targets
- Nick Chubb (Week 4, away): 42.3 DraftKings points, 20-165-3 rushing, 3-18-0 receiving on four targets
- Dontrell Hilliard (Week 4, away): 13.4 DraftKings points, 6-27-1 rushing, 2-27-0 receiving on three targets
- James Conner (Week 5, home): 11.5 DraftKings points, 14-55-1 rushing, zero targets
Collectively these six backs have averaged 19.1 DraftKings points per game with a +8.07 Plus/Minus and 66.7% Consistency Rating.
I doubt that Mixon will have a Chubb-like performance against the Ravens. If he could even get a half-Chubb output, that would be great. But it doesn’t help that Mixon is on the negative side of splits as a road dog (since he became the lead back last year).
- Home (10 games): 17.3 DraftKings points, +1.53 Plus/Minus, 50% Consistency Rating
- Away (nine games): 14.7 DraftKings points, -0.20 Plus/Minus, 33.3% Consistency Rating
- Favorite (eight games): 19.2 DraftKings points, +4.22 Plus/Minus, 62.5% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (11 games): 13.7 DraftKings points, -1.84 Plus/Minus, 27.3% Consistency Rating
In his eight games as a road dog, Mixon has averaged 13.3 DraftKings points with a -1.77 Plus/Minus and 25% Consistency Rating.
He’s clearly not at all roster-able in cash games, but he’s an option in GPPs because he’ll likely have a sub-5% ownership rate, his matchup is underrated and he might see more opportunities with wide receivers A.J. Green (ankle) and John Ross (clavicle, injured reserve) on the sideline.
Mixon is the No. 1 back in the Levitan Model for DraftKings, where he has a position-high seven Pro Trends.
Tevin Coleman: San Francisco 49ers (+3) at Los Angeles Rams, 50.5 O/U
Like Mixon, Coleman doesn’t appeal to me, but he deserves attention. On Monday Night Football, Coleman (ankle) returned from an injury that had sidelined him since the season opener, and he put up 15.7 FanDuel points as the No. 15 fantasy back.
He out-touched Breida 16-14 and played him to a 34% tie in snap rate.
The 49ers backfield is a clear committee, as Mostert got seven touches and played 32% of the snaps in the team’s 31-3 win, so it’s fair to wonder how much value Coleman can actually provide if he’s not getting at least 50% of the positional work. But even if Coleman is splitting the workload with Breida and Mostert, he still might see enough action to be relevant. The sample is small, but the 49ers lead the league with a 56.6% run rate.
It hurts that the 49ers are without left tackle Joe Staley (leg), right tackle Mike McGlinchey (knee) and fullback Kyle Juszczyk (knee), all of whom are expected to be out for about a month. The absence of Juicy especially hurts: The three-time Pro Bowler has a 52.1% snap rate and is probably the league’s best lead-blocking back.
But even with these injuries, the 49ers will likely continue to run the ball: They’re 4-0 with their run-heavy approach. What incentive do they have to run the ball any less?
Plus, head coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive play callers in recent memory. He was the architect of the 2016 Falcons offense that averaged 33.8 points per game, and right now he’s in the zone with all the different types of running plays he’s creating.
Kyle Shanahan designing run plays like pic.twitter.com/n1ToA5zPIb
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) October 8, 2019
If the Ravens don’t have the league’s most inventive running game, the 49ers definitely do.
And we can look to what Coleman did under Shanahan with the 2016 Falcons to get a sense of his current potential.
While splitting the backfield work with Devonta Freeman in 2016, Coleman played 15 games (excluding his injury-shortened Week 7 and including playoffs). In all of those games, Freeman had a snap rate higher than 35% and lower than 50%. I think that’s the range he’s likely to fall in with the 49ers. And in that role, Coleman averaged 13.4 FanDuel points with 69.7 yards and 0.87 touchdowns from scrimmage per game and 0.45 opportunities per snap.
Even with a circumscribed role, Coleman could still put up fantasy points, especially if he serves as the primary goal-line back, which seems likely: Before the season, Shanahan talked about Coleman as the likely short-yardage guy, and Coleman is bigger (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) than both Breida (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) and Mostert (5-foot-10, 197 pounds).
This year, almost every back with double-digit carries against the Rams has had success.
- Christian McCaffrey (Week 1, home): 37.9 FanDuel points, 19-128-2 rushing, 10-81-0 receiving on 11 targets
- Alvin Kamara (Week 2, away): 6.5 FanDuel points, 13-45-0 rushing, 1-15-0 receiving on three targets
- Nick Chubb (Week 3, home): 15.1 FanDuel points, 23-96-0 rushing, 4-35-0 receiving on seven targets
- Ronald Jones II (Week 4, away): 15.2 FanDuel points, 19-70-1 rushing, 1-12-0 receiving on one target
- Chris Carson (Week 5, home): 18.8 FanDuel points, 27-118-0 rushing, 1-5-1 receiving on two targets
Collectively, these backs have averaged 18.6 FanDuel points per game against the Rams with a +6.48 Plus/Minus. Even if he gets only 12-16 touches in Week 6, Coleman could approach those numbers in a game with the slate’s third-highest over/under.
Coleman is the No. 1 back in the Levitan Model for FanDuel.
Carlos Hyde: Houston Texans (-4.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 55 O/U
Over the past 18 months, Hyde has gone from the 49ers to the Browns to the Jaguars to the Chiefs and now to the Texans. What a long, strange trip it’s been.
Hyde has the facetious #RevengeGame angle going for him: The Chiefs traded him away this offseason not even six months after signing him. Even so, it’s hard to be too excited by Hyde: He’s a between-the-tackles plodder with a 52.9% snap rate and just eight yards receiving on seven targets this year. But he has 10-plus carries in each game and 100% of the team’s backfield carries inside the five-yard line. And this year he actually leads all backs with his 0.59 rushing success. He doesn’t get a lot of yards, but his 4.2 yards per carry is acceptable, and he gets enough yards for the offense to sustain drives.
In his two full seasons as a locked-in starter (2016-17), he averaged 1,219.5 yards and 8.5 touchdowns from scrimmage in 14.5 games. He’s not an entirely untalented player.
Hyde has just 9.8 DraftKings points per game this year, so — again — he’s not overly exciting. In not one game this year has he had a top-24 fantasy finish.
But at $4,400 on DraftKings, he has an under-appreciated floor with his +1.69 Plus/Minus and 80% Consistency Rating.
And his spot is intriguing: The Texans-Chiefs game has a slate-high over/under, and the Chiefs are vulnerable on the ground with their league-low 46.5 PFF run-defense grade. Last week, the Colts gave the Chiefs their first loss of the season — at Arrowhead Stadium, no less — and they relied heavily on the running game to extend drives and keep the Chiefs offense on the sideline.
The Texans could go with a similar strategy this weekend, especially given the success that lead backs have had against the Chiefs.
- Leonard Fournette (Week 1, home): 12.4 DraftKings points, 13-66-0 rushing, 4-28-0 receiving on six targets
- Josh Jacobs (Week 2, home): 9.9 DraftKings points, 12-99-0 rushing, zero targets
- Mark Ingram (Week 3, away): 38.5 DraftKings points, 16-103-3 rushing, 4-32-0 receiving on four targets
- Kerryon Johnson (Week 4, home): 19.7 DraftKings points, 26-125-0 rushing, 2-32-0 receiving on three targets
- Marlon Mack (Week 5, away): 20.8 DraftKings points, 29-132-0 rushing, 3-16-0 receiving on three targets
Collectively, these backs have averaged 20.3 DraftKings points per game against the Chiefs with a +8.39 Plus/Minus. If the Texans get out to a lead and decide to give Hyde the 21 touches he saw last week, he could have an outlier 100-yard, two-touchdown performance at sub-5% ownership.
Hyde is the No. 1 back in the Bales and Freedman Models for DraftKings, where he has an elite 91% Bargain Rating.
Duke Johnson Jr.: Houston Texans (-4.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 55 O/U
Like his teammate Hyde, Johnson faces a Chiefs defense that’s the league’s worst on the ground. Duke is averaging just 6.4 carries per game, and that’s not a large number, but it’s more than the 4.7 he averaged in his first four years with the Browns. And he’s supplementing his rushing work with 2.6 targets per game.
All of that seems unsexy, but that’s an average of nine opportunities per game. That’s workable, especially at $4,100 on DraftKings.
Duke is yet to score even 10 DraftKings points in a game this year, but he’s gone over 60 scrimmage yards three times. In both of the team’s two losses, he’s played a 64% snap rate, and if the Texans get behind early, Duke could be the lead back for most of the game, in which case an 80-yard game with a handful of receptions and a fortuitous touchdown would be feasible.
And if Johnson had such a performance, he would likely provide tremendous leverage on the more popular players in what’s expected to be a high-scoring Texans-Chiefs game.
Duke is the No. 1 DraftKings back in the CSURAM88 Model.
Upside Running Backs for Guaranteed Prize Pools
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings ($8,400 DK, $8,200 FD): Under head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings are an outstanding 18-2-1 against the spread as non-divisional home favorites, so Cook could enjoy a run-heavy game script. Under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, the Vikings have an aggressive 51.0% run rate. Cook is the No. 2 fantasy back with 22.5 points per game on FanDuel, where he leads all backs with his ceiling projection.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints ($8,000 DK, $7,900 FD): Kamara’s production has been uneven in backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s three starts, but in those games he’s still averaged 22.0 DraftKings points. The Jags are dead last in the league with a 13.6% run-defense DVOA, and they are No. 25 with an 18.2% pass-defense DVOA against running backs. Kamara should be roster-able at an exposure discount, as his main-slate ownership rate has dropped to just 6.0% without quarterback Drew Brees (thumb). Kamara leads all backs with his median and ceiling projections on DraftKings.
Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns ($7,300 DK, $7,800 FD): Dating back to last season, in his 15 games as the Browns lead back, Chubb has averaged 104.5 yards and 0.8 touchdowns. Lead backs have averaged 16.5 FanDuel points with a +4.32 Plus/Minus against the Seahawks this year. Chubb is the No. 5 fantasy back this year with 18.2 points per game on FanDuel, where he has a position-high floor projection.
Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets ($6,400 DK, $6,800 FD): Since his 2014 breakout, Bell is No. 1 among all backs with 20.3 FanDuel points and 26.8 opportunities per game. Quarterback Sam Darnold (mononucleosis) will start against the Cowboys, and his return should boost the offense. In Week 1 with Darnold, Bell turned 92 yards and a touchdown (plus a two-point conversion) into 23.2 points on FanDuel, where he has a position-high +4.63 Projected Plus/Minus.
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams ($6,200 DK, $7,100 FD): Gurley (quad) did not practice on Wednesday and is uncertain for Week 6, so monitor his injury status with our Week 6 Injury Report. Despite his decline in volume, Gurley still has five touchdowns on the season and 47 in 38 games under head coach Sean McVay (including playoffs). In his two games against Shanahan’s 49ers, Gurley has averaged 35.8 DraftKings points.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons ($5,800 DK, $6,600 FD): Freeman has underwhelmed with just 12.6 DraftKings points per game, but he’s scored 18 in each of the past two weeks and is still averaging 16.8 opportunities per game. The Falcons-Cardinals game could be a high-scoring shootout, and the Cardinals are No. 24 with a 62.1 PFF run-defense grade and No. 29 against running backs with a 40.1% pass-defense DVOA.
Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs ($5,700 DK, $6,600 FD): Williams (knee) returned to action last week and immediately resumed his role as the lead back. Dating back to last year, in his nine games as the top backfield option, Williams has averaged 20.8 DraftKings points (including playoffs). The Chiefs-Texans game has a slate-high 55-point over/under.
Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers ($5,100 DK, $5,900 FD): Breida is locked in as a top-two back in Shanahan’s run-heavy offense and has double-digit carries in every game. Since last year, Breida has averaged 14.9 DraftKings points across his 14 games with a snap rate of at least 30%. Breida has been a top-12 fantasy back in two of four games this year.
Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals ($4,600 DK, $5,200 FD): Starter David Johnson (back) did not practice on Wednesday and is uncertain to play. If he is out, Edmonds will be cash-game chalk. Last week he scored 17.6 DraftKings points in his first game this year with double-digit touches.
Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins ($4,500 DK, $5,300 FD): Despite having an 0-5 record and just firing head coach Jay Gruden, the Redskins are 3.5-point favorites. The Dolphins this year have allowed the second-most DraftKings points to opposing backfields with 38.9 per game. In his seven victories with the Redskins, Peterson has averaged 17.2 DraftKings points per game.
Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins ($4,400 DK, $5,600 FD): If not now, when?
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
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