The Week 7 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 20, 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 seven 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.
- David Johnson: $7,800 DraftKings; $7,400 FanDuel
- Leonard Fournette: $7,000 DraftKings; $7,900 FanDuel
- Derrick Henry: $5,800 DraftKings; $6,500 FanDuel
- Matt Breida: $5,300 DraftKings; $5,600 FanDuel
- Kerryon Johnson: $5,100 DraftKings; $6,800 FanDuel
- Josh Jacobs: $5,000 DraftKings; $6,700 FanDuel
- Carlos Hyde: $4,700 DraftKings; $6,300 FanDuel
David Johnson: Arizona Cardinals (+3) at New York Giants, 50.5 Over/Under
UPDATE (Oct. 19): RB David Johnson (ankle) and WR Christian Kirk (ankle) are game-time decisions.
For the third week in a row, Johnson (ankle) is at the top of at least one of our Pro Models. He has played through a lingering injury for the past couple of games, so his health status should be monitored, but he’s likely to suit up for Sunday. If Johnson were to have a mid-week setback, then backup Chase Edmonds ($4,700 DK, $5,500 FD) would likely be popular.
Even if Johnson is active, I’ll probably steer clear of him in cash games: I don’t want that much exposure to a guy with a lingering injury. And it doesn’t help that in the three seasons since Johnson’s 2016 breakout campaign, he has averaged an inefficient 3.7 yards per carry.
But Johnson will be an option in tournaments. Despite his underwhelming rushing production, Johnson is the No. 6 FanDuel back with 17.7 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
- Week 6 (vs. Falcons): 25.2 FanDuel points, 12-34-1 rushing, 6-68-1 receiving on eight targets
In five of six weeks this year, Johnson has been a top-12 fantasy performer at the position (Per RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
Johnson had 20-plus opportunities (carries and targets) in every game but one.
The big factor Johnson has in his favor is his pass-catching prowess. He’s No. 4 among all backs with 41 targets and No. 5 with 10.0 expected receiving fantasy points per game (per 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 (per our FantasyLabs Trends Tool).
- 2019 (six games): 17.7 FanDuel points, +6.17 Plus/Minus, 83.3% 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 19.5 opportunities per game, sees 77.9% of the offensive snaps, has 100% of the team’s goal-line carries and plays in a fast-paced system that’s No. 2 in the league with 24.1 seconds per play.
Johnson has two large factors in his favor this week.
First, he is too cheap on FanDuel. He’s more expensive than he has been recently, but he has the No. 8 salary at the position even though Johnson leads all backs in our Models with his ceiling and floor projections. Johnson is still nowhere close to his Week 1 salary of $8,100. Perhaps he was too expensive then, but he’s way too cheap now.
Additionally, Johnson has a good matchup against the Giants, who have been exploited by the two backs they’ve faced this year with salaries similar to Johnson’s.
- Dalvin Cook (Week 5): 22.8 FanDuel points, 21-132-0 rushing, 6-86-0 receiving on six targets
- Sony Michel (Week 6): 12.3 FanDuel points, 22-86-0 rushing, 2-27-0 receiving on three targets
Over the past two weeks, Cook and Michel combined for 17.6 FanDuel points per game with a +5.51 Plus/Minus, and that doesn’t take into account the production they lost to Alexander Mattison (7-52-0 rushing), James White (9-46-0 receiving) and Brandon Bolden (3-23-1 rushing, 2-22-0 receiving).
Perhaps most importantly, the Giants are vulnerable in the air: They are No. 30 with a 50.3% pass defense DVOA against running backs. Johnson’s greatest strength matches up against one of the Giants’ largest weaknesses.
If Johnson has yet another 18-touch game against the Giants, it’s hard to imagine him not having a top-12 fantasy performance. He is the No. 1 back in the Bales and Freedman Models for FanDuel, where he has a position-high 98% Bargain Rating.
Leonard Fournette: Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals, 44 Over/Under
UPDATE (Oct. 19): TE Geoff Swaim (concussion) and WR Marqise Lee (foot) are out. WR Dede Westbrook (shoulder) is questionable.
Remember when Fournette entered the league three years ago and people assumed he was just an early-down grinder?
This season, he’s No. 8 at the position with 19.1 DraftKings points per game and No. 6 with 9.1 expected receiving fantasy points per game. With 36 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 (six games): 19.1 DraftKings points, +5.06 Plus/Minus, 66.7% 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 significantly 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 five starts, Fournette actually has seen a pretty significant increase in production.
- Fantasy production: 20.4 DraftKings points, +6.30 Plus/Minus, 80% Consistency Rating
- Football production: 102-518-1 rushing, 22-161-0 receiving on 30 targets
If there’s one problem with Fournette, it’s his efficiency — or lack thereof.
Fournette has one of the most disproportionate production profiles imaginable: On a per-game basis, he’s No. 2 with 19.6 expected fantasy points but No. 112 with -1.3 fantasy points over expectation.
In terms of NFL production, he’s like a giant with child-sized feet.
The main issue is that Fournette hasn’t gotten into the end zone: He has just one touchdown this year. But with all his usage and yardage, the touchdowns should come, especially since he has 75% of his team’s carries inside the opponent 10-yard line. At some point, Fournette will enjoy positive scoring regression and grow into his big-boy cleats.
On the negative side, I’m not a fan of Fournette’s spot: He’s on the negative side of his career reverse splits.
- Favorite (14 games): 15.3 DraftKings points, -2.03 Plus/Minus, 35.7% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (16 games): 20.5 DraftKings points, +5.94 Plus/Minus, 75% Consistency Rating
Amazingly, being favored has been disadvantageous for Fournette, highlighting just how dependent he 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. 28 with a 48.5 run-blocking grade (per Pro Football Focus).
On the plus side, Fournette faces the 0-6 Bengals. Last year, they allowed the second-most production to opposing backfields with 27.4 FanDuel points per game. This year, they have somehow gotten worse, bumping that number up to a league-high 32.0.
The onslaught has been relentless. If a back has gotten double-digit carries against the Bengals, he’s given them the Johnny Sack treatment.
Fantasy scoring for every RB with 10+ carries vs. Bengals:
W1: Carson – 25.1
W2: Mostert – 24.1, Wilson – 15.4, Breida – 17.2
W3: Gore – 16.9
W4: Conner – 26.5, Samuels – 23.5
W5: Johnson – 18.6
W6: Ingram – 15.4
Fournette vs. Bengals in Week 7.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) October 16, 2019
In his 30 NFL starts (including playoffs), Fournette has failed to amass 10 carries just once — and that was an injury-shortened game he exited before half time. As long as Lenny plays, he’ll get his action.
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. 27 with a 5.9% run defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders). They’re at their worst in the intermediate range of the field, where they rank No. 31 with 1.60 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. 28 against running backs with a 31.9% 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: 47.1 overall, 48.3 run defense, 50.8 coverage
- Preston Brown: 42.2 overall, 38.3 run defense, 53.1 coverage
Against such defenders, Fournette really could have a 200-yard, two-touchdown day.
Fournette has been a fantasy RB1 in each of the past three weeks, and since entering the league in 2017, Fournette trails only Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley with 23.2 opportunities per game.
Fournette is the No. 1 back in the Raybon and SportsGeek Models for both DraftKings and FanDuel, and he leads the position with his median projections.
Derrick Henry: Tennessee Titans (-2) vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 41 Over/Under
UPDATE (Oct. 19): TE Delanie Walker (ankle) is questionable. Chargers EDGE Melvin Ingram (hamstring) and DT Brandon Mebane (knee) are expected to be out.
Last year in Week 14, the Titans finally decided to treat Henry like a lead back and give him a locked-in 15 carries per game. In the 10 games since then, he has been one of the position’s most reliably non-bust players.
- Fantasy production: 18.9 FanDuel points, 8.24 Plus/Minus, 70% Consistency Rating
- Football production: 200-1,001-11 rushing, 9-123-1 receiving on 14 targets
Only once has he horribly underperformed — and that was last week.
There’s nothing good about a 33-yard performance, but Henry’s Week 6 catastrophe is explainable. He is a very splits and game script-dependent back, and last week he was a road underdog who found himself in a losing game against a tough defense at high elevation with a benched starting quarterback.
It was pretty much the worst situation a non-receiving back like Henry can have.
But this week he is a home favorite, and he has exhibited notable splits since at least 2017, when he started averaging double-digit carries (including playoffs).
- Home (18 games): 12.9 FanDuel points, +4.23 Plus/Minus, 55.6% Consistency Rating
- Road (21 games): 9.3 FanDuel points, +0.28 Plus/Minus, 33.3% Consistency Rating
- Favorite (21 games): 13.0 FanDuel points, +4.26 Plus/Minus, 57.1% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (19 games): 8.8 FanDuel points, -0.07 Plus/Minus, 31.6% Consistency Rating
In his 12 games as a home favorite since 2017, Henry has averaged 15.5 FanDuel points with a +6.97 Plus/Minus. If we narrow the sample to include just 2018-19, those numbers jump to 21.0 and +11.17 in five games.
This spot is right in Henry’s wheelhouse.
And the matchup is good too. The Chargers are No. 23 with a 65.8 PFF run defense grade and No. 32 with a 36.3 PFF tackling grade. To face a team that struggles to wrap up ball carriers is a dream for someone with Henry’s size (6-foot-3, 247 pounds), speed (4.54-second 40-yard dash) and explosiveness (37-inch broad jump).
And although Henry isn’t much of a receiver, he does have two-plus targets in four games this year, and the Chargers are No. 29 with a 42.4% pass defense DVOA against running backs. This could one of the rare games in which Henry actually has some receiving production.
The three lead backs with 15-plus carries against the Chargers have crushed.
- Marlon Mack (Week 1): 25.4 FanDuel points, 25-174-1 rushing, zero targets
- Phillip Lindsay (Week 5): 22.7 FanDuel points, 15-114-1 rushing, 4-33-0 receiving on four targets
- James Conner (Week 6): 27.4 FanDuel points, 16-41-1 rushing, 7-78-1 receiving on seven targets
Collectively, these backs averaged 25.2 FanDuel points per game against the Chargers with a +14.66 Plus/Minus.
I might stay away from Henry in cash games because I prefer more than his RB2-ish median outcome, but his ceiling is tempting for tournaments, because he does have 150-yard, two-touchdown upside with the matchup and his splits.
Henry is the No. 1 back in the Levitan Model for both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Matt Breida: San Francisco 49ers (-9.5) at Washington Redskins, 41.5 Over/Under
UPDATE (Oct. 19): WR Deebo Samuel (groin) is out. Redskins CB Josh Norman (thigh, hand) is questionable.
Breida (ankle) left Week 6 with an injury, but he is reportedly expected to play on Sunday. Monitor his practice status throughout the week. If he is unable to suit up, then Raheem Mostert ($4,600 DK, $5,000 DK) will be a viable option in his stead.
Breida is stuck in a full-blown committee with Tevin Coleman, who returned to action in Week 5. Since then, Coleman has played ahead of Breida, seeing more snaps and carries.
- Tevin Coleman: 14.4 FanDuel points per game, 68 snaps, 34-142-2 rushing, 2-16-0 receiving on three targets
- Matt Breida: 17.4 FanDuel points per game, 54 snaps, 24-150-1 rushing, 7-42-1 receiving on seven targets
But Breida has been more efficient with his snaps and touches and doesn’t trail Coleman by all that many opportunities (36 vs. 31).
And in the big picture, whether Coleman is playing or not, the 49ers backfield is going to be a committee, and that arrangement has suited Breida just fine. Last year, while playing just 34.4% of the team’s offensive snaps, seeing action in just 14 games and playing barely any in three of them because of injuries, Breida had 1,075 yards and five touchdowns for the season on 10.9 carries and 2.2 targets per game.
This year, Breida is averaging 13 carries and 2.4 targets per game. He’s not a lead back, but Breida has 10-plus carries and 12-plus opportunities every week this season, and with that kind of usage, he’s talented enough to do damage.
Even with the backfield split, it’s reasonable to assume that Breida will continue to see enough action to remain relevant. The sample is small, but the 49ers lead the league with a 56.0% run rate.
It hurts that the 49ers are without left tackle Joe Staley (leg), right tackle Mike McGlinchey (knee) and fullback Kyle Juszczyk (knee). The absence of Juicy especially hurts: The three-time Pro Bowler had a 52.1% snap rate before his injury and is probably the league’s best lead-blocking back.
But even with these injuries, the 49ers will continue to run the ball: They’re 5-0 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 they’re likely to put it to use this weekend against the Redskins, who have allowed opposing backfields to score the fifth-most FanDuel points with 25.1 per game. Last week, they allowed each member of the Dolphins backfield — Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage and Mark Walton — to have his best fantasy performance of the year. And that came in a game the 0-5 Dolphins lost and in which they benched their starting quarterback.
With a locked-in role and a nearly certain run-heavy game script as a double-digit favorite, Breida should see significant action against the Redskins. And he’s on the positive side of his career-long splits.
- Favorite (eight games): 14.5 FanDuel points, +6.49 Plus/Minus, 75% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (27 games): 7.0 FanDuel points, -0.43 Plus/Minus, 33.3% Consistency Rating
Even if he sees only 12-16 touches, I like Breida’s odds to approach his career favorite averages with diminished GPP ownership.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot: For Shanahan, this is a #RevengeGame. Against the team that fired him and his father in 2013, Shanny’s going to run up the score as much as he can.
Breida is the No. 1 back in the CSURAM88 and Koerner Models for FanDuel, where he has an elite 94% Bargain Rating.
Kerryon Johnson: Detroit Lions (+2) vs. Minnesota Vikings, 44.5 Over/Under
UPDATE (Oct. 19): Vikings LB Ben Gedeon (concussion) is out.
Like Fournette, Johnson has a painfully embarrassing production profile: Although he is No. 12 at the position with 15.9 expected fantasy points on a per-game basis, he is No. 121 with -2.3 fantasy points over expectation.
Despite his steady weekly diet of 15-plus opportunities — and 17-plus since progress stopper C.J. Anderson’s release — Kerryon has failed to eat, ranking No. 23 with 14.0 DraftKings points per game.
Even with his usage, only twice this year has Kerryon finished in the top 12 at the position, and even then he did so just barely.
While Kerryon this year has roughly matched the production he flashed as a rookie, he has failed to offer the outsized value he provided last year when he had a lower salary.
- 2019 (five games): 14.0 DraftKings points, +1.93 Plus/Minus, 60% Consistency Rating
- 2018 (10 games): 14.6 DraftKings points, +4.70 Plus/Minus, 80% Consistency Rating
The main issue with Johnson is that he is less efficient as a runner and less voluminous as a receiver this year. As a rookie, he was a big-play runner and steady pass-catcher averaging 5.4 yards per carry and 3.9 targets per game. This year, those numbers have dropped to 3.3 and 2.6.
But there aren’t many 20-touch guys on the slate, and that’s what Johnson has been since Anderson’s departure, so he will garner interest.
I’m not a fan of his matchup: The Vikings have held opposing backfields to the sixth-fewest DraftKings points per game with 19.6. They’ve allowed just one 100-yard scrimmage game to any back.
But at least the Lions are underdogs, and that puts him on the positive side of his reverse favorite/dog splits.
- Underdog (10 games): 15.3 DraftKings points, +4.44 Plus/Minus, 80% Consistency Rating
- Favorite (five games): 12.7 DraftKings points, +2.46 Plus/Minus, 60% Consistency Rating
As a dog, he’s likelier to have a pass-leaning game script, and targets yield more fantasy points than carries. So it actually might benefit him to play from behind.
With his tough matchup and inefficiency, I won’t have Kerryon in cash games: The next back I roster with 3.3 yards per carry in a head-to-head will be my first. But his usage gives him undeniable GPP appeal.
Johnson is the No. 1 back in the CSURAM88 and Koerner Models for DraftKings, where he has an top-tier 93% Bargain Rating.
Josh Jacobs: Oakland Raiders (+5.5) at Green Bay Packers, 47 Over/Under
UPDATE (Oct. 19): WR Tyrell Williams (foot) is out. RT Trent Brown (calf) is expected not to play. RG Gabe Jackson (knee) is questionable. Green Bay SS Darnell Savage (ankle) is out.
Jacobs might not seem like the most obvious of options as a road dog, but he has hidden potential.
Last week, the Packers played on Monday Night Football while the Raiders were on bye. In terms of rest and preparation, they should have a massive edge.
On top of that, the Raiders have moved from +7 to +5.5: They have even moved to +5 at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. In terms of the betting market, the Raiders have momentum. Winners of two straight games, the Raiders have a real chance to get yet another victory this weekend.
And as obvious as this is to say, if the Raiders win, that will be good for Jacobs, who has exhibited notable splits in his short career.
- Wins (three games): 23.1 DraftKings points, +12.88 Plus/Minus, 121.3 yards and 1.33 touchdowns
- Losses (two games): 7.2 DraftKings points, -3.30 Plus/Minus, 71.5 yards and zero touchdowns
In victory, Jacobs has averaged 22 carries and two targets per game; in defeat, 11 carries, one target. If the Raiders manage to get out to a lead, Jacobs will be loaded up with as much volume as he can handle.
And he clearly has talent: Months ago, Jacobs was the No. 1 player in my dynasty rookie rankings.
Of all the backs drafted, Jacobs was first last year with a 59.2% positive play rate and second with 38 broken tackles per 100 touches, 2.4 yards per route and 41.9 expected points added (per Sports Info Solutions).
Jacobs has three — maybe four — significant factors in his favor.
The first is that, because he saw limited action at Alabama as a committee back, he should enter the NFL relatively fresh.
The second is he’s young. The backs who play as 21-year-old rookies have historically been significantly more impressive than backs who enter the league at an older age.
And, of course, there’s his draft position. As a first-rounder, he’s likely to see a significant workload because so much was invested into him: In a self-fulfilling mechanism, the Raiders will give him every opportunity to prove himself so that they might be proven correct in drafting him with a premium pick.
And finally, there’s his size. At 220 pounds, Jacobs is built like a lead back. He should be able to withstand the grind of getting 20 touches every week.
Given how important age, draft position and size are to the running back position, it’s not unreasonable for fantasy players to expect a lot out of Jacobs early on — he could be a top-10 fantasy producer in 2019.
Jacobs isn’t yet in the top 10, but he’s already the No. 14 DraftKings back with 16.7 points per game. Not bad for a rookie on mediocre team.
And I like his matchup: Even though the Packers are 5-1, they have allowed opposing backfields to score the fourth-most DraftKings points with 29.7 per game. And the four backs to hit 18-plus touches against them have collectively gone off.
- Dalvin Cook (Week 2): 31.1 DraftKings points, 20-154-1 rushing, 3-37-0 receiving on three targets
- Phillip Lindsay (Week 3): 29.0 DraftKings points, 21-81-2 rushing, 4-49-0 receiving on five targets
- Royce Freeman (Week 3): 11.3 DraftKings points, 15-63-0 rushing, 4-10-0 receiving on five targets
- Jordan Howard (Week 4): 32.5 DraftKings points, 15-87-2 rushing, 3-28-1 receiving on four targets
Together, they averaged 26.0 DraftKings points per game with a +15.18 Plus/Minus. If Jacobs can approach that 18-touch threshold, he could have a big day against a Packers defense that is No. 30 with a 57.8 PFF run defense grade.
Jacobs is too risky for cash games, but he provides tournament value at the single-digit ownership rate he’s likely to have.
Jacobs is the No. 1 back in the Bales Model for DraftKings, where he has a 93% Bargain Rating.
Carlos Hyde: Houston Texans (+1) at Indianapolis Colts, 47.5 Over/Under
UPDATE (Oct. 19): RT Tytus Howard (knee) is out. Colts FS Malik Hooker (knee) is doubtful.
This is the third week in a row Hyde has been at the top of at least one of our Pro Models. In Weeks 5-6, Hyde averaged 95 yards and a touchdown per game — so I guess we were on the sharp side.
Over the past 18 months, Hyde has gone from the 49ers to the Browns to the Jaguars to the Chiefs and is now with the Texans. What a long, strange trip it’s been.
It’s hard to be too excited by Hyde: He’s a between-the-tackles plodder with a 54.7% snap rate and just 22 yards receiving on eight targets this year.
But I think too often people undervalue the big-bodied grinders on DraftKings simply because they don’t catch passes. Although he’s a receiving nonentity, Hyde has had 10-plus carries each week, 20 carries in half of his games and 100% of the team’s backfield carries inside the five-yard line. On top of that, he’s No. 1 among all lead backs with his 0.59 rushing success rate. He doesn’t get a lot of yards, but his 4.3 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. This year, he’s pacing for 1,194.7 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s not an untalented player.
Hyde has just 11.8 DraftKings points per game this year, so — again — he’s not overly exciting. In only game this year has he had a top-24 fantasy finish.
But at $4,700 on DraftKings, he has an underappreciated floor with his +3.62 Plus/Minus and 83.3% Consistency Rating.
Even though the Texans are road dogs facing a team coming off the bye, I actually like this spot for Hyde. On the ground, the Texans match up well with the Colts.
- Texans run offense: 85.8 PFF grade (No. 2)
- Colts run defense: 58.9 PFF grade (No. 29)
The backs with 10-plus carries against the Colts have had success.
- Austin Ekeler (Week 1): 39.4 DraftKings points, 12-58-1 rushing, 6-96-2 receiving on seven targets
- Derrick Henry (Week 2): 17.4 DraftKings points, 15-82-1 rushing, 2-12-0 receiving on three targets
- Devonta Freeman (Week 3): 12.5 DraftKings points, 16-88-0 rushing, 3-7-0 receiving on four targets
- Josh Jacobs (Week 4): 12.8 DraftKings points, 17-79-0 rushing, 2-29-0 receiving on two targets
It’s not reasonable for us to expect anything close to an Ekeler-esque performance from Hyde, but collectively these four backs averaged 20.5 DraftKings points per game against the Colts with a +9.02 Plus/Minus, and if Hyde once again has a 20-touch performance, he could hit those numbers, just as he did last week.
And I wouldn’t write off the Texans just because they are road dogs. With quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Texans have excelled in adverse situations. Against the spread, they are 9-4-1 on the road and 9-3 as dogs. As road dogs, they are an outstanding 8-2, good for a 57.9% return on investment (per Bet Labs). This game should be competitive enough for Hyde to see a positive game script.
Hyde is too risky for cash games because of his pass-catching inability, but I like him in tournaments as a low-priced back with the real potential to lead the slate in touches.
Hyde is the No. 1 back in the Freedman Models for DraftKings, where he has a strong 91% Bargain Rating.
Upside Running Backs for Guaranteed Prize Pools
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants ($8,900 DK, $8,600 FD): Barkley (ankle) practiced in full on Wednesday and will finally return this week. Since entering the league last year, Barkley trails only Christian McCaffrey with his 24.3 DraftKings points per game. He has 14 top-12 fantasy finishes in his 19 career games. The Cardinals are No. 25 with a 0.3% run defense DVOA and No. 31 with a 61.9% pass defense DVOA against running backs. UPDATE (Oct. 19): RBs Saquon Barkley (ankle) and Wayne Gallman (concussion) and TE Evan Engram (knee) are in. WR Sterling Shepard (concussion) is out.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings ($8,000 DK, $8,300 FD): Cook is the No. 2 FanDuel back with 20.9 points per game. Under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, the Vikings have an aggressive 51.3% run rate. The Lions have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing backfields with 26.7 per game on FanDuel, where Cook has a position-high 12 Pro Trends.
Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens ($6,600 DK, $7,500 FD): Ingram is locked in for 14-plus touches per game as the lead back in an offense with a militant 56.5% run rate in quarterback Lamar Jackson’s 14 career starts. Ingram is No. 1 in the league with eight carries inside the opponent five-yard line. The Seahawks have allowed 22.0 DraftKings points per game with a +6.01 Plus/Minus to the three Ingram-similar backs they’ve faced this year in James Conner, Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley. UPDATE (Oct. 19): WR Marquise Brown (ankle) missed practice all week and is expected not to play.
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks ($6,500 DK, $7,600 FD): Carson is the No. 9 DraftKings back with 18.9 points per game. The Seahawks are No. 4 with a 48.4% run rate. Since becoming the lead back last year, Carson has averaged 18.0 DraftKings points with a +6.62 Plus/Minus in his 11 games as a favorite. Carson has 15-plus carries in each game, and the Ravens have allowed the two backs with 10-plus carries against them (Nick Chubb and James Conner) to average 26.9 DraftKings points with a +12.77 Plus/Minus. UPDATE (Oct. 19): Ravens CB Jimmy Smith (knee) is expected not to play.
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams ($6,400 DK, $7,100 FD): Gurley (quad) missed Week 6, but he practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday, so he has a shot at suiting up. 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). The Rams have a slate-high 28.75-point implied Vegas total. The four backs to face the Falcons with salaries similar to Gurley’s — Dalvin Cook, Marlon Mack, Derrick Henry and David Johnson — went off for 22.2 DraftKings points per game and a +7.71 Plus/Minus. UPDATE (Oct. 19): RB Malcolm Brown (ankle) is expected to be out. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant (toe) is out.
Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts ($6,000 DK, $7,100 FD): Mack is No. 2 with 20.2 carries per game, and the Colts are No. 5 with a 47.9% run rate. In his 13 career games as a favorite, Mack has averaged 14.9 DraftKings points with a +4.29 Plus/Minus. In last year’s Wild Card matchup, Mack dominated the Texans with 26.4 DraftKings points on 24-148-1 rushing and 2-6-0 receiving. UPDATE (Oct. 19): WR Parris Campbell (abdominal) is out. LG Quenton Nelson (hip) is questionable but tentatively expected to play.
Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers ($5,600 DK, $6,200 FD): Coleman has averaged 14.9 DraftKings points since returning in Week 5. Coleman has four carries inside the opponent five-yard line over the past two games. The Redskins have allowed the fifth-most DraftKings points to opposing backfields with 29.4 per game. UPDATE (Oct. 19): WR Deebo Samuel (groin) is out. Redskins CB Josh Norman (thigh, hand) is questionable.
Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills ($5,400 DK, $5,800 FD): Singletary (hamstring) last played in Week 2, but he’s coming off the bye, and he practiced in full on Wednesday. In his two NFL games, Singletary has averaged 13.3 DraftKings points per game on limited action with just 10-127-1 rushing and 5-28-0 receiving. The extent to which Singletary will split the backfield work with teammate Frank Gore is unknown, but the Dolphins have allowed the second-most DraftKings points to opposing backfields with 35.7 per game. UPDATE (Oct. 19): RB Devin Singletary (hamstring) is expected to play. Dolphins CB Xavien Howard (knee) is questionable.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons ($5,400 DK, $6,400 FD): Freeman started the season slowly, but over the past month he’s averaged 18.8 DraftKings points on 14.5 carries and 5.3 targets per game. The Falcons-Rams game easily has a slate-high 54.5-point over/under. Lead backs have averaged 20.3 DraftKings points per game with a +5.90 Plus/Minus against the Rams this year.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals ($5,000 DK, $6,100 FD): Mixon is the epitome of sadness. It’s as if he has morphed into 2013 Trent Richardson, except without the weight gain and through no fault of his own. He’s averaging a musty 9.2 DraftKings points per game with a -4.18 Plus/Minus and 16.7% Consistency Rating. But the Jaguars are No. 32 with an 11.3% run defense DVOA and No. 24 with a 12.9% pass defense DVOA against running backs. Mixon has a position-high +3.75 Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings. UPDATE (Oct. 19): LTs Cordy Glenn (suspended) and Andre Smith (ankle) are out. RG John Miller (groin) is out. WR A.J. Green (ankle) is out.
Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints ($5,100 DK, $5,300 FD): Starter Alvin Kamara (knee, ankle) is out. Murray has a tough matchup against a Bears unit that is No. 8 with a -17.2 run defense DVOA, but he should get the majority of the backfield work. The Saints are without quarterback Drew Brees (thumb), wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) and tight end Jared Cook (ankle), so they could lean on the running game.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
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Pictured above: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27)
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