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Week 10 is a lot like Week 9 — except (probably) not as naked. The Chiefs, Raiders, Eagles, and Ravens are on bye. The Seahawks and Cardinals (Thursday night) and Dolphins and Panthers (Monday night) are also absent from the main slate, as are the Patriots and Broncos (Sunday night) on DraftKings. As the saying goes, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” Although it has wider applicability, this breakdown is explicitly for the 10-game DraftKings and 11-game FanDuel main slates.
Even without Kareem Hunt, this slate has a clear cohort atop the running back salary scale.
- Le’Veon Bell ($9,800 DraftKings, $9,400 FanDuel)
Ezekiel Elliott ($8,800 DraftKings, $8,900 FanDuel)
- Todd Gurley ($8,700 DraftKings, $9,600 FanDuel)
Bang a gong.
“It’s Le’Ve-OH-sa, not Le’Veo-SAH”
Bell has been the best back in the league since his 2014 All-Pro breakout campaign, averaging 24.12 DraftKings and 20.27 FanDuel points per game (PPG) with +4.65 and +4.46 Plus/Minus values. He’s had some subpar performances throughout the season, but over the last six games he has 841 yards and five touchdowns from scrimmage for 25.02 DraftKings and 21.02 FanDuel PPG with +1.97 and +4.02 Plus/Minus values. On the season he has 87.8 percent of the Steelers’ non-quarterback carries, a No. 2 receiver-like 16.4 percent of their targets, and 89.8 percent of the offensive snaps played. He’s a market share behemoth, leading the league with 229 touches overall and 18 carries inside the 10-yard line.
On top of that, Bell has a good matchup this week: The Colts have allowed top-five marks of 27.0 DraftKings and 23.8 FanDuel PPG to opposing backfields, and they are 32nd in pass defense against running backs in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). One of the best receiving backs in the league, Bell should get his touches regardless of game script, which will almost certainly be positive: The Steelers are -10.5 road favorites, and they’re implied for 27.0 points. The Colts are last in the league with 28.89 PPG allowed and second to last with a -4.5 Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus. The Steelers should be able to score, and Le’Veon should capitalize, as he has the highest median and ceiling projections in our Models. Bell leads the position with a 99 percent Bargain Rating on FanDuel, where he’s the highest-rated running back in the Levitan Model.
UPDATE: 11/9 – The Second Circuit Court has denied Elliott’s emergency injunction, reinstating his six-game suspension effective immediately. Elliott’s case is still under appeal, and the court has granted Elliott an expedited process, but he will (it seems) have to sit out games while the court deliberates. It’s possible the court will not render its ruling before Elliott’s suspension has run its course.
It’s another week of Zeke uncertainty. Last week the Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted Elliott a temporary stay of his six-game suspension. He has a hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon, and a ruling is not expected till after Sunday, so it seems as if Elliott will be available to play in Week 10, but that’s far from a certainty. As of now, Zeke is in our Models, but people planning to roster him might want to think about contingency plans. If he weren’t to play, I expect we’d shift the majority of his expected production to Alfred Morris ($5,500 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel).
If he plays, Zeke will likely be popular. He’s been Le’Veon-esque this season: He’s played an impressive 84.8 percent of the offensive snaps, and after a slow-ish start (14.10 DraftKings and 10.35 FanDuel PPG in Weeks 1-2) he’s smashed in his last six games, turning 158 carries and 10 receptions into 831 yards and nine touchdowns. His efficiency has taken a hit (5.1 yards per carry in 2016; 4.1 in 2017), but he’s getting even more opportunities per game than he got last year: 27.1 vs. 24.1. A splits-neutral player, Zeke is in a good spot as the Cowboys-Falcons game has a slate-high 50.5-point over/under, and the Falcons are 29th in rush DVOA. Even though they’re +3.0 dogs, the Cowboys will likely still feed Zeke. They’re fifth with a 47.6 percent rush rate.
The Best Running Back in Los Angeles
One of the first backs discussed on the Week 10 Daily Fantasy Flex, Gurley looks like a chalk lock. The Rams lead the league with 32.88 PPG and a +9.81 Vegas Plus/Minus, and they’re first in the slate with an implied total of 28.5 points as -11.5 home favorites. The Texans have indeed held opposing backfields to league-low marks of 17.8 DraftKings and 15.1 FanDuel PPG, but without the greatest rookie quarterback of all time guiding the offense the Texans and starter-turned-backup-turned-starter Tom Savage will almost certainly be unable to sustain drives, giving Gurley extra opportunities to add to his league-leading 10 touchdowns. Plus, Houston’s run defense is almost certainly not as good as the backfield PPG allowed numbers suggest. While the Giants haven’t faced many alpha backs, the two they have faced (Hunt and Leonard Fournette) dominated them with a combined 21.00 DraftKings and 16.50 FanDuel PPG. Even if the Rams fall behind, Gurley should still be involved, as he’s third on the team with 41 targets and second with 29 receptions.
Gurley this year has been a revelation with 25.3 opportunities per game, 5.1 yards per opportunity, and a 5.0 percent touchdown rate; last year those numbers were 21, 3.6, and 1.8. The big difference with Gurley this year isn’t in volume; it’s in efficiency. Thanks to new head coach Sean McVay, improved quarterback play, and an overhauled offensive line — as well as some understandable progression (5.1 yards per opportunity in 2015) — Gurley has rediscovered the Pro-Bowl form he had as a rookie. Playing on 77.5 percent of the snaps, Gurley leads the Rams with a 43.5 percent share of his team’s offensive touchdowns and has at least 18 opportunities in each game. Even if he’s not efficient against the Texans, Gurley still has 100-yard, multi-touchdown upside. Use our Lineup Builder to stack Gurley with quarterback Jared Goff if you want tournament exposure to the Rams: Gurley and Goff have 0.67 and 0.72 correlation coefficients on DraftKings and FanDuel. Gurley leads the slate with seven DraftKings and 13 FanDuel Pro Trends and has the highest floor projections in the Models. Get some.
Up the Gut
Mark Ingram ($7,400 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel) and Alvin Kamara ($6,900 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel): In 2014-16, Ingram turned 14.6 carries and 3.8 targets per game into 88.9 yards, 3.0 receptions, and 0.61 touchdowns for 16.23 DraftKings and 14.28 FanDuel PPG. Even with his slow start to the season, he’s averaging 15.4 carries, 4.9 targets, 91.6 yards, 3.9 receptions, 0.5 touchdowns, and 16.41 DraftKings and 13.35 FanDuel PPG. As for Kamara, he showed in his Week 4 London performance the degree to which Adrian Peterson was expendable, averaging 8.4 carries and six targets per game for 20.36 DraftKings and 17.46 FanDuel PPG since then with 100 percent Consistency Ratings. The Saints are committed to the run, ranking 12th with a 44.62 percent rush rate — the team’s highest mark since its Super Bowl-winning 2009 campaign. As noted in Ben Gretch’s Week 10 Deconstructing Vegas article, the Saints have the slate’s highest rushing points expectation.
Jerick McKinnon ($6,600 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel) and Latavius Murray ($4,000 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel): In the four games since Dalvin Cook (knee) suffered a season-ending injury, McKinnon has turned 14.8 carries and 6.3 targets into 106 yards, five receptions, and one touchdown per game. While those numbers are good, McKinnon hasn’t fully established himself as the workhorse, as Murray has played 39.3 percent of the snaps in those games, earning 17 touches per contest. McKinnon has potential, but his upside is capped by Murray, who leads the position with a 98 percent Bargain Rating on DraftKings.
Melvin Gordon ($7,200 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel): I’m not an MG3 truther — eventually inefficiency outweighs volume, targets, and goal-line touches — but for the time Gordon is a guy who since the beginning of last season has turned 19.1 carries and 5.1 targets into 108.6 yards, 3.6 receptions, and one touchdown per game (minus an injury-shortened, eight-snap Week 14 outing last year). Gordon is cheaper than the top-tier backs and likely to have lower ownership because the Chargers are implied for only 18.5 points as +4.0 dogs against the Jags, who lead the league with 14.63 PPG allowed to opponents and a +5.47 Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus. The Jags have a great defense — but they’re still 31st in rush DVOA. If this defense is exploitable, it’s via the run.
Ameer Abdullah ($4,500 DraftKings, $6,300 FanDuel) and Theo Riddick ($4,000 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel): The Lions are implied for 28.25 points as slate-best -13.0 home favorites against the 0-8 Browns, who are allowing the fifth-most points to opposing teams with 25.25 PPG. While the spot is good, the matchup is bad, as the Browns are first in rush DVOA. Lions backs, however, still have an out in that the Browns are 27th in pass DVOA against running backs. Both Abdullah and Riddick are intriguing stacking options with quarterback Matthew Stafford at low ownership.
Lamar Miller ($5,200 DraftKings, $6,700 FanDuel): Sometimes I can’t decide which “Torn” is more quintessentially 1997: Natalie Imbruglia’s or Creed’s. Probably Imbruglia’s — because she didn’t even write the song: She just benefited from someone else’s genius. Lamar knows what I’m talking about.
Chris Thompson ($5,700 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel) and Rob Kelley ($3,400 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel): Thompson is an explosive player and Kelley has recently displayed a knack for falling into the end zone, but the Vikings have held opposing backfields to the second-fewest fantasy points with 18.3 DraftKings and 15.1 FanDuel PPG. Nah.
Carlos Hyde ($6,300 DraftKings, $6,700 FanDuel): Hyde is second with 11 carries inside the five-yard line, and aside from the Week 5 game in which he was benched Hyde has averaged 14.5 carries and 4.9 targets per game. The 49ers are +1.0 dogs, but they’re at home and facing a Giants team that has allowed opponents to hit their implied team total a league-high six times. The Giants are 25th in rush DVOA and 24th in pass DVOA against running backs. If the 49ers keep the game close, they could grind down the clock with Hyde in the second half.
Leonard Fournette ($8,400 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel): Fournette (ankle) exited Week 6 early, sat out Week 7 with the injury, had a bye in Week 8, and was inactive in Week 9 for breaking a team rule. He’s expected to play in Week 10, and he should be rested. The Jags are -4.0 home favorites against the Chargers, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing backfields with 27.0 DraftKings and 22.6 FanDuel PPG. Given that the Jaguars lead the league with a 52.8 percent rush rate, Fournette seems likely to score a touchdown in his seventh straight game. The Zeke function to the 2017 season, Fournette is first in the league with 99.3 yards rushing, and he’s converted 75.0 percent of his 20 targets into receptions. Through six games last year, Zeke had 137 carries and 11 receptions for 801 yards and five touchdowns. Through six games, Fournette has 130 carries and 15 receptions for 732 yards and seven touchdowns. Fournette is Zeke II.
LeSean McCoy ($8,300 DraftKings, $8,300 FanDuel): After two big performances in Weeks 7-8, McCoy had only 25 yards on Thursday Night Football last week, but this week he has a big opportunity to bounce back. McCoy’s rushing efficiency is down (3.7 yards per carry; 5.4 last year) as is his scoring (three touchdowns; 14 in 15 games last year), but he is getting more per-game opportunities (24.5; 19.4 last year) and should progress toward his 3.49 percent 2015-16 touchdown rate: He has 11 carries inside the 10-yard line. The Bills are fourth with a 48.8 percent rush rate, and the Saints have a run-flowing funnel defense that is fourth against the pass but 28th against the rush in DVOA. Shady has 100-yard, multi-touchdown upside.
The Model Running Backs
Besides Bell, there are five running backs atop the Pro Models built by Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, and Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek).
- Jordan Howard ($6,100 DraftKings, $7,200 FanDuel)
- Devonta Freeman ($6,000 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel)
- Bilal Powell ($4,000 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel)
- Orleans Darkwa ($4,500 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel)
- Shane Vereen ($3,100 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel)
With ‘quarterback’/handmaid Mitchell Trubisky serving as the conduit through which the ball gets from the center to the running back, Howard has averaged 26.25 opportunities per game in Trubisky’s four starts; Tarik Cohen ($3,800 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel), 8.5. The Bears are -5.0 home favorites against the Packers, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing backfields with 27.0 DraftKings and 23.4 FanDuel PPG. In the Bears two wins with Trubisky at quarterback, Howard and Cohen have combined for 39 opportunities per game. Even in an offense that doesn’t score a lot of points, Howard has five carries inside the 10-yard line in his last three games and is the highest-rated DraftKings back in the Levitan Model.
After opening the season with five touchdowns in four games, Freeman has disappointed over the last month, scoring no touchdowns and accumulating just 294 yards. In his studly 2015-16 campaigns, Freeman averaged 21.1 opportunities per game; in his last four games, he’s averaged 14.8. This week, though, he — as well as Tevin Coleman ($4,800 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel) — could bounce back. Although the Falcons are second to last in the league with a -5.59 Vegas Plus/Minus, they’re still second with 6.2 yards per play and third with 35.8 yards per drive. They’re implied for 26.75 points as -3.0 home favorites against the Cowboys, who are 30th in rush DVOA. Freeman is the cheapest he’s been all season, and no running back has scored more touchdowns than Freeman’s 34 since he entered the league in 2014. In the Dan Quinn era, Freeman has been at his best as a home favorite, averaging 21.52 DraftKings and 19.25 FanDuel PPG. Freeman is the highest-rated FanDuel back in the Bales and CSURAM88 Models. We call that the “Double Donk.”
The Jets are -2.5 road favorites against the Buccaneers, who have allowed top-four marks of 27.6 DraftKings and 23.8 FanDuel PPG to opposing backfields. Although Powell has recently ceded work to Matt Forte ($4,400 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel), he’s still an intriguing tournament play as the Bucs are 29th in pass DVOA against backs and Forte (knee) missed practice on Wednesday with injury issues. With or without Forte, Powell has potential as a cheap pass-catching savant with early-down upside. He’s the highest-rated DraftKings back in the Bales and CSURAM88 Models. That’s the “Double Double Donk.”
Just as he was last week, Darkwa is a potential cheap-n’-dirty pivot play. Darkwa has averaged only 25 snaps per game over his last four contests, but he leads the Giants backfield with his 40.0 percent snap share over that time. Impressively, Darkwa is averaging 0.64 opportunities per snap as the lead back and has a minimum of 12 opportunities in each game over the last quarter of the season. What’s intriguing about Darkwa — and I guess the pass-catching Vereen — is the matchup: The Giants are -1.0 road favorites against the 49ers, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing backfields this season with 32.0 DraftKings and 27.5 FanDuel PPG. Going back to 2015 — ever since Jim Harbaugh left San Francisco — the 49ers have allowed 58 touchdowns to running backs in 41 games. With limited options at wide receiver, the Giants could give Darkwa and Vereen extra touches via the running and short passing game. This is the best matchup Darkwa and Vereen will have all season. If not now, when? Vereen is the highest-rated DraftKings back and Darkwa the highest-rated FanDuel back in the SportsGeek Model.
Positional Breakdowns & Tools
Be sure to research the running backs for yourself with our tools and read the other Week 10 positional breakdowns:
• Wide Receivers
• Tight Ends
Good luck this week!
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