In this piece, I highlight running backs who stand out in our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models. While the models are built for DFS contests, this is an all-purpose fantasy article with actionable information for all formats.
As news breaks throughout the week and we adjust our projections (powered by Sean Koerner), player ratings in our Player Models will change as the projections change. For updates, visit the models directly.
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Top NFL DFS Running Back Picks in the FantasyLabs Models
On DraftKings, there are two running backs near the top of the individual Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Cash Game, and Tournament Player Models.
- Joe Mixon
- Bijan Robinson
We’ll discuss why these two are popping in our models, as well as take a look at some other running backs.
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Top Model NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Joe Mixon ($6,200 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel): Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5) vs. Houston Texans (47 total)
I’ve long harped on Joe Mixon‘s inefficiency, and that won’t change now. He’s averaged 3.9 yards per carry on the season and is yet to top 90 yards in a game. However, volume is king, and he’s seeing a boatload of volume at a cheap price.
He’s averaged 15.75 carries per game and has seen at least four targets in five of eight contests. We shouldn’t expect any outlier efficiency from Mixon here, as Houston has allowed the second-fewest yards per carry to opposing running backs this year.
They have allowed a decent amount of receiving volume to backs, where Mixon is capable of doing damage.
Due to his cheap tag, Mixon checks in as the top back in our Cash Game and Tournament Model, as well as both Sean Koerner and Chris Raybon’s Pro Models.
With Mixon at the top of all four models,
Bijan Robinson ($6,000 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel): Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) at Arizona Cardinals (43 total)
The Bijan Robinson rollercoaster has not been a fun one, as he’s consistently ceding goal-line carries and other high-value touches to Tyler Allgeier.
However, Robinson is an extremely talented back who is seeing about a dozen carries and around five targets per game. His usage profiles similar to Tony Pollard in years past, but we just haven’t seen an explosion game from Robinson yet.
If there was ever a spot for Robinson to erupt, this would be it. Arizona has allowed the third-most DraftKings points to opposing running backs and the second-most touchdowns.
Robinson is the second-ranked back in all four of our models this week, looking like a strong option in a smash matchup.
Other Notable NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Christian McCaffrey ($9,200 DraftKings, $10,500 FanDuel): San Francisco 49ers (-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (45 total)
Christian McCaffrey has found the end zone in every game this season, and now the 49ers welcome Trent Williams back into the lineup. McCaffrey has averaged 3.6 yards per carry with Williams off the field compared to 5.0 yards per carry with him on.
Jacksonville has been stout against opposing running backs on the ground but has allowed the most receptions to opposing backs on the year. McCaffrey is always capable of breaking a big run on the ground and could be poised to rack up the receptions in this spot.
Tony Pollard ($7,300 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel): Dallas Cowboys (-17) vs. New York Giants (39 total)
Tony Pollard has had a rough go of it lately, with single-digit DraftKings points in four of his last five games. He’s averaged 15.8 touches per game, which is a big dip from where he was early in the year. Still, he’s seeing enough usage in a high-octane offense where he should have better results.
He had two brutal matchups and two major blowouts in those four games, so the poor results are somewhat understandable. However, if he keeps posting single-digit scores, it’ll become a problem. I’m happy to go back to Pollard in a matchup as a massive home favorite against the lowly Giants.
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My Favorite NFL DFS Runningback Leverage Pick(s)
Aaron Jones ($6,500 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel): Green Bay Packers (+3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (39 total)
The Packers finally gave the ball to Aaron Jones, and they finally won a game in what feels like forever. Coincidence? Maybe.
In all seriousness, Jones handled an elite workload last week, seeing 20 carries and six targets en route to 18.9 DraftKings points. This isn’t the best environment for a running back as a road underdog with a team total below three touchdowns.
However, Pittsburgh has given up some big games to running backs, and Jones is the engine of Green Bay’s offense. The Steelers have allowed the fourth-most scrimmage yards per game to opposing running backs.
We know Jones has a big ceiling, and it seems like he’s finally fully healthy for the first time since Week 1. He’s not projecting for much ownership, and he currently profiles as my favorite running back play on the slate.