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. For updates, visit the models directly.
Top NFL DFS Running Back Picks in the FantasyLabs Models
On DraftKings, there are three running backs who rank near the top of the individual Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Cash Game, and Tournament Player Models.
- Christian McCaffrey
- Kenneth Walker III
- Jonathan Williams
We’ll discuss why these three are popping in our models, as well as take a look at some other running backs.
Top Model NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Christian McCaffrey ($9,300 DraftKings, $10,000 FanDuel): San Francisco 49ers (-14) vs. Arizona Cardinals (39.5 total)
We know the 49ers have the motivation to play their guys and win this weekend, so that box is checked off. If the Eagles lose and San Francisco wins, they would jump up to the one seed. If Minnesota wins, then San Francisco would need to win to avoid getting passed.
We obviously don’t know that information right now, so we have to prepare for San Francisco to try to win, which is the most likely outcome. McCaffrey is currently nursing ankle and knee injuries but has no injury designation heading into Sunday’s game. He’s maintained a great workload with Eli Mitchell on injured reserve, with 17+ opportunities in each of the past six games, and has target counts of six, 10, eight, and nine in four of the six games.
The matchup with Arizona is exactly what we look for, as the Cardinals are allowing 4.64 yards per carry and the fifth-most DraftKings points to opposing backs. McCaffrey wasn’t used too much when these teams last played, carrying the ball seven times for 39 yards and catching seven balls for 67 yards.
McCaffrey is the top in our Tournament Model this weekend.
Kenneth Walker III ($6,400 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel): Seattle Seahawks (-6) vs. Los Angeles Rams (41.5 total)
Kenneth Walker III has rattled off back-to-back big games for Seattle. He carried the ball 26 times for 107 yards against Kansas City and caught two balls for -2 yards. He carried the ball 23 times for 133 yards this past week against the Jets and caught one ball for nine yards.
With Seattle aiming for the playoffs, they’re leaning on their top guys, and Walker is just that. It took the rookie a little while to get going but has now cemented his part as a staple of this offense. Walker carried the ball three times for 36 yards before getting injured when these teams last matched up.
This defense is porous, as they just gave up 192 yards to a Chargers offense that hates running the ball. They’ve allowed at least 100 yards on the ground in four straight games, allowing 4.75 yards per carry to backs and five rushing touchdowns.
Walker is the top back in our Cash Game Model and Chris Raybon’s Pro Model this weekend.
Jonathan Williams ($4,300 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel): Washington Commanders (+7) vs. Dallas Cowboys (40 total)
Jonathan Williams carved a role out last week with Antonio Gibson sidelined, carrying the ball nine times for 30 yards and catching three of five targets for three yards. Now with Brian Robinson Jr, Antonio Gibson, and J.D. McKissic all sidelined for the season finale, we could see a healthy dose of Williams.
Jaret Patterson was elevated from the practice squad on Thursday and could potentially play a role on Sunday. Williams’ ability to play all three downs will likely keep his role secure, with Patterson potentially mixing in for some early-down work. Williams has two career games with double-digit rush attempts, and he exceeded 100 yards in both contests.
The Washington offense has been inefficient on the ground all year, averaging the fourth-fewest yards per carry. The matchup also isn’t great, as Dallas has allowed the second-fewest DraftKings points to opposing backs on the year. However, it’s uncommon for us to get a back with Williams’ expected workload at this cheap price.
He’s the top back in Sean Koerner’s Pro Model.
Other Notable NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Joe Mixon ($7,100 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): Cincinnati Bengals (-9.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens (39.5 total)
Mixon had solid usage against New England, as he saw 25 total opportunities. He carried the ball 16 times for 65 yards and caught seven of nine targets for 43 yards. He’s now seen six and nine targets in the past two games. If he can stay in that ballpark, he’ll have one of the top roles in fantasy in one of the top offenses.
He had a middling performance the last time these teams played, carrying the ball 14 times for 78 yards and catching three balls for 10 yards. The Ravens have allowed the tenth-fewest yards DraftKings points to opposing backs and the eighth-fewest yards per carry. We know Cincinnati will keep their foot on the pedal to win this game, so Mixon could be in for a solid workload as a big home favorite.
Cam Akers ($6,200 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel): Los Angeles Rams (+6) at Seattle Seahawks (41.5 total)
Cam Akers left a lot of fantasy owners and DFS players frustrated at the beginning of the season but has now broken onto the scene as of late. He had a monster day on Christmas, carrying the ball 23 times for 118 yards and three touchdowns, amassing 37.7 DraftKings points. He had another strong workload last week, carrying the ball 19 times for 123 yards and catching one of two targets for 10 yards.
Akers had success the last time these teams matched up. He wasn’t super efficient, carrying the ball 17 times for just 60 yards, but he did find the end zone twice. Seattle has allowed the third-most DraftKings points per game to opposing backs on the year, so Akers is set up nicely on Sunday.
Tyler Allgeier ($5,600 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel): Atlanta Falcons (-4) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (40.5 total)
Tyler Allgeier had a solid showing last week in a strong matchup, carrying the ball 20 times for 83 yards and a touchdown. and catching one ball for 12 yards. He’s quietly put together a very strong past few weeks, totaling 25.6, 15.7, and 16.5 DraftKings points in his past three contests.
The matchup is difficult against Tampa Bay, as Tampa Bay has allowed the sixth-fewest DraftKings points to opposing backs on the year, and he totaled 45 yards on 13 carries when these teams last played. Atlanta RBs as a whole combined for 24 rushes for 90 yards and a touchdown in that game though, so if Allgeier can continue getting a slightly extended workload, he could reach fantasy value at a cheap price against a Bucs’ defense that may be resting starters.