This report will provide NFL DFS running back options for the Week One 12-game main slate. I will have three tiers, high, mid, and low. I will recommend two backs per tier.
NFL DFS Running Back: Christian McCaffrey (CAR) ($8900 FD|$8800 DK)
CMC had a very nice campaign last season, totaling 1,098 rushing yards on 219 attempts and 107 receptions (124 targets) for 867 yards. He ended the season with 13 total touchdowns (seven rushing, six receiving). He will face one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL in 2018, The L.A. Rams. The Rams allowed an average of 122 rushing yards per game last season and they didn’t do much this off -season to improve their run defense. CMC is handling a 94.5% snap share and is the number one RB in the league in terms of targets. He is a Top Five running back for red zone touches as well. His usage will only go up as Cam Newton is questionable coming into week one. Even if Cam plays I expect the Panthers to rely heavily on Mr. Dependable.
NFL DFS Running Back: Saquon Barkley (NYG) ($9200 FD|$9000 DK)
Saquon Barkley is going to be talked about every week this season. I have Barkley slated as the second best RB in the league with the slight edge going to CMC. Barkley was an absolute beast his rookie year, carrying the ball 261 times for 1,307 yards (11 TDs) and 91 receptions for 721 yards (4 TDs). Over 2,000 all purpose yards as rookie is going to be hard to top, but we know he will. He had a snap share of 88% and had the third most red zone touches of any RB in the league in 2018. The Cowboys were one of the top rushing defenses last season, allowing rushers a measly 3.8 yards per carry and 94 yards per game. Despite the seemingly tough matchup for Barkley he still had over 100 all purpose yards in each of his games against the Cowboys last season. Week one salaries are pretty relaxed so I will look to pair CMC and Saquon in my milly maker lineup.
NFL DFS Running Back: Leonard Fournette (JAC) ($7200 FD|$6100 DK)
I’ve heard nothing but positive things coming out of Jags camp about Fournette. His work ethic is top notch and he was praised all summer by numerous media outlets. He also dropped from 240 lbs to 223 lbs this offseason. The weight is a huge deal with these running backs and his 2018 campaign was marred with injuries so he’s coming back with something to prove. Fournette’s snap share in 2018 hovered right around 52% and he didn’t have the best weighted opportunities but his injuries last year attributed to that so I’m willing to overlook. The Jags are facing the Kansas City Chiefs, who were the sixth worst team in the league in 2018 against the run, allowing rushers to accumulate over 132 yards per game and 19 touchdowns. Jacksonville now appears to have a serviceable QB, so in turn that should create a more balanced attack and even more opportunities for Fournette as the Jags organization has voiced they want to include him more in passing schemes this year. Lock and load Fournette in Week One.
NFL DFS Running Back: Kerryon Johnson (DET) ($7000 FD|$5800 DK)
Recent interviews in Detroit with Darrell Bevell suggest their desire to get back to their football identity. That identity is hard nosed, running football and Kerryon Johnson gives them just that with his supreme talent and youth. He did not have over 1,000 yards rushing last year but his true yards per carry (5.0 YPC) and ability to break away from tackles put him in his own category. The Lions will face the worst rushing defense in 2018 in Week One, the Arizona Cardinals. They allowed a massive 155 yards rushing per game and the most 20+ yard breakaways (Johnson’s specialty). They were also one of the worst in terms of 1st down efficiency (27.3%). With no good upgrades to their defense this offseason and Detroit’s clear desire to involve Johnson more in their offense I believe he will be a top play in Week One.
NFL DFS Running Back: Austin Ekeler (LAC) ($6400 FD|$5500 DK)
Austin Ekeler appears to be one of the highest owned running backs coming into Week One. As you may have heard, Melvin Gordon is holding out until he either receives a trade or a new deal. I’m not crazy about Ekeler as an every down back because he isn’t and will never be. I have a hard time eating the chalk here. Pricing around the industry is friendly and the fact that Ekeler will share the load with Justin Jackson deters me from this play. The Chargers face the Colts, who were one of the best teams in the league last season against the run, allowing an average of 101 yards per game. I listed this one because it’s a chalky play and gaining steam quickly. I think his ceiling is limited with the workload share and I think the Chargers will resort more to a pass heavy offense.
NFL DFS Running Back: Devin Singletary (BUF) ($5300 FD|$3600 DK)
This is probably one of my favorite cheap plays on the slate. Frank Gore is number one on the depth chart, but I don’t see him being used as often as you would think. He had zero touchdowns last year and averaged 4.4 yards per carry. He will likely be utilized as an early down and short yardage back. Singletary showed a ton of talent at Florida Atlantic. He has tremendous vision and displayed the ability to break away from tackles. He can be used to run inside but also has great lateral quickness for counters and sweeps. Josh Allen will hurt red zone opportunities for any RB on this team but I think Singletary will make his presence known sooner rather than later.
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Saquon Barkley Featured Image: Keith Allison
Dan Wehr is a real money DFS player with over four years of experience. He has several large field GPP take-downs in NFL, MLB, and NBA. His passion for DFS stems from his love affair with his home town sports teams, the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens.