Here we are, and NFL week two is nearly upon us. Week one is all about people believing they know far more than they do. Week two is all about the field overreacting to what we saw in week one. The second week of the NFL season can actually be one of the best times to gain an edge in tournaments since overreaction to the smallest of sample sizes in week one is inevitable. This week, we don’t have as much of a mega-obvious chalk build, with less clear value at the WR position. This should lead to very different roster constructions than we saw in week one. Let’s dig into the running back position for week two.
Top Ceiling Running Backs
Christian McCaffrey – DraftKings – $9,900 | FanDuel – $10,000
At the most expensive running back on both sites, you’ll have to pay up for Christian McCaffrey. Still, per usual, he offers a ceiling that few running backs in the league can touch. A consensus of multiple models across the industry has him at the top of ceiling projections, sitting at around 32-34 DraftKings points and 28-29 on FanDuel.
Even in what was not a ceiling game by his standards in week one, McCaffrey still rushed for nearly 100 yards on 21 rush attempts and neared five yards a carry. His work in the passing game was steady as usual, with nine targets, nine catches, and 89 yards on the receiving front.
The Saints’ defense is not a great matchup for McCaffrey. Still, that in combination with his high price tag and lack of ceiling performance in week one should suppress his ownership to some degree, particularly on DraftKings. Remember that he was a touchdown away from a ceiling performance in week one. Even without a touchdown, he neared 30 DKP even in a low-scoring 19-14 affair. All signs point to McCaffrey continuing his bell-cow role into this season and continuing to have slate-breaking upside every time he takes the field. All while maintaining a floor that won’t kill you if he doesn’t hit his ceiling.
Alvin Kamara – DraftKings – $8,800 | FanDuel – $8,800
Another top ceiling running back on the slate comes on the other side of the same game as McCaffrey. Kamara comes with considerable savings over McCaffrey, but his ceiling is right up there with CMC. Multiple models have him with the second-highest ceiling projection on the slate at just around a point lower than McCaffrey’s.
The same situation applies as it did last week. With no Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara is the clear and overwhelming focal point for this Saints offense.
Playing running backs from both sides of the same game is generally not recommended for DFS tournaments. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is any different, and you may want to pick one or the other. However, if there was a spot that could make sense, this might be it considering the heavy work in the passing game these guys get. That is in addition to their overall dominance of the offensive production of their respective teams.
Top Mid-Range Value Running Backs
Najee Harris – DraftKings – $6,300 | FanDuel – $6,100
Najee Harris is likely to be the highest-owned player of the week on both sites. He will pop as a must in just about any optimal construction using projections throughout the industry as the clear top point-per-dollar RB on the slate.
Interestingly, he busted in week one as a reasonably chalky option. He is still an unknown to some degree as a rookie. Yet, recency bias is not lowering his projected ownership.
Literally, no other running back in the league played 100% of their team’s snaps as he did in week one. Opportunity is king at the RB position, and there are few legitimate bell-cow backs left.
Some of his lack of production in week one can be attributed to the game script. Buffalo controlled the ball, and the Steelers were limited on plays and playing from behind. Yet, encouragingly for Harris’ outlook, he was still on the field for 100% of snaps, saw a decent 16 carries, and got some work in the passing game.
The matchup looks a lot different this week, with Pittsburgh as sizable -6.5 faves against the Steelers. They should rely more on the ground game and against what was a lousy run defense last year for Vegas. It doesn’t appear that their run D has improved based on the thrashing they took on the ground at the hands of the Ravens in week one.
Chris Carson – DraftKings – $6,100 | FanDuel – $6,700
This week, Chris Carson appears to be the 1B to Najee Harris’ 1A in the mid-range value PPD race at RB. While his ceiling may be slightly lower than that of Harris, he is a more known quantity. Seattle is -6.5 favorites against the Titans in a high-total game, with the Seahawks’ implied team total sitting at 30.25. The game script should work in favor of the Seattle running game.
The viability of Carson is somewhat dependent on the availability of backup RB Rashaad Penny, currently doubtful. It certainly doesn’t seem that he will play, so we are operating as though he is out. With Penny out, Carson projects to get close to 80% of offensive snaps based on week one numbers upon Penny’s injury. Carson should be a work-horse back in a high total game for a team that should be playing with the lead. He is underpriced for what his role is likely to be in this game.
Bonus: Cheap Value Running Back (DK Only)
Chase Edmonds – DraftKings – $4,900 | FanDuel – $6,100
This pick doesn’t apply on FanDuel, considering that his price is right up there with Najee Harris and Chris Carson, but on DK, Edmonds is quite the bargain at $4900. On top of it, since DraftKings awards full PPR, he is a better play there anyway as a pass-catching back.
While he does split time with James Conner, he appears to be getting all of the past game work for Arizona. He was on the field for 48% of snaps even though Conner got 60% as they played together 8% of the time.
The Vikings have been the worst defense against RBs in the league over the last year for DFS purposes. The game has the fifth-highest total on the slate at 51, and Arizona’s implied team total sits at 27. If he produces similarly to last week but finds the endzone, he has a great shot at eclipsing 20 DKP for less than 5K.
Other RBs To Consider:
Dalvin Cook (Ceiling)
Nick Chubb (Ceiling)
Kareem Hunt (Mid-Range Value)
David Montgomery (Mid-Range Value On DK)
Elijah Mitchell (Cheap Value On DK)