Top Running Back Plays For DraftKings: 2021 NFL Week One

Top Running Back Plays For DraftKings- 2021 NFL Week One

We have extreme value at wide receiver this week on DraftKings with many viable options at or near minimum price. Thus, optimal builds will lead us to spend up at running back. We do still have three pricing tiers of viable running back plays. This is not a week where we will have to hold our noses when clicking in our backs to get the receivers we want. However, we can take different approaches to where we spend our salary on this slate as there are viable RB plays in all tiers. Let’s take a look at some of the top options on this slate.

Top Ceiling Running Backs

Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – $9100

It is no surprise to see that Dalvin Cook is one of if not the top fantasy point ceiling RB on this slate. At $9100, he is the second most expensive running back on DraftKings, but for a good reason, as he presents a ceiling between 27-32 DraftKings points depending on the projection model.

Cook is a bonafide stud and can eat in any matchup. The Vikings are -3 favorites in a battle with the Bengals, with a reasonable game total at 47.5. If the game script plays out according to Vegas, the Vikings should be content to ride Cook as much as possible as they have in the past when favorites.

He gets work in the passing game for added PPR benefit. He gets goal-line carries. He’s one of the last true workhorses in the league that you can count on to get the vast bulk of the volume at RB for his team.

Part of the appeal of Cook this week is that we expect Minnesota to be playing with a lead or at least close and leaning on the running game. Still, an added appeal of this situation is that we project the Bengals to take steps forward this season. They have a healthy Joe Burrow under center and a promising young receiving corps. This game may shoot out and lead to overall offensive fireworks, benefiting a stand-alone Cook or meriting full or mini-game stacks.

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – $9500

It is nice to have a healthy CMC back in the saddle again in Carolina. He has one of the highest ceilings on the slate ranging from around 30-35 DKP depending on the model. You will have to pay up as he is the most expensive running back on the slate at $9500, but we’ve all seen the slate breaking upside that CMC possesses at total health.

The Panthers no longer have Mike Davis to even potentially compete with McCaffrey for touches. With rookie Chuba Hubbard behind him, we have no reason to expect him not to return to his full workhorse role of years past, at least to a large extent.

We should expect a run-favorable game script as the Panthers are considerable (-5) favorites against a woeful Jets squad. Although you’d have to pay up a bit for the Panthers DST, a McCaffrey/Panthers D pairing is not the worst idea in the world. You’d gain some extra correlation in your lineups. Some data suggests that the popular RB/DST correlation may be weaker than once thought, or even non-existent/negative depending on the situation, but it is still worth considering.

Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – $8600

With Latavius Murray gone in New Orleans and what could be a tentative quarterback situation with often erratic Jameis Winston at the helm, Kamara looks set to eat like never before. While you might expect the Saints offense to rely heavily on Kamara with no Brees, Brees often tended to check down to Kamara. This may not be as much the case with the stronger-armed Winston now manning QB. However, with a new-look offense still trying to gel, we’d have to expect Kamara to be a significant focal point. 

The Saints will be without Michael Thomas for the beginning of the season, leading to more work for Kamara, considering the sizable offensive share that Thomas swallows up when healthy. Past performance when Thomas has been on the shelf bears out this expected outcome.

Kamara also comes with a slight discount over other top ceiling options at $8600, with a ceiling right up there in the 30-32 DKP range. The game environment between Green Bay and New Orleans looks to be one of the offensive shootouts of the week, with a 50 point total at the time of this writing. The Saints are underdogs, suggesting a non-running game script on their end of the ball. Still, Kamara is their most potent offensive weapon and a significant force in the passing game. His workload should not be terribly affected if the Saints play from behind to an extent.

Top Mid-Range Running Backs

Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – $6200

One of our top mid-range options includes the running back from the other side of the Minnesota/Cincinnati game. It is generally considered inadvisable to roster two running backs from the same game. A run-heavy game script on both sides of the game would imply a slow-moving offensive affair. I’d likely choose either Cook or Mixon if running an RB from this game. Although I don’t suggest any hard-fast rules as they are only made to be broken.

All signs point to Mixon being a top option on this slate as an underpriced back with similar potential to the highest-end studs. The Cinci offensive attack looks set to improve this year which should give Mixon more touchdown equity. He’s set to be a workhorse back this year. Play Mixon with confidence at $6200 against a Minnesota D that may struggle to contain him based on last year’s league-worst Plus/Minus against the run.

Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – $6800

The Packers’ offense as a whole looks to be a great spot to focus on this week, with one of the highest team totals on the slate at 26.25. There is no reason to assume that these points will all be achieved via the receiving game.

While there will be a tendency around the industry to attack this game by playing Davante Adams with Kamara on the other side of the ball. Yet, it could just as well be an Aaron Jones game for Green Bay. At lower ownership and with direct leverage against what the rest of the field is doing, to boot. Jones has a considerable ceiling at a reasonable price tag at around 25 DKP in multiple models.

Bonus: Value Running Back

Mike Davis – Atlanta Falcons – $5400

If you do choose to spend further down at one of your running back spots this week, former Carolina CMC-light Mike Davis has a new home in Atlanta. He looks to be the top cheaper value RB option on the slate.

He’s an effective pass-catcher and should have a bulk RB role in ATL. The game has a pretty high total at 48, and the Falcons are -3.5 point favorites at the time of this writing which would favor the running game. This could be an excellent buy-low spot on Davis.

I think we’re all excited to have football back again. This week should be fun in that it will be easy to roster running backs that we actually want to roster. We can still like the rest of our teams as we have an immense amount of WR value on the board. Good luck in week one!

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