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Doug Norrie

Three GPP Running Backs for NFL Week 1 FanDuel and DraftKings

We took a look at the major cash game considerations at running back for Week 1 in our Value Plays article for FanDuel and DraftKings. Here, we'll take a look at some possibly lower-owned running back options with big upside.

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James WhiteJames White FD 5500 DK 4000
Opponent HOU
Proj Points FD - 9.15 DK - 11.35
The Pats enter Week 1 with a lot of question marks. Julian Edelman is out for the first four weeks on suspension. 2017 team-target leader Brandin Cooks is gone. The running back situation is looking murky at best with Sony Michel “behind schedule” in terms of practicing and Rex Burkhead possibly not 100%. Plus, the Pats overhauled a majority of their receiving corps bringing in Cordarelle Patterson and basically promoting Phillip Dorsett from within. From a *sure thing* perspective, the Pats are basically working with Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski. (The former looking more and more like a cash play for Week 1.) All of these question marks could lead to a much more prominent role for White, who was fourth overall in Pats’ targets last season (72 in 14 games) and in 2016 had the second-most on the team. White wasn’t asked to do much on the ground later in the season because Dion Lewis established himself as close to an “every down back” as you’ll see from the Pats, but he’s gone as well. In what projects to be a very high-scoring game against the Texans (51.5 o/u - the highest of the day) is it unreasonable to assume White sees 10-15 looks (carries + targets) with the number trending to the higher end if the Pats are playing any kind of catchup? The Patriots were rarely tasked with coming from behind last year, but in the two games they did have to (KC Week 1, Carolina Week 4), White combined for 11 carries and 17 targets. He makes for a very attractive correlation play with the Texans (Deshaun Watson, Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins) if the Texans can get out to a lead or the game turns into a shootout.

Kenyan DrakeKenyan Drake FD 6600 DK 5900
Opponent TEN
Proj Points FD - 11.73 DK - 13.01
When Damien Williams went down to injury in Week 12, Kenyan Drake instantly burst on the scene, averaging 24 carries and four receptions in back-to-back wins against the Broncos and Patriots. The next three weeks had the Dolphins back to their old ways (losing) but Drake was still very much part of the plan with usages (carries + targets) of 27, 16 and 17. Sure, the Dolphins brought in the corpse of Frank Gore, but it’s really hard to imagine that signing greatly impacting Drake’s usage. The coaching staff seems intent on making him something like an every down back and the addition of Gore doesn’t impact Drake’s use in the passing game at all. Maybe Kalen Ballage will cut into that at some point, but I wouldn’t expect to see it this early in the season for the rookie. That seems to leave Drake with A: most of the projected work and B: improved quarterback play with Ryan Tannehill under center. Miami still isn’t a very good team, but draw a decent matchup in Week 1 against a 21st ranked Tennessee defense in 2017 (admittedly much better against the run) who bring in a new coach that could spur an increase in pace of play considering his resume.

Alex CollinsAlex Collins FD 6700 DK 5600
Opponent BUF
Proj Points FD - 13.28 DK - 14.24
A few weeks ago we took a look at running back performance and how using Vegas odds could be helpful in finding the best situations to target team running games. The best spot to be was a home favorite of about -7 or more. Well, guess what? There are only two running backs going into Sunday’s games with that kind of situation: Alvin Kamara and Alex Collins. Now, of course, the opportunity isn’t nearly the same with Kamara likely carrying just about the full load for the Saints and Collins possibly still in something of an RBBC with Kenneth Dixon and Javorius Allen still around. From Week 11 on in 2017 Collins averaged 17 carries and four targets per game for 87 yards. He found the end zone six times in that span. The Ravens open the season as -7.5 home favorites against the Bills who ranked 30th in rush defense last season. With Nathan Peterman under center for Buffalo, it’s tough to imagine the Bills offense can stay on the field over the course of the game. Considering some of the other running backs in his price tier like Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook (or much cheaper James Conner - if no Bell) with garner far higher ownership, I do think Collins represents something of a separation play with the possible game script really working in his favor.


image sources

  • Rams Ravens Football: (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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