DFS Running Back Analysis: Week 16
Here is my breakdown of all the DFS-relevant running backs in Week 16, including their upside, downside, and where we can find an edge on this week's slate.
I will break the various options into tiers based on the following set of criteria:
- Chalk: The players who should end up being very highly owned for the slate.
- Studs: Expensive players with high floor and ceilings that should come with a lower ownership percentages than the chalk.
- Mid-Range: Players who come in cheaper than studs but aren't value or "punt" plays.
- Value: The cheapest options at the position.
Depending on the news that trickles in throughout the week, we could see diverse ownership at running back come Sunday. Kareem Hunt has one of the more attractive price tags on both sites and I see DFS owners flocking back to him after two solid performances. There is enough value at other skill positions to allow for paying up for two expensive running backs in both cash games and GPPs.
- Todd Gurley (9100/9100) is coming off of a four-touchdown performance and a 40-point fantasy day. Recency bias and fear of missing out is going to drive up his ownership. The matchup on the road is nothing to get excited about, though, as the Titans rank 12th in running back aFPA and are allowing a league-low 0.29 touchdowns per game to the position. That said, Gurley leads the league with 29 rush attempts inside the 10-yard line, with 16 of those coming inside the 5—usage which is gives him his massive touchdown equity every week.
- Christian McCaffrey (6400/7300) and the Panthers are 10-point home favorites and carry an implied team total of 28.5 points. On paper, McCaffrey's matchup is better than Gurley's, as Tampa Bay ranks 28th in running back aFPA and is giving up an average of 5.5 receptions to opposing backs. McCaffrey will at times lose touches to Jonathan Stewart and also cedes goal-line work to him, but still out-snaps him by nearly a 3:1 ratio.
- Kareem Hunt (8400/8300) has returned to his old form. That means the massive workload is back. Hunt has piled up 59 touches over his last two games, with no fewer than 28 in either game. The Chiefs are a 10-point home favorite and have a healthy implied team total of 26.5 points. Hunt is not in the upper echelon when it comes to touches at the goal-line (4), but does have 14 rushes from inside the 10. With his significant price discount to relative to Gurley, I see Hunt having the highest ownership of any running back.
- Dion Lewis (6000/6700) is always scary to roster considering he has only played more than 45% of the snaps just once all season. He has seven games of 14 touches or more over his last 8 games, however, and averages 0.48 PPR points per snap during that span. The big news here is that Rex Burkhead (knee), who has been playing anywhere from 25% to 50% of the snaps in a given week since the bye, is unlikely to suit up. If Mike Gillislee is active, though, Lewis may not be as chalky as expected.
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