DFS Running Back Analysis: Conference Championship Edition
Here is my breakdown on the DFS-relevant running backs for this week, including their upside, downside, and where we can find an edge for the Conference Championship slate of games. Much like last week, we expect ownership to be relatively flat, so I will divide running backs up by stud/mid-range/value, disregarding the usual chalk tier.
With only two running backs in the stud salary tier this week, we should see a relatively flat ownership across the industry. Leonard Fournette comes with a substantial discount in salary compared to Dion Lewis on DraftKings, which should raise Fournette's ownership on that site. The high implied team total that the Patriots carry will certianly attract owners back to Dion Lewis as well.
- Dion Lewis (8100/7700) ended up splitting snaps down the middle last week, playing on 43 of 81 offensive snaps, while teammate James White played 44% of the snaps. Brandon Bolden even saw six snaps. Both White and Bolden ended up seeing goal-line work, even on first and second down, while Dion was heavily used between the 20s. This week, Rex Burkhead is expected back and could eat into Lewis’ snap rate even more; when all three backs were healthy, they each saw an average of 30–35% of the snaps. Lewis and his fellow RBs have the best matchup this week, though, as the Jaguars rank 24th in running back aFPA. Over the past four games, Jacksonville has given up 1.33 rushing touchdowns per game.
- Leonard Fournette (7200/8500) is massive road underdog this week. His Jaguars carries an implied team total of only 18.75 points into a matchup with the Patriots, who finished the regular season ranked seventh in running back aFPA. Fournette is the one true workhorse back on this slate, however, that can safely be projected for 20+ touches. Fournette briefly left last week's game with an ankle injury, but returned after halftime. He got in a limited practice on Wednesday this week and is fully expected to play in Sunday's game. It is worth noting that Fournette was averaging 7 yards per carry prior to hurting his ankle. but was only able to muster 2 yards per carry upon his return after halftime. Fournette makes both our DraftKings and FanDuel optimal lineups this week, and with limited options at the position this, expect him to carry a high ownership as long as reports from practice are positive leading up to game time.
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