The Top DFS Running Back and Defense Stacks: Week 1
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I’ll highlight in this space running back-defense stacks on FanDuel and DraftKings, pinpointing where we might be able to get a solid defensive performance and volume-driven running production. The good folks at 4for4 have pointed out that one should not base their weekly DFS lineup composition on the RB-DEF stack, as the correlation isn’t nearly as strong as the QB-WR1 combo, for example. But considering RB1s—and only RB1s—get a decent bump in production when their team’s defense scores at least 15 fantasy points, it’s worthwhile to see where this stack might offer upside and differentiation for those who play large-field DFS tournaments.
Running backs and defenses from the same team often face positive circumstances together. It's these conditions, of course, that lead to fantasy points. Sometimes a lot of fantasy points.
Let's get into Week 1 RB-DEF stacks and double dip on that sweet positive game script.
Alex Collins/ Baltimore Ravens
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 19.2 percent
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 18.8 percent
You, a savvy fantasy footballer, might call this combination a no-brainer. And you'd be exactly right: not only do we have the week's top defense, but we can combine said defense with a starting running back who goes for a meager $6,700 on Fanduel and $5,700 on DraftKings. There's little reason to think the Ravens ($3,800 DK/$4,800 FD) won't enjoy some old-fashioned positive game script against Buffalo. They're a seven-point home favorite against a quarterback (Nathan Peterman) who completed 49 percent of his passes last season, tossing five picks in 49 attempts. If Baltimore indeed has clock to kill in the second half, Collins—who saw at least 16 carries in all but one Ravens win last year once he took over as lead back—will benefit from a fat workload. The Ravens piled on an average of 33.8 rushes in 2017 victories. Long live volume.
Alvin Kamara/New Orleans Saints
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 22.1 percent
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 24.2 percent
Another auto-stack here that I can't help but feature: The Saints head into this one as 9.5-point home favorites squaring off against Ryan Fitzpatrick, who over this career has posted a 58.1 percent completion rate in losses. Even better: Fitz has thrown 1.45 interceptions in 77 career losses. The New Orleans defense ($3,600 DK/$4,600 FD) has as high a ceiling as any we'll see this season. Too bold? Me? Never. Alvin Kamara ($8,500 DK/$8,700 FD), meanwhile, averaged around 14 touches in 2017 Saints' wins. One would think that total would rise with the absence of Mark Ingram, but even if it doesn't, Kamara has demonstrated what he can do with somewhat limited touches. Kamara is listed as the second-best running back value on Week 1 on FanDuel and the best Week 1 value on DraftKings. The only reason to fade this RB-DEF stack in Week 1 is because it'll cost you way more than the others listed in this space. Some might call it prohibitive. Others might agree.
Joe Mixon/Cincinnati Bengals
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 18.8 percent
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 17.6 percent
While I won't highlight road underdogs very often in this space, the Bengals at least seem like a unique case. The Colts are favored by three at home, maybe under the (questionable) assumption that Andrew Luck is back at full strength. Rolling with the Bengals-Mixon stack gives us a reasonably priced Cincinnati defense ($2,700 DK/$4,400 FD) against a quarterback who hasn't played in a long while and a potential workhorse runner who faced the third most rushing attempts in 2017. Joe Mixon ($6,100 DK/$6,900 FD) clocks in as the fourth-best value on the FanDuel main slate, sporting a ceiling of 21.9 fantasy points. Cincinnati's rushing attempt splits aren't dramatic over the past couple seasons, though the team averaged 29.9 runs in wins over that span. Mixon is in line to be fed and fed well if the Bengals can buck Vegas in Week 1. Just try to forget all the paltry stats Mixon posted in 2017—a result, in part, of an offense that ran the fewest plays in the league.
Jamaal Williams/Green Bay Packers (Sunday Night)
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 17 percent
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 18.4 percent
The process on this stack is once again straightforward: we have a Packers defense ($3,200 DK/$4,100 FD) favored by a lot (seven points) against an inaccurate quarterback who could be forced into unfavorable game script early on in this contest. Mitch Trubisky completed a horrific 57 percent of his passes in 2017 Chicago losses, and though a lot has changed since then, he sets up as a prime target for games in which he'll likely face bad game script. Jamaal Williams ($6,000 DK/$6,100 FD), who had at least 18 carries in every game before Aaron Jones' brief emergence, is listed on Green Bay's depth chart as the No. 1 running back and the potential beneficiary of a balanced Packers attack in a game that probably won't require Aaron Rodgers to sling it throughout. In Rodgers starts since the beginning of 2012, Green Bay has notched 28.3 rushing attempts in victories, translating to an average of 123 yards and 0.9 touchdowns on the ground. Williams doesn't profile as a screaming Week 1 value on FanDuel. He does, however, feature a projected ceiling of 20.1 points in a not-hateful matchup. Green Bay's defense is the tenth-best DEF value of Week 1.
Photo by Sean M. Haffrey/Getty Images.