The Top DFS Running Back and Defense Stacks: Week 14
These are the Week 14 running back-defense stacks on FanDuel and DraftKings. I'll examine where we might be able to get a solid defensive performance and volume-driven running production, including at least one RB-defense stack that will have minimal usage.
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 that lead to fantasy points. Sometimes a lot of fantasy points—the kind that swing DFS tournaments.
Last week's can't-miss RB-defense combo ended up missing by quite a bit, as Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers defense imploded against Washington and combined for 22 fantasy points. Melvin Gordon and the LA defense scored a combined 15 points as the Chargers never benefited from a minute of positive game script. And the LeSean McCoy and the KC defense—the second-highest scoring defense of Week 13—put up 33 fantasy points against the Raiders.
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 15.8%
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 16.8%
This stack, a relative bargain on FanDuel—where ball-carrying running backs matter a lot more—is one of the sneakiest of 2019. But it fits the process for what we seek in RB-defense combinations—let's roll with it.
Devonta Freeman ($6,700 FD/$5,400 DK), in his return to action last week against the Saints, saw 21 touches (including five targets) in an Atlanta loss. A healthy Freeman with positive script could easily see more than 20 carries. The Falcons just so happen to be three-point home favorites against Carolina, a defense in utter disarray. They now allow the most schedule-adjusted points to opposing runners; most recently, Washington hammered the Panthers for 242 rushing yards while everyone on the field knew the Dan Snyders would keep running it with their running backs, both young and ancient. Almost every time game script has turned against the Panthers, enemy runners have gone wild. In Week 10, the Packers' running backs went for 34 fantasy points on 26 touches against Carolina. The 49ers in Week 8 ran for 200 yards in a blowout in over Carolina. Freeman is the 29th priciest running back option on FanDuel and the 24th costliest runner on DraftKings. Atlanta has a fat implied total of 25. You love to see it, as the kids are saying.
Kyle Allen has proved not to be the kid from that Cam Newton commercial back in the day. Or maybe he is, but he grew up to be one of the least accurate passers in the NFL. After completing just 58.6% of his passes against Washington last week, Allen's 2019 completion rate is down to 61.5%. Allen in half of his past six games has failed to crack a 60% completion rate. That's what we're looking for: an inaccurate QB (with 10 interceptions over this past six games) who is likely to face bad script. Carolina is a three-point road dog here and Atlanta's defense ($3,500 FD/$3,000 DK) is more than affordable in DFS. Get exposure to them against the team allowing the fifth-most adjusted points to defenses.
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 16.5%
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 16.6%
Alexander Mattison ($5,100 FD/$4,500 DK), if Dalvin Cook sits this week against Detroit, will transform into a walking, talking free square in every DFS contest this side of the sun. Salaries locked before Cook's Monday night injury against Seattle, meaning Mattison is an uber-cheap play in an offense that loves to establish the run more than most people love their own children.
Deploying Mattison is somewhat contingent on Cook being declared out, though I think you can still sprinkle this stack into your Week 14 lineup machinations with the hope that Cook is limited and Mattison's opportunity remains. I wouldn't say as much if the matchup weren't so appealing: Detroit is allowing 118 rushing yards per game, as opponents run the ball on 41% of offensive plays against the Lions. Only the Chiefs and Panthers allow more schedule-adjusted points to enemy runners than the Lions. The Vikings ran the ball 34 times when these teams clashed in Week 7, a 42-30 Minnesota victory. Mattison and the Minnesota defense has the eighth highest RB-defense ceiling of the week, per 4for4 projections.
David Blough, after blowing off the doors of the Chicago defense in the first quarter of Detroit's Thanksgiving tilt, ended up completing less than 58% of his throws and throwing a game-ending pick. Blough should be considered a target for fantasy defenses from here on out, even if he does produce in garbage time. The Vikings ($4,800 FD/$3,800 DK) are 13-point home favorites here; barring a Blough miracle, the rookie QB will be forced into negative script against a pretty tough defense. I'm not sure many DFS players will pay all the way up for Minnesota's defense this week with several lower-cost options available. That makes this stack all the more appetizing. Eat up.
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 17.3%
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 19.2%
Off the top, James Conner can slide into this stack if he's healthy enough to suit up against Arizona on Sunday. That seems unlikely as of this writing, leaving Benny Snell ($6,100 FD/$6,100 DK) to inherit the rushing workload in a game that should see Pittsburgh enjoy neutral or positive game script.
The Steelers are 2.5-point road favorites here with a decent implied total of 23. The Cardinals have imploded in back to back weeks, giving up 14 fantasy points to defenses in each of their past two contests. That includes ten sacks, an interception, and two defensive touchdowns against Kyler Murray and company. Pittsburgh's front seven has terrorized quarterbacks for most of the past couple months, notching the league's third-highest sack rate. Meanwhile, the Cards are allowing a sack on almost 9% of their pass plays—the fifth-highest rate in the league. Pittsburgh's defense has the eighth highest ceiling of the week, according to 4for4 floor/ceiling projections.
While he's not involved in the Steelers' conservative passing game, Snell has 21 and 16 carries, respectively, in his two games as the team's primary ball carrier. Snell, with a projected ceiling of nearly 20 fantasy points, could benefit bigly if the Steelers ($4,300 FD/$3,500 DK) build a lead and take the air out of the ball against an Arizona front seven giving up the fifth most schedule-adjusted points to running backs. Teams have mostly stuck to gouging the Cardinals via the pass—only 39% of offensive plays against Arizona have been runs—but that's not what the Steelers are trying to do with their third-string QB and their high-T head coach. They want to establish, and establish they will if they grab a lead this week. Snell has upside to spare.