The Top DFS Running Back and Defense Stacks: Week 16

Dec 19, 2019
The Top DFS Running Back and Defense Stacks: Week 16

These are the Week 16 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.

One of Week 15's RB-defense stacks worked out, with Chris Carson and Seattle's defense combining for 34 fantasy points as Carson chainsawed the feckless Carolina run defense. More on them in a moment. Josh Jacobs and the Oakland defense scored a combined 16 points thanks to a faltering second half Raiders offense, and Derrick Henry and the Tennessee defense scored 17 points.

Marlon Mack/Colts

Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 20.1%

Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 19.0%

We're back to picking on the Panthers' defense. Yes, we are bullies in this stacking space. Be best? I will not.

Sure, Marlon Mack ($7,300 FD/$6,200 DK) saw a meager 11 carries in last week's humiliation at the hands of the Saints. It's sort of amazing he got that many totes in a game that saw the Colts fall behind by multiple scores in the first half. But this week is different. Way different. Nearly 58% of the offensive plays run against Carolina this season have come on the ground; no one else has seen more than a 50% rate against them. Mack had seen at least 17 touches in six of the eight games before the injury that sidelined him for a while. I think we can assume he'll see decent volume if the Colts—who enter this one as 6.5 point favorites—can get game script on their side. Mack has this week's ninth-highest ceiling among running backs, per 4for4 projections. His Week 16 price point is way easier to stomach on DraftKings than it is on FanDuel, thought his FD pricing might keep DFS players away from the Indy running back.

It doesn't matter a whole lot whether Kyle Allen or Will Grier starts for Carolina in Week 16. Carolina will most likely be forced into pass-heavy script against an Indianapolis defense that has a not-terrible sack rate of 6.5%. The Panthers now allow more schedule-adjusted points to defenses than every team not named the Bucs and Giants. Three of the last five defenses to face Carolina have scored at least 12 fantasy points. Let's keep taking advantage of the nuclear dumpster fire that is the Panthers and fire up the Colts defense ($4,800 FD/$3,300 DK).

Devonta Freeman/Falcons

Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 17.6%

Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 18.4%

This stack is viable for Week 16 because Devonta Freeman ($6,200 FD/$6,000 DK) has resumed his workhorse backfield duties and the Atlanta defense ($4,400 FD/$3,200 DK) is slightly less awful than it was for most of 2019. It's also a cheap stack that allows you to pay up at other spots in your various lineups. So you have that going for you, which is nice.

Freeman in his three games since returning from injury has seen 21, 21, and 14 touches, respectively. I'd be stunned if he didn't eclipse 20 touches this week against the Jaguars. The reasoning is simple enough: 43.7% of the plays run against Jacksonville this year have come on the ground; a mere five teams see a higher run rate against them. Constant negative game script has led to a glut of rushing attempts against the Jags in recent weeks. Josh Jacobs had 24 carries last week against Jacksonville, two weeks after Peyton Barber saw 18 carries against them. Atlanta is a 7.5-point home favorite with the third-highest implied total (27) of the week. Freeman is an especially juicy option on FanDuel, where 25 running backs are priced ahead of him.

Gardner Minshew II starting for the Jags puts a bit of a damper on the Falcons defense—we would've wanted Nick Foles under center here—but nevertheless, we're pairing the Atlanta defense with Freeman. Still, Minshew is only completing 61% of his passes, and in Jacksonville losses, he's taken an average of 2.2 sacks and thrown 0.8 interceptions. Minshew is once more likely to face a veritable tide of bad script in Week 16. Defenses against Jacksonville have averaged 11.6 schedule-adjusted points. The Falcons defense is just pricey enough on FanDuel and DraftKings that DFS players might fade them for cheaper plays with good-enough Week 16 matchups.

Adrian Peterson/Washington

Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 17.2%

Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 15.6%

The two central tenants of stacking running backs with their team's defense are finding a runner who has the potential for plenty of volume, and a defense facing an offense giving up lots of sacks and turnovers. That, for better or worse, is what we have with Adrian Peterson ($6,500 FD/$5,000 DK) and the Washington Snyders.

Peterson, without Darius Guice in the lineup last week, saw 19 touches against the Eagles. Guice is out again this week, meaning Peterson will benefit in an offense that wants to establish the run until the field caves into the earth. The Giants haven't been bad against the run this season—they allow the 14th-most adjusted points to running backs—but volume is king. Unless this game gets out of control early, Peterson will be fed. The Giants are two-point road favorites; it seems unlikely Washington will be forced into overtly negative script here. Early down backs like Peterson have seen solid opportunity against Big Blue in 2019: Frank Gore saw 19 carries in Week 2; Dalvin Cook had 21 carries in Week 5; Sony Michel had 22 carries in Week 6; Ezekiel Elliott saw 23 carries in Week 9; LeVeon Bell had 19 totes in Week 10. And so on and so forth. Peterson is Week 16's 13th-best running back value, according to 4for4. While he's borderline criminally mispriced on DraftKings, his FanDuel price tag leaves at least something to be desired.

Washington's defense ($3,800 FD/$2,800 DK), meanwhile, has consistently gotten after the quarterback, registering a sack on 8.6% of their defensive plays this season—the fourth-highest rate in the NFL. It'd be great for our purposes if Eli Manning started for the Giants; a Daniel Jones start would likely be a downgrade for Washington's defense. Still, in a game with a horrifyingly low over/under (42) and a team (the Giants) allowing 14.1 schedule-adjusted points to defenses, Washington has upside appeal. Only nine defenses have a lower Week 16 price point than Washington does on FanDuel.

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