The Top DFS Running Back and Defense Stacks: Week 17

Dec 27, 2019
The Top DFS Running Back and Defense Stacks: Week 17

These are the Week 17 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.

The highlight of last week's stacks—Devonta Freeman and the Atlanta defense—combined for 43 fantasy points against lifeless Jaguars. The Colts' defense went nuclear against the team formerly known as the Panthers, posting a 48-spot along with Marlon Mack. And our high volatility play of the week, Adrian Peterson and Washington's defense, scored a combined 15 points. Alas.

Aaron Jones/Packers

Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 21.3%

Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 22.4%

We'll start, naturally, with the RB-defense combo that has the week's highest ceiling, per 4for4 projections. Probably both Aaron Jones ($8,000 FD/$8,200 DK) and Green Bay's defense ($4,800 FD/$3,000 DK) will have high ownership in Week 17, but the combination will likely not be deployed unless DFS players are willing to blow a hole in their budget for a RB-DEF stack. On DraftKings, the Green Bay defense qualifies as a screaming value. Listen for the scream. Go to it.

Detroit, which allows the seventh-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to enemy runners, has seen an average of 33.9 rushes per game attempted against them over the past three weeks. Teams are bludgeoning the Lions on the ground, with the Denver running backs posting 139 rushing yards against Detroit in Week 16. What doesn't seem to be priced into Jones' DFS price point—especially on FanDuel—is Jamaal Williams' Week 17 status. Williams, who has long siphoned off opportunity as Green Bay's oft-used RB2, might not play against Detroit, handing the backfield over to Jones. It wasn't too long ago that Jones turned a game without Williams in the lineup into a nearly 50-point performance on 26 touches (and eight targets). Green Bay has a 27.75 point implied total on the road this week. I have a sneaking suspicion Jones will be involved in that scoring.

David Blough, after completing half his passes in a woeful performance against Denver in Week 16, now has a completion rate of 56.6%—not great, according to me. We want a quarterback like this being forced to drop back in obvious pass situations, and that's what we'll likely get as the Lions are 12.5 point underdogs. Meanwhile, the Packers' front seven has terrorized passers of late, with a sack rate near 10% over the past month. We watched Kirk Cousins under duress every time he dropped back against Green Bay last Monday night. There's not much indication the Detroit offensive line will be able to slow down that ferocious Packers front in Week 17. Pay up and get the defense with Week 17's second-highest projected ceiling.

Nick Chubb/Browns

Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 20.3%

Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 22.2%

The most appealing part of Nick Chubb ($7,900 FD/$7,500 DK) in fantasy football is the locked-in workload. Even in a blowout Week 16 loss to the Ravens, Chubb saw 15 carries—not touches, but carries. Almost any time the Browns enjoy neutral or positive game script, Chubb gets fed, to the delight of those who have labeled Chubb a Grown Ass Man. Chubb has totaled at least 18 carries in 11 games this season.

Cleveland is a 2.5-point road favorite here against the Bengals, who give up 22.5 adjusted fantasy points to running backs and have seen the third-most rushing attempts against them in 2019. Chubb, who has the eighth highest projected RB ceiling of Week 17, should have plenty of opportunity in a game that has the Browns with a 23-point implied total. It's true that Chubb's reception cushion is gone with Kareem Hunt healthy and in the lineup—Chubb has two or fewer grabs in five of the seven games with Hunt active this season—but that might not matter in this one. Teams have attacked Cincy via the ground attack all season. Probably the Browns won't stop now.

Ideally, the Browns ($4,300 FD/$3,600 DK) would be at home, but we work with what we're given. The Brownies must face the rabid 17 fans who show up for Bengals games these days. These same Bengals allowed 11 fantasy points to these Browns in Week 14, on the strength of two sacks, an interception, and a defensive touchdown. Though things have steadied for the Bengals' offense since Andy Dalton's return to the lineup, they're still allowing the second most schedule-adjusted points to defenses. Cleveland's defense has notched 10.4 fantasy points per game in 2019 victories. If you like the Browns' chances of finishing a disastrous season with a W, their defense is a legit Week 17 option.

Damien Williams, Chiefs

Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 17.8%

Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 16.8%

The Damien Williams ($6,400 FD/$8,400 DK) truthers may have been forced to flee underground this season, but their guy is in a decent Week 17 spot against the Chargers. And the low, low price of this stack should allow you to build a lineup without any low-cost options who might not have much of a floor. Though we're not interested in a fantasy floor in this space.

Williams got a full starter's workload last week against the Bears, collecting 19 touches (three receptions) and a touchdown in an easy KC win. It's all too easy to forget Williams had 24 touches in Week 10 against the Titans before injuries held him out for much of the next month. When he's healthy, Williams gets the ball. LA is a middling matchup for opposing runners -- they allow the 12th most adjusted points to the position -- but 35.5% of the yardage gained against the Bolts has come on the ground this year. The Chargers' defense has become something of a run funnel unit; we saw as much last week when DeAndre Washington saw 25 touches against LA. KC is a nine-point home favorite, so game script should be on Williams' side as the Chiefs push for playoff positioning. Williams ceiling sits at 22.9 points on DraftKings—not terrible for the 35th highest priced running back on the main slate.

The Chargers allow 9.3 schedule-adjusted points to defenses. That's not the worst. But what I'm interested in here is Philip Rivers' collapse in the face of negative game script in 2019: he's thrown 16 interceptions in 10 Chargers losses, and his completion rate has plunged from 73% in victories to 63% in losses. The KC defense ($4,300 FD/$3,700 DK), meanwhile, has gotten right over the past month, scoring at least 11 fantasy points in four of the past five games. They picked off Rivers four times and sacked him thrice when these teams met in Week 11. At home as massive favorites, I like to Chiefs' chances of hitting their projected ceiling of 13.6 points against a (usually) putrid LA offense.

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