The Top DFS Running Back and Defense Stacks: Week 8
Below are the Week 8 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 wasn't a banner week for RB-defense combos. The 49ers defense and Tevin Coleman combined for 24 fantasy points despite Coleman seeing 20 carries; Frank Gore and Buffalo's defense combined for 18 points; and the Giants and Saquon Barkley scored 25 points in their matchup against Arizona.
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 21.5%
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 19.6%
This RB-defense combo presupposes Matt Ryan sits out Week 8 after suffering an ankle sprain late in last week's game against the Rams. But even if a hobbled Ryan suits up for Atlanta this week, the Falcons have been generous to enemy defenses, giving up the fifth-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points this year. The Falcons, in case you missed it, are a train wreck, fascinating in its horror.
Almost 48% of the plays run against the Falcons in 2019 have been on the ground—that's what happens when a team concedes an early lead and the opposing offense has no reason to stop hammering a soft front seven. Every stat shows that teams have bludgeoned the Atlanta defense with the run—so much so that I worry about Russell Wilson having to do much of anything for Seattle to win this one. Seattle ($4,900 FD/$2,700 DK) is a 3.5-point road favorite with an implied total of 28.8 points. Chris Carson ($8,000 FD/$7,000 DK) is getting a monster workload after struggling with fumbles in September: the Seahawks lead back has at least 21 carries in each of his past four games, and we know the Seahawks want to establish the run like it's 1957. The team has a 64% run rate when they have a lead of at least eight points. Carson, who has at least four targets in four of his past five, is sixth in rushing yardage among all runners and has a meager two touchdowns. He profiles as a good bet for at least one score against Atlanta.
Matt Schaub starting for the Falcons would likely catapult Seattle defense ownership somewhere north of the stratosphere. The last time Schaub started (two games in 2015 for Baltimore), he threw four interceptions in two games and had an adjusted yards per attempt of 5.2. Not great. In fact, not good at all. We'd like the Seahawks to be at home here, but we have to work with what we're given. Seattle's defense seems woefully mispriced on DraftKings, as they are listed as the week's 13th highest priced option.
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 16.1%
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 15.4%
While I'm sure Ty Johnson ($5,200 FD/$4,900 DK), Detroit's new starting running back, will have ample usage across all DFS games this week, the Lions defense could be under-utilized against what has become a comically generous Giants offense.
When adjusted for strength of schedule, the Giants are giving up 26.1 fantasy points to running backs. It was Chase Edmonds who most recently ran through 12-foot holes in the defensive line and racked up a cool 35 fantasy points. We can't be certain about what kind of fantasy producer Johnson will be in his new role, but it might not matter if he sees the volume we glimpsed in Week 7 when he saw 14 touches (including four targets) after Kerryon Johnson exited with his injury. Detroit's offense, while not nearly as run-heavy as Matt Patricia would want, still runs the ball on 44% of plays in neutral game script. And it's really Johnson's pass-catching prowess that could put him over the top against New York. The G-people are allowing 5.29 running back receptions per game this season; only three teams have been gashed for more running back receiving yardage than the Giants this season.
The Giants' offense, once again a laughing stock after a brief moment of hope after Daniel Jones appeared competent against Tampa Bay's terrible secondary, is allowing 11 schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing defenses—only three teams allow more. New York has allowed 20 sacks and nine interceptions in seven games. Even the lowly Cardinals defense—which had scored fewer than four fantasy points in their previous five games—managed 14 points against Daniel Jones and company. Now Detroit's defense ($4,500 FD/$2,800 DK) gets the Giants at home, favored by seven points, ready to take advantage of Jones trapped in a world of bad game script. This stack has a projected ceiling of 36.1 points on FanDuel and 38.3 points on DraftKings—hardly hateful for a low priced option.
James Conner/Steelers (Full Slate)
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 19.5%
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 23.4%
This one's a gimme: a run-first offense and a ferocious defense going against one of the most inept teams in pro sports history. The central issue here is this stack's crushingly high price on DraftKings, related mostly to Conner being the fifth-highest priced back on the main slate. They're on to us. This stack's high price on DK might make it more of a contrarian option than it will be on FD.
Only the Bengals allow more schedule-adjusted points to running backs than the Dolphins. Almost 54% of the plays run against Miami this season have been runs, while Pittsburgh has run the ball on 43% of plays in neutral game script. Suffice it to say the Steelers should be able to execute a (very) run-heavy game plan in Week 8. Conner, meanwhile, has at least 17 touches in four of his past five games, seeing encouraging involvement in the offense's muted passing attack. We can bank on James Conner ($7,000 FD/$7,700 DK) having some involvement in approaching—or eclipsing—the Steelers' implied total of 28.75 points this week. The Steelers target the running back more than all but ten teams through seven weeks. He'll certainly be used across the DFS spectrum though.
You might be able to get away with stacking the Pittsburgh defense with backup Benny Snell ($4,500 FD) in hopes this game gets out of hand and the Steelers rest Conner. It's cute. Almost too cute.
Pittsburgh's defense ($4,700 FD/$4,000 DK) has at least 12 fantasy points in four straight weeks, collecting 16 sacks over the span and applying constant pressure on the passer. Assuming Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to drop back early and often here, Pittsburgh's sack potential is delicious. Only five teams have a higher sack percentage than the Steelers. Miami's penchant for turnovers—averaging 2.3 giveaways a game this season—is the upside to this excellent stack. Defenses are averaging a mind-boggling 15.7 schedule-adjusted points against the Dolphins. My mind: it's boggled. No RB-defense combination has a higher Week 8 ceiling than this one, per 4for4 projections.