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Most DFS players appreciate how important running backs are when building lineups, but last week we got to see some explosive games from several players. We also got to see a defense break the slate when the Philadelphia Eagles scored two defensive touchdowns against the Jets. While it’s difficult to project ceiling games like those we saw last week, below are my picks for the running backs and defenses that present the best value this week while also offering some of that week-winning upside.
Cash Game Options:
Le’Veon Bell, NYJ ($13,600) vs DAL
For cash games, I really try to prioritize volume especially at running back. Le’Veon Bell has elite volume and has only been held back by the poor quarterback play of the Jets without starter Sam Darnold. Darnold is expected back this week, and while that probably will not turn the Jets into a high-powered offense it is without a doubt a huge upgrade from Luke Falk. Bell is averaging almost 18 carries and eight targets a game and has been on the field for over 94% of offensive snaps for the Jets. The Cowboys have allowed over 100 rushing yards in every game that was not against the Redskins or Dolphins this season, and while the Jets will probably spend most of this game playing from behind this matchup should be one where Bell is featured heavily and can improve on his currently poor efficiency numbers. For tournaments, it is hard to project much upside for Bell because the Jets are not expected to score many points in this game, but for cash, his volume alone makes him valuable at this price.
Chris Carson, SEA ($10,900) at CLE
After watching what the 49ers rushing attack did to the Browns on Monday I would expect Chris Carson to be a very popular play, which makes him a tough sell for tournaments as a road running back. For cash, however, he offers strong volume numbers in what should be an above-average matchup. The Browns have given up at least 90 rushing yards in every game, and over 170 yards in their past two games. Carson is not quite as involved as Bell, but he has seen at least 15 carries in every game and is locked in as the lead running back on a Seahawks team that has the third most rushing attempts thus far this season. Provided his fumbling problems do not resurface, Carson should be a safe bet to see around 20 touches in this game, and with over five carries per game inside the ten-yard line, he has a strong chance of scoring a touchdown.
Adrian Peterson, WAS ($8,800) at MIA
The Redskins are favorites for what will probably be the only time this season as they get to face the weak Miami Dolphins. Adrian Peterson has been unable to get going thus far as the Redskins have spent most of their time trailing, but that should change this week. Interim head coach Bill Callahan has said he wants to establish the run and feature Peterson, which is great news heading into a game against a defense that gives up an average of over 175 rushing yards per game. Peterson should handle almost all of the rushing attempts and red zone work in this game, which makes him a great value at only $8,800. He comes with some risk, as Washington themselves have been a bad team and a lot of the optimism for this week is based on a strong matchup and a narrative from the coach rather than a proven track record of volume, but he makes for a great tournament play that lets you spend up elsewhere while still providing a good combination of floor and ceiling.
Chase Edmonds, ARI ($8,500) vs ATL
If David Johnson, currently questionable to suit up this week, were to sit this game out then Chase Edmonds would become easily the best running back play on the slate. If Johnson plays, however, Edmonds would still be an interesting play given his growing role in the offense and a great matchup this week against the Falcons. Last week in a matchup against a similarly-weak defensive opponent in the Bengals Edmonds handled eight carries and four targets and was on the field for a season-high 27 snaps. That may not be a lot of work, but Edmonds is an explosive player and capable pass catcher which gives him a good ceiling even on limited touches. With Johnson battling an injury, Edmonds should see at least a slight uptick in volume. That volume is worth a lot against a Falcons defense that has struggled both with stopping the run and just generally slowing opposing offenses down. The total for this game is currently set at 51, and both of these teams play at a fast pace so there should be plenty of fantasy opportunities for every offensive player in this game. All of the primary skill-position players from this team should come with high ownership, but Edmonds represents a low-owned, cheap option to get exposure to what should be one of the highest-scoring games of the week.
Mark Ingram, BAL ($12,300) vs CIN
The Bengals defense has been one of the worst in the NFL so far this season, which should mean plenty of scoring opportunities for the Ravens this week. As home favorites, Baltimore will find themselves in the red zone often in this game, which is where Mark Ingram has scored all six of his touchdowns. Ingram is not seeing as much volume as we may have expected for the lead back on a run-heavy team, but he has dominated the red zone work and is averaging almost 15 carries a game. That should be plenty of touches against a Bengals defense that has given up an average of over 160 rushing yards per game, especially in a game where the Ravens should be able to lean on Ingram to close out the game in the second half.
Cash Game Option:
Pittsburgh Steelers ($5,100) at LAC
Usually, I prefer my defenses for cash games to be home favorites but this week I’m making an exception for the Steelers. The Chargers have no home-field advantage to speak of, and I would expect there to be at least as many Steelers fans at this game. The Steelers are averaging over three sacks a game, and the Chargers offensive line was bad before losing starting center Mike Pouncey for the season. Philip Rivers already has four interceptions and three fumbles this season, and the best way for a defense to score fantasy points is to generate pressure and force turnovers instead of focusing on limiting the other team’s scoring. At just $5,100, the Steelers should be able to get to Rivers and give themselves a chance to create some opportunities for turnovers.
Los Angeles Rams ($6,000) vs SF
The Rams defense is on the more expensive side, and they’re facing a 49ers team that has preferred running the ball so far this season which is usually bad for fantasy defenses. That should keep the ownership on the Rams defense low in what should be a favorable matchup. The 49ers lost starting tackle Mike McGlinchey and full back Kyle Juszczyk to injuries this past week, which is a huge downgrade to their rushing attack. If the Rams can slow down the 49ers running backs that would force Jimmy Garoppolo into trying to beat Aaron Donald and the rest of the Rams defense on the road coming off a short week. With most players having the 49ers offensive performance from Monday fresh in their minds while they’re building lineups this is an excellent opportunity to target a questionable quarterback playing on the road behind a beat-up offensive line at low ownership.
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