Welcome to the NFL DFS RB Coach, where we identify the best running backs for our lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.
It’s important to note this article is posted mid-week, so injuries and other news can change our reads as we get closer to Sunday.
For Week 1, we want to definitely consider what happened last season but we also need to make sure to take note of what happened in the off-season. There are things that changed the outlook of both the RBs, themselves, and what to expect from opposing defenses. This week is full of great options in the mid tier. Since Week 1 prices come out so early the sites are, quite frankly, not very good at getting them right. A lot of my decisions are based off of season long research we offered over at fantasyguru.com. This is what I think provides us with a valuable early season edge on the competition.
Saquon Barkley – Giants ($9,000 DK & $9,200 FD)
The Giants will only go as far as Barkley will take them. New York has continued to improve their offensive line, but the passing game is lacking any weapons. In both games last season vs. the Cowboys, Barkley had over 100+ total yards including a 14-catch game in their first meeting. Dallas was good against the run last season in rushing yards allowed but was bottom 5 in the league against RBs catching passes out of the backfield . With so many good mid-tier options, I prefer to leave Barkley for tournaments only.
Nick Chubb – Browns ($6,400 DK & $7,400 FD)
Before training camp started, the Browns hype was all about the passing game in Baker Mayfield and Beckham but as we have gotten closer to the start of the season everyone seems to be jumping on the Chubb bandwagon. Without Duke Johnson or any other proven back-up, It will be all Chubb for as much as he can handle. The Browns have a middle of the road offensive line and take on a decent Titans defense along that prefers to slow down the pace of the game. The price tag is affordable but you are not playing the match-up but instead the game flow and the 20+ touches Chubb could get.
Derrick Henry – Titans ($5,900 DK & $6,800 FD)
It has been a quiet pre-season for Henry who sat out all of the games due to a calf injury. The team was protecting him for the regular season as he is expected to be the workhouse. Tennessee is built to run the football but did take a bit of hit for the first 4 weeks with the suspension of Taylor Lewan. The Browns struggled vs. the run last season and their new defensive coordinator has a mixed history against the run. The Titans should be able to hang around which should lead to a solid day for Henry. I would expect him to have very little ownership in Week 1.
Leonard Fournette – Jaguars ($6,100 DK & $7,200 FD)
The Jaguars are committed to Fournette once again this season without any experienced back-ups. It is going to be his show. Jacksonville faces the Chiefs defense which was one of the worst in the league last season and the overall numbers would have been worse if not for the high scoring offense. The team wants to run the football and did upgrade the QB this off-season with Nick Foles. Jacksonville offense was non-existent in the pre-season but maybe they were just holding things back. If they can stay close early, they will want to ride Fournette who should get a chance to be a 3 down back.
Mark Ingram – Ravens ($5,100 DK & $6,600 FD)
A new team for Ingram where he should be the lead guy. He has shown the ability to catch the ball as well though not sure he will do that much with the Ravens. Baltimore will lead the league in rushing yards and the job for the RB gets a lot easier with a QB that can run. The Dolphins are terrible against the run and are clearly tanking this season. Miami strength is in their secondary and they struggle in the front 7 which is a terrible match-up vs. the Ravens. This sets up as a great spot for Ingram.
Dalvin Cook – Vikings ($6,000 DK & $7,400 FD)
The Vikings are a team that want to become a run first group. The offensive line isn’t great but is better than last year and the addition of Gary Kubiak to the coaching staff will improve the running game. The pre-season was very encouraging in how they dominated upfront. This another RB in a good match-up vs. a Falcons defense that struggles vs. running backs. The Atlanta defense is designed to slow down the passing game which should open up space in the running game. Based on the hype, Cook will be popular in Week 1 and probably rightfully so.
Chris Carson – Seahawks ($5.700 DK & $6,600 FD)
It appears that Carson has held off Rashaad Penny to be the primary running back. It was a great season for Carson last year and he was even better at home. The Seahawks showed some real improvement in their offensive line last season as they went back to the run first philosophy. This is a great match-up against a bad Bengals run defense. Seattle should control this game and we can expect Carson to have another good game in Week 1 surpassing over 100 yards.
Kerryon Johnson – Lions ($5,800 DK & $7,000 FD)
Everyone wants to talk about the Cardinals new look offense but people forget about a bad defense and how that new offense will affect that side of the ball. If you want to play fast and don’t succeed, the defense will have real problems. A bad defense is what got Kliff Kingsbury fired. The Lions want to run the ball as that is what the head coach wants as well as the new offense coordinate Darrell Bevell. This is a decent offensive line and a coaching staff that wants to lean on Johnson.
Austin Ekeler – Chargers ($5,500 DK & $6,400 FD)
The return of Melvin Gordon doesn’t appear be coming any time soon. Ekeler will see most of the work with Justin Jackson being sprinkled in. The retirement of Andrew Luck as raised some serious questions with a season that had Super Bowl aspirations. Indianapolis was solid vs. the run but did struggle covering RB’s out of the backfield. This is where Ekeler excels. This a game where the short passing game will be used so a very solid performance should happen with 5+ catches so more value on Draftkings.
Tony Pollard – Cowboys ($4,500 DK & $5,200 FD)
The expected chalk if Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t get his contract extension. The Cowboys have the best offensive line in the league and take on a Giants defense that has leaky run defense. One of the biggest changes in the Dallas offense last season was the involvement of the running backs in the passing game. Elliot averaged 5 catches per game last season and Pollard is actually a better pass catcher. I have my doubts that Pollard can handle 20+ touches per game for the long-term but he can handle enough until Elliot returns back to the team. Zeke has signed so forget about it.