This is probably the most interesting group of running backs I’ve seen in a slate this season. There’s really so many options, that you could easily not pick anyone from this list in a tournament and still do ok. However, I think I’ve found many of the most solid plays of the weekend. I will likely use Collins/Barkley in a lot of cash games, but will try to hedge off that a bit just in case.
The teams highlighted in green below have what I consider poor run defenses.
Auburn @ Arkansas (-6.5) 51 o/u
Clemson (-7) @ Miami 55 o/u
Houston (-22) @ Central Florida 56.5 o/u
Iowa State @ Baylor (-37) 78 o/u
Kansas State @ Texas (-6.5) 50 o/u
Northwestern @ Nebraska (-7.5) 51.5 o/u
Pittsburgh (-7) @ Syracuse 49 o/u
Bowling Green (-14) @ Kent State 59 o/u
Toledo (-14.5) @ Massachusetts 62 o/u
Duke @ Virginia Tech (-3) 43.5 o/u
Indiana @ Michigan State (-16.5) 62 o/u
Penn State (-6.5) @ Maryland 47 o/u
Tennessee @ Alabama (-15) 53 o/u
Texas Tech @ Oklahoma (-14.5) 73 o/u
Virginia @ UNC (-17.5) 61 o/u
Wisconsin (-6) @ Illinois 45.5 o/u
Washington State @ Arizona (-7.5) 74 o/u
Alex Collins – Arkansas
Might feel like a caged zoo animal that is released into the wild this week after facing Alabama last week and a much weaker Auburn defense this week. On the year, Auburn has given up a whopping 5.1 yards per carry, 14 TDs and 197 yards per game. Yum Yum. I expect Collins to bounce back well this week and should be in that 25 touch range.
Derrick Henry – Alabama
Strictly a cash-game RB for my tastes since delivering more than 3x his salary will be difficult, even for Henry. Has at least 1 TD in every game this season. His carries have trended up 4 weeks in a row. I would expect him to fall in that 25 touch range, which is elite for this group of RBs we are chosing from in the early slate. Tennessee has given up a generous 4.6 yards per carry, but have held runners to only 7 TDs.
Saquon Barkley – Penn State
$5,600 Draftkings (Yum Yum)
On Draftkings, it’s going to be hard to not stream Barkley across a vast array of lineups. He’s coming back from a 2 week absense and ripped up Ohio State – who’s obviously pretty good. Maryland has given up 4.3 yards per carry, 196 yards per game and 14 TDs. On FanDuel, his value is still pretty good, but just not as clear as Draftkings is.
Taquan Mizzell – Virginia
Basically flip-flops from having a good game and a not-so-good game. Has a great chance this week against a weaker UNC defense. On the season North Carolina has given up 4.5 yards per carry and 212 yards per game. Only 9 TDs is somewhat of a red flag, but Mizzell has upside because he’s one of the best pass weapons the team has too.
Joe Mixon – Oklahoma
Risky, because Samaje Perine could always wake up and get the bulk of the work. You hope that game flow will provide enough opportunities for both to get carries – but because Mixon is cheaper & more dynamic he’s the play. Texas Tech has given up a terrible 5.8 yards per carry and 19 TD’s to runners this season – making them one of the worst rush defenses in the league.
Kareem Hunt – Terry Swanson – Damion Jones-Moore – Toledo
Swanson and Jones-Moore could easily deliver 3x+ their value and are excellent tournament options. Hunt is a guy I’ll probably avoid because they spread the ball around a bit too much, but he’s worth monitoring. UMass has given up 5.1 yards per carry and 230 yards per game to runners, so this is a great matchup and I expect Toledo to be in run-mode in the 4th quarter.
Nick Wilson – Jared Baker – Arizona
If Wilson is ruled out, you can comfortably roll with Baker in a large percentage of your lineups. If Wilson looks like he’s going to play – I think that makes both tournament options because it’s likely it will be dicey early in the morning figuring out if Wilson will play or not. It’s too bad, since this a good spot since Arizona rates to have extra possessions going against a high-paced WSU team.
Wayne Gallman – Clemson
Risky pick here, but that might keep some people away. Not really explosive enough for tournament play – but I think he could be useful in some spots, mainly as a hedge against playing a guy too much (which I recommend in CFB cash games because there are so many variables that can ruin a guys day). Last week Gallman faced a very good Boston College defense that the team decided to just throw on. This week Clemson faces Miami who I think Clemson will want to run a more balanced attack against. On the year Miami has given up 4.9 yards per carry and 167 yards per game. Red flag is only 5 rushing TDs so that’s why you need to really pick your spots with Gallman, but he’s not super expensive and I think he has a good shot at about 3x salary.
LJ Scott – Gerald Holmes – Michigan State
This is probably the most interesting spot of the weekend. Both are tournamet options in my book, but Holmes could be used in more spots because at his price – he doesn’t need to do much to deliver. Indiana has given up 4.9 yards per game and 14 TDs this season to runners.