Need help sorting through all the greatness for DFS fantasy football in week one? There’s plenty to consider, especially since you can own any player you want, unlike your season long fantasy football league where you somehow drafted Dwayne Bowe AND Darren McFadden. The shame. The horror.
But luckily in DFS, you can start over every week, and that constant reset button starts in week one. You can dive in head first in DraftKings’ sweet $100k week one Free Roll if you haven’t laced up your bootstraps to play DFS fantasy football yet, or you can throw some cash down right away and get your hands on some of the $10 million that’s up for grabs.
Whatever you decide to do, we’re still here for you. I’ve got you covered on the top running back value buys listed below $6k:
Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers) $5.8k
I’m not overly into Stewart on the season because I doubt he stays healthy (he never does) but he’s $100 cheaper than Joseph Randle and he actually has a really nice role. He looks to have a pretty good matchup on paper, too, as the Jags were a bottom 6 run defense in 2014, giving up 15 total ground scores and over 120 rushing yards per game. Jax is an improving unit, but Stewart looks like a solid value at this price.
Latavius Murray (Oakland Raiders) $5.7k
Ditto for Murray, who is less proven than Stewart, but is a little more explosive and also has a solid matchup. The Bengals were right around where the Jags were at, as their defense as a whole was very hit or miss last year. They could be better, too, but on the surface Murray looks to be a good value play.
Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints) $5.6k
Arizona was solid against the run last year, but Ingram is a good price and we all know by now the Saints are going to want to run the ball in 2015. Ingram leads a gritty pack with Lamar Miller ($5.5k), Alfred Morris ($5.5k), T.J. Yeldon (5.5k) and Frank Gore ($5.4k) as decent value plays with good roles but matchups that come off as a little dicey. Morris faces a Miami run D that wasn’t elite a year ago but now has Ndamukong Suh, while Miller gets a Redskins run defense that was already 12th in the league and inherited the beastly Terrance Knighton in free agency. Yeldon has some upside but the Jags have some run-blocking issues and the Panthers can be tough, while Gore could be OK if he can punch in a touchdown. That could prove to be difficult, however, as Buffalo was pretty stingy (11th) against the run in 2014. Of that pack, I hate Ingram the least, even though he’s on the road.
Carlos Hyde (San Francisco 49ers) $5.3k
We’re starting to get to that section where people are seemingly avoiding talented guys that could actually go nuts. Hyde is in an offense that should probably stick with the ground game, while they draw a Vikings defense that had serious problems against the run in 2014. Minnesota has a ton of talented and good coaching so this could backfire, but Hyde packs a nice punch with solid power and agility. The only real issue is how much the Niners are going to use him, but at this price he’s worth a shot a couple of times.
Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) $4.5k
And now the true value has arrived. Sure, The Muscle Hamster could be a total dud for the third year in a row, but he’s looked like a man on a mission all summer. Tampa Bay’s o-line seems better, too, and a week one matchup against a super crappy Titans run defense should have us all salivating. Maybe don’t have complete faith in Martin in season long leagues (although I like him just fine there, too), but he’s going to be a glorious DFS play in week one.
Chris Ivory (New York Jets) $4.1k
It’s entirely possible the Cleveland Browns figured out their run defense woes. Danny Shelton is as nasty as rookies are made and the Browns could be a lot meaner up front. That being said, they were atrocious against the run in 2014 (32nd!) and Ivory has to be the most underrated play of week one. Seriously, almost $4k flat for a very talented runner with a strong role on a team that loves (and has) to run the football. Ivory is a top-15 play to start the year in my regular rankings, making him one of the best value buys in the DFS realm.
Ameer Abdullah (Detroit Lions) $4k
I’m not saying Abdullah will light the world on fire right away as a rookie, but we saw him dazzle all summer and he doesn’t have much in his way. Joique Bell is a walking corpse that is old, slow and already banged up to start 2015. That doesn’t bode well for him. Abdullah is at a minimum going to see a split load here and the Lions are too smart to not give him the ball on a regular basis. He’s also facing he Chargers, who gave up a ton of yardage on the ground last year and there’s little to suggest they’ll be dramatically improved in 2015.
Ryan Mathews (Philadelphia Eagles) $3.6k
You could make a case for Darren McFadden ($4.4k) or some other guys involved in platoon situations that are cheap and should see a decent amount of touches, but Mathews is the only guy (save for Ameer) that is in a committee situation and I still am considering using him. Mathews is a former starter and a pretty good one at that, while Philly’s system is random and gets everyone a lot of chances. He may only touch the ball 6-7 times in week one, but there’s a decent chance he finds his way into the end-zone against last year’s 21st ranked run defense (Falcons) in what should be a high-scoring affair. Alfred Blue is also in play at this price ($3.6k) as Houston’s starting running back, but even with Dontari Poe sidelined he could be a shaky bet against the Chiefs. We have no idea what to expect out of the Texans in any regard, either, so I’m not overly enticed but the value is there to be had.
Karlos Williams and Bryce Brown (Buffalo Bills) $3k
LeSean McCoy has a tiny tear in his hamstring and has been sitting the past couple of weeks. Needless to say, he is pretty questionable for Buffalo’s week one date with the Colts. That absolutely puts one or both of these Bills backup running backs in play for three reasons: they’re cheap as balls, they’re both pretty talented and Indy is a middle of the road run defense, at best. Take away man-eater Arthur Jones, and they could be much worse this year. I’d probably take Karlos over Bryce just because Brown tends to bounce rounds outside, fumble and get negative yardage, but both of these guys (and maybe Boobie Dixon, also $3k) would stand to see a good amount of touches in a run-based system. Shady needs to be out, of course, but this could be the high risk/high reward play of the week.