Welcome to Week 1 of the Daily Fantasy season, which is also known as Week 1 of the NFL season. This is arguably the best week to play NFL DFS on sites such as FanDuel — not just because we’ve all been waiting eight months for its return, but because many large-field tournaments fail to fill, creating nice overlay opportunities, and player pricing is based purely on conjecture, leading to nice values and under-owned diamonds. This article looks at some of the projected lesser-owned plays at running back who could provide huge boosts to your tournament lineups, as well as some trap plays to avoid.
Spencer Ware $5,400 (Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers)
He should be the highest-owned running back this weekend, and perhaps by a wide margin. But given his cheap price and his immense upside against the porous Chargers run defense, he’s going to be hard to fade. That $5,400 price tag opens up all sorts of ways to differentiate your lineup somewhere else. With Jamaal Charles not a sure thing to play, this is almost a can’t-miss scenario. Almost ... except that Charcandrick West could join Ware in a timeshare. Even with a split workload, Ware should still pay off that salary nicely, but that news does open the door wider to a fade scenario.
LeSean McCoy $6,900 (Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens)
Maybe it’s because he’s had injury issues in the past. Maybe it’s because he plays for a team that doesn’t get a lot of attention, other than the head coach. Maybe — and incorrectly — DFS players are wary of pairing a QB and RB from the same team. Whatever the reason, McCoy is projected for a relatively low ownership this week against the Ravens, despite having one of the top points projection at the position. Much like his quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, McCoy should have little trouble piling up production against the Ravens defense. Factor in his potential to turn a screen pass into six points, and he and Taylor make for a fine correlation play this weekend. At $6,900, McCoy is reasonably priced and his upside is immense. Let the others fade, while you ride McCoy to the top of the leaderboards.
Ryan Mathews $6,100 and Darren Sproles $5,600 (Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns)
The Eagles surprised everyone by trading Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings just before the start of the regular season, giving the keys to an untested rookie, Carson Wentz. Maybe Wentz will be the next Ron Jaworski in Philadelphia, but the idea that the Eagles coaches are going to put the entire onus on Wentz this week seems pretty farfetched. Expect a ton of work between Mathews and Sproles in this one, and against a shaky Browns defense, the backfield duo could each rack up huge numbers. Sproles is particularly appealing because he’s cheap and his ownership projection is next to nothing.
Danny Woodhead $5,800 (San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs)
Melvin Gordon is actually $100 cheaper than Woodhead, but in games where the Chargers are a pretty decent underdog — and knowing how much Philip Rivers loves getting the ball to Woodhead, especially in the red zone — you have to like Woodhead’s chances of being the better point producer between the two. If the Chargers fall behind early (Spencer Ware!), Woodhead is going to dominate the touches here and could provide a nice stat line at his cheap price.
Charles Sims $4,700 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons)
This game is among the highest-projected scoring games in the league and you can make a pretty good argument that the Bucs, on the road against the likes of Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, are going to be trailing and have to throw to keep up. This makes Doug Martin a risky proposition, as the Bucs may need to abandon a traditional ground game and go with Sims against a defense that really struggles against pass catching running backs. Sims is cheap, no one will be on him and he has a chance to gobble up catches, yards and maybe a score in a shootout-type game.
Latavius Murray $6,600 (Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints)
It’s the highest over-under on the board (52) this weekend, so all skill players are on the table in this game. While his price is a relative bargain, Murray projects to be highly owned this week. With the potential for DeAndre Washington to have a decent role in the offense as a third-down back, you have to wonder how productive Murray will really be in this game, on the road, in a spot where the Raiders could fall behind early and abandon the running game to a large extent. His high ownership should be enough to warrant a fade, especially with low-owned options like McCoy only a few hundred more and even better targets costing less.
Devonta Freeman $8,100 (Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Too expensive and too highly owned for a guy who should see a reduction in carries with Tevin Coleman back in the mix. He is the definition of a trap play.