Week 1 Running Back Values and Fades
Values at Running Back
Christian McCaffrey – $7,400 – CAR vs DAL
There has been some serious pre-season hype surrounding Christian McCaffrey after reports surfaced head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Norv Turner plan to use him as a workhorse running back this season, giving him 25 to 30 touches per game. With volume like that it’s hard to imagine he won’t consistently be a top-tier running back week after week. Last year McCaffrey averaged just over 12 touches per game, but still managed 14.5 Fanball points per game with a limited workload. If Carolina doubles his workload from 12 touches to 24, then it’s reasonable to think his Fanball point total can also multiply twofold.
Jamaal Williams – $5,900 – GB vs CHI
Aaron Rodgers boosts any halfback’s value straight towards the sky, just take a look at last season. Ty Montgomery earned the starting gig and averaged over 20 Fanball points playing alongside Rodgers before going down with an ankle injury. Aaron Jones was next in line and put up 22.4 Fanball points in the his first start and only start with Rodgers behind center. Now that Williams is the lead back in Green Bay his fantasy value is at an all-time high. He squares off against Chicago’s defense that allowed the sixth-most rushing yards, the eleventh-most rushing touchdowns, and the eleventh-most receptions to opposing running backs last season. It’s worth noting Chicago just added all-pro Khalil Mack to their rapidly improving linebacker group.
Adrian Peterson – $4,000 – WAS @ ARI
This pick is as simple as it gets in fantasy football. Volume is king, Peterson is expected to see 15 carries a game, and costs next to nothing. He needs just 12 Fanball points to hit his value goal, making him the cheapest starting running back money can buy. The matchup isn’t ideal after Arizona finished last season as the sixth-best rush defense in yards allowed and the ninth-best rush defense in touchdowns allowed. With that being said I still like his value based off of opportunity. Peterson can fall into the end zone from one yard out and he will be halfway to his goal.
Fades at Running Back
Le’Veon Bell – $9,700 – PIT @ CLE
Just like last season Pittsburgh opens their campaign on the road in Cleveland, and just like last year, Lev Bell didn’t report to training camp or play in the pre-season. Bell finished week one with the worst fantasy day of his entire career, touching the ball 13 times for a total of 47 yards. It’s still the lowest Fanball score of Bell’s 62 career starts at running back. I’m not saying he’ll be that bad week one, but his salary demands nearly 30 Fanball points to be a good value. Cleveland’s run defense was elite last season, holding opposing running backs to just 3.3 yards per carry. Their run defense also finished fourth-best in DVOA according to Football Outsiders, ranking higher than both Minnesota and Carolina.
Chris Thompson – $6,100 – WAS @ ARI
Arizona bolsters the number one ranked run defense from 2017 according to Football Outsiders DVOA, making it hard for me to trust a guy that was held to less than five carries in three out of his final four games. That’s before he fractured his fibula and suffered ligament damage around his ankle, ending his season. He’s now likely third or fourth in line for carries, making his value depend entirely on receptions and receiving yards. I can’t foresee any way Thompson hits three times his salary. He would need to reach 18 Fanball points from single digit touches, making him extremely risky to bust.
Evan Bletz (@evanbletz1) is a freelance contributor for the SportsHub Games Network, Inc., Fanball’s parent company. Any advice or strategies provided by SportsHub contributors represent their personal opinions; they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of SportsHub Games Network and are not necessarily reflective of the strategies they may employ in their own lineups.