Eight weeks into the NFL season, we are really able to see some defensive trends take shape. The Saints, Bears and Vikings are shaping up to be some of the more formidable run defenses in the league, giving up less than 4 yards per carry and less than 100 rushing yards per game. On the other side, the Chiefs, Broncos, Lions, Bengals, Falcons, Rams and Dolphins have some of the worst run defenses in the league, surrendering 4.8 or more yards per carry. Although the Rams only give up 100.9 yards per game on the ground, their rush defense isn’t as good as it appears, because they are giving up 4.8 yards per carry which is somewhat masked by the fact that teams only run on them 19.4 times per game. Now that we’ve statistically evaluated some rush defenses, it’s time to discuss some solid running back options for week 9. As you will read, there are some lower priced options at both RB and WR this week that will allow you to get some higher end guys in to your lineup.
Alvin Kamara vs. Rams – $8,000 FD/$7,300 DK – The Rams rush defense is one of the best in the league in yards allowed per game, but on a per play basis, the Rams rush defense is bottom 6 in the league, surrendering 4.8 yards a pop. This bodes well for both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. However, given the likelihood that this game shoots out, it bodes better for Kamara than it does for Ingram, because Kamara brings more to the table in the passing game. Last year in this matchup, which was in LA, Kamara broke a 74 yard run, totaling 87 yards and 1 touchdown off 5 carries and he added 6 catches for 101 yards, a long of 33 and 1 touchdown. The Rams are susceptible to the big play, giving up 32 pass plays of 20 yards or more and they will have trouble stopping Kamara.
Kareem Hunt @ Browns – $8,500 FD/$7,700 DK – Kareem Hunt has scored at least one rushing or receiving touchdown in each game this season other than week 1 against the Chargers where he struggled. Hunt has also totaled over 100 yards from scrimmage in 3 of his last 5 games. Hunt faces the Browns this week who have been solid against the run on a per play basis, but have given up the 5th most rushing yards per game in the league with 138.9 because teams are often nursing leads and pounding the rock late in the game to ice the clock. Over their last three games, the Browns have given up 2 rushing touchdowns to James Conner, 1 to Ronald Jones and 3 to Melvin Gordon. During that same span, the Browns gave up 192 yards to the Melvin Gordon/Austin Ekeler combination and 146 rushing yards to James Conner. If the Chiefs get out to an early lead, which they likely will, Hunt could see a heavy workload and your fantasy team could reap the rewards of that.
Christian McCaffrey vs. Bucs – $7,900 FD/$7,800 DK – Although Gerald McCoy may return for the Bucs this week, they are still without Kwon Alexander who was lost for the season a few weeks back. Joe Mixon absolutely thrashed the Bucs defense on the ground this week for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns which bodes well for McCaffrey who will see almost all of the snaps in the Carolina backfield. The Bucs have given up two 100 yard receiving games to opposing running backs on the year, so McCaffrey should put up numbers through the air as well as the ground.
Nick Chubb vs Chiefs – $6,600 FD/$4,500 DK – I am not excited about the Cleveland Browns chances to win the football game against the Chiefs this weekend, but based on the numbers, Nick Chubb should put up big numbers against the Chiefs this week as long as he has a pulse. On the year, the Chiefs give up 5.4 yards per carry and 127.6 rushing yards per game. Last week, the Browns gave up 100 yards from scrimmage to two different running backs, both Devontae Booker and Phillip Lindsay. The week prior, Joe Mixon was on pace for a nice week, but the Bengals went down early, forcing the Bengals to pass in what was an embarrassing effort from Cincinnati. In week 6, Sony Michel went for 106 and 2 touchdowns and James White registered 92 yards from scrimmage. In week 5, TJ Yeldon had over 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown and in week 4 both Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman scored. The only problem with playing Chubb is that he may disappear if the Browns go down early, so if that happens, you need to hope he pops one off early.
Jordan Howard @ Bills – $6,200 FD/$4,700 DK – Jordan Howard has seen more than 2 passing targets in a game since week 2 and he has only run for over 4 yards per carry in two games this season. That being said, Jordan Howard needs volume to come through and he should get it this week. Nate Peterman is a good bet to turn the ball over in what should be a low scoring defensive battle, and the Bears should look to Jordan Howard to close this one out in the 2nd half. The Bills are also coming off a short week after losing to New England on Monday Night Football which doesn’t work in the Bills favor.
Lamar Miller @ Broncos – $6,500 FD/$5,200 DK – The Broncos give up a generous 135.8 yards per game and a terrible 5.1 yards per carry. Lamar Miller is coming off two straight 100 yard rushing games and has scored in two in a row. The Texans have been playing better since they’ve renewed their commitment to the run over the last few weeks, likely in an effort to protect Deshaun Watson who is banged up. Continue to ride Miller until he proves otherwise.
Adrian Peterson vs. Falcons – $7,500 FD/$6,000 DK – The Falcons defense just hasn’t been the same since losing Deion Jones and Keanu Neal and they’re giving up a healthy 4.8 yards per carry on the year. Adrian Peterson is getting up there in age which should make you weary if you own him in season long leagues, but in DFS, use him in plus matchups until he breaks down. The Falcons are a plus matchup.
Kenyan Drake vs Jets – $6,900 FD/$5,300 DK – Initially when I wrote this, I didn’t have Kenyan Drake listed as a guy to target in DFS because of the numbers. As I was scrolling through looking at DFS pricing, I saw how little Drake cost, and I had a gut feeling that this was simply going to work out. The Jets have been decent against the run this year, giving up only 4.4 yards per carry, but they have been giving up running plays of 20+ yards and they did lose Tarik Cohen in coverage last week allowing him to take a catch 70 yards to the house. Given Drake’s low DFS price, I like him, because if he pops off a long one, he will come through in a big way.
This week there are a lot of intriguing lower end options at wide receiver. In 2017, 14 teams gave up 7.0 or less yards per pass. So far on the season, there are only 6 teams that give up 7.0 or less yards per pass, the Ravens, Jaguars, Bills, Browns, Seahawks and Redskins which is a little eye-opening because it shows just how many viable fantasy football options there are in the passing game this year.
Adam Thielen vs Lions – $8,900 FD/$8,900 DK – It’s no secret, Adam Thielen has been tearing up the NFL in every game he plays this season. Slay is a legit corner for the Lions, but he figures to line up on Stefon Diggs more often than not, leaving Nevin Lawson to Thielen. I will take the Thielen side of that battle all day long.
Cooper Kupp @ Saints – $6,800 FD/$6,000 DK – The Saints are one of the best run defenses in the league, surrendering a league best 3.2 yards per carry and a league best 74.1 yards per game. If you are going to beat the Saints, you need to attack them through the air. Marshon Lattimore should cover Brandin Cooks leaving Cooper Kupp to the likes of PJ Williams. Jared Goff hasn’t been as good over the last few weeks since his hot start and I don’t doubt that correlates with Kupp’s absence from the lineup. Cooper Kupp could go off this week given the fact that this game could shoot out and he has an easy matchup.
Michael Thomas vs Rams – $8,600 FD/$7,600 DK – Michael Thomas will see a lot of Marcus Peters this week but he hasn’t been the same since hurting his calf early in the season. If the Rams do as planned and put a lot of points on the board, Michael Thomas figures to see heavy volume in the passing game. People may be a little down on Thomas because he’s cooled off from that hot start he had, making him a decent play in tournaments. Since Mark Ingram returned to the lineup, the Saints have been the most run heavy team in the league, running the ball around 55% of the time. That could very well change this week against the fast paced, high scoring Rams.
DJ Moore vs Bucs – $5,300 FD/$4,300 DK – I didn’t know Brent Grimes was still in the league until I checked the Bucs depth chart and saw him listed there. After I learned that Brent Grimes was still in the NFL, and playing meaningful snaps, it made me realize why the Bucs have been getting gashed so badly in the passing game in 2018. That being said, DJ Moore is a young, emerging talent and he’s a good bet to blow up this week against the Bucs defense that’s giving up 8.8 yards per pass attempt and 318.4 passing yards per game, both of which are second worst in the NFL.
DeAndre Hopkins @ Broncos – $8,600 FD/$8,300 DK – Hopkins seems to get it done every week and this week he figures to see a lot of Tramaine Brock which is anything but prohibitive to Hopkins’ performance. Get him out there until somebody shows that they can stop him, especially with Will Fuller out.
Danny Amendola vs Jets – $5,400 FD/$4,700 DK – Start players against Buster Skrine, the analysis ends there.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling @ Patriots – $4,700 FD/$4,700 DK – Stephon Gilmore should cover DeVontae Adams most of the day and with Geronimo Allison likely out, Valdes-Scantling will be the #2 receiver and shouldn’t draw too much attention from the Patriots secondary. Valdes-Scantling does have speed, running sub 4.4 in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine and the Patriots have trouble handling teams with speed, making him a viable option.