Free Square DFS Running Backs for Week 4

by Taylor Smith · Value Plays

Free square running backs refer to RBs that come in severely underpriced relative to their projected roles. These players are often priced at the stone-minimum, opening up the DFS slate to jam in the premium plays. DraftKings has raised the salary floor for running backs this season from $3000 to $4000, so spotting these freebies is paramount if we want to afford the high-floor, high-upside smash plays. Using PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats, metrics, and analytics, we can identify RBs that fit the criteria. Here are the free square RBs for the NFL Week 4 DFS main slate.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals: $5800

After three straight weeks under 100 total yards with no scores, DraftKings continues to drop Joe Mixon‘s price. While the box score has done him no favors, Mixon’s opportunity numbers are incredibly strong. He is seeing a 78.2-percent (No. 6 among qualified RBs) Opportunity Share and has recorded 45.3 (No. 10) Weighted Opportunities. While he’s only drawn 3.0 targets per game, he has run 72 (No. 5) routes and has no drops. Mixon is on the field in all phases, he just needs a little more attention from Joe Burrow to reach full-blown bellcow status.

Check out Joe Mixon on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:

A little help from his offensive line would also be nice. Mixon led the league last season with 103 Evaded Tackles for a 32.9 percent (No. 4) Juke Rate. He isn’t far off that number this season, evading a tackle on 30.5-percent (No. 20) of his touches, so it’s not like he has played poorly. The running lanes just aren’t there. Mixon’s 35.3 (No. 59) Run Blocking Efficiency rating has limited him to zero (No. 47) Breakaway Runs. The blocking has not been good, but neither have the matchups.

Cincinnati has faced a gauntlet, drawing Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Philadelphia in the first three weeks. All three teams rank in the top half of the NFL in Defensive Rushing DVOA. That coupled with horrible O-line play won’t do an RB any favors. Mixon faces Jacksonville this week, who still ranks top 10 against the run, but who rank No. 27 in Defensive Passing DVOA. This game has shootout potential, and Cincinnati should be in scoring position plenty throughout the game. The opportunity is there for Mixon and his price does not reflect that.

David Johnson, Houston Texans: $5600

Has there ever been an RB with a 96.0-percent (No. 1) Snap Share that is under $6000? Well, we have that this week in David Johnson. In Duke Johnson‘s absence, he has captured an 85.2-percent (No. 3) Opportunity Share. He is also leading the position in Route Participation, running a route on 95.8-percent of Houston’s pass plays. The dominant receiving back we once knew is returning to his old ways.

The reason this level of opportunity is being priced so low is due to his brutal efficiency in the last two weeks. Against elite Baltimore and Pittsburgh defenses, Johnson averaged a mere 3.43 Yards per Touch. Those teams ranked No. 1 and 2 in Defensive Rushing DVOA, so we should give him a pass there. He is set to bounce back against the Minnesota Vikings this week. Not only do they rank No. 23 in Defensive Rushing DVOA, but they have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards to RBs and have allowed the second-most points per game among defenses.

Not only is the matchup pristine, but the Texans have actually put Johnson in a position to smash. No longer is he being put in I-Formation and slammed into loaded boxes on first down. In fact, he hasn’t logged a single carry against a Stacked Front and sees a Light Front on 91.4-percent (No. 4) of his carries. He is also running out of the shotgun 60.0-percent (No. 16) of the time, where his yards per carry average doubles to 4.8 from 2.4 when under center. The stars are aligning for Johnson to have a breakout game in Week 4, and $5600 isn’t much to spend to be a part of it.

Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins: $5000

If you need to go way down for some salary savings, Myles Gaskin is the best option. He has had one of the steadiest receiving workloads thus far, ranking top-10 among qualified running backs in targets, routes run, Route Participation, and Target Share. We saw him completely take over the Miami backfield in Week 3, adding 22 carries on top of his five receptions. Gaskin only averaged 3.0 yards per carry, but Jacksonville sneakily ranks No. 8 in Defensive Rushing DVOA. The opportunity is what is important here.

Myles Gaskin Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Gaskin is in the best game environment one can ask for, taking on the Seahawks with a game total of 54 points. That’s the third-highest total on the slate, and Seattle games have averaged 65.7 points this season. Opposing teams also average a robust 76 plays per game as they try to catch up to the efficient Russell Wilson. Miami will need to push their usual tempo, leading to more snaps, carries, and targets for their new workhorse RB.

After hitting double-digit fantasy points in every game without even scoring a touchdown, Gaskin is a high-floor fantasy option in this spot. If he can find the end zone at least once this week, which seems likely given Miami’s 24-point implied team total, Gaskin can be a tournament-winning leverage play against the chalky pass-catchers in this game.