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 3 DFS main slate.
Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers: $5100
After a 403-touch season, Christian McCaffrey finally caught the injury bug. His high ankle sprain thrust Mike Davis into the Week 2 spotlight, where he hauled in all eight of his targets for 74 yards. That was all in the fourth quarter, meaning he filled into McCaffrey’s checkdown role seamlessly. The pass-catching will be massive against a stout Chargers front that stymied both Joe Mixon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the ground.
Check out Mike Davis on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:
For those that think Davis can’t handle that role, let’s take a look at his player profile. The 28-year-old RB played college ball at South Carolina, where he caught over 30 balls in each of his final two seasons. Davis’ 11.0 percent (80th-percentile among qualified RBs) College Target Share showed that he possesses soft hands, and his 32.0 (85th-percentile) Body Mass Index indicates he can hold up to an NFL workload. His ceiling is capped due to his 4.61 (42nd-percentile) 40-yard dash, but his 11.18 (76th-percentile) Agility Score suggests he has the wiggle to make defenders miss.
Davis also has minimal competition for touches. Trenton Cannon and Reggie Bonnafon both fall below the 11th-percentile in terms of BMI, meaning neither poses a threat for workhorse touches. Plus, neither saw an opportunity when McCaffrey went down last week. This coaching staff showed that they are fine with letting one player shoulder the load, so Davis should be a locked-in three-down back this week at a cheap price.
Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers: $4900
It’s finally time. Jerick McKinnon is ready to dominate the NFL. It may have taken injuries to both Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, but the McKinnon truthers were due for some good luck. After missing two seasons with ACL issues, he has looked insanely good on his nine touches. He has evaded six (No. 22) tackles, good for a 66.7-percent Juke Rate. That would be No. 1 among RBs if he had enough touches to qualify. He also looks like he’s returned to his 155.7 (100th-percentile) SPARQ-x form, averaging 13.4 yards per touch with three (No. 1) Breakaway Runs.
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McKinnon’s only competition for touches this week comes in the form of Jeff Wilson. The undrafted North Texas alum isn’t big (17th-percentile BMI), fast (35th-percentile Speed Score), or good at catching. Wilson has offered three yards on his two carries this season, so it’s wheels up for “Jet” against the Giants this week. Remember, Kyle Shanahan hand-picked McKinnon two seasons ago, offering him a four-year, $30 million contract in free agency.
New York has certainly been strong against the run, ranking No. 6 in Defensive Rushing DVOA, but David Montgomery just racked up 127 total yards against this team at 6.7 yards per touch. McKinnon’s explosiveness in Shanahan’s scheme should afford premium opportunities for fantasy points. Plus, he’s explosive catching the ball, which will be massive given the 49ers injuries at skill positions. McKinnon looks like a league-winning RB and a week-winning DFS free square.
Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team: $4700
It didn’t take long for Antonio Gibson to take over the Washington backfield. In Week 2, he received more carries and targets than J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber combined. It should have been this way all along given Gibson’s athletic profile. The man is 6-0, 228-pounds, and runs a 4.39 (98th-percentile) 40-yard dash. That’s good for a 122.8 (99th-percentile) Speed Score. He has yet to get to the second level against strong Philadelphia and Arizona fronts, but we’ll see the fireworks soon enough.
Among the best reasons to play Gibson is Washington’s Pace of Play. They currently run 2.42 offensive plays per minute, which ranks No. 5 among offenses. More plays equal more opportunities for pieces of this offense. Should Gibson continue to dominate backfield work, he’ll start approaching 20 opportunities per game.
This matchup isn’t ideal, with the Browns ranking No. 4 in Defensive Rushing DVOA. The good news is that they rank No. 30 against the pass after getting shredded by rookie Joe Burrow in his second NFL start. Dwayne Haskins isn’t better than Burrow, but he’ll be able to move the ball into scoring position against this defense. Gibson is far from a smash play, but this game should offer plenty of scoring opportunities.