Free Square DFS Running Backs for Week 7

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 7 DFS main slate.

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers: $5800

Raheem Mostert suffered what seemed to be a high ankle sprain in his Monday night matchup with the Rams. He had touched the ball 19 times prior to his departure, all of which came in the first half. This thrusts Jerick McKinnon into the spotlight yet again.

McKinnon has thrived in that role this season. In the prior two games that Mostert missed, he averaged 19 touches for 87 scrimmage yards and scored in both. His efficiency from earlier this season has cooled off a bit, but that was expected on the increased volume. McKinnon still ranks No. 10 among qualified running backs with 5.7 Yards Per Touch, No. 6 with 2.14 Yards Created Per Touch, and No. 8 with a 7.3-percent Breakaway Run Rate. He has proven that his surgeries haven’t affected his 155.7 (100th-percentile) SPARQ-x Score.

Check out Jerick McKinnon on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:

The San Francisco O-line has allowed significant penetration this season, getting their runs stuffed at the third-highest rate in the league and only affording McKinnon the No. 37-ranked Run Blocking Efficiency. That has hindered their explosive backs from consistently flashing their athleticism, but that shouldn’t happen this week against the Patriots. New England has actually been bad this season, especially in the front seven after Dont’a Hightower opted out. They currently rank No. 18 in Defensive Rushing DVOA and No. 20 in adjusted line yards. They also rank No. 24 in stuffed run rate according to Football Outsiders, meaning the 49ers backs won’t be blown up in the backfield nearly as often.

McKinnon shouldn’t catch much ownership this week. People may be concerned about JaMycal Hasty and a “bad” matchup with the Patriots, but that makes him a solid tournament option.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers: $4900

While the masses flocked to Joshua Kelley in the wake of Austin Ekeler’s hamstring injury, sharps realized that there was already a superior prospect in the backfield named Justin Jackson. The former seventh-rounder from Northwestern was a mega-producer at the college level. He posted four straight seasons of 1,000-plus rushing yards with a 30.7 (69th-percentile) College Dominator Rating. More importantly, he hauled in 122 balls in his four years, recording a 12.8-percent (87th-percentile) College Target Share. It should have been obvious that Jackson was the direct fill-in for Ekeler’s role given his receiving talent and ability to handle a massive college workload. The Chargers clearly saw it that way as well. Against the Saints in Week 5, Jackson out-carried Kelley 15 to 11 and out-targeted him six to one.

With a clear lead on Kelley and three-down ability, Jackson sets up well against the Jaguars this week. They have allowed the third-most fantasy points to RBs and the fourth-most rushing yards, while being tied for the most touchdowns allowed with nine. With a 28.25 implied team total, Jackson has massive touchdown equity in this game. If the Jaguars are able to push the ball downfield and score like they were earlier in this season, this matchup has major shootout potential. Jackson is way too cheap for this spot.

Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals: $4800

After costing DFS gamers trunks of money on main slates for weeks, Kenyan Drake finally exploded in a primetime matchup against the Cowboys. He found the end zone twice in Dallas, including a game-icing 69-yard touchdown run where he went untouched down the right sideline. Drake looked explosive and the Cardinals put him in a position to show off his 107.1 (85th-percentile) Speed Score, which they struggled to do earlier in the season. The only downside was his usage in the passing game. He only saw two targets and didn’t catch either.

This is the ideal game environment for a fantasy RB, though. This matchup with the Seahawks has a total of 55.5, which is second only to the Packers and Texans (57.5) on this slate. The Cardinals are only slight underdogs at +3.5, so this will be a competitive game with scoring opportunities on both sides. Drake has seen 19 (No. 14) Red Zone Touches to nine (No. 38) for Chase Edmonds, so he has a clear edge in the scoring department.

Drake should also provide excellent leverage in DFS tournaments. Tyler Lockett’s $6600 price will make him extremely chalky, and that will naturally lead players to stack passing game weapons and QBs from both sides of this game. Despite his cheap price, Drake will carry far less ownership and has shown the ability to score in a hurry.