Free Square DFS Running Backs for Week 9

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 9 DFS main slate.

D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions: $5000

The Detroit Lions are slowly realizing who their best RB is. D’Andre Swift has seen an increased Snap Share in three straight weeks, playing a season-high 65.5-percent against the Colts on Sunday. He posted one of his worst box scores of the season, turning his nine touches into 23 scoreless yards, but Indianapolis ranks top five in both Rushing and Passing Defensive DVOA. The usage and Snap Share are what’s important.

Swift has one of his softest matchups of the season this week, taking on a Minnesota defense that allows over 30 points per game. The Vikings offense has also been electric in previous weeks, meaning the Lions might get most of their points in garbage time. That’s ideal for a satellite back-plus like Swift, who posted a 10.1-percent (75th-percentile among qualified wide receivers) College Target Share. He’s now caught at least three balls in all but one game this year, and that number will rise in Kenny Golladay‘s absence.

The Lions also have Matthew Stafford on the COVID list, meaning they may be starting one of Chase Daniel or David Blough this week. While they would obviously take away from the offensive projection, it’s reasonable to expect a few more checkdowns to their trusty receiving back. Swift still can’t be trusted in cash lineups, especially with a backup QB at the helm, but he’s averaged 12.7 (No. 26) Fantasy Points per Game on limited snaps this season. His receiving talent, big-play ability, and modest red zone usage keep him in play as a DFS tournament-winner.

J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens: $4900

The Ravens finally unleashed J.K. Dobbins without Mark Ingram active in Week 8. He racked up 15 touches for 113 yards against a Steelers defense that ranks No. 2 in Defensive Rushing DVOA. His efficiency against a truly elite defense speaks volumes to his talent as a player.

Dobbins has been doing this all season now. His  5.9 True Yards Per Carry ranks No. 1 among qualified RBs. That factors out explosive runs, showing how consistently good he is on his carries. Dobbins hits that absurd number with his elusiveness, evading tackles at an elite clip with a 32.7-percent (No. 9) Juke Rate and 2.31 (No. 3) Yards Created Per Touch. His ability to create on his own while also benefitting from the No. 4 Run Blocking Efficiency mark makes him the most efficient RB in the NFL.

Ingram is on pace to miss another game with his ankle injury, meaning we get another week of Dobbins getting featured by the Ravens. He draws another tough matchup against a Colts defense that ranks No. 5 in Defensive Rushing DVOA, but his ability to evade tackles and create explosive runs for himself will allow him to remain efficient. His lack of receiving usage limits his floor, meaning he’ll need another 100-yard game or a touchdown to hit value in a cash lineup, but Dobbins is an exciting tournament option with a massive ceiling.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers: $4900

Our cash lineup free square comes in the form of Justin Jackson, who finally took the reins from Joshua Kelley last week. Jackson out-rushed his rookie teammate 17-7, while out-targeting him 5-1 against the Broncos. He was also incredibly efficient, racking up 89 rushing yards and 53 receiving yards. Jackson is clearly the preferred option, and just in time, too.

The Chargers are at home taking on the Raiders this week. This matchup has the third-highest total on the slate at 51.5 points, meaning plenty of points should be scored. The Chargers are also favored, so as the lead back, Jackson should see another 20 opportunities. This Raiders defense also ranks No. 31 in Defensive Rushing DVOA, No. 26 in explosive runs allowed, and has ceded the fifth-most receiving yards to RBs on the year. Jackson has a 6.7-percent (No. 7) Breakaway Run Rate and 2.38 (No. 3) Yards Per Route Run, so this defense plays directly into his strengths.

Check out Justin Jackson on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:

With no obvious cheap QBs and TEs on the main slate, DK has some tough pricing decisions at the top. Paying down at one RB slot for a cash lineup makes sense this week. Jackson is a clear lead back in a solid game environment with an elite matchup.