The Long Gain: Bargain Running Backs to Target in Week 1

by Zach Krueger ·

Alas, the time has come to put our processes and procedures to the test as we embark on what is officially Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season. Everything we have done has led us to the moment, and there’s no turning back now! This season, my goal is to bring to deliver a weekly article outlining potential buy-low running backs across the DraftKings and FanDuel platforms by utilizing the tools PlayerProfiler provides us. Throughout the season, we will be looking at running backs who are cost efficient and have a chance to offer significant ROI. This will be done through evaluating individual players’ Breakaway Runs, Breakaway Run Rate and the number of breakaway runs and passes that opposing defenses have allowed to running backs over the course of the season.

We want upside for cheap, and this season we’re going to find it every week! Using last season’s numbers along with advanced stats and metrics to help us evaluate what we can expect in Week 1, here are a few running backs to target as we kick off another season!

Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions

Draft Kings: $5800
FanDuel: $7000

Kerryon Johnson is in the ultimate smash spot this week with the Lions going on the road to face the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were dead last in the league last season against the run, allowing 154.9 rush yards per game to opposing offenses. They open this season against a player whose eight Breakaway Runs in 2018 (No. 20 among qualified RBs) and 6.8-percent (No. 13) Breakaway Run Rate made him well worth his third round summer ADP.

Johnson averaged only 11.8 carries per game in 2018, and has a chance to blow past that total heading into his second season as Detroit’s top running back. He has the most favorable matchup of all running backs on the Week 1 slate. The Cardinals allowed +6.46 fantasy points above league average to opposing running backs last season. The Lions prepare to go up against a defense that leaves much to be desired, especially without suspended star cornerback Patrick Peterson. Look for them to grab an early lead, and ride Kerryon to a Week 1 victory as he firmly establishes himself as an RB1.

Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Draft Kings: $5100
FanDuel: $6600

Last season, the Baltimore Ravens ranked first overall with 547 team run plays (547). They aren’t looking to slow down that pace entering 2019. Enter Mark Ingram. Brought in to fill the  early-down role occupied by Gus Edwards last season, Ingram brings with him a history of long runs and big play ability. After serving his four-game suspension, he finished 2018 with seven (No. 26) Breakaway Runs and a 5.1-percent (No. 23) Breakaway Run Rate. It’s also worth noting that he is only a year removed from a 2017 season where he reeled off 13 (No. 5) Breakaway Runs and had a 5.7-percent (No. 9) Breakaway Run Rate.

Check out Mark Ingram on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings & Projections:

Ingram and the Ravens play the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, who allowed 145.3 rushing yards per game and gave up +3.96 fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2018. The Dolphins have arguably gotten worse since training camp ended. They parted ways with several players, including linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Ravens will look to capitalize on a favorable game script in what should lead to a high volume of touches in Week 1 for Ingram.

Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Draft Kings: $5700
FanDuel: $6600

Right behind the Ravens in total run plays last season was the Seattle Seahawks. They pounded the ball 534 times in 2018, led by running back Chris Carson. He toted the rock 247 times in 2018, and showed off his big play the ability to the tune of 12 (No. 10) Breakaway Runs. While evading 93 (No. 3) tackles and posting a 34.8-percent (No. 6) Juke Rate.

Chris Carson Advanced Stats and Metrics Profile

The Seahawks host the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1. The Bengals allowed +5.46 points to opposing running backs in 2018, and an average of 137.8 rushing yards per game. They are already down their top receiver in A.J. Green and lost their first round pick, offensive tackle Jonah Williams, to a torn labrum before training camp started. Seattle has historically been among the most difficult places to play for the road team. This week should be no different. After proving himself as an explosive runner in 2018, Carson will continue that trend early into the 2019 campaign with a big week against the Bengals.