1. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons – $9500
The highest priced player of the week is Alvin Kamara. The do-it-all running back is welcoming his increased role with Mark Ingram out of the lineup. Kamara is doing more of his damage through the air but that seems to be more related to the game-script than anything. His ability to catch out of the backfield is what prices him so high. Atlanta is known for being soft against pass-catching running backs, including 14-catches for 102 yards a week ago to Christian McCaffrey. Kamara is going to punish this team and justify that high price.
2. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers – $9200
The battle for Los Angeles centers around the best running back in the league right now, Todd Gurley. Gurley, like Kamara, is a player that can do everything from anywhere on the field. This year, with the Rams taking commanding leads in both games, he has not been asked to do as much. That will change this week with the Chargers up next. The Chargers defense has shown holes on every level. That is bad news with Gurley coming to town. Without Joey Bosa and Corey Luiget, the Rams should take advantage of a soft front four and run Gurley a ton this week.
3. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers vs. Cincinnati Bengals – $7800
This pricing was odd to me. Christian McCaffrey is a solid player and coming off a 100-yard receiving game. However, the Bengals defense is a touch matchup especially against the sub-par offensive line in Carolina. McCaffrey’s yet to find the end zone, and that may continue this week. His goal line work is limited with Cam Newton lining up next to him as well. It’s odd to see a player in a tough match-up priced this high regardless of opportunity.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys @ Seattle Seahawks – $7700
It’s already been said about the lack of faith in this Seattle defense. That is good news for anyone who plans on grabbing Ezekiel Ellliott this week. The Seahawks defense is only a week removed from allowing Denver almost 150 yards rushing. For a team like Dallas that will be dedicated to running the ball, that number is going to soar. Elliott and the offensive line that is starting to gel is trouble in Seattle. Dallas will use Elliott to grind the game down, keep Russell Wilson off the field and limit the crowd’s involvement in Seattle’s home opener.
5. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants @ Houston Texans – $7600
Speaking of a player that will be utilized a ton by his team, Giants’ rookie Saquon Barkley is clearly the focal point of that offense in New York. Barkley was a pass-catching machine on Sunday night, even with a low yardage total. This week they travel to Houston to play a Texans team off to a disappointing start. Houston can’t be happy about their loss to a Blaine Gabbert led Titans squad a week ago.
J.J. Watt and Co. are a tough challenge for an offensive line that was dominated by Dallas a week ago. Barkley is going to have opportunity like McCaffrey, but the match-up might scare most from throwing him into lineups.
Value Running Backs
Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals @ Carolina Panthers – $5900
Every week there is a player who is getting a bigger work load because the running back ahead of them is injured. Last week it was T.J. Yeldon and this week is it Giovanni Bernard. Joe Mixon was injured in Thursday night game and reports are that he will miss two weeks. That makes Bernard a solid play this week as the 16th-priced running back on DraftKings. Bernard has always been involved in the passing game and will now get the rushing attempts that can push his performance over the top.
Kenyon Drake, Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders – $5600
The Miami Dolphins have to be one of the surprise starts of the 2018 season. After losing a lot of talent, they’ve rebounded and impressed in back-to-back weeks. This week they get a reeling Raiders team that lost despite their quarterback having the game of his life a week ago. For all the talk about Frank Gore, Drake has been the lead man in Miami.
This feels like the game that his role gets cemented. Oakland has allowed the second more rushing yards this season and both Miami backs can come out strong Sunday.
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys – $4300
Pete Caroll has to hear the chatter surrounding his terrible answer to a question after his team’s loss last week. His starting running back was “too gassed” from playing special teams to play in the second half as much. Expect Carson to no longer be a contributor on special teams and get fed the ball often this week. Entering the season Caroll made it clear that he is the team’s lead back and it’s time to show it. Dallas has a strong pass-rush but is vulnerable up the middle. As the 42nd ranked running back, Carson is a solid gamble to bust a few big plays.