DFS Three And Out 2021 week 15
Hey now. ... It's a weird week in the NFL. Saturday games, injuries and more than 100 players placed on reserve/COVID this week. Some of those will be clear; some of those won't play this week; and we're going to have to deal with it as fantasy managers. So with this week's DFS Tournament Three and Out, I'm embracing some riskier plays than I normally would -- at least in this forum. And it feels good. So good I might open it up a bit more over the rest of the season. Then again, based on what we've seen this week, we might all be doing that.
Whatever the case, I have some running backs for you and I've done my best to give you some options.
D'Onta Foreman, RB, Tennessee Titans ($5,200 on DraftKings; $5,800 on FanDuel)
Let's get the ball rolling -- literally -- in Pittsburgh, where injuries and ineffective play have overwhelmed the Steelers defensive front seven. Look back no further than last Thursday, when Dalvin Cook, playing with a hurt shoulder, racked up 205 yards on 27 carries, against said struggling defense. Cook added two touchdowns while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. But it wasn't just last week. As ESPN.com's Tristan Cockroft notes, the 418 total yards the Steelers have allowed per game during the past five weeks are the NFL's most, while their 187 rushing yards allowed average is nearly 15 full yards more than the next-worst team's total during that time span. ... Fast forward to this Sunday, when the Tennessee Titans will bring their three-man backfield rotation to town. Yes, Dontrell Hilliard and Jeremy McNichols will have roles. In fact, Cockroft points out that Hilliard's 39 percent snap share the past five weeks, compared to Foreman's 33 percent share in that time. Still, Foreman has been the more heavily utilized back during that time, with 50 carries to Hilliard's 25, and he's the one getting the bulk of the goal-line chances (6-of-8 among Titans running backs). As a result, Foreman has either 100-plus rushing yards or a rushing TD in his past two games. "That makes Foreman a nice low-budget, high-reward play," Awesomo's Matt Gajewski added. He also probably won't be highly-owned, thanks to that very committee approach.
Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers ($6,200 on DraftKings; $7,800 on FanDuel)
So I'm not a huge fan or picking players that aren't relatively certain to play for this column, but that's a challenge with a narrowed Sunday slate and with a record number of COVID cases muddying the waters more broadly. So, I'm making some exceptions this week. First and foremost, although he missed Week 14, Mitchell is expected to be back on the field for a great matchup against the Falcons, who allow 2.4 points per drive and 8.3 RB carries of five-plus yards per game. As ESPN.com's Al Zeidenfeld put it, "Mitchell has been a juggernaut" since taking over the starting RB job for the 49ers, amassing 22-plus carries in each of his past three games and six goal-to-go carries over his last two contests. Adding to that anticipated volume, the 49ers are 8-point favorites in a game with a 45-point total. Given all that, Mitchell's only concerns are his health and the presence of Deebo Samuel, who has been making plays as a runner in recent weeks. Still, Samuel making plays doesn't preclude Mitchell from doing the same. In fact, Zeidenfeld argues that Mitchell's own big-play ability also gives us an opportunity to cash in on just one snap, as exemplified by his multiple double-digit runs in six of his last seven games. On top of that, Mitchell has been used more as a pass catcher with eight catches in his two previous games as well. Again, watch the injury report carefully leading up to the game, but as long as he's playing Mitchell will be one of the better running back plays on this slate. And, especially on DraftKings, the price ain't bad.
Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins ($5,600 on DraftKings; $6,600 on FanDuel)
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Miami Dolphins ($4,600 on DraftKings; $5,500 on FanDuel)
Salvon Ahmed, RB, Miami Dolphins ($4,000 on DraftKings; $5,400 on FanDuel)
Malcolm Brown, RB, Miami Dolphins ($4,000 on DraftKings; $5,000 on FanDuel)
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami Dolphins ($4,000 on DraftKings; $4,500 on FanDuel)
Gerrid Doaks, RB, Miami Dolphins ($4,000 on DraftKings; $4,500 on FanDuel)
Did I mention I'm making some exceptions to the whole sticking with "sure things" in terms of health this week? Hey, DFS Tournaments are a little like playing the lottery; taking chances is a path to big paydays. And in this case, we should have ample certainty in advance of Sunday's early-afternoon kickoff in Miami. Because I really want to play one of these guys. In fact, if I'm being honest, the further down the list we dig the happier I'll be -- at least in terms of lineup flexibility. Why am I so willing to take a chance here? As Jacob Camenker of The Sporting News notes, the Jets have allowed a league-high 23 total touchdowns to running backs this year. How bad is that? Camenker notes the second-worst team, the Lions, allowed four combined TDs to Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon last week and they're still behind the Jets. Even though Miami didn't have super-impressive rushing performance against the Jets in their last meeting, finishing with 115 total rushing yards, that total came on 33 attempts. Gaskin finished the day with 89 yards on 24 carries. I'd be happy to see any of these backs get that kind of workload in this one. With that out of the way, it's likely we won't know which one until Sunday. So here's where we stand now: Gaskin, Ahmed and Lindsay are on reserve/COVID. Gaskin went the list last Friday; Ahmed went on Saturday; Lindsay on Monday. It's entirely possible any of them, if vaccinated (Gaskin and Ahmed reportedly are) could be activated at any time. Brown has been designated to return from IR and has been practicing this week; he'll have to be activated by 4 pm ET Saturday to play Sunday; Johnson was elevated from the practice squad early this week and has plenty of experience in the NFL and in this offense. ... So there we have it. If all of them are available, I'm probably less interested, but Gaskin would remain a fine play with an open path to workload (as we saw in the Week 11 meeting between these two teams). Watch and adjust as circumstances dictate.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks ($5,400 on DraftKings; $6,100 on FanDuel)
As Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth noted, there was always something blocking Penny from matching the potential that came with being a first-round pick. Injuries and the presence of Chris Carson have kept him from moving up to the first team during his time in Seattle. Carson is the one hurt now, though, and Penny is healthy, which meant he got his second career start against the Texans last Sunday. Penny made the most of it by running 16 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns. This week, Alex Collins, the only other back on the roster to get a significant number of carries in Houston (Collins had seven carries, DeeJay Dallas had two), was placed on the reserve/COVID list on Thursday. Adrian Peterson remains an option (he'll have to be elevated from the practice squad by 4 pm ET Saturday to be a factor), but a limited one at best. So we're all in on Penny, right? Well. ... According to ESPN.com's analytics guy Seth Walder, those investing in Penny will be in for a rude and immediate awakening Sunday. Why? Because here come the elite run stuffing Los Angeles Rams. According to Walder, the Rams rank first in run stop win rate and is allowing just 77.6 rushing yards per game to opposing RBs. As FantasyPros put it, "Penny should see plenty of work again, but the scoring upside isn't going to be as prevalent as it was against Houston."