Last week was a chaotic one at the running back position. The Josh Kelley chalk busted, and the Kyren Williams news changed the slate 10 minutes before lock. Like it or not, we’re in store for more uncertainty heading into Week 3, with the Browns backfield up for grabs after they added Kareem Hunt and injuries to monitor on Austin Ekeler and David Montgomery. With that in mind, let’s dive into the top NFL DFS running back picks and fades for Week 2, using Stokastic’s NFL DFS projections. The projections are especially high on Jahmyr Gibbs.
Top NFL DFS Running Back Picks & Fades for Week 3
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NFL DFS Running Back Picks for Week 3
Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers
After drafting Bryce Young with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers added a bunch of veterans to surround the rookie quarterback. One of those veterans is Miles Sanders. The Panthers have leaned heavily on Sanders in their first two games. He has had 32 combined carries in Weeks 1 and 2, chipping in seven catches on 11 targets. Touchdown variance has always been a thorn in Sanders’ side, but if he can turn that around and get this kind of workload, Sanders can easily pay off his $5,700 on DraftKings and $6,700 on FanDuel.
The Panthers have about a 17.5-point total in Week 3 when they take on the Seattle Seahawks, so there’s plenty of downside on Sanders as well. However, that downside and the Panthers low profile could keep Sanders’ ownership low enough to make him a worthy player to get leverage to in NFL DFS this week. PPR volume definitely works in Sanders’ favor on DraftKings, where the scoring is less reliant on touchdowns than FanDuel. Sanders projects for 15.78 points on DraftKings and 13.69 on FanDuel. He is the top value play on the board at running back on DraftKings and the sixth on FanDuel. The field is getting to Sanders at a pretty high rate, with Sanders picking up 16.6% and 19.5% ownership on DraftKings and FanDuel, respectively. Expect those numbers to come down as the week moves on and people find other options at the running back position. Sanders is a scary play at high ownership, but if those rates do end up coming down, he could become a top value option for Week 3 NFL DFS.
Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions have a big question mark in their backfield heading into their Week 3 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. David Montgomery left last week’s game with a leg injury and is questionable to play on Sunday. It’s unclear who will take the bulk of the Lions rushing work if he does sit out. The Lions invested a first-round pick in Jahmyr Gibbs, and it could be his time to shine. Many expected Gibbs to immediately take over the starting running back duties in Week 1, but the Lions opted to go with the veteran Montgomery, who they signed this offseason. With Montgomery out of the way, this could be Gibbs’ chance to take over. The Lions will certainly use their third-string running back Craig Reynolds, but how much is anyone’s guess. There’s plenty of volatility in Gibbs’ projection and ceiling given Reynolds presence, but Gibbs’ upside can’t be ignored.
Gibbs projects for 16.76 and 14.25 fantasy points on DraftKings and FanDuel, respectively. Those average projections make Gibbs the fourth-best value at running back on DraftKings and fifth-best value on FanDuel. His ownership hasn’t caught up to those projections yet. With Montgomery in, Stokastic’s NFL DFS ownership projections peg Gibbs for just a 6% roster rate on DraftKings and 7.4% on FanDuel. Those ownership percentages will rise if and when Montgomery is officially ruled out, but they’re unlikely to soar too high to make Gibbs a fade. Gibbs’ downside should keep his ownership in check given that the team has yet to really unleash him and the presence of so many other value plays at the running back position. It’s a great spot to lean into an uncertain situation with high boom/bust potential.
NFL DFS Running Back Fades for Week 3
Jerome Ford, Cleveland Browns
Nick Chubb is gone, and the Cleveland Browns backfield appears to be Jerome Ford‘s to lose. That said, the team just picked up Kareem Hunt to work in with the second-year Ford. NFL DFS players saw what Ford could do on Monday night when he carried 16 times for over 100 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ford was targeted four times out of the backfield, and his fantasy score would have been even higher if he were not stopped on the 1-yard line of a long run. All that production came in three quarters of football after the Chubb injury. It all adds up to making Ford a scary fade for Week 3 NFL DFS.
There is still plenty of reasons to think through the viability of Ford and at what rate he should be rostered in tournament lineups. He will likely be the best cash option at running back when all is said and done, but Ford’s ownership in GPPs could get too high. Keep in mind that his huge workload came in the middle of a game where the Browns didn’t have time to adjust their gameplan and, of course, to sign Hunt. Likewise, he was inefficient in Week 1 versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Ford had 15 carries for 36 yards in that blowout win.
Stokastic’s NFL DFS projections are picking up on some of these dynamics. Ford projects for 12.04 and 10.75 fantasy points on DraftKings and FanDuel, respectively. He’s a top-5 value on DraftKings and a top-7 value on FanDuel, but the field is behaving as if he is at the top of the value range for NFL DFS running backs this week. He is currently the highest-owned player at the position on DraftKings, at 20.4%. Ford is the third-highest-owned running back on FanDuel at 20.2%. Those are big numbers to eat for a very unproven guy. If the ownership comes down, he’ll make for a great play. However, at the current moment there are better spots to turn to.
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys knifed through their first two opponents to get to 2-0. They are favored to do so again this Sunday when they take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Cowboys have a 28-point implied team total, which has their players popping for NFL DFS. Among them is their lead back Tony Pollard. He stands out as one of the highest-projected plays at running back for Sunday’s NFL DFS main slate. Despite the high projection on Pollard, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. For one, his price continues to rise. Pollard is now $8,000 on DraftKings and $9,400 on FanDuel. Those are high price tags at a position that offers plenty of spend down value plays this week.
Pollard projects for 19.13 fantasy points on and 16.56 on FanDuel. He’s a top-10 value option at running back on DraftKings but does not crack the top 10 on FanDuel. His projection is sound, and there’s little reason to think Pollard won’t reach that on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. He’s a safe play. But we don’t need to be safe in NFL DFS tournaments, especially when it’s being heavily owned. If you take some shots on Pollard, you will want to be mindful of the rest of your lineup construction and how you build. He’s picking up 15.3% ownership on DraftKings and 11% on FanDuel.