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Mid-Tier Running Backs Offer Great DFS Value in Week 1

DraftKings and FanDuel players should target these three running backs for their rosters in Week 1 contests.

A crucial success metric when playing daily fantasy is selecting low-priced players that will outperform players with salaries in the upper tier. Finding a player with a salary around $6,000 at DraftKings is much more projectable. For example, a running back with 120 combined yards, a touchdown, and four catches would reach the 25.00-point threshold to support a four times salary investment. The trick is finding a three-down back who is priced below his potential in the daily market.

Week 1 Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (DraftKings – $6,800/ FanDuel – $7,600)

The Lions will surely rotate in a second back in Week 1, costing Swift an elite RB1 opportunity. Nevertheless, he has the second-highest ceiling in catches at the running back position behind Christian McCaffrey. Last season, Detroit gave Swift more than 15 rushes once in his 13 games. Over his first eight starts, he averaged 5.9 catches for 51.9 yards and 0.25 touchdowns in the passing game (12.59 fantasy points in PPR leagues). In essence, his value in the passing game should set a 50 percent floor on his output based on his current salary. The Eagles finished 25th in the NFL vs. the running back position (25.79 FPPG) while showing failure in four matchups (34.10, 33.70, 44.80, and 42.20 fantasy points) over the first seven weeks of the season. They allowed 115 catches for 713 yards and two touchdowns. Swift almost has an all-in feel, but he needs the Lions coaching staff to give him goal-line chances in this matchup.

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (DraftKings – $6,100/ FanDuel – $6,800)

Barkley has been a fan favorite of late by some fantasy experts. Unfortunately, injuries cost him 18 games over the past two seasons. Despite his struggles, he still has an elite rookie season (2,028 combined yards with 15 touchdowns and 91 catches) glowing on his resume. The rub with Barkley is the Giants' supporting cast on offense. A new head coach should help, but quarterback Daniel Jones remains more of a liability than an asset. In addition, health remains an issue for a couple of New York’s top wideouts. Tennessee was the second-best team in the league vs. running backs (18.45 FPPG) in 2021. No team scored more than 28.50 fantasy points from their backs last season. Barkley will be popular by name and salary, but his matchup suggests his ride may fall short of expectations.

Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders (DraftKings – $5,800/ FanDuel – $6,800)

Over his first two seasons (30 games), Gibson gained 2,371 combined yards with 20 touchdowns and 78 catches. He checks the three-down boxes, but Washington continues to want J.D. McKissic to be their top choice on passing downs. Last year Gibson had six fumbles (four lost), inviting a benching this season if his recent history repeats. With Brian Robinson temporarily out of the running back picture, he should have an excellent chance at 20-plus touches in Week 1. Washington gave him the ball 18.75 times in 2021. McKissic remains on the injury report, possibly giving Gibson more snaps vs. Jacksonville. The Jaguars ranked 18th against running backs last season (22.49 fantasy points per game). Four offenses beat them for more than 30.00 fantasy points (32.80, 36.50, 38.20, and 44.90 fantasy points). With a touchdown and a few more chances in the passing game, Gibson should be on his way to a 20.00-point fantasy day. The key to his playable value is the health of McKissic.