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Intermediate NFL DFS: Running back opportunities

We continue our breakdown of NFL DFS. In this section, we look at running back opportunities, with definitions and some basic strategy.

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after a touchdown in the fourth quarter during their game against the Los Angeles Rams at Bank of America Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

In daily fantasy football, like in most things, getting the fundamentals down is integral toward laying a foundation of knowledge to build from as you progress as a player. For DFS, that means understanding how running back opportunities plays into your DFS strategy.

Running back opportunities

Definition

Running back opportunities includes number of snaps, rushing attempts and passing targets, along with touches in scoring position.

Strategy

Touches

Running backs are coveted in fantasy football because they are at a position with the most upside for touches. In DFS, we want to pick players who have consistent touches, especially in cash games. Last season there were 10 running backs that average 20 or more touches per game. Christian McCaffrey led the way 25.2 touches per game.

McCaffrey is a great player, but if another good running back were to see 25 touches per game, he would be similarly useful. Of course, with that kind of consistent workload, their DraftKings price is going to be high. With a player like McCaffrey, his price was sky high, but his consistency and high floor made him worth spending up on in cash games.

Targets

Receptions are part of the number of “touches” a back has, but when using one-point per reception, like they do at DraftKings, we need to prioritize receiving backs. Looking at targets and receptions for running backs is one way to find some value at the position. Targets can be more volatile than rushing attempts, making receiving backs more volatile DFS scorers. That volatility can be useful, especially in GPPs.

Goal-line touches

Workload is one of the most important statistics in choosing a running back, but where those touches happen is a big part of deciding who to roster. The higher the percentage of a back’s touches occur in the red zone the better.