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The 5 best running back plays in Week 1 DFS

Running back is a critical position, but you want to leverage value. Here are three decent values for Week 1 DFS.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins hands off the ball to Dalvin Cook in the first quarter of the preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Week 1 main slate on DraftKings is absolutely loaded with value, even with Ezekiel Elliott’s ($9,200) return taking Tony Pollard ($4,500) off the board. We have obvious strong plays in Saquon Barkley ($9,000), Christian McCaffrey ($8,800) and David Johnson ($7,700), but I don’t think any of them qualify as the best value on the slate.

The mid-range salary RBs on this slate are some of the strongest I can remember, so rather than three, I’ll feature my top-five to target from a value perspective.

Dalvin Cook (MIN vs. ATL) — $6,000

Cook is in the perfect situation to begin the season. Minnesota is some committed to the run-game this season it only kept four WR on its 53-man roster. The Vikings should look to feed Cook against a Falcons defense that was amongst the worst in football at defending the position.

Atlanta gave up the most receptions out of the backfield last season, which also gives Cook a ton of upside with full-point PPR on DK. Cook was very strong down the stretch in 2018, rounding out the season with six consecutive games of double-digit DK points. He’s also shown burst in limited preseason snaps, taking an 85-yarder to the house in his last preseason game. With the Vikings at home as four-point favorites, the game-script also lines up for Cook to see plenty of work.

Chris Carson (SEA vs. CIN) — $5,700

The only reason I have Carson behind Cook is because I expect Cook to see a larger role in the passing game. In terms of situation as a pure RB, Carson’s actually in my favorite spot on the slate. Carson finished the regular season hot with seven games in a row of 10-plus DK points, and I expect Seattle to continue to rely on him this season.

The matchup is as good as it gets, playing in Seattle against a Bengals defense that ranked dead last in the NFL against RBs last season. The Seahawks are 8.5-point favorites in this one, which could mean a ton of work for Carson to grind the game down in the second half. Carson rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the final three games last season, averaging 26.4 DK points during that span.

Leonard Fournette (JAX vs. KC) — $6,100

Fournette feels like he’s priced down because of his poor 2018 season that was plagued by injury. He has a terrific matchup on the slate against the Chiefs, and the Jaguars are only four-point underdogs here. Kansas City ranked 27th in rushing defense last year, and 31st in DK points allowed to the position.

Fournette has absolutely zero competition behind him on the depth chart, with T.J. Yeldon out of the picture, and every other active RB on Jacksonville’s roster priced at the minimum salary. That should mean a very healthy workload on the ground for Fournette, who the Jags have also hyped up as a larger piece of their passing game this season. Unless the Chiefs get up double-digits very early, it’s tough to imagine Fournette getting fewer than 20 touches.

Nick Chubb (CLE vs. TEN) — $6,400

Chubb feels like someone going under the radar in Cleveland’s offense after the Odell Beckham Jr. addition. As a rookie, he was one of the best fantasy RBs after becoming the starter for the second half of 2018. With Kareem Hunt on the shelf for eight games, the Browns are going to have to rely on Chubb heavily.

Chubb’s role in the passing game can hold him back a little in full PPR formats, but he still managed two or more catches in six of his final seven games last season. The matchup against the Titans also isn’t as ideal as the guys’ I ranked ahead of him, but the Browns are still 5.5-point favorites at home here. Chubb saw 18 or more carries in seven of his final 10 games last season, and should have enough of a workload here to well exceed value.

Kerryon Johnson (DET @ ARI) — $5,800

Johnson was off to a great start to his rookie campaign last year, averaging 14.6 DK points in the first 10 games of his career, while only reaching the end zone four times. He enters 2019 as the unquestioned featured back for the Lions, and the loss of Theo Riddick should open up more targets for him in the passing game.

Arizona’s defense gave up the most rushing yards per game in football last year, and ranked 28th in DK points allowed to the position. This game has shootout potential, but with a 2.5-point spread, could also come down to the wire. While I can’t say with any confidence that Johnson’s as safe as the top-four values, he’s a worthy consideration to pivot off of them.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.