Fantasy Sports

DFS Week 3 RB Targets

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries the ball during the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at U.S. Bank Stadium on Dec. 6, 2020. Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

NFL DFS is back for yet another slate! Another strange week in fantasy football resulted in a few major price decreases for running backs, especially on DraftKings. With $8600 being the price, that provides you several opportunities to find value and target some top-tier wide receivers. Below are seven backs that have a strong enough matchup to outplay their price tag.


Dalvin Cook

2021 Stats: 42 carries, 192 rush yards, 4.57 YPC, 8 receptions, 60 rec yards, 1 TD, (DK: 20.6 FPPG; FD: 16.6 FPPG)

vs SEA (32nd)DK: $8,400FD: $9,500

Cook has had a strong start to the year as a fantasy back. Through two games, he ranks in the top five in touches (50), total yards per game (126.0), and FPPG. Despite what is his best matchup to date, his price dropped $700 on DraftKings. Seattle has been atrocious against running backs to start the season, allowing a league-high 230.5 all-purpose yards per game. The most occurrence saw Derrick Henry pop off for a 237 yard, three touchdown effort last week.

Were it not for Cook’s injury (ankle sprain), he would essentially be considered the best play on the slate. The uncertainty surrounding his health, however, could lead to a somewhat limited workload. He missed both Wednesday and Thursday’s practice and while this could be maintenance, it does make me wary of locking him into all of my lineups. In what could be considered a must-win, Minnesota will need his services to avoid a potential 0-3 start, which might force their hand to give him his typical 21-25 touches. The matchup is there for him to thrive, but one little tweak could limit his touches, or potentially end his day early altogether.

The injury might deplete his ownership, so if you stay on the right side of the fantasy football Gods, a great return might be in your favor. Should he hypothetically be ruled out prior to the game, Alexander Mattison becomes a potential top 10 fantasy running back this week and should be a strong consideration for your lineups, especially on FanDuel.

Austin Ekeler

2021 Stats: 24 carries, 111 rush yards, 4.63 YPC, 9 receptions, 61 rec yards, 1 TD, (DK: 17.1 FPPG; FD: 14.85 FPPG)

@ KC (22nd)DK: $7,200FD: $7,000

Will the real Austin Ekeler please stand up? Coming into the year as one of the top PPR running backs, Ekeler caused a bit of concern after a hamstring injury threatened his Week 1 availability. His lack of being targeted even once caused plenty of eyebrows to be raised as well. The following week, Ekeler failed to garner 10 rushing attempts, however he caught all nine of his targets to finish as RB6 on DraftKings. Which one will we get this week? My guess is we get more of the latter.

Kansas City has allowed a league-high seven rushing touchdowns thus far and has allowed the third-most points per game to running backs (32.0). Ekeler is not the typical running back to get 20 carries a game, but he is a strong red zone presence and very reliable in high scoring affairs. This game will be one of the highest scoring on the slate, so you will need to get some exposure to a few of these players.

Los Angeles has been able to move the ball up and down the field in the first two games with 430 yards per game (6th) and an impressive 61.3% 3rd down conversion rate (1st), yet have failed to score over 20 points. They should be able to find the end zone more often this week and will have to in order to keep up with the Chiefs. A couple of Chargers in your line might not be a bad call.


Saquon Barkley

2021 Stats: 23 carries, 83 rush yards, 3.61 YPC, 3 receptions, 13 rec yards, (DK: 6.3 FPPG; FD: 5.55 FPPG)

vs ATL (26th)DK: $6,500FD: $6,000

This one might be wishful thinking, but this could be the game Barkley fantasy owners have impatiently been waiting for. Back-to-back duds from the fourth year pro have drastically dropped his salary and a 10 day rest following their most recent game could be another step towards giving him a full workload.

There might not be a better home run hitter among NFL running backs than the Penn State product. Atlanta’s defense has been decimated so far this year and that should continue this week against the Giants, who found some rhythm offensively last week. Barkley was bottled up most of the day, but a 84% snap share that signaled he is nearly ready for an every down role in stronger matchups.

It is too farfetched to assume he will go wild for a 30 point outing this week, but he should able to return value at these prices. You have to make a few dart throws when constructing lineups and due to the lack of elite options at running back this week, I will be swinging for the fences with Saquon.

D’Andre Swift

2021 Stats: 19 carries, 76 rush yards, 4.0 YPC, 12 receptions, 106 rec yards, 1 TD, (DK: 18.1 FPPG; FD: 15.1 FPPG)

vs BAL (21st)DK: $5,800FD: $7,400

Swift has been an impressive commodity as a fantasy asset thus far, yet his price with DraftKings has yet to adjust to his RB6 production. His rushing numbers have been relatively unimpressive, but he has made noise as a pass catcher with 12 receptions on a league-leading 16 targets. Detroit playing from behind should become a common occurance and it is all but likely they will be facing the same scenario this week against Baltimore.

The interest in Swift is strictly on DraftKings’ platform this week, but that is the ideal place to target him. This is one of those typical plays that starts off slow, yet salvages points in the second half. With Tyrell Williams (concussion) to IR, Hockenson and Swift are all that Detroit’s passing game really has.

Picking between the two, I would side with the former, as it might be considered too gross to roster multiple Lions. However it might be just crazy enough to work??? That probably isn’t a hill I want to die on, but if you take that leap, let me know how that goes! All jokes aside, the second-year running back is a solid discount to invest in on DraftKings, but I would lean in other directions on FanDuel.

Ty’Son Williams

2021 Stats: 22 carries, 142 rush yards, 6.45 YPC, 5 receptions, 45 rec yards, 1 TD, (DK: 14.85 FPPG; FD: 13.6 FPPG)

@ DET (31st)DK: $5,800FD: $6,400

On the other side of the field, Ty’Son Williams could be just as exciting of a mid-tier play. The undrafted 25 year-old has made the most of his opportunity with the Ravens crummy injury luck. He currently producing as a top 20 running back in the NFL’s top rushing attack.

He may not become an every down back this year, but his impressive 6.45 yards per carry (3rd; min. 7 attempts) and 93.5 yards per game (8th) indicate he will maintain a solid role, at least for the forseeable future. Detroit has been terrible defending running backs and have allowed six touchdowns (32nd) to the position already this season.

Coming on a short week, Baltimore should control the game at the line of scrimmage and have their way with the Lions. Williams should have one of the highest floors in this range and will be an intriguing spend down option as a second running back for your roster.


Leonard Fournette

2021 Stats: 20 carries, 84 rush yards, 4.2 YPC, 9 receptions, 51 rec yards, (DK: 11.25 FPPG; FD: 9.0 FPPG)

@ LAR (13th)DK: $5,000FD: $5,800

Fournette may never wrestle away all of the running back reps, but he has followed up a strong playoff run by outsnapping Ronald Jones 73-32 through two games. He has yet to find the end zone however, and as a result, has limited his fantasy appeal. That is largely due to Tom Brady’s eight touchdowns in two games, taking away most of the running back’s scoring opportunities.

That trend should eventually swing in the direction of Fournette and this could be the week that happens. The game currently is the slate’s highest implied total, so Tampa Bay could ask Fournette to shoulder a larger workload if Brady somewhat comes down to Earth. I expect this game to be very physical, which will play right into Fournette’s hands, resulting in solid value along the way.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

2021 Stats: 27 carries, 89 rush yards, 3.3 YPC, 3 receptions, 29 rec yards, (DK: 6.9 FPPG; FD: 5.65 FPPG)

vs LAC (29th)DK: $4,800FD: $6,500

CEH has been one of the biggest early disappointments this season, averaging just 0.46 yards per touch on DraftKings (2nd-worst; min. 15 touches). After a fumble in the final minute cost the Chiefs an opportunity at a potential game-winning field goal, Edwards-Helaire will look to get back on track against a Chargers defense that was gashed for 237 all-purpose yards by Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard last week.

He will not be the focal point of the offense, but he should receive his typical 14-18 touches. That type of workload is hard to pass up as a sub-$5k running back. If Kansas City’s offensive line can show improvement, he should get back into fantasy relevancy. CEH is projected to have top five ownership at his position, which makes me prefer to pivot off him in favor of Fournette. I would only consider him a play on DraftKings.

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