Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26).
- There are six running backs at the top of our individual Pro Models with DFS value in Week 11.
- Matthew Freedman breaks down the best options including a deep dive on Giants RB Saquon Barkley.
We’re in the second half of the 2018 NFL season, and we’re still on pace for a record-breaking campaign with an average of 24.1 points per game per team. The action continues with a 10-game main slate that kicks off on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
In this positional breakdown, I’m looking at the running backs at the top of the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
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Model Running Backs
This week, there are six running backs at the top of our individual Pro Models.
The two I most want to roster are Melvin Gordon and Saquon Barkley.
Melvin Gordon: Los Angeles Chargers (-7) vs. Denver Bronocs, 46.5 Over/Under
- $8,900 DraftKings; $8,700 FanDuel
UPDATE (11/18): Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) is out. Cornerback Bradley Roby (ankle) is in.
Gordon missed the Week 7 game in London with a hamstring injury, but there seems to be no lingering soft-tissue concerns. Since returning after the Week 8 bye, Gordon has racked up 43.8 FanDuel points, 288 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries, 10 targets and six receptions. He’s in peak form.
On top of that, Gordon has gained a great share of the backfield workload over the past two weeks, delegating Austin Ekeler to a purely change-of-pace role. Since the bye, Ekeler’s per-game usage has been drastically reduced.
- Weeks 1-7: 76.8 yards and 0.43 touchdowns on 7.6 carries, 3.4 targets and 2.7 receptions
- Weeks 9-10: 26.5 yards and zero touchdowns on three carries, two targets and one reception
What was once a committee has recently been Gordon’s monopoly.
Since his 2016 breakout season, Gordon has averaged 108.6 yards from scrimmage and 0.95 touchdowns per game. As good as Rams running back Todd Gurley has been this season, Gordon is the only FanDuel back with a 100% Consistency Rating.
From a salary-based perspective, Gordon has actually offered more value this season than Gurley: Gordon leads all backs with his +8.88 FanDuel Plus/Minus.
While Gordon is having the best season of his career, averaging 84 yards rushing and 45.1 yards receiving per game, he has yet to reach 20 carries in any start. In 2016-17, Gordon averaged a robust 18.6 carries per game.
This season, though, it has dropped to 15.6. Nevertheless, his career-high 6.5 targets and 4.5 receptions per game minimize the impact of his rushing shortfall and make him a strong option in most game scripts.
Saquon Barkley: New York Giants (-1.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 52 Over/Under
- $8,700 DraftKings; $8,800 FanDuel
UPDATE (11/18): Bucs edge rusher Vinny Curry (ankle), linebacker Lavonte David (knee), safety Justin Evans (toe) and cornerback M.J. Stewart (leg) are all out. Edge rusher Carl Nassib (elbow) is questionable.
On the Wednesday edition of The Action Network NFL Podcast, we talked about Barkley as a potential “Jam ‘Em In” cash-game option for the slate. Regardless of format, he’s very much in play.
It’s hard to throw shade at Barley just because the Giants were foolish enough to use the No. 2 overall pick on him. He’s just nine games into his career, so these numbers will regress, but of all backs to play since 2014, Barkley has a position-high 24.8 DraftKings points per game and +6.18 Plus/Minus. Barkley is the only NFL player in history to have 500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving this quickly out of college.
Here’s what I said about the rookie phenom in Barkley’s 2018 NFL Draft prospect profile:
Each year Barkley progressed. As a sophomore, he showed that he could handle a full workload, earning 300 touches in a breakout campaign. As a junior he became a bona fide threat in the passing game: He finished just three receptions off the team lead, and he was first among all Football Bowl Subdivision running backs in receiving yardage. Barkley is a complete three-down player, and as his two return touchdowns highlight he has the agility and speed to break long plays whenever he touches the ball.
Barkley as a prospect is no less impressive than the backs selected with top-10 picks in the past few years.
In fact, Barkley is more impressive than all of them: He’s a better receiver than Leonard Fournette and bigger than Christian McCaffrey. Unlike Ezekiel Elliott, he produced as a freshman. Unlike Gurley, he’s not entering the NFL fresh off an ACL tear. And based on his combine performance, he’s the best athlete of the group. With his age, physical profile, and production, Barkley is the best running back prospect of the past decade.
Positional Breakdowns & News
Be sure to read the other Week 11 positional breakdowns.
For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.