While the running back is arguably the most straightforward position to break down, it’s very easy to get wrong. Paying down for starters who have defined roles allows you to pay up at more volatile positions like wide receiver and tight end. But, you better be confident in a player’s workload if you’re adopting that strategy. My cash game running back strategy is simple: one top tier, one middle tier, and one bargain running back. So, let’s look at which running backs to avoid in week two fall into those tiers.
David Johnson: $8,400
David Johnson is one of a few running backs who are gameflow proof. Meaning, it’s not the 13 point spread that worries me or keeps me from liking Johnson. But, David Johnson is not quarterback-proof. Sam Bradford, at home, was suffocated by the Washington Redskins. While the Redskins have underrated personnel relative to their public perception, they are not on the same level as the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams are going to demolish the Cardinals. Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh will dominate the interior of the line and take away Bradford’s best attribute, the ability to step up and deliver short, accurate throws. Bradford is not athletic enough to extend plays outside the pocket and this will limit their ability to sustain drives.
While Johnson will play a large role in the passing game, he will see an incredibly limited amount of red zone and scoring opportunities. At an $8,400 salary, Johnson will have to get in the end zone in order to make good on his value in a cash game. Unless Bradford is able to take advantage of a lapse in coverage by the Rams, or Johnson breaks a long run or pass for a touchdown, Johnson has a next to zero chance of making value in a cash game setting. In tournaments, however, he is a great option. His ownership will be substantially lower than that of Alvin Kamara and Todd Gurley, so he presents the same upside with an incremental discount. For me, Johnson presents too much risk for cash game lineups.
Rex Burkhead: $6,300
Rex Burkhead is a tantalizing play against Jacksonville for tournament owners especially. New England running backs are going to be the key to beating the Jaguars. Meaning, they will have to be effective running the ball in key situations, and they will have to play a role in the pass game. James White’s role is clear. But with the injury to Jeremy Hill and uncertainty with Sony Michel, Burkhead’s usage could skyrocket.
Hill’s injury also makes Burkhead the likely play on early downs and running-first situations. But, Burkhead is dealing with an injury of his own. He’s progressed through the concussion protocol and is on track to play against the Jaguars. Everything contextually lines up for Burkhead and White to dominate this game on the ground and through the air. However, we never truly know what Bill Belichick and company plan to do with their running backs. For that reason, Burkhead won’t crack any of my cash game lineups. James White does stand out at his price given his clearly defined role, and potential opportunity upside if Burkhead is banged up and Michel is unable to play.
Featured Image Courtesy of Yard Barker
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