Free square running backs refer to RBs that come in severely underpriced relative to their projected roles. These players are often priced at the stone-minimum, opening up the DFS slate to jam in the premium plays. DraftKings has raised the salary floor for running backs this season from $3000 to $4000, so spotting these freebies is paramount if we want to afford the high-floor, high-upside smash plays. Using PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats, metrics, and analytics, we can identify RBs that fit the criteria. Here are the free square RBs for the NFL Week 8 DFS main slate.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals: $5800
Joe Mixon was a late scratch last week, thrusting Giovani Bernard into the featured role for the Bengals. He excelled there, turning his 18 touches into 96 total yards and a touchdown. While Bernard saw a season-high 13 carries in Mixon’s absence, that wasn’t where his value lied. Instead of pounding him up the middle 20 times, the Bengals simply dropped Joe Burrow back 47 times and utilized Bernard’s best skill. He’s one of the league’s premium satellite backs with a 14.3 percent (91st-percentile among qualified RBs) College Target Share on his resume. Burrow connected with him on all five of his targets for 59 yards and a score last Sunday.
anyone "worried" about the free squariness of giovani bernard and jamaal williams heading into sunday's slate was overthinking it.
bernard: 90% opportunity share
williams: 83% opportunity share
— the podfather (@Fantasy_Mansion) October 26, 2020
With Mixon not expected to play again, we can fire Gio up as a free square in DFS. His price has shot up from the $4500 he was last week, but he still projects extremely well given his receiving role. He’s also in an excellent game environment with a total of 53.5 points. That’s the second-highest total on the slate and the Bengals are 5.5-point underdogs, meaning Bernard will see plenty of checkdowns in negative Game Script. We can expect him to repeat his 76.8-percent Snap Share from last week and be on the field for every Burrow pass attempt, giving DFS gamers excellent value for cash lineups.
Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos: $5600
Phillip Lindsay exited Week 7 with a concussion and hasn’t returned to practice yet. This sets up Melvin Gordon for another week of all the work. He’s been underrated as the bell-cow for Denver, averaging 16.7 DK fantasy points in games that Lindsay has either missed or left early. That average means he would easily 3x his $5600 salary, making him cash viable on this slate.
We can also expect the Broncos to lean heavily on Gordon given Drew Lock’s struggles this season. He’s only thrown one touchdown, which came in Week 1, and has two multi-interception games on the year. Gordon, on the other hand, has been excellent in his first season with Denver. He’s been elusive with a 24.2-percent (No. 20) Juke Rate and explosive with a 6.1-percent (No. 8) Breakaway Run Rate. Gordon has also been active in the passing game, seeing 3.8 targets and running 21 routes per game. He’s scored five of the team’s 11 touchdowns on the season, giving him a monster 34.2 percent (No. 4) Dominator Rating.
Despite their injuries, the Chargers have a strong secondary, ranking No. 12 in Defensive Passing DVOA. That will force the Broncos to take the ball out of Lock’s hands and run the offense through their stud RB. Denver also has a sneaky defense, ranking No. 7 in Defensive DVOA. They can easily keep this game competitive, which would allow Gordon to rack up the touches on the ground and through the air.
Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins: $5200
It’s Tua Time in Miami. The Dolphins shockingly benched Ryan Fitzpatrick despite a 3-3 record and a two-game win streak in favor of their first-round rookie QB. While Fitz is the ideal DGAF fantasy QB, Tua Tagovailoa has the makings of a generational passer with dual-threat ability. The only problem is his first start is against Aaron Donald and a Rams secondary that ranks No. 11 in Defensive Passing DVOA.
The good news is that the Dolphins have a breakout RB flying under the DK salary radar. Myles Gaskin has performed as one of the best high-floor fantasy RBs this season with only one game below 10 fantasy points. He owes that to his elite receiving role, enjoying a 59.8-percent (No. 6) Route Participation rate and a 14.7-percent (No. 6) Target Share. Gaskin has also been getting it done on the ground despite the No. 39-ranked Run Blocking Efficiency, posting a 25.7-percent (No. 16) Juke Rate. He’s been so impressive that the Dolphins haven’t dressed Jordan Howard in two straight games, giving Gaskin 27 (No. 5) Red Zone touches.
Check out Myles Gaskin on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:
The Rams are most vulnerable on the ground, ranking No. 18 in Defensive Rushing DVOA. We haven’t seen much action from Tua, so we should expect the Dolphins to skew run-heavy and take advantage of LA’s weakness. Even if Miami falls behind early, Gaskin has the ideal passing-down role for a comeback effort. A three-down workhorse priced at $5200, Gaskin offers leverage off the higher-owned stud RBs and allows us to afford elite TEs or mid-priced WRs.
DeeJay Dallas, Seattle Seahawks: $4000
Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, and Travis Homer were all listed as DNP to start the week. That leaves DeeJay Dallas as the only healthy RB on the roster. The fourth-rounder out of Miami isn’t the most exciting prospect, but he does possess a 98.6 (58th-percentile) Speed Score and a 31.1 (71st-percentile) Body Mass Index. That means he’s beefy enough to handle a full workload and can run away from slower linebackers in the open field. It is still early in the week, so any of the aforementioned three RBs can wind up healthy, but it’s worth mentioning the starting RB in the league’s most explosive offense favored at home.