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 14 DFS main slate.
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts: $5800
Jonathan Taylor popped up in this same piece last week at just $5700. He smashed value on his price tag, compiling 135 total yards and finding the end zone on his 16 touches. Taylor flashed explosiveness, ripping off gains of 24 and 39 yards, two of his three longest plays of the season. Because of his 121.7 (99th-percentile among qualified running backs) Speed Score, we’ve always known he’s had this in him. The fact that we’re seeing his athleticism translate into chunk plays bodes well for his fantasy stock.
Despite out-gaining his backfield teammates 135 to 50 combined yards, DK only boosted Taylor’s price $100 from Week 13. Now he’s facing a Raiders defense that ranks No. 31 in Defensive Rushing DVOA and just let Ty Johnson rack up 104 yards and a score on the ground. They have allowed 16 touchdowns to RBs on the season, which is tied for the second-most in the NFL. The Colts have an implied team total of 27, so Taylor has a good shot at a touchdown this week.
A $5800 price is still difficult to stomach in cash, but that will keep Taylor’s tournament ownership low. Most DFS gamers will be focused on the Derrick Henry and Austin Ekeler tier. Pivoting down to Taylor unlocks the Michael Thomas and Julio Jones tier of high-upside and underpriced WRs.
Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins: $5600
After missing four games with a knee injury, Myles Gaskin regained lead dog duties for Miami in his first game back. The second-year RB out of Washington played 71.6-percent of snaps, handled 23 touches, and posted a career-high 141 total yards against Cincinnati. He also continued his domination of red zone touches, handling seven carries inside the 20-yard line. That brings his total to 36 (No. 10) on the season. If Jordan Howard didn’t steal 10 red zone touches from him earlier in the year, Gaskin would have top-5 numbers there. His price doesn’t factor in his bell-cow touch count and high-leverage carries, he’s just been unlucky with two (No. 51) touchdowns.
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The Dolphins should gameplan around Gaskin this week as well. The Chiefs present one of the most grueling NFL matchups around. Their offense can score in a hurry and their defense defends the pass extremely well, making it difficult to come from behind. The good news is that Miami has an elite defensive unit that anchors their team. They should be able to stall a few drives from Patrick Mahomes, keeping the Game Script relatively neutral. That will be key, as the Kansas City defense ranks No. 30 in Defensive Rushing DVOA.
The Chiefs are clearly most vulnerable on the ground, so Gaskin will find efficiency on his 20-plus touches this week. Even if the Dolphins do fall behind in the second half, he’s seen 37 (No. 21) targets for a 14.4-percent (No. 7) Target Share and has a 54.6-percent (No. 10) Route Participation mark. Gaskin is a bona fide, Game Script-independent workhorse and should crush this week.
J.D. McKissic, Washington: $4900
With Antonio Gibson going down with a toe injury, J.D. McKissic should see a solid bump in playing time. The only other RB on the roster is Peyton Barber, who averages 2.8 (No. 65) Yards per Touch. He’s also an early-down grinder who only caught 11 balls in two seasons during his collegiate days. San Francisco has had plenty of struggles this season, but run defense isn’t one of them. That will thrust McKissic onto the field for a majority of the snaps. He only has 55 (No. 64) carries on the season, but ranks No. 2 in targets, Target Share, and receiving yards. He also has 64 (No. 1) Slot Snaps, meaning the Football Team uses him more as a slot receiver than anything else. He’s the perfect security blanket for the now-immobile Alex Smith, averaging nine targets per game in his five starts under center.
Check out our best J.D. McKissic lineups on PlayerProfiler’s DFS Lineup Genius:
With Gaskin only $700 more expensive, McKissic isn’t in consideration for cash lineups unless you really need the salary. His steady receiving volume does offer him a nice floor thanks to DK’s PPR format, but his touch projection and game environment hold him back.
Ty Johnson, New York Jets: $4700
Frank Gore was injured on the second offensive play of Week 13, thrusting Ty Johnson into a featured role. With Johnson leading the backfield, the Jets had their best rushing yardage day of 2020 by over 70 yards. While Gregg Williams was canned this week, maybe they should have started with the guy that trotted the 37-year-old Gore out there for the first 12 games of the season. Johnson looked legit, racking up 117 yards and a touchdown on 24 touches against the Raiders.
The 23-year old out of Maryland was always a solid prospect with his 210-pound frame and 4.45 (91st-percentile) 40-yard dash speed. He’ll have more opportunities to show off his stuff this week, assuming Gore doesn’t clear concussion protocol in time for Sunday. Seattle is a stingy defense against the run, ranking No. 13 in Defensive Rushing DVOA, but Johnson’s explosiveness keeps him on the tournament radar. The Seahawks have struggled mightily to put points on the board in four straight games, so the Jets could keep this one competitive.