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CFB DFS Strategy: Get Your A(RBs) Here

CFB DFS Strategy: Get Your A(RBs) Here
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CFB DFS RB Strategy: Get Your A(RBs) Here

Choosing from the top running back options can be very difficult. There’s always plenty of high-end running backs to choose from that have great matchups, phenomenal usage or both every week. How can you differentiate which are best for each format? Here at DailyRoto, we’ve attempted to make this process a bit easier for you during the bowl season by looking at data from the 2015 regular season. Before we dive into the goals of this article, let’s take a look at how we generated the charting process. We took the game logs of the top 30 running back in 2015 and we combined their rushing and receiving statistics. After doing this, we we’re able to obtain each of these running backs’ average FanDuel points per game as well as their standard deviation. Our FanDuel average points per game don’t take into account fumbles or any special teams statistics. Our goals for this article are straightforward:

  1. Determine which of the top running backs make for the most optimal cash game selections
  2. Analyze which of the top running backs are better options for tournaments and…
  3. Identify players that are outliers relative to the data we’ve collected.

Let’s take a look at a few of these scenarios.

Cash Game Selections

Derrick Henry (Alabama) and Jeremy McNichols (Boise State) averaged 27 and 29 FanDuel points per game respectively this season. They were also very consistent, posting standard deviations of 8.40 and 6.80 respectively. These are the type of top running backs that are worthy of their high price tags in cash games. While they’ve been placed in the cash game section due to their consistency and high per game averages, keep in mind that both of these running backs can also be used in tournaments. Their low standard deviation not only makes them consistent, but it pushes the range of outcomes from around 20 FanDuel points (their lower point outcome) to 35 FanDuel points (their higher point outcome). In other words, they have a floor of 20 FanDuel points and a ceiling of 35 FanDuel points. No matter the matchup this bowl season, Henry and McNichols are going to be in play in every format.

Wendel Smallwood (West Virginia) has a tiny standard deviation of six, but his FanDuel per game average (18) isn’t quite up there with running backs like Derrick Henry and Jeremy McNichols. Smallwood is skilled, but he has to split carries with another running back, which has limited his upside. His range of outcomes this season have usually fallen between 12 or 24 FanDuel points, which makes him a better option for cash games than tournaments.

Tournament Selections

Larry Rose III (Texas State) won’t participate in a bowl game this season, but he’s someone to keep in mind for next season. His standard deviation of 14.6 is quite high, but he averaged 25.3 FanDuel points per game during his 2015 campaign. That puts his range of outcomes from 11 FanDuel points (floor) to 39 FanDuel points (ceiling). We’re willing to pay for his high ceiling in tournaments, but the low floor takes him away from cash game consideration in most matchups.

DeAndre Washington (Texas Tech) ranks inside the top 10 in FanDuel points per game in our chart, but he’s a bottom five running back in standard deviation. His range of outcomes is obviously wide (11 FanDuel points to 37 FanDuel points), but his ceiling makes him a worthy option for tournaments.


Leonard Fournette (LSU) has one game included in our chart that was cancelled due to inclement weather and he only accumulated one Fantasy point in that contest. Without that game and a terrible performance against arguably the toughest rushing defense in the country (Alabama), Henry’s standard deviation would be lower. The high standard deviation suggests that he’s a better option for tournaments, but this is clearly an outlier. Looking ahead, Fournette will have a matchup this bowl season against Texas Tech, one of the worst rushing defenses in the country. He’s going to be in play across all formats.

Dalvin Cook (Florida State) had to leave after just two carries against Wake Forest due to an injury and he still generated 16.6 FanDuel points (94 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown). He also had a terrible matchup against one of the toughest defensive fronts in the country (Boston College), where he was a bit hobbled and only generated 6.7 FanDuel points. Even with those outliers working against Cook, he still averaged a hefty 28 FanDuel points per game this season. As a matter of fact, Cook accumulated at least 21 FanDuel points in every single game this season except those two outlier games. His standard deviation clearly shouldn’t be that high. Cook is one of the best college football running backs and he has that combination of a high floor and high upside that we seek in cash games.

Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) has a higher FanDuel points per game average than what our chart is suggesting. We didn’t take into account special teams statistics and McCaffrey is involved in Stanford’s special teams every week. His team uses another running back (Remound Wright) in the red zone area, but McCaffrey is usually in play across all formats due to his high usage and awesome skills.

Unavailable Running Backs: Tyler Ervin (already played his bowl game), Marcus Cox (already played his bowl game), Shock Linwood (out with an injury) and Elijhaa Penny (not playing in a bowl game). 

Top 30 Bowl Eligible CFB Running Backs

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