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Week 1: Game Level Similarity Running Back Projections

Welcome to the 2018 Game Level Similarity Projections (GLSP) for running backs, a weekly column designed to help you identify high upside standouts and set your season-long lineups.

GLSP uses historical matchup, team, player, and Vegas lines to generate situation-agnostic projections. The low projection is equivalent to the 25th percentile point total from the comparable matchups. The median projection provides a benchmark, with even odds of the player producing more or less. The high projection is equivalent to the 75th percentile point total from the comparable matchups.

Remember, the most valuable way to incorporate GLSP into your lineup setting process is to identify surprisingly high and low projections, then strategically start or fade the outliers. All of our Week 1 RB projections are included below.

These are the projections from Dave Caban. They’ll be available each week on Wednesdays as part of the Weekly Explorer. The apps version of the GLSP will be available after Week 1.

Week 1 Game Level Similarity Running Back Projections

PlayerTeamOppLowMedHighAVG
David JohnsonARIWAS15.420.72621
Alvin KamaraNOTB12.420.52620.7
Todd GurleyLAROAK14.119.624.419.1
Le'Veon BellPITCLE15.319.624.419.8
Dion LewisTENMIA12.520.822.718
Devonta FreemanATLPHI9.6162216
Rex BurkheadNEHOU9.212.521.616
Marshawn LynchOAKLAR7.918.121.515.5
Alex CollinsBALBUF7.214.621.514.5
Leonard FournetteJAXNYG9.214.621.514.6
Kareem HuntKCLAC11.114.921.315.6
Kenyan DrakeMIATEN11.114.921.315
Jamaal WilliamsGBCHI10.912.521.314.3
Ezekiel ElliottDALCAR6.215.721.214.8
Melvin GordonLACKC11.113.620.215
Carlos HydeCLEPIT9.413.619.814.3
Christian McCaffreyCARDAL9.815.319.214.9
Duke JohnsonCLEPIT9.813.419.214.4
Joe MixonCININD4.312.618.912.5
CJ AndersonCARDAL4.511.418.912.3
Giovani BernardCININD5.712.117.312.7
Latavius MurrayMINSF9.714.516.313.7
Theo RiddickDETNYJ5.810.215.710.4
Kenneth DixonBALBUF06.515.17.8
LeSean McCoyBUFBAL7.212.314.912
Jordan HowardCHIGB7.11214.812
Frank GoreMIATEN9.310.914.612.8
Lamar MillerHOUNE7.69.314.311
Jay AjayiPHIATL4.79.313.89.8
Saquon BarkleyNYGJAX0.77.613.38.1
Derrick HenryTENMIA3.19.313.29.2
Javorius AllenBALBUF3.77.8138.5
Chris ThompsonWASARI3.28.212.99.2
Ty MontgomeryGBCHI3.79.212.69.2
Peyton BarberTBNO3.77.412.68.9
TJ YeldonJAXNYG2.96.1127.9
Rod SmithDALCAR3.76.1128.4
Tevin ColemanATLPHI3.68.511.68.1
Jeremy HillNEHOU01.110.96.2
Matt BreidaSFMIN2.64.710.57.4
Bilal PowellNYJDET3.77.210.47.6
Chris CarsonSEADEN0.66.2107.2
Tarik CohenCHIGB2.44.89.96.5
Adrian PetersonWASARI46.69.87.1
Wayne GallmanNYGJAX4.86.39.87.4
Mike DavisSEADEN4.86.39.86.9
Dalvin CookMINSF02.69.85.4
Kerryon JohnsonDETNYJ06.48.96
Darren SprolesPHIATL0.33.38.76
Devontae BookerDENSEA2.85.68.66.4
Isaiah CrowellNYJDET2.85.18.46
Alfred MorrisSFMIN1.83.985.5
Austin EkelerLACKC2.23.37.86.3
Marlon MackINDCIN2.447.65.1
Rob KelleyWASARI0.92.77.54.5
Royce FreemanDENSEA03.16.54.3
James WhiteNEHOU2.246.34.8
Mike GillisleeNOTB1.54.16.15.3
Alfred BlueHOUNE1.33.26.14.4
Doug MartinOAKLAR0.61.95.73.5
Chris IvoryBUFBAL0.434.13.3
LeGarrette BlountDETNYJ0.21.53.82.2
Jalen RichardOAKLAR0.42.23.42.4
Jacquizz RodgersTBNO00.11.50.7
James ConnerPITCLE00.11.20.9

Highest Ceilings

Dion Lewis has the fifth-best high projection and fourth-best floor projection. Of course, GLSP doesn’t know how usage in the Tennessee backfield will shake out. But it does know that players like Lewis have really high ceilings against teams like Miami. In separate work, I’ve found that players with Lewis’ profile have great odds of out-performing their ADP, and their backfield teammate as well.

Rex Burkhead and Duke Johnson also look interesting. Both have projections that are very similar to a handful of higher-profile backs.

Player Team Opp Low Med High AVG
Devonta Freeman ATL PHI 9.6 16 22 16
Rex Burkhead NE HOU 9.2 12.5 21.6 16
Leonard Fournette JAX NYG 9.2 14.6 21.5 14.6
Carlos Hyde CLE PIT 9.4 13.6 19.8 14.3
Christian McCaffrey CAR DAL 9.8 15.3 19.2 14.9
Duke Johnson CLE PIT 9.8 13.4 19.2 14.4

Hear what Mike Giardi had to say about Rex Burkhead on RotoViz Radio

Burkhead and Johnson suggest a path to lineup diversification without sacrificing a decent projection. In season-long leagues, Hasan Rahim explained why Johnson’s usage is capped, and suggested he was overpriced at the time. Situation matters though, and Johnson could be a solid flex play this week. I think it helps that Carlos Hyde also has a high ceiling; it suggests that the matchup itself is exploitable.

Lowest Ceilings

This week’s hot waiver wire pick up, Alfred Morris has a sub-two point floor and just an eight-point ceiling. GLSP doesn’t know that Morris is in a new role and is expected to get a lot more work. In this case, however, that’s kind of a good thing. Since Morris has only been with his new team for a short time, it’s entirely possible he gets limited work in Week 1. Teammate Matt Breida doesn’t fare much better. This looks like a backfield to avoid, which is an odd – but I think appropriate in this case – thing to say about a Shanahan offense.

The same goes for Adrian Peterson. GLSP is basing its projections in part on what Peterson did last year, which wasn’t much. But we don’t really know what he’ll do this year.

Chris Carson and both Jets RBs, Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell, make the fade list along with Derrick Henry. His 13-point high projection isn’t very promising. Blair Andrews breaks down Henry’s red flags here.

Odds and Ends

  • C.J. Anderson’s floor is much lower, but he sports a comparable ceiling to Christian McCaffrey.
  • Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon have similar floor and median projections. Eric Moody called Bernard an enticing late-round target; he could pay off as soon as Week 1.
  • Marshawn Lynch has the seventh-best median projection. See why John Lapinski called him a potential league winner.
  • Kenyan Drake and Alex Collins have top-12 median projections, making them great candidates to be weekly RB1s.

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