NFL Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 9: Running backs

You have lineup questions. We have answers. At least we hope. Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em has helped fantasy managers for years make those pressing lineup decisions. And you know what is a good decision? Starting Patrick Mahomes. But that’s too obvious, so you won’t see that here. Instead here are some of the most-pressing questions. And, if you can’t find a player you are looking for, please check out latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings right here.

Start ’em

Well, heck. Our guy Clyde failed to reach double-digits for the first time this season. And we didn’t even get the Lev Bell REVENGE GAME so it was doubly disappointing. But I wouldn’t read too much into that. The Chiefs were never truly threatened in that game against the Jets. And sometimes Patrick Mahomes is just going to come out and take over a game and throw five touchdown passes. It’s one of the risks of being on the Chiefs. Though watching Clyde struggle was like being at a full blackjack table while all of your friends are winning but you keep busting out. Clyde will rebound this week against the Panthers, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this year (23.1). And are second in the league with nine rushing touchdowns allowed.

This is one of those spots where you say, “are you sure, Rank?” And I say, “Absolutely not” and we roll with Edmonds. But if Kenyan Drake miraculously recovers from his ankle injury and scores 40 points, you may hit me up on IG and Twitter telling me that I’m a terrible human being, asking how I got this job and hitting all of the talking points. Drake’s injury wasn’t as serious as first feared. And he is day-to-day according to coach Kliff Kingsbury. But Edmonds had started to out-perform him. And this is a good matchup against the Dolphins, who have allowed 20.9 fantasy points per game to running backs this year.

James had exactly 15 fantasy points against the Ravens last week. The top defense against the run in fantasy football. And sometimes I wish we could get bonus points for stuff like that. Kind of like you were judging in gymnastics where you get added points for degree of difficulty. Conner has the Cowboys this week, and the matchup should be much easier considering the Cowboys have allowed the most rushing yards to running backs this season (1,109). And we’re all expecting the Steelers to be in control of this one from the start (which is always dangerous to assume in the NFL) and lead to a heavy run script.

Jackson took a backseat to rookie Joshua Kelley two weeks ago, but it’s clear now that was more about his injury status. And the Chargers are putting more faith in Jackson moving forward. Jackson carried the ball 17 times for 89 yards against the Broncos (5.2 yards per carry). He saw 47% of the team’s backfield snaps and Kelley was on the field for just 24%. The Raiders were good on defense last week. Kareem Hunt was in an absolute smash spot and did next to nothing. But over the course of the season, the Raiders have allowed an average of 23 fantasy points per game to the running back position.

I’m sure you’ve heard me grouse about this previously. But I have a very important league with some of my friends from the Second City (and Las Vegas). All of whom let me auto-pick my team without a single text or anything. The team is fine (I have the best record in the league because of my waiver-wire skills). But I have this hot-cold relationship with DJ that Katy Perry would sing about (or did actually). It was great last week when I could leave him on my bench and not have to worry about it. But Johnson keeps having these great matchups, like the one this week against the Jaguars, who have allowed 22.8 fantasy points per game this year and I have to start him. Mostly because my guy Gio is on a bye this week. 

Sit ’em

This seems like such a point-chasing opportunity. And I love Damien. Huge fan. I’ve stubbornly refused to cut him from my team and was rewarded by a great performance against the Bills. My biggest fear is the Jets defensive line played pretty well against the Chiefs last week. Maybe they were determined to not let Le’Veon Bell beat them, but they did a pretty good job of shutting down the run game. I mean, Patrick Mahomes threw five touchdowns. And to me, I would expect Cam to throw the ball a bit more this week (not like Mahomes, but still). If I was going to play on back here, I’d go with James White. Both he and Rex Burkhead were on the field far more than Harris last week.

This is a weird one. McKissic has out-snapped Antonio Gibson in the last two games, but I would rather go with Gibson in this contest against the Giants. Gibson gets the most opportunities in the backfield and has averaged more fantasy points per game this season as well. It’s annoying because this could be a fun little backfield if one of them could seize it, though you could reason Gibson has sort of done that. For that reason, I’m leaving McKissic on the bench and playing Gibson in the right spots. And another good note for Gibson, the Giants have allowed three receiving touchdowns to running backs this season. That’s good for second-most in the NFL.

To be clear, it seems like the succession of goal line looks in Buffalo goes from Josh Allen to Zack Moss to Thurman Thomas to all the members of the Goo Goo Dolls, even the unofficial touring bandmates. I mean, Trey Burton has more rushing touchdowns this season than Singletary. So he needs to rush the ball, but hasn’t topped 100 yards this season. He’s had two targets or less in three of his last four games, so he’s not making up ground there. And now he’s got a tough matchup against the Seahawks.

I don’t really know what to make of Taylor. After it looked like his usage was trending up, the Colts used the bye week to make sure he never touched the field. He was on the field for 59% of the snaps in Week 6, but that fell to just 34% on Sunday as the team clearly favored Jordan Wilkins (51%) against the Lions. It’s not like Taylor wasn’t given his opportunity against the Lions, one of the most generous teams against the run heading into the game. But Taylor looked lost at times and Wilkins just took over. Coach Frank Reich said it wasn’t something he planned, but he rode the hot hand. It will be hard to find a hot hand this week against the Ravens, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. 

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