Published: Oct. 2, 2019 at 10:39 a.m.
Updated: Oct. 6, 2019 at 10:18 a.m.

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 5: Running backs


Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate weekly look at NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team. Fantasy superstars such as Patrick Mahomes and Christian McCaffrey will not be featured in this column. All player matchups are based on a PPR scoring system. For your final starting lineup decisions, check my weekly fantasy football lineup rankings.

Byes: Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins

Start 'Em

Start of the Week - Mark Ingram vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Ingram put up a bit of a stinker in last week's loss to the Browns, but he'll be in a good spot to rebound against the Steelers. Their defense has allowed almost 113 rushing yards and nearly 28 fantasy points per game to enemy running backs, and the Ravens are running the ball almost 49 percent of the time this season. Keep Ingram active.

Austin Ekeler vs. Denver Broncos

This seems to be low-hanging fruit, but I'm getting a lot of asks about what to do with Ekeler now that Melvin Gordon is back. Well, I'd still start him. First, the Bolts could ease Gordon into the mix (maybe a 50-50 split?), and the Broncos have been awful against the run. With plenty of touches to go around, I'd keep Ekeler in your lineup.

Derrick Henry vs. Buffalo Bills

Henry continues to be the bell cow for the Titans this season, as he ranks seventh in touches among running backs while playing nearly 60 percent of the offensive snaps. He'll be a solid No. 2 runner for owners against the Bills, who have surrendered an average of almost 24 fantasy points to enemy backs. He remains a solid No. 2 runner.

Devonta Freeman vs. Houston Texans

Freeman has gotten back into the good graces of fantasy fans, as he's posted a combined 30.5 fantasy points in his last two games. He's done a lot of his damage as a pass catcher too, so this week's matchup in Houston makes him an even better option. No team has allowed more catches to backs this season, so start Freeman.

Damien Williams vs. Indianapolis Colts

Williams is looking likely to return this week, so he'll form a shared backfield situation with veteran LeSean McCoy. Both backs are worth a look this week, as the Colts and their vulnerable run defense visit Arrowhead Stadium. Through their first four games, Indianapolis has allowed nearly five yards per rush to enemy runners in 2019.

Start 'Em: Joe Mixon vs. Arizona Cardinals, James White at Washington Redskins
Sleepers: Jaylen Samuels vs. Baltimore Ravens, Nyheim Hines at Kansas City Chiefs

Sit 'Em

Sit of the Week - Josh Jacobs vs. Chicago Bears

Jacobs put up a respectable 12.8 fantasy points in last week's win over the Colts, but he's averaged just nine points in his last three games overall. That could be what we're looking at this week, as Jacobs faces a Bears defense that's allowed just three yards per rush to backs this season. The rookie is a risky flex option in London.

David Montgomery vs. Oakland Raiders

Montgomery was listed as a sit 'em last week, and he put up 9.7 fantasy points. While a matchup against the Raiders might indicate a start 'em scenario, their defense has held Phillip Lindsay, Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy and Marlon Mack to fewer than 44 rushing yards. The rookie is a risk-reward flex in this overseas matchup.

Miles Sanders vs. New York Jets

The Eagles backfield went sideways last week, as Jordan Howard took over a bigger role and thrived in it against the Packers. That leaves fantasy fans wondering how the timeshare will look this week, and whether or not Sanders will continue to lose snaps, touches and goal-line work to the veteran. He's a fade for me ... for now.

Matt Breida vs. Cleveland Browns

Breida has averaged almost six yards per carry this season, but he continues to lose work to Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. He's a hard sell for me this week, as the Niners face a Browns defense that's allowed just 3.9 yards per rush to enemy runners. Tevin Coleman could be back this weekend too, so I'd fade Brieda on Monday.

Peyton Barber vs. New Orleans Saints

Barber has seen his snaps and touches decline in recent weeks, as the Buccaneers have given Ronald Jones more burn. That makes it tough to use Barber even as a flex starter ... so does a matchup against the Saints. Their defense has surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs, so Barber is a lineup cut for me.

Sit 'Em: Carlos Hyde vs. Atlanta Falcons, Adrian Peterson vs. New England Patriots
Busts: Phillip Lindsay at Los Angeles Chargers, Sony Michel at Washington Redskins

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for all of the latest fantasy football news, notes and in-depth analysis!


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