Published: Sept. 4, 2019 at 02:00 p.m.
Updated: Sept. 6, 2019 at 11:20 a.m.

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1: Running backs

Print

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 Saquon Barkley 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.

Start 'Em

vs.
Start of the Week - Chris Carson vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Carson rose in my rankings throughout the preseason, and he's set up to have a nice start when he faces the Bengals. In 2018, home running backs averaged almost five yards per carry and averaged the most fantasy points (31.79) against them. Based on the Seahawks' dependance on the run, Carson should produce this weekend.

vs.
Kerryon Johnson vs. Arizona Cardinals

Johnson appears to have earned the lead back duties in Detroit, and he should start the season off with a bang against the Cardinals. Their defense struggled against the run a season ago, allowing nearly five yards per carry and over 25 fantasy points per game to opposing runners. He's a strong No. 2 back with a nice ceiling in this contest.

vs.
Mark Ingram vs. Miami Dolphins

Ingram landed in a great spot to succeed in Baltimore, and his first matchup as a Raven makes him an attractive player to start. The Dolphins struggled to stop opposing runners a season ago, allowing 15 rushing touchdowns and an average of more than 27 fantasy points per game. I'd expect Ingram to post strong fantasy numbers.

vs.
Phillip Lindsay vs. Oakland Raiders

Lindsay could lose more work to Royce Freeman in 2019, but he'll still see enough burn to warrant RB2/flex consideration in most weeks. That will be the case against the Raiders, who surrendered over six yards per carry to Lindsay during this rookie year. All told, backs averaged 4.73 yards a carry against Oakland last season.

vs.
Austin Ekeler vs. Indianapolis Colts

Ekeler is a volume play this week, as he'll assume the lead back duties in the absence of Melvin Gordon, who continues to hold out of a new contract. The versatile runner should see work both on the ground and as a pass catcher vs. the Colts, and his big-play abilities makes him a threat to score any time he touches the football.

Start 'Em: Josh Jacobs vs. Denver Broncos (Mon.), Duke Johnson at New Orleans Saints (Mon.)
Sleepers: Matt Breida at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Derrius Guice at Philadelphia Eagles

Sit 'Em

vs.
Sit of the Week - Kenyan Drake vs. Baltimore Ravens

Drake didn't do much this summer due to a bum foot, but he is slated to be in the Miami backfield in Week 1. Fantasy owners shouldn't follow suit, however, as he'll face a Ravens defense that allowed just 3.52 yards per carry and the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs a season ago. This weekend (at least), we hate the Drake.

vs.
James White vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

White is a tough player to sit in PPR formats, so take this as a warning ... he has not had a lot of success against the Steelers. In fact, he's failed to score 12 or more points in all five matchups (including the playoffs). Pittsburgh also allowed the second-fewest catches per game to runners (4.2) last season. If you have depth, I'd white out James.

vs.
Marlon Mack vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Mack is a running back I was high on during the preseason, at least until the Colts lost Andrew Luck to retirement. And while I do think he can finish as a top-20 back, it's hard to trust him against the Chargers if game script forces the Colts to throw the ball in the second half. Mack is a volatile flex starter at best in this AFC competition.

vs.
Derrick Henry vs. Cleveland Browns

Henry didn't get much burn this summer, as he was dealing with calf ailment that kept him out of camp. He'll be ready for Week 1, but will he be eased back ... and could game script cause him to be a bust? It's possible, as the Browns and their high-powered offense could push the Titans to throw the ball more often in the second half.

vs.
LeSean McCoy vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

McCoy figures to have more value in the Chiefs' backfield than he had with the Bills, but it's hard to trust him or Damien Williams until we get some semblance of what the touch share will look like. The Jaguars' defense is one of the league's more talented units too, so starting McCoy in fantasy land this week is a little bit shady.

Sit 'Em: Devin Singletary at New York Jets, Peyton Barber vs. San Francisco 49ers
Busts: Jordan Howard vs. Washington Redskins, Adrian Peterson at Philadelphia Eagles


Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com 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!

Print

Related Stories: