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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 2: 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

Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor
Indianapolis Colts · RB
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings
2020 · 0-1-0

I don’t want to overstate this by any stretch, but there is going to be a time next offseason when one of your friends is going to wonder if Taylor should be the first overall pick in fantasy. Not me. But one of your friends. He’s got the offensive line. He’s got the opportunity now that Marlon Mack is hurt. Taylor played in just 33% of the snaps; that is going to change. I’m fully away Nyheim Hines had eight targets. But I hope you didn’t spend too much FAAB on him, because Taylor had six targets and averaged 11.2 yards per catch (Hines had 5.6). Just use Game Pass to watch the game. Taylor is on a different level. It’s kind of like when you play Madden against the computer and you start feeling yourself. And then you play your friend online and he beats you by 30. Like that.  

Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler
Los Angeles Chargers · RB
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
2020 · 1-0-0

I didn’t want to use valuable column inches here to talk about a player you drafted at the end of the first round, early second round, but here we are. The pearl clutching about Ekeler’s start against Cincinnati is somewhat amusing.  Ekeler carried the ball 19 times. WHICH IS WHAT WE EXPECTED. He rushed for 84 yards. WHICH IS WHAT WE EXPECTED. The lone reception was kind of chilling because we feared Tyrod Taylor wouldn’t target him enough in the passing game. But I’m good with a guy who is going to carry the rock 20 times in a game. The Chiefs just got got by David Johnson last week. You really need to stop panicking. I mean, if he flounders this week, we can discuss this further. But you should feel good about this.

Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson
Detroit Lions · RB
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
2020 · 1-0-0

Peterson was pretty great on Sunday. It was like going to see one of your favorite bands from the 1990s that can still bring it. Like the Goldfinger. I saw them last year at the Orange County Fair. Still awesome. Peterson was the same way. Peterson finished with 14.4 fantasy points. He was second on the weekend with 35 rushing yards over expected. He also led all rushers with five rushes of 10 yards or more. And you know what? The Lions are desperate to win. Matt Patricia needs to control the pace in this game, so I expect them to feature Peterson a lot in the early going. Peterson could be a nice start. 

David Johnson
David Johnson
Houston Texans · RB
Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens
2020 · 1-0-0

I spent the better part of this week trying to unload my lone share of David Johnson (auto-picked). Having DJ on your roster is a lot like having your phone at 1% while you don’t have a charger. You know it’s not going to last much longer, so you’re just going to enjoy it for as long as you can before it does. The Texans have a lot of speed on offense, so it figures most teams are going to play back to keep everything in front of them. The Browns actually had some success with Nick Chubb, but seemed to give up on it way too easily.

James Robinson
James Robinson
Jacksonville Jaguars · RB
Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans
2020 · 1-0-0

This is the kind of player who would have thrived in the Danger Zone a few years ago, a segment where James Koh and I picked some deep sleepers who had tremendous fantasy value. And it’s difficult to be more obscure than an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State who seems to have captured the starting gig for my friends down in Duval County. I’m here for it. Robinson had a gentleman’s 10 points against the Colts in Week 1. What we’re looking at here is that he played 66% of the snaps.

Sit 'em

Joe Mixon
Joe Mixon
Cincinnati Bengals · RB
Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns
2020 · 0-1-0

Everyone keeps waiting for the massive breakout season. He’s supposed to be this huge star. Kind of like Brandon Routh. Who was supposed to be a huge star after being in Superman Returns. Next thing you know, he’s playing the foil to Justin Long in a Kevin Smith movie and that’s that. Although he’s doing well in Legends of Tomorrow, it’s not quite what had been envisioned for him. And this guy Mixon managed 6.1 fantasy points against the Chargers. Had a costly fumble that set up LA’s winning score. And was out-targeted by Gio Bernard. But hey, keep drafting him.

Chris Carson
Chris Carson
Seattle Seahawks · RB
New England Patriots
New England Patriots
2020 · 1-0-0

Take your victory laps on Chris Carson. He turned six carries into a huge fantasy day, mostly because he also had six receptions and two receiving scores. It’s one of those things, like hitting on a 19 in blackjack and drawing a 2. Congratulations, you were able to pull it off. Might be different this week. The Patriots have allowed 15.52 fantasy points per game to running backs since 2019 (fewest in the NFL). They have also allowed 4.3 receptions per game to running backs over that time, the fourth-fewest in the NFL.

Cam Akers
Cam Akers
Los Angeles Rams · RB
Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles
2020 · 0-1-0

The Rams have used so much draft capital in recent years on early-round running backs, but it was undrafted guy Malcolm Brown who led the team in snaps (44) and routes (21), while Akers had 24 snaps and 10 routes. And let me know if anybody has heard from Darrell Henderson. Sean McVay is like a Zero RB fantasy manager come to life. I’m kind of here for it. But it’s also hugely disappointing. The Eagles aren’t a bad matchup for Brown, the Birds did give up a couple of rushing touchdowns to Peyton Barber. We can start Brown. I’m leaving Akers on the bench. I’m not going to release him. But I’m not starting him.

Frank Gore
Frank Gore
New York Jets · RB
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
2020 · 0-1-0

This one is really risky. Because for starters, this is a Frank Gore revenge game. And Gore going for 200 yards and three touchdowns would be peak 2020. Right? Here’s my thing. The 49ers have allowed 17.45 fantasy points per game to running backs since 2019. That’s the third-fewest total since 2019. They also don’t allow a lot of receptions (3.9) to running backs, which really isn’t too much of Gore’s game in recent years (he’s had 25 total combined in the last two years). And if you didn’t see the news, Le’Veon Bell has been placed on the IR.

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