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.
Start of the Week
Jones had a one-week scare when Jamaal Williams took over the backfield lead, but all was well last week against the Raiders as he saw 16 touches and 58.2 percent of the snaps. He's a strong option against the Chiefs, who have allowed 4.9 yards per rush and more than 26 fantasy points a game to backs. Jones has top-10 upside.
Michel went off on Monday night against the Jets, scoring three times in a blowout win. He's now scored 13-plus fantasy points in three straight games, including two with 21-plus points, and this week's game against the Browns puts him in the RB2 conversation. As long as Rex Burkhead is out, Michel remains a safe fantasy starter.
Coleman was the clear lead back in last week's win over the Redskins, as he led Matt Breida in snaps and touches. I'd start him as a flex against the Panthers, who have allowed four top-14 fantasy running backs in their first six games. Carolina has also surrendered six rushing touchdowns to backs, which is tied for seventh most.
Johnson will take over the top spot on the Lions running back depth chart in the absence of Kerryon Johnson, so he's now on the fantasy radar as a potential RB2/flex starter against the Giants. Their defense has struggled against the run this season, which was evident last week with Chase Edmonds gashing them for three touchdowns.
Hyde continues to lead the Texans backfield in snaps and touches, and a matchup against the Raiders makes him a solid flex. While this unit hasn't been bad in terms of allowing rushing totals, backs have averaged over eight catches per game against them. Overall, Oakland has allowed nearly 25 fantasy points per game to enemy runners.
Sit of the Week
Mixon averaged 7.2 inches per carry last week. Not yards ... inches. In all, he's averaged three yards per carry on the season and is 23rd in red-zone carries among backs. The Rams have allowed just 0.81 fantasy points per touch to opposing backs, and game script could keep Mixon from turning things around this week (or this year).
Howard is likely to be a fantasy flex starter in many lineups, but keep in mind that he continues to split snaps and work with Miles Sanders. Also, he faces a Buffalo defense that has allowed just 80.5 rushing yards per game to enemy running backs this season. Their defense has also allowed just four rushing scores to enemy running backs.
This week's matchup is a positive one for Williams, who faces a Packers defense that's struggled against the run. The problem is that over the last two games, he's trailed LeSean McCoy in both snaps played and touches in what has become a confusing backfield committee. At best, I would consider Williams a risk-reward flex option.
Gore has been a viable steamer in recent weeks, but an upcoming matchup against the Eagles makes him a risk. Philadelphia did get gashed by Ezekiel Elliott last week, but that's Zeke. Before that game, the Eagles hasn't allowed a back to finish better than 15th. If Gore or Devin Singletary is on your roster, I'd fade 'em both.
Freeman led the Broncos backfield in snaps and fantasy points a week ago, but a matchup against the Colts (yes, those Colts) makes him a risky flex starter in fantasy leagues. Believe it or not, but Indianapolis has allowed just two rushing touchdowns and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to enemy running backs this season.
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!