Start Em Sit Em

NFL Fantasy 2021 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 12: 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

Cordarrelle Patterson
Atlanta Falcons · RB
Jacksonville Jaguars
2021 · 2-8-0

Patterson missed last Thursday's game against the Patriots, and I must believe that it was for the best. Like, have you ever missed a party and then heard stories like, “Oh man, you should be happy you weren't there, it was awkward and nobody had a good time?" So, crisis averted for Cordarrelle, who I hope is ready for this week. Patterson has scored at least 14 fantasy points in seven of his last eight games. He’s had at least five targets and five carries in seven games this year. We’re starting him if he goes. Obviously. 

Miles Sanders
Philadelphia Eagles · RB
New York Giants
2021 · 3-7-0

Sanders is back. He led Eagles running backs in snaps (36), touches (16) and yards (94) against the Saints last week because of course he did. And with Jordan Howard (knee) likely out this week, don’t see him losing much work there or to Boston Scott. We saw the Giants give up a lot of production on the ground. In fact, the Giants have allowed a top-20 running back in eight of 10 games this year. And if the Eagles get to that positive game script, this could be a big game for Sanders. And I’m not going to be mad that I had to wait this long for it. 

Melvin Gordon
Denver Broncos · RB
Los Angeles Chargers
2021 · 6-4-0

Gordon and Javonte Williams are like that tag-team we would love to split up, but we just can’t seem to shake Gordon, who has played well this year. In fact, Gordon has averaged 15.3 fantasy points per game since Week 8, which would make him the RB14 over that time. And I know you might not be impressed with that number, but he’s splitting time. I’ll happily take that. The Chargers have allowed 145.1 rushing yards per game this season (most in the NFL) and wait minute, the Chargers makes this a Melvin Gordon REVENGE GAME. 

Damien Harris
New England Patriots · RB
Tennessee Titans
2021 · 8-3-0

Speaking of tag-teams we’d love to see break up, it’s Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. And this must be catnip to the “I’ll never play a Patriots running back” crowd. A very vocal part of the fantasy community. But look, most running backs split time. Unless you have Jonathan Taylor and Austin Ekeler on your roster, your second back likely is in a committee. And no, that isn’t an invitation to start a humble brag on Twitter. I’m happy for you. Here’s my thing with Damien. He’s scored six touchdowns in his last six games. The Titans have allowed a top-eight running back in two of their last four. Nobody likes to run the ball as much as the Patriots. You’re good with Damien as your RB2. 

Sit 'Em

Myles Gaskin
Miami Dolphins · RB
Carolina Panthers
2021 · 5-6-0

Some folks find Gaskin to be frustrating. I find him very easy to chart. He’s like your friend who you know is a huge flake, but never misses a tee time. It’s like, I know he’s not coming to my child’s birthday party, but I’ll see him at 6:30 a.m. at Big Rec in Long Beach. Once you know what to expect, it's easy. Gaskin had a great matchup last week and predictably had a great game. No fuss. This week, he’s got the Panthers, who have allowed only one top-10 running back this season. Leave him on the bench. See, this is very easy. 

Ty Johnson
New York Jets · RB
Houston Texans
2021 · 2-8-0

I really love this matchup. I do. But we’ve seen Jets quarterbacks nuke the value of running backs by not throwing to them, which is cool. And then we have Tevin Coleman, who factors into the mix as well. And you might say to yourself, but Rank, you were talking about playing the Patriots running backs. That’s true. But think about what you were saying. I’d rather risk it with a reliable offense as opposed to the Jets. but that’s just me. Come flame me on Twitter if you will. I mean, you’ll end up muted, but you’re still invited to do it. 

Dontrell Hilliard
Tennessee Titans · RB
New England Patriots
2021 · 7-4-0

Again, I could just save us a lot of time by saying, “don’t start your studs against the Patriots.” Actually, don’t start your curtain-jerkers either. Here was the good about Hillard last week: He played 63 percent of the snaps and posted a bunch of career highs. The Titans were in a pretty heavy negative game script, but dude has had zero games with 40 rushing yards. The Patriots have allowed the fewest touchdowns to running backs this season. The Titans could be throwing a ton again, and Hillard could get targets. I’d avoid this if I could. 

Alex Collins
Seattle Seahawks · RB
Washington Football Team
2021 · 4-6-0

When I think about the Seahawks' struggles, and we talked about it with Russell Wilson a moment ago (well, if you read the quarterback section), a lot of it stems from the running back situation with the Seahawks. They need to replace Chris Carson, and Collins ain’t it. Collins has topped 50 yards only once since Carson went out. And Washington has allowed the third-fewest rushing yards to running backs this year. 

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