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NFL Fantasy 2022 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1: 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

Rashaad Penny
Seattle Seahawks SEA · RB

Penny finished last season as the best running back in the NFL from Week 14 on. He led all running backs in rushing yards, rushing yards over expectation, touchdowns, yards after contact, rushes of 10-plus yards and runs to reach 15-plus mph. Now, he gets to start Week 1 as the lead back for Seattle. Rookie Kenneth Walker may suit up, but even so, he has missed much of the preseason and is likely to be in a secondary role. Seattle was always a team that would be toward the top of the league in rushing attempts. With no Russell Wilson (he will be on the other side!), you should expect Seattle to try to establish the run early and often, which means feeding Penny. The volume he should see, paired with his big-play ability makes him an RB2 to trust, with more upside. He comes in as a top-20 RB in the Week 1 rankings.

Chase Edmonds
Miami Dolphins MIA · RB

Edmonds can be started even in what may be perceived as a tough matchup against the Patriots. Last year, New England allowed the 11th-most fantasy PPG to RBs. That is no slam dunk, but the Pats faired much better against the pass. Plus, the focus will be trying to limit Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, meaning that there could be lots of opportunity for Tua Tagovailoa to dump it off to Edmonds. The Patriots last season allowed the ninth-most catches to RBs, and Edmonds should be trusted as an RB2 or flex option. 

A.J. Dillon
Green Bay Packers GB · RB

Dillon may be the second running back on his team, but he is also an RB2 for fantasy purposes this week. Dillon is a strong power back who averaged 16.4 touches per game from Week 10 on last season. In games with at least 16 touches, he averaged 18.5 fantasy PPG. The Packers are thin at wideout this season, and we could see a lot of Aaron Jones lining up as a receiver at times. We also will see a lot of two-RB sets in Green Bay. Dillon should see enough volume to be an RB2 or flex option weekly, but he comes with the upside to finish some weeks as an RB1. He starts the year with a favorable matchup as the Vikings allowed 20.1 fantasy PPG to running backs last season, including 17 total touchdowns. Dillon should be started as a low-end RB2.

Dameon Pierce
Houston Texans HOU · RB

Pierce finished the preseason as the highest-rated running back by PFF. He carried the ball 11 times for 86 yards, 67 of which came after contact. He also forced four missed tackles. Pierce showed that he can be an effective runner at the NFL level, and he was a strong receiver and pass blocker in college, meaning he could see time in passing down situations as well. The Colts are a tough matchup who allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to RBs last season, but the volume Pierce should see as the Texans' lead runner makes him a low-end RB2 despite the matchup. Some may be hesitant to start the rookie, but volume paired with his explosiveness still makes Pierce a shot worth taking. 

Sit 'Em

Kareem Hunt
Cleveland Browns CLE · RB

Hunt always brings a high ceiling, but that’s paired with a low floor as the RB2 on an offense that could struggle with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. Last year Brissett only threw to the backfield on 16 percent of his passes, which was 3 percent lower than Baker Mayfield. Brissett is mobile, meaning he can extend plays with his legs rather than just dump it off to the back. Additionally, the Panthers are a tough matchup. Last season they allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy PPG (15.6) and the second-fewest receptions (59) to RBs. This could end up being a low-scoring affair as well. This is a week to get away from Hunt. 

Cam Akers
Los Angeles Rams LA · RB

Akers has been hobbled by injuries this preseason after missing nearly all of last season with a torn Achilles. He did return for the playoffs, but he did not have the same burst as he did prior. Additionally, head coach Sean McVay has listed both Akers and Darrell Henderson as the lead running backs all preseason. The matchup isn’t the toughest as the Bills ranked middle of the pack against running backs, but it's no slam dunk, either. Buffalo allowed the third-fewest receptions to the position last year. There is just a lot of risk with trusting Akers right away. It is best to sit Akers and let him prove both that he is still the lead back and that he is fully healthy before getting him into your starting lineup. 

J.K. Dobbins
Baltimore Ravens BAL · RB

Dobbins is totally up in the air for Week 1. He may suit up, but even if he does, he is far from 100 percent. The Ravens brought in Kenyan Drake to join Mike Davis as potential fill-ins if Dobbins cannot go. But even if he suits up, it would not be surprising to see him get eased in and split time with one if not both of those backs. It’s a good matchup as the Jets allowed the third-most fantasy PPG to running backs last year, but there are simply too many concerns both with health and volume. Play it safe and sit Dobbins. Some options to play over him include Devin Singletary, Tony Pollard, Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson

Miles Sanders
Philadelphia Eagles PHI · RB

Sanders' upside is limited as long as Philly is determined not to allow him to score a touchdown. Last season, Sanders became the first player in the Super Bowl era to rush for over 750 yards and not find the end zone. The concern is always that Jalen Hurts will steal those valuable goal-line touches and TDs away. He will also take away rushing attempts, and then there is the concern of Kenneth Gainwell taking targets. On top of that, Sanders has missed much of the preseason due to a hamstring injury. Despite it being a good matchup on paper against the Lions, there are far too many risks to trust Sanders in Week 1. 

Follow Michael Florio on Twitter @MichaelFFlorio.

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