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NFL Fantasy 2022 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

James Conner
Arizona Cardinals ARI · RB
Los Angeles Chargers
2022 · 5-5-0

Conner had a very tough matchup last week against the 49ers and he went on to score 13.4 fantasy points, with 14 carries for 42 yards and two catches for 12 yards on five targets. The good news is he saw all the RB targets, dominated ground work and played 78% of the snaps. That is the sort of volume that warrants starting a back weekly. It wasn’t the best night, but it was in a tough matchup and he scored a TD to boost him up to 13.4, enough to finish as the RB16 on the week. If he did that against the Niners, one of the toughest matchups for a RB, he brings much higher upside this week. The matchup is much better against the Chargers, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy PPG to running backs both this season (28.1) and in the last month (32.8). The Chargers have allowed the second-most rushing yards to the position and 13 touchdowns in just 10 games. Start running backs against the Chargers, especially ones as useful as Conner. He should be in all starting lineups this week.

Dameon Pierce
Houston Texans HOU · RB
Miami Dolphins
2022 · 7-3-0

Pierce is coming off his worst game of the season where he scored just 3.7 fantasy points rushing 10 times for eight yards. He saw three targets, catching two of them for nine yards. It was rough, but it was in a very tough matchup, as the Commanders have been especially stingy to RBs as of late. Managers may be considering sitting him after last week, especially since his fantasy points have dwindled in every game since Week 4. But Pierce has had a very tough schedule as of late facing the Titans, Eagles, Giants and Commanders -- all except the Eagles were in the bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed to running backs entering Week 11. That will change in the upcoming weeks as Pierce’s scheduling luck changes. It starts this week against the Dolphins, who have ranked middle of the pack against running backs. They have also allowed 12 rushing touchdowns, which ranks seventh in the NFL. After that, Pierce gets the Browns, Cowboys and Chiefs. Better days are ahead. Buy low on Pierce if you can and start him in this favorable matchup. 

Devin Singletary
Buffalo Bills BUF · RB
Detroit Lions
2022 · 4-6-0

Singletary was a start last week and he went on to score 17.7 fantasy points and finish as an RB1 in a strong matchup against the Browns. He rushed 18 times for 86 yards and a score, while catching two passes for 11 yards. Singletary has now carried the ball at least 13 times in four of his last five games. He has scored three touchdowns in his last two games combined. The Bills clearly made it an emphasis to get the run game going against the Browns and I would expect them to do the same on the short week against the Lions. Detroit has allowed the third-most rushing yards in the NFL this season. If the Bills are playing from ahead, Singletary will be the back they use to grind out the clock. Singletary is in play as an RB2 in this favorable matchup. 

Jeff Wilson
Miami Dolphins MIA · RB
Houston Texans
2022 · 1-8-1

Wilson Jr. has scored a touchdown in both of his games with the Dolphins and topped 16 fantasy points in each. In his last game he rushed for 119 yards and added 24 as a receiver. He has come in and immediately taken the lead back role, while Raheem Mostert gets to go back to being the secondary home run-hitting back. The Dolphins backfield gets the best matchup a running back can have in the Texans. Houston has allowed the most fantasy PPG to RBs in the past month (34.8) and on the year (31.03). The Texans have allowed the most rushing yards, the second-most yards on outside runs and the most on inside. In the last two weeks, Wilson and Mostert split the outside runs (10 to nine in favor of Mostert), but Wilson dominated the inside carries 17 to seven. Wilson is much more effective on those inside carries as well with 41 rushing yards over expectation. He also should be the back they use to grind out the clock if they have a lead late. Wilson is in play as an RB2 this week with more upside. Mostert is an upside play flex option. 

Sit 'Em

D'Andre Swift
Detroit Lions DET · RB
Buffalo Bills
2022 · 7-3-0

Swift is what he is at this point. He played 32 percent of the snaps last week -- which was third amongst running backs on his own team. He finished with five carries, three targets and 32 total yards. He scored a touchdown for a second straight week, but without a score he is looking at a floor of low single digits. He has eight touches or fewer and has played a third of the snaps or fewer in three straight games. He clearly is not 100 percent and is getting very limited usage in this role. The hope is that he gets you double-digit fantasy points and in order to do so he needs to score a touchdown. That’s tougher when you factor in that Jamaal Williams has 13 carries inside the goal line, the most in the NFL. Swift is just not getting enough weekly opportunities to start right now, even in a matchup against a team that has struggled against the run in the Bills. Williams, however, is very much so in play. 

Cordarrelle Patterson
Atlanta Falcons ATL · RB
Washington Commanders
2022 · 6-5-0

Patterson played 51 percent of the snaps with 10 carries and two targets in Week 11, going for 59 yards. He split time pretty evenly with Tyler Allgeier (53 percent snaps, eight carries, one target). He salvaged his fantasy day for some with a kick return touchdown. Patterson was not so much quiet as limited as he was when he was seldom used on TNF in Week 10, but this is clearly going to be a split backfield moving forward. Plus, this is an extremely tough matchup against the Commanders. Washington has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy PPG to running backs this season (17.6) and the fewest in the last month (14.5). They shut down Dameon Pierce last week after limiting the Eagles backfield the week before and greatly limiting Dalvin Cook the week prior to that. Splitting the backfield in a very tough matchup is a recipe for disappointment. With no teams on bye this week, you can get away from Patterson. 

Elijah Mitchell
San Francisco 49ers SF · RB
New Orleans Saints
2022 · 4-7-0

Full disclosure, this was set to be Darrell Henderson Jr., but he was then unexpectedly cut on Tuesday afternoon. I thought about pivoting to Cam Akers, but I do not think many people are willingly starting Akers. So, we will land on Mitchell against the Saints. Mitchell played just 23 percent of the snaps against the Cardinals on Monday and finished with nine carries for 59 yards and zero scores. That was in a great matchup against the Cardinals in a game script that favored Mitchell. It shows that he is a touchdown dependent fantasy asset in this role. The matchup is much tougher this week against the Saints, who have allowed 20.6 fantasy PPG to backs, just enough to get inside the top 10-fewest allowed to the position. That includes giving up just six rushing touchdowns all year to the position. With no teams on bye this week, you are likely deciding between Mitchell and other options. Given his recent usage and the matchup, go with the other option.

Damien Harris
New England Patriots NE · RB
Minnesota Vikings
2022 · 8-2-0

Harris is coming off his best game since Week 4, scoring 11.3 fantasy points against the Jets. He did so playing a quarter of the snaps and carrying the ball eight times, adding in two targets. He finished with 93 yards, which was more than Rhamondre Stevenson. But this was a weird game for the Patriots that saw them only score a field goal up until the final five seconds. They clearly could not throw on the Jets' tough defense (plus it was windy -- ask Zach Wilson) so they were trying to run as much as they could. And they were able to, as the Jets only mustered up a field goal themselves all game. That will clearly not be the game script moving forward. Harris has been too seldom used to trust this week against the Vikings. Minnesota ranks middle of the pack against running backs this season, but they have been very tough on them as of late. They had allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs in the last month coming into Week 11, where Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott got the best of them. Still, the Pats offense is not the Cowboys. Plus, if the Pats are chasing points, we know the dump-offs will go to Stevenson, not Harris. Despite what you saw last week out of Harris, do not get him in your starting lineup. 

Follow Michael Florio on Twitter @MichaelFFlorio.

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