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NFL Fantasy 2022 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 6: 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

Rhamondre Stevenson
New England Patriots NE · RB
Cleveland Browns
2022 · 2-3-0

Stevenson is coming off a monstrous performance against the Lions, a game that saw Damien Harris leave early due to a hamstring injury, which cost him a start last season. Stevenson ended up carrying the ball 25 times for 161 yards, adding in two catches on two targets for 14 yards. This was in a game throughout which the Patriots led by multiple scores, which is why we saw so many more carries than targets. This week, the Patriots face the Browns who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy PPG to RBs (28.7). Cleveland is right behind the Lions, whom Stevenson just torched. With Harris expected to miss some games, you can expect Stevenson to see a bunch of volume. He should be safe for around 20 touches again, as he is the pass-catching back meaning he will stay involved if the Patriots fall behind at any point. He is a strong RB2 in a great matchup this week.

Kenneth Walker III
Seattle Seahawks SEA · RB
Arizona Cardinals
2022 · 2-3-0

Walker III is now the lead runner for the Seahawks after Rashaad Penny fractured his fibula and will require season-ending surgery. Before any of you take an injury victory lap, just know two things: 1. That’s never cool. 2. A broken bone is pure bad luck. Wishing the best for Penny! But as for Walker, he was the second RB off the board in this year's draft and was a second-round pick by the Seahawks. He has breakaway explosiveness, evident by his 48 rushes of 10-plus yards in college last year, which was second only to Malik Willis. He also led all running backs in missed tackles forced (92). He is an immediate RB2 in an offense that has been vastly better than expected. The passing offense in Seattle will also prevent defenses from just being able to stack the box against Walker as well. The Cardinals have been effective against running backs this season, but Walker remains in play as a high-end RB2 with upside. And here is a bonus start! If James Conner sits this week, fire up Eno Benjamin, as Seattle has struggled against the run, and he looked good last week. 

Melvin Gordon
Denver Broncos DEN · RB
Los Angeles Chargers
2022 · 3-2-0

Gordon played 55 percent of the snaps with 15 carries and three targets in his first game without Javonte Williams. Gordon turned it into 101 yards and, best of all, did not fumble. Gordon will be the lead runner for the Broncos moving forward. He will not only lead on the ground, but should remain heavily involved in the passing game and remains a strong option near the goal line. He has a strong matchup this week in what just so happens to be a revenge game! No team has allowed more fantasy points per game to running backs than the Chargers (32.0). The Chargers are also in the top five in rushing yards, touchdowns and receptions allowed to running backs, while also allowing the most receiving touchdowns. Gordon is an RB2 with touchdown upside in this one. 

Devin Singletary
Buffalo Bills BUF · RB
Kansas City Chiefs
2022 · 4-1-0

Singletary needs to somehow convince the Bills they should not try to trade for Christian McCaffrey! Singletary has been steady for the Bills, and while his groundwork is not ideal, he has been used in the passing game more as of late. He has 18 targets in his last three games. The Bills also targeted him five times in the playoff game against the Chiefs last year. This is a huge game between AFC favorites, but it is also a strong matchup for Singletary. The Chiefs defense has struggled against running backs allowing 29.6 fantasy PPG to the position, the third-most in the NFL. Kansas City has allowed the most targets, receptions and receiving yards to backs, which bodes well for that added receiver work Singletary has been seeing. Singletary is not a must-start option, but this week he is in play as a flex option or RB2 with some upside. 

Sit 'Em

Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT · RB
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2022 · 3-2-0

It's been a rough start to the season for Harris. As a runner, not much is different for Harris. He remains on par with his 2021 numbers in a lot of metrics such as missed tackles forced per attempt (0.16 this year, 0.19 last), yards before contact per carry (2.7 this year to 3.4 last) and rushes to reach 15-plus MPH (10 percent each year). While all of those were slightly higher last year, he has a higher success rate this season (36 to 35 percent). The biggest thing has been fewer big runs. The number of carries that go for 10-plus yards is down two percent and his top speed right now is down nearly two MPH. Another big part of his struggles has been the lack of pass game usage. He has just 15 targets through five games, good for a nine percent target share. It’s worth noting that his receiving numbers last year were propped up cause of the 19-target game where the Steelers were without their top receivers. Without that game he averaged 4.7 targets per game, which was still an improvement over this year. That was a fear as the Steelers QBs this year are both more mobile than Ben Roethlisberger and more likely to extend a play with their legs rather than just dump it off. I know a lot of this is me trying to figure out and explain what is wrong with Harris but it’s a huge part of why he is a sit. Sure, the Bucs are a very tough matchup against RBs and have been for years. This year, Tampa Bay is allowing the fewest fantasy PPG to the position at just 14.46. That is just further reason to sit your first-round pick this week. But it's worth noting that, because of volume, Harris is not a must-sit, but certainly one if you have other strong options. 

Ezekiel Elliott
Dallas Cowboys DAL · RB
Philadelphia Eagles
2022 · 5-0-0

It's getting rough out there for the Cowboys running back. Elliott saw 22 carries this past week and turned it into just 78 yards. That is 3.6 yards per carry -- he has averaged 3.6 or lower in three of his last four games. That just reflects the lack of burst that Zeke has shown so far this season. Meanwhile, he is also losing work in the passing game. He did not have a target in Week 5 and has two or fewer in every game with just seven in five games. With no pass game usage to bail him out, Zeke is basically a glorified plodder. He is Adrian Peterson at the end of his career for those who remember that. He has not scored 15 fantasy points in a game this season and has 10 or fewer in four of five games. Plus, Tony Pollard remains a threat to steal more work away. This week, Zeke matches up against the Eagles who rank middle of the pack against the run but have been playing stout defense overall. Plus, if Dallas falls behind and is chasing points against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense, Zeke could be game-scripted out. 

AJ Dillon
Green Bay Packers GB · RB
New York Jets
2022 · 3-2-0

The season started off nicely for Dillon, but it's gotten worse every week. After playing over 50 percent of the snaps in each of the first four weeks, Dillon's usage dwindled to a season-low 31 percent in London. He also saw just six carries and was not targeted. His pass-game usage had been dipping but clearly this is a new low. Dillon has now scored single-digit fantasy points in four straight games. There is still upside here for the quadfather so you should not cut him just yet, but he may not be more than just an elite handcuff. The thought was he would have standalone value and early on it looked like he may, but that has clearly not been the case. Dillon has to be sat at the moment. He can still work his way back in as a flex option or maybe even higher, but until he shows up that, he hits the bench. 

Antonio Gibson
Washington Commanders WAS · RB
Chicago Bears
2022 · 2-3-0

Last week, the Commanders had a different running back lead them in targets (J.D. McKissic), carries (Brian Robinson) and yards (Gibson). All three played less than half the snaps and none broke double-digit fantasy points. Seeing Robinson return and immediately return as the lead runner for the Commanders was awful for Gibson managers. Gibson will never fully take over the passing-game duties as long as McKissic is active. Ron Rivera is also talking up using him as a returner. This backfield has quickly become a fantasy nightmare. Gibson had been viewed as someone who could be relied upon early on, but his fantasy points have dwindled every week this season, hitting a new low of 6.9 last week. There is no floor here and the upside is very limited by the lack of touches. Even in what looks like a favorable matchup on paper, Gibson is a sit. 

Follow Michael Florio on Twitter @MichaelFFlorio.

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