You have lineup questions, we have lineup answers -- at least we hope so. Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is here to help fantasy managers make difficult roster decisions. And you know what is a good move? Starting Christian McCaffrey. But that's too obvious, so you won't see such simple analysis here. Instead, we're exploring more debatable situations. And if you can't find a player you are looking for, please check out the latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings.
I’ve written this column for the last two years and not once in that entire time has Ekeler been fringe enough to include. But after scoring single-digit fantasy points in three straight and a season-low 4.7 last week, many fantasy managers are wondering what to do. I’ve been advocating for Ekeler in fantasy before it was cool and I’m certainly not going to stop now. Not in this matchup. The Broncos have allowed the second-most rushing yards, sixth-most rushing TDs, fifth-most receptions, eighth-most receiving yards and fourth-most receiving touchdowns to running backs this season. They’ve also allowed the second-most runs of 10-plus yards (granting hope for the big plays Ekeler has been missing of late). While the metrics are not pretty for the Bolts back, the volume keeps him in play. He’s seen six-plus targets in four of his last five games and is a lock for double-digit carries.
No backfield has picked up more rushing yards and touchdowns than Miami's -- it’s not even particularly close -- and the unit also ranks second in receiving touchdowns and sixth in receiving yards. What I’m trying to say: Yes, this offense can sustain two fantasy backs. We now have four games where both Mostert and Achane played together. In those four, Achane had 52 percent of the snaps, with 54 carries, 14 targets, 621 yards, nine TDs and an amazing 31.2 fantasy PPG (with at least 21 in every game). Meanwhile, Mostert played 51 percent of the snaps, with 41 carries, 15 targets for 316 yards, six TDs and a more modest -- but still elite! -- 19.7 fantasy PPG. There is far too much upside here. Start them both weekly.
Moss unsurprisingly dominated volume in the first game after Jonathan Taylor injured his thumb. Moss played 94 percent of the snaps, saw 19 carries, ran 29 routes and picked up three targets, while getting work near the goal line. It only translated to 7.7 fantasy points, but that volume is amazing. As long as Moss is dominating the usage like that, he remains a starter in fantasy. Especially this week against the Bengals, who have allowed the fourth-highest rate of 10-plus-yard runs. The matchup and volume combine to provide more than enough reason to give Moss another shot this week.
Dillon tends to be a safe-floor option, with more than nine fantasy points in four straight and six of his last seven. But this could be a week he flashes some actual upside, as the Giants have allowed the most runs of 10-plus yards this season, as well as the third-most rushing yards and touchdowns. The matchup is fantastic, but you’ll also want to monitor Aaron Jones’ practice status this week. Dillon is in play as an RB2 if Jones sits and would be downgraded to a flex option if Jones suits up (Jones would be a start in that case).
IF YOU NEED A DEEPER OPTION ...
Rhamondre Stevenson has a high ankle sprain that could sideline him a few weeks (or the rest of the fantasy season). Elliott finished Week 13 with 17 carries, five targets and 92 yards on 71 percent of the snaps -- good for 13 fantasy points. Volume alone has him in play as a streaming option against the Steelers, who are in the top 10 in rushing yards allowed to backs and just surrendered a huge day to James Conner.
Derrick Henry exited last week due to injury, and while Mike Vrabel said the back is not in the concussion protocol, his status for this week is still up in the air. If he sits, Spears becomes a great streaming option. Spears played 64 percent of the snaps with 16 carries and six targets last week. He saw every RB opportunity the rest of the way after Henry exited. Volume and flashes of talent make him a strong option to plug into your lineup this week if Henry’s inactive.
Heading into Week 13, it appeared that Singletary had taken over the Texans' backfield. Insert the Charlie Murphy “WRONG!” meme, because apparently that was not the case. Singletary led with 44 percent of the snaps to Pierce’s 38 percent, but it was Pierce who got the bulk of carries (15 to 8) and the goal line work. Meanwhile, Singletary was used more in the passing game and, to make matters worse, Dare Ogunbowale was sprinkled in. This was a mess for fantasy purposes. Even with a touchdown, Pierce was held to 10.1 fantasy points, while Singletary had just five. With both guys vulturing each other’s work, the floor and the ceiling are too low to feel great about. I would avoid starting either Texans back until one starts to pull away.
For much of the season, the Raiders have been a team to start running backs against. But since Antonio Pierce took over in Week 9, they’re actually in the bottom 10 in rushing yards allowed to backs and have surrendered just 3.8 yards per carry. That’s come against stacked competition, too, as they’ve faced Saquon Barkley, Breece Hall, Raheem Mostert and Isiah Pacheco in that span. Pacheco was the only one to reach 15 fantasy points. Mattison has been held to single digits in three straight and five of six. He does not have a rushing TD all year and shares work with Ty Chandler. Do not fall for the trap.
The last time we saw Herbert was on Monday night before Chicago's bye, when he took a backseat to Roschon Johnson. Herbert played just 22 percent of the snaps with eight touches, while Johnson had 15. And that was with D’Onta Foreman sidelined. The week prior, we saw all three involved. Not only is it a very murky backfield, but the matchup is tough, as well. Detroit has allowed the second-fewest rushing yards to backs this season. They have given up just 3.4 yards per carry and the third-fewest fantasy PPG. Get away from Herbert this week.
For much of the season, Hunt has operated as the Browns’ RB2. However, last week he received more carries and touches than Jerome Ford. Still, it was Ford playing more snaps, seeing more usage in the passing game, scoring the touchdown and posting more fantasy points. While Hunt is a well-known name, he has been held to single digits in four straight games. He has fewer than 50 yards in each of his last five. And now he gets the Jags, who have allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards to backs this season and just four rushing TDs. Don’t let last week’s spike in usage trick you.