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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 9

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 (unless he's on bye). 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.

Start 'Em

Jonathan Taylor
Indianapolis Colts IND

Zack Moss
Indianapolis Colts IND

Taylor ran for a season-high 95 yards last week but was held to just 10.7 fantasy points as the team's lone rushing touchdown went to Moss. Taylor played 61 percent of the snaps to Moss’ 39 percent and had 14 opportunities to Moss’ 13. It was the first time this season that Taylor played more snaps, but both players are still getting significant reps for the Colts. Moss has outscored Taylor in fantasy in three of the four games they have played together. He has run for 309 yards and four touchdowns in that span, compared to 207 yards and a touchdown for Taylor. Regardless of the split, they are both very much in play this week against the Panthers, who have allowed the third-most rushing yards and the most rushing touchdowns to running backs. They have allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to the position, as well. Both Colts backs should be started this week and moving forward, until something changes. 

Josh Jacobs
Las Vegas Raiders LV

Jacobs has failed to live up to last season’s production and the lofty expectations that were placed on him in the preseason, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a useful fantasy option. Jacobs is coming off a strong game where he scored more than 16 fantasy points for the third time in his last five contests. He has scored fewer than nine fantasy points only once, setting a comfortably safe floor. He has scored at least 16 and as many as 27 fantasy points in games where he scores a touchdown. This could be one of those upside games, as he faces a Giants defense that’s allowed the fifth-most rushing yards, third-most rushing touchdowns and ninth-most fantasy PPG to running backs. Plus, the QB change from Jimmy Garoppolo to Aidan O'Connell can only help, as Jacobs was last in fantasy points over expectation already. In his lone start earlier this season, O’Connell targeted Jacobs 11 times. Jacobs is a must-start option this week. 

Joe Mixon
Cincinnati Bengals CIN

Mixon is coming off his best game of the year. He ran for 87 yards and a touchdown while adding three catches for 23 yards against the 49ers. It was his first time cracking 15 fantasy points this season and it came versus a tough San Francisco run defense. It’s no surprise that as Joe Burrow gets healthy, all of the Bengals' offensive pieces start to look like themselves again. Mixon has a great chance to build on that breakout against the Bills, who have allowed the eighth-most rushing yards, fourth-most catches and receiving yards, and the 12th-most fantasy PPG to running backs this season. They have allowed 4.8 yards per carry, which ranks third highest. Plus, they just allowed get-right games to Rhamondre Stevenson and Rachaad White. Mixon needs to be started in this one. 

Darrell Henderson
Los Angeles Rams LAR

Henderson played 48 percent of the snaps with 12 carries and two targets in Week 8. He led the team in carries and touches but continued to split snaps with Royce Freeman. Even more frustrating, after Henderson got the Rams to the goal line, Freeman vultured the touchdown. Still, it was another week with a whole lot of work going Henderson’s way. He has topped 11 fantasy points in both of his games in 2023, showing he has a safe floor. But this week could bring the ceiling against Green Bay. The Packers have allowed more than 100 rushing yards per game and six rushing touchdowns in seven games to running backs. They’ve also allowed the ninth-most catches to the position. Altogether, they’ve allowed the sixth-most fantasy PPG to RBs. Henderson is once again in play this week. 


Chuba Hubbard
Carolina Panthers CAR

Hubbard led the way for the Panthers last week, playing 66 percent of the snaps, with 15 carries and two targets. He was also used a bunch near the goal line. Miles Sanders played just 20 percent of snaps and had two touches. There remains a risk of Sanders returning to a larger role, or Hubbard struggling with efficiency like he did last week, but the usage is too good to ignore, especially in a strong matchup. The Colts have allowed the seventh-most rushing yards, second-most touchdowns and fifth-most fantasy PPG to RBs. Hubbard is absolutely in play. (Bonus: Kareem Hunt, whom I also strongly considered including here, is also a good option). 

Sit 'Em

Dameon Pierce
Houston Texans HOU

I said last week I was willing to give Pierce one more shot, since he had one of the very best possible matchups for a running back. Welp, that didn’t work out. Pierce scored just 4.6 fantasy points against the Panthers. He played 43 percent of the snaps and split carries with Devin Singletary (12 for Pierce, 10 for Singletary). And it’s Singletary who’s being used in the passing game. Pierce was also repeatedly stuffed at the goal line. It’s just a very frustrating situation and one best avoided for the foreseeable future. Pierce has only topped double-digit fantasy points twice all year and has had fewer than five in two straight games. Now he gets the Bucs, who are in the bottom 10 in rushing yards allowed to backs. Sadly, you simply cannot trust Pierce right now. 

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Pierce has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Bucs with an ankle injury, the team announced Friday.

Alexander Mattison
Minnesota Vikings MIN

Mattison is still the lead back in Minnesota but he is losing his grip on that title. Cam Akers had nine carries and one target last week, while vulturing a touchdown -- the first Vikings rushing touchdown all season. Mattison has not lived up to expectations and the one thing he had going for him in fantasy was a safe floor. Now that floor has fallen away, as Akers continues to eat into the workload. Mattison was held to just 4.3 fantasy points in Week 8, his second straight game with fewer than seven. Now, with Kirk Cousins out for the year, expect teams to load the box even more against the run. This offense could look really ugly, especially initially without Cousins. Plus, the Falcons have allowed the third-fewest fantasy PPG to backs, including zero rushing touchdowns and the second-fewest receiving yards to the position. There is simply too much going wrong to start Mattison in fantasy football. 

Miles Sanders
Carolina Panthers CAR

Chuba Hubbard is a streaming option, but there is no way you can start Sanders right now, even in a good matchup on paper. Sanders played just 20 percent of the snaps with two touches as he took a backseat to Hubbard in Week 8. He did not pick up a single yard and has now scored fewer than seven fantasy points in each of his last three games. The Colts look like a good matchup, but so did the Texans last week. Until we see Sanders more heavily involved in the rushing attack, he has to stay on the bench. 

Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT

Harris was a sit last week and was limited to 10.5 fantasy points. It was just his third time this year reaching double-digits, showing you just how low his fantasy floor has been. He ran for just 13 yards against the Jaguars. Now he gets the Titans, who are stingy against the run. They have given up 84 rushing yards per game to backs and four rushing touchdowns in seven games. They have allowed the fewest catches and second-fewest receiving yards to backs, while pass game usage has salvaged Harris’ day the last two weeks. I would get away from Harris and his backfield mate, Jaylen Warren, if possible. 

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