NFL Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 15: 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

Cam Akers
Los Angeles Rams · RB
New York Jets
2020 · 0-13-0

Remember when Cam popped on the injury report last week, which caused a lot of wide-spread panic in the fantasy community? He carried the ball 29 times. He was amazing, ending up with 31 touches and 81% of the snaps. There are two ways to look at this. Sean McVay has either been saving him for the fantasy playoffs as a gift to us for not beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Or he’s building us up for the greatest heel turn in fantasy football history. And Sean does have a little bit of a MJF (Maxwell Jacob Freeman) to him, right? I’ll be honest, I’m here for either outcome (though I do have Cam in my League of Record and it will suck to lose, but I’d have to admire the grift). But let’s look at the trends. He’s had 13 total touches inside the 10-yard line since Week 11. His snaps have increased in three consecutive games. And his fantasy points in his last four. And it’s the (expletive) Jets.

Jonathan Taylor
Indianapolis Colts · RB
Houston Texans
2020 · 4-9-0

Speaking of my stubbornness, here comes Taylor! His 30.5 fantasy points were second among running backs and the most by a Colts rookie since Anthony Gonzalez in 2007). He had 58% of the snaps and 22 touches (Hines had 11 and Wilkins just two). And this hasn’t been a one-week thing, either. He’s had 16-plus touches and 100-plus scrimmage yards in three consecutive games. And hey, look. He’s got the Houston Texans, who have been very generous to opposing running backs. David Montgomery had a great game. And let’s be honest, it could have been better but my guy Matt Nagy wanted to stay aggressive in the second half. I would expect Frank Reich to keep the pressure on this week. These rookies that we loved in August could end up being league winners.

David Montgomery
Chicago Bears · RB
Minnesota Vikings
2020 · 6-7-0

Let’s go back to Montgomery. I know a lot of people want to thank Bill Lazor for focusing on the run game. And I’ll tell you, it’s been nice to see a functional offense for a change in Chicago. It’s like when you go back to town and you have some deep dish pizza at Giordano’s. (People don’t realize that when you live in Chicago, it’s all about Chicago thin crust. But celebrations, friends in town, you go to Giordano’s.) But I do want to give a special shoutout to the Bears offensive line, which has played much better in recent weeks. And don’t think Chicago fans haven’t noticed a pair of Notre Dame studs Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars have been doing work. Add in Cole Kmet and Bears fans who root for Notre Dame (we are a Northwestern family) are excited. I’m excited for this matchup. The Vikings gave up some production to Ronald Jones last week. Montgomery has been great.

Raheem Mostert
San Francisco 49ers · RB
Dallas Cowboys
2020 · 4-9-0

This is a situation to monitor through this week as Mostert was evaluated for a concussion before getting cleared to return. Kyle Shanahan also mentioned an ankle injury that is also worth taking a look at. If Mostert is a full participant in practice on Friday, then I would also move him over to the starts against the Cowboys, who have allowed the most fantasy points to running backs over the last month. If the 49ers shut down Mostert, it’s important to note Jeff Wilson was the next man up for the 49ers. He scored a touchdown while Mostert was being evaluated for a concussion. And if you have the extra room on your fantasy roster this week, you might want to keep him on the bench in case Mostert can’t go. Because the matchup is that good.

Miles Sanders
Philadelphia Eagles · RB
Arizona Cardinals
2020 · 7-6-0

I made the joke on Fantasy Bites with Kimmie Chex that since the entire fantasy world was down on Sanders, he was going to be the guy to snap the Saints streak of keeping running backs under 100 yards. I wish I had leaned into that a little more. And it’s funny that people would blame me for pointing out that the Saints were a poor matchup. Hilarious, actually. But let’s talk about that game. Sanders ran the ball 14 times, which was still a little light, but he made up for it with five targets which he turned into four receptions for 21 yards. Two touchdowns were also very huge. Which I guess is kind of an understatement. He’s probably not going to get 30 points this week. But I like him between 15-20. And if you can get through to the next round, he’s got the Cowboys for Week 16. Which means you should just put your name on the trophy.

J.K. Dobbins
Baltimore Ravens · RB
Jacksonville Jaguars
2020 · 1-12-0

This has been a fantastic month for those of us who like to hoard rookie running backs. Which I am. I love them like I loved collecting Star Wars action figures back in the day. And by back in the day, I mean fully functional adult, but try to tell people that they are really my kid’s toys. But they are mine. Because I know many of you would find it hard to believe that my two-year-old really wanted this Lego Action Battle Echo Base Defense set. Which is really kind of sweet. But I hope you are kind enough to humor me. Here’s my thing. Dobbins led the Ravens in rushes again (even though Gus Edwards had more points), so he’s the guy that you want to start. He also passes the eyeball test. The Jaguars have given up the … well, you saw what Derrick Henry did. I don’t feel I need to explain this further.

J.D. McKissic
Washington Football Team · RB
Seattle Seahawks
2020 · 9-4-0

A lot of this is dependent on what happens with Antonio Gibson, and since I’m not a doctor (I only play one on GMFB sometimes), I’m not going to speculate. But McKissic did carry the ball 11 times for 68 yards (6.2 yards per carry). I was kind of surprised to see a lack of targets this week, but that could change in this matchup against the Seahawks. Seattle has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs over the past month. They have also allowed 22 receptions and a pair of receiving touchdowns during that stretch. Again, McKissic will see his role decrease some if Gibson returns to action this week. But I would say he still has flex appeal.

Kenyan Drake
Arizona Cardinals · RB
Philadelphia Eagles
2020 · 4-8-1

I’m old enough to remember when Chase Edmonds was going to take over the Cardinals backfield. And Edmonds had out-played him for a stretch. But Drake has returned to claim the top of the Cardinals backfield. I won’t let this get me in my feelings or anything. Sometimes these guys have started from the bottom and worked their way up. He’s had 20-plus touches in two of his last three games. He’s had five total touchdowns in his last four games. He’s probably not going to be the best I’ve ever had, but he’s good enough to be in the starting lineup this week. (I realize I pushed it with that last one. Let’s just move on.)

Sit 'em

Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Kansas City Chiefs · RB
New Orleans Saints
2020 · 10-3-0

I know this situation might be unavoidable. I have a couple of leagues where I can bench CEH for Cam Akers, Jon Taylor and David Montgomery. I do have to play him in my OC Comics league. Which is unfortunate. Mostly because I’m going up against the biggest loudmouth of the group (which is hard to do for comics). The guy who has made the same joke of calling me Matthew Berry for the last two years. Which isn’t much of a surprise because the guy hasn’t written a new joke in a decade. And I would send you to his social media accounts to roast him. But I can’t remember his name and I can’t be bothered to look it up right now. I will point out that the Saints had their streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher snapped not only by Miles Sanders, but Jalen Hurts, too, last week. And it’s not like I’m going to put Dion Lewis ahead of CEH or something. But just be warned that this is a tough matchup.

Chris Carson
Seattle Seahawks · RB
Washington Football Team
2020 · 6-7-0

Carson was really good against the Jets on Sunday. This is a whole new ball game against the FT. If the Jets are playing checkers, the Football Team is playing Tetris. Like, not even close to the same thing. The FT has allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs over the last month. Carson is splitting time with Carlos Hyde in the backfield. Carson should probably get close to double-digit points. I’m thinking some place in the 10-12 point range. If that is all you need from your running back, that’s cool. I don’t expect you to bench in favor of Trayveon Williams. But if you’re trying to figure out if you’re playing him or David Montgomery for instance, I believe the choice is simple. But like seriously, be smart about this. I don’t want you to hit me up on Twitter and be all, “Thanks for telling me to start Samaje Perine over Chris Carson this week.” I’m explicitly NOT saying that. Just be careful. That’s all. Kind of like when you’re going out and your mom tells you to bring a sweater. It’s like that. 

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