Welcome to our Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Running Back edition for Week 16 of the NFL season. In this column, we feature a backfield in Minnesota littered with a plethora of options to choose from for your championship lineup.
* Reminder: Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em is intended to present you with the non-obvious choices for your fantasy lineup. We dig deep into player matchups, scoring trends, and other factors to best help you with your fantasy decisions. Superstars such as Christian McCaffrey will not be found in this column. If you’re looking for players of that caliber check out our weekly fantasy football running back rankings.
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RB: Start ‘Em
Start of the Week: Saquon Barkley at WAS
It’s nice to see us rewarded for our patience. After a string of horrendous showings from Barkley, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year racked up 143 total yards, two touchdowns, and 30.3 fantasy points a week ago. Week 15 also marked his first 100+ yard rushing performance since way back in Week 2. He’ll have a great chance of building off of this past week’s showing vs. the Redskins on Sunday. Washington has allowed the past two starting running backs they’ve faced off with to both eclipse 120+ rushing yards and find the endzone.
Joe Mixon at MIA
Mixon has been on a tear over the last two weeks, totaling 282 rushing yards. He’s now scored 17.10+ fantasy points in six of his last seven games. Miami surrenders the third-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season, and is fresh off of giving up 30+ points to Saquon Barkley a week ago. The ‘Phins have allowed an average of 125 total yards to starting RBs over their last four games.
Marlon Mack vs. CAR
It was a horrendous showing for Mack and his Colts this past Monday night vs. the Saints. However, don’t lose faith just yet. Panthers QB Will Grier is not Drew Brees, which means chances are Indianapolis will get to dictate the game flow, which likely means a heavy workload for Mack. Carolina also happens to allow the most fantasy points to the RB position this season. The Panthers have allowed three 99+ yard rushers over their last three games.
Alexander Mattison/Mike Boone vs. GB
While it’s true that Dalvin Cook is special, Mike Boone showed in under a half of football that the league’s fourth-ranked run offense can produce without him. Boone put up two touchdowns and 17.6 fantasy points a week ago.
However, that’s only because Alexander Mattison missed the game with an ankle injury. If Mattison is healthy, and Cook is not for Monday night, he becomes the likely lead back. Mattison is the fourth-leading rusher amongst all rookies this season. Approach the Minnesota backfield in the same order that their depth chart goes. Starting with Cook, then Mattison, and lastly Boone. Whichever one ends up atop that depth chart come game time is a must-start against the eighth-worst fantasy defense against running backs this year in the Packers. However, none of them are worth a start if the player ahead of them on the depth chart is active.
Sleeper: Phillip Lindsay vs. DET
Lindsay was a major disappointment a week ago, touching the ball a meager seven times. However, the Broncos could not get much of anything going in the snow vs. the Chiefs. This week Lindsay will be in a dome in Detroit vs. the fifth-worst unit in fantasy in terms of defending the running position.
RB: Sit ‘Em
Sit of the Week: Carlos Hyde vs. TB
Hyde is coming off a one touchdown, 104-yard rushing performance a week ago. Yet, Tampa Bay allows just 73-rushing yards per game this season, the fewest in the NFL. In fact, over the last three games, that average drops to a meer 53.3 ypg. Hyde has scored rushing TDs in back-to-back weeks just once this season, while never rushing for more than 65-yards following his previous 100-yard performances this year.
Sony Michel vs. BUF
After averaging just 7.5 carries in the two weeks prior, Michel was fed the ball 19 times in the run game in Week 15. He produced his typical numbers with that type of volume, 80 some odd yards, zero touchdowns, and little to no involvement in the passing game. Since Week 10, Buffalo has allowed an opposing RB to rush for more than 57 yards just once, and none to score a TD on the ground since Week 11. Michel is a low ceiling-low floor play on Saturday, as he’s been for the majority of the season.
Buyers Beware: Packers RBs at MIN
If you’re an Aaron Jones owner this season, you’ve enjoyed the highest of highs, yet also endured a handful of dud performances as well. Speaking of dud performances, his running mate Jamaal Williams has scored fewer than 4.4 fantasy points in consecutive weeks. Minnesota allows the ninth-fewest points to opposing running backs this season. They also held the duo of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler to just 47 combined rushing yards a week ago. Jones’ day could be saved by the fact that the Vikings have surrendered 33+ receiving yards to a running back three times over their last three games.
- *Check out our other Week 16 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Ems to further optimize your lineups
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