Welcome to our Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Running Back edition for Week 17 of the NFL season. In this column, we feature a late-season star from a season ago, with an opportunity to put his name back on the map this Sunday.
* 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: Ezekiel Elliott vs. WAS
Zeke may not be giving Dallas the type of production that Skip Bayless would like to see. However, from a fantasy perspective, an average of 22.6 ppg over the past four weeks is good enough for us. Elliott will have a chance to build off of those strong numbers against a Washington defense that allowed Saquon Barkley to break the Giants single-game yards from scrimmage record against them on his way to 43.9 fantasy point outing.
James White vs. MIA
White had averaged a healthy 21.76 points over a three-game span prior to Week 16. However, the Pats pass-catching back was held to just 6.9 fantasy points a week ago. Look for him to bounce back against the Dolphins this week. Miami allows the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season, including the fourth-most receiving TDs to the position.
Damien Williams vs. LAC
Williams found the end zone on his way to an 18.2 point outing in his return to the Chiefs lineup a week ago. Those 18.2 points were Williams’ second-most since Week 1. In an odd way, Williams missing the past few games helped solidify his ownership of an otherwise underwhelming backfield. Los Angeles has allowed at least 17.6 fantasy points to opposing leading scorers at the running back position over their past two games.
Sleeper: Gus Edwards vs. PIT
With Mark Ingram being held out of Week 17, Gus the Bus will take the helm of the lead back duties in Baltimore. The matchup against Pittsburgh is certainly intimidating on the surface. However, opposing starting RBs have averaged 91 total yards against the Steelers over the past two weeks. With no Lamar Jackson this Sunday, except Baltimore to lean heavily on Edwards.
RB: Sit ‘Em
Sit of the Week: Devonta Freeman at TB
Freeman did his best in Week 16 to please his disappointed fantasy owners this season. Freeman finished the week with 33.7 points, the second-most by a player at his position. However, if your fantasy season goes into Week 17, you’d be best served leaving Freeman on the bench, unless you once again want to be disappointed. Tampa Bay allows the third-fewest fantasy points to RBs this season, along with an average of just 59.7 rushing ypg to opposing offenses over the last three weeks.
Benny Snell Jr. at BAL
James Conner is questionable for Week 17 at the moment. If he misses the game, Benny Snell Jr. will assume the RB1 gig for Pittsburgh. The last time we saw Snell Jr. in a lead-back role he mustered up just 2.10 fantasy points. He’s also extremely limited as pass-catcher out of the backfield. Baltimore allows the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, including holding the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to a grand total of 45 rushing yards a week ago.
Buyers Beware: Kenyan Drake
Will Drake be a viable option on Sunday? It’s likely, however, if you’re expecting a third consecutive 30+ point outing you’ll likely be left disappointed. Eight of the last 10 leading rushers to face off against the Rams have averaged just 44.75 rushing yards. That number includes just 31 yards from Drake himself back in Week 13.
- *Check out our other Week 17 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Ems to further optimize your lineups
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