Welcome to our Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Running Back edition for Week 1 of the NFL season. In this column, we feature a rookie who had more receptions than rushing attempts in college. Plus, a former first-rounder looking to get back in the good faith with fantasy owners.
* 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: Josh Jacobs at CAR
Jacobs may not be eligible for this column in a few weeks, so we’ll use him while we can. The former Alabama standout averaged 20-plus total touches per game as a rookie, and there’s no reason to believe that will decrease in year two. Jacobs was also RB12 through 13 weeks of play in 2019 prior to a shoulder injury. Carolina allowed an absurd 31.2 ppg and 143.5 rushing yards to opposing RBs last season.
Mark Ingram vs. CLE
Ingram’s hype has certainly died down since the arrival of JK Dobbins. Yet, the former Heisman Trophy winner still has majority ownership Baltimore’s backfield, as he should, considering he finished last year as fantasy’s RB9. Cleveland, on the other hand, allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to the position in 2019. Furthermore, they closed out the year on a horrendous final three-game stretch where they surrendered an average of 216 rushing yards per game, including a 243-yard outing by, you guessed it, the Ravens.
Miles Sanders at WAS
Washington allowed 29.4 points per game to the running back position in 2019, third-most in fantasy. From Week 12 through Week 15, during a changing of the guards in the Philly backfield, Sanders averaged nearly 23 touches per game on his way to the fourth-most fantasy points by a running back over that span. With Sanders’ hamstring looking good to go, expect a heavy workload from the Penn State alumn on Sunday.
Sleeper: Sony Michel vs. MIA
Fantasy owners have quickly soured on the former first-rounder over the past year or so, which is understandable. However, he did still lead New England in rushing yards (912) and rushing touchdowns (7) last season. With hyped-up camp star Damien Harris landing on the IR, Michel should once again dominate touches in the Pats backfield. Miami allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to RBs last season while allowing the sixth-most red zone touchdowns.
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RB: Sit ‘Em
Sit of the Week: D’Andre Swift vs. CHI
Swift was supposed to be a top rookie to target in fantasy drafts. Instead, he’s part of a fantasy owner’s worst nightmare. With the addition of Adrian Peterson to go along with starter Kerryon Johnson, the Lions backfield is best to be avoided until further notice. Not to mention, Chicago allowed the ninth-fewest rushing yards per game in 2019.
Devine Ozigbo/James Robinson vs. IND
Over the weekend, it seemed like Ozigbo would draw the start in Jacksonville’s backfield come opening day. Instead, the team opted to name former FCS star James Robinson the starter on their unofficial depth chart. Either way you spin it, none of these players are worth the risk in Week 1. Stash Robinson if you can, but chances are Chris Thompson will be the most reliable PPR option vs. an Indy defense that was amongst the 10th-toughest fantasy opponents for RBs last season.
Buyers Beware: Antonio Gibson vs. PHI
Gibson has gone from late-round flyer to an RB2 on many rosters within the last week. Certainly a tall leap of faith for a player who’s carried the football just 33 times since JUCO. The talent is there for Gibson, who has the chance to be lethal as a receiver out of the backfield, but there is the presence of JD McKissic in that facet, as well as Bryce Love and Peyton Barber in the ground game. Philadelphia isn’t much of a cakewalk, allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to RBs in 2019.
- *Check out our other Week 1 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Ems to further optimize your lineups
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