Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Running Backs: Week 5

Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Running Backs Week 5

Getty Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots

Welcome to our Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Running Back edition for Week 5 of the NFL season. In this column, we feature a player fresh off his season debut looking to work his way into fantasy relevancy. Plus, the position’s highest scorer from a week ago is met with a concerning matchup.

* 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.

Start-Sit [QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DEF | Ks]

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RB: Start ‘Em

Start of the Week: C. Edwards-Helaire vs. LV

Since his brilliant NFL debut in Week 1, CEH has been somewhat underwhelming. The Chiefs first-round pick has failed to find the end zone or crack 65 yards rushing since. That should all change this Sunday against a Raiders defense that allows the most rushing touchdowns in football (8).

James Robinson at HOU

While it wasn’t the 30-plus point outing Robinson gave fantasy owners the week prior, the UDFA rookie put forth yet another solid showing in Week 4, further cementing himself as a high-end RB2/low-end RB1 in fantasy. However, a matchup with Houston this week could see Robinson force his way into the bonafide RB1 discussion. The Texans, fresh off allowing three rushing touchdowns to RBs a week ago, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the position this year. Houston has allowed a 100-plus yard rusher in back-to-back weeks.

Kenyan Drake at NYJ

12.4 combined points over the past two weeks has Drake owners second-guessing their early-round draft pick on the Cardinals RB this summer. However, don’t give up hope just yet. He continues to dominate touches in the run game, outpacing the next closest Cardinals RB by 51 carries. He’s also outsnapped Chase Edmonds by 92 snaps. A matchup with the New York Jets should put Drake back in good faith with his owners. Gang Green allows the sixth-most points to RBs this year, including 25.8 to Melvin Gordon one week ago.

David Johnson vs. JAC

Johnson has established himself as a high-floor, low ceiling play in Houston this year. Yet, he may very well take his production to new heights in Week 5. Jacksonville just surrendered an absurd 42.1 points to Joe Mixon last week. They also rank within the bottom-seven of defenses in terms of receptions and receiving touchdowns allowed to the RB position this year.

Sleeper: Chase Edmonds at NYJ

While we spoke above about Kenyan Drake having majority ownership in Arizona’s backfield, a matchup against the Jets should allow both Cardinals RBs to feast in Week 5. Edmonds’ 17 targets this year rank third on the team. Opposing RB groups average nine targets per game against New York this year, tied for ninth-most in football.

Worth the Risk: Damien Harris vs. DEN *POSTPONED

Yes, the return of Cam Newton could limit his ceiling and yes the Patriots could always choose to play musical chairs in their backfield this week. However, with Sony Michel on IR, Harris looks to be the preferred runner at the position. His 22 receptions as a senior at Alabama also shows a player capable of being a receiving threat, a role which could increase as he makes his way back from a hand injury. The Broncos numbers against RBs have been skewed as of late due to matchups against crapshoot backfields such as the Jets and Bucs, yet prior to those matchups, they had allowed 100-yard rushers in back-to-back weeks.

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RB: Sit ‘Em

Sit of the Week: Myles Gaskin at SF

Gaskin continues to lead the way in Miami’s backfield. However, how much weight does that actually hold? He’s now carried the ball 10 times or fewer in all but one game this year and has yet to find the end-zone on the ground. No defense is more stout against RBs than the 49ers this year, who have allowed just one rushing touchdown to the position and no more than 63-rushing yards to any one player in any game.

Miles Sanders at PIT

Sanders’ string of back-to-back 95-yard performances came to a crashing halt this past week, as the Eagles RB collected just 46 rushing yards on his way to a single-digit fantasy outing. As painful as it may be for a player many were hoping could be an RB1 this season, don’t expect much improvement in Week 5. The Steelers have played Saquon Barkley, Melvin Gordon and David Johnson this season. In total the three Pro Bowlers have rushed for 99 yards and one lone touchdown.

Buyers Beware: Joe Mixon at BAL

From the highest-scoring player in fantasy one week ago, to potentially out of your lineup a week later? While most owners won’t have the guts to do so, they at the very least must temper expectations. Prior to last week’s breakout performance, Mixon had averaged just 54.6 rushing yards per game with zero total touchdowns. Opposing starting RBs average just 51 yards per game against the Ravens this season, all of which have combined for just one rushing touchdown.


  1. *Check out our other Week 5 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Ems to further optimize your lineups
  2. Start-Sit [QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DEF | Ks]

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