Welcome to our Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Running Back edition for Week 4 of the 2021 NFL season. In this column, we highlight Christian McCaffrey’s replacement in Carolina, as well as a potential changing of the guards in Buffalo’s backfield.
* 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.
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RB: Start ‘Em
David Montgomery vs. DET
After a stellar Week 1 performance, Montgomery has averaged just 9.2 points and 47.5 rushing yards over the past two weeks while failing to find the endzone. However, there’s good news on the horizon for Montgomery owners. Detroit has surrendered six total touchdowns to running backs this season. On top of that, backs to receive double-digit touches against the Lions have averaged 28.95 points. Montgomery has averaged 17.3 touches per game through three weeks.
Chuba Hubbard at DAL
Hubbard may not be Christian McCaffrey, but then again who really is. A former leading rusher in the FBS, Hubbard impressed while taking over for CMC last Thursday, averaging 4.7 yards per carry on 11 totes. More importantly, he out-snapped Royce Freeman 40-to-11. Dallas hasn’t truly been tested in the run game this season, as no running back has exceeded nine rushing attempts against them. However, running backs have seen 31 targets come their way against the Cowboys in 2021 (third-most in NFL). Hubbard notched five targets in spot duty in Week 3 and is primed for lead-back volume in a Panthers backfield that averages more than 25 rushing attempts per game this season.
Zack Moss vs. HOU
Moss has averaged 13 touches and totaled three touchdowns over his last two outings. He also logged 10 more snaps than Devin Singletary in Week 3. The Texans allow the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs this season and an average of 6.06 yards per carry to backs that handled at least nine carries.
Sleeper: Trey Sermon vs. SEA
With Eli Mitchell’s availability in the air, Sermon could once again shoulder lead-back duties in San Fran. The rookie third-rounder hasn’t been overly impressive but was the only designated running back to touch the football in the team’s Week 3 loss to Green Bay (11 touches). The Seahawks allow an average of 37.0 points and 137.7 rushing yards per game to running backs this season — both are the most in the NFL. They’ve also surrendered at least 112 rushing yards to an opposing running back in back-to-back weeks.
RB: Sit ‘Em
Ty’Son Williams at DEN
Williams is averaging 6.1 yards per carry this season. However, the Ravens still remain reluctant to feature him. Latavius Murray out-touched Williams 7-to-5 in Week 3 — an unappealing ratio for all players involved. To make matters worse, the Broncos defense allows just 8.6 points to running backs this season (second-fewest in NFL) and has yet to surrender a rushing touchdown.
James Conner at LAR
Conner was a start for us last week and delivered to the tune of 18.3 points, thanks in large part to two rushing touchdowns. However, paydirt will likely be hard to come by for Conner in Week 4, as the Rams have allowed zero rushing touchdowns and an average of 29.5 rushing yards to opponents’ leading rushers since Week 2.
Buyers Beware: Alexander Mattison vs. CLE
Mattison’s fantasy relevance is contingent on Dalvin Cook’s health — or rather lack thereof. Yet, should we operate under the belief that Mattison would be handling the load for Minnesota in Week 4, he still remains a risky buy against a stout Cleveland defense. The Browns allow just 3.1 yards per carry this season, while no opposing rusher has amassed 43 rushing yards, nor rushed for a touchdown.
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