Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em: Week 5 Fantasy Running Backs

Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league's settings).

As an example, Duke Johnson is listed below as a "start" for Week 5. And I'd feel comfortable going into Week 5 with him as one of my starting running backs.

That said, he may be a sit for your team.

In other words, if you owned Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley and Johnson and only start two running backs, you should start Bell and Gurley -- and in turn, bench Johnson.

So, while you won't find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).

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Week 5 Fantasy Football RB Start'em


RB - Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (at IND)

To think, there was a little bit of uncertainty about Hyde's role this offseason. There's no uncertainty now. As long as he's healthy (and that's always a question with Hyde), he's going to get a large workload as the focal point of San Francisco's offense.

Going into Week 5, Hyde has a total of 65 carries for 321 yards (a career-high 4.94 YPC) and two touchdowns plus 17 catches for 88 yards on 22 targets. Hyde was a top-10 fantasy running back in two weeks, and exactly the RB27 twice. In the weeks he finished as the RB27, he faced the Panthers and Cardinals, both of whom rank inside the five most-stingy defenses to fantasy running backs.

In a more favorable matchup this week against the Colts, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, I'd expect Hyde to exploit the matchup. Hyde is a top-five play this week.

Related: Our Favorite Week 5 DraftKings Plays

RB - Bilal Powell, New York Jets (at CLE)

Depending on the status of Matt Forte (toe), Powell could be in store for another significant workload. In last week's "upset" over the Jaguars, Powell carried the ball 21 times for 163 yards and a touchdown and added four catches for 27 yards to finish with the fifth-most fantasy points last week.

That kind of production shouldn't be expected again, but Powell now has 15-plus carries, a touchdown and a top-24 weekly performance in back-to-back weeks. In a game that should be close (Cleveland is a small home favorite), Powell should get another large workload with the opportunity to deliver for fantasy owners for a third straight week.

RB - Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (vs. NYJ)

Perhaps this is the week that Isaiah Crowell gets going, but either way, I like Johnson in this spot. Even though he has just 10 carries this season, Johnson has a total of 20 catches for 207 yards on 28 targets. That puts him on a 16-game pace of 80/828 with 112 targets. Even if he doesn't maintain that pace, he'll clearly be involved in the passing game given the injuries and lack of talent amongst the team's other pass-catchers. The Jets have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

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Week 5 Fantasy Football RB Sit'em


RB - Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (at DET)

A one-dimensional player (only three catches on six targets in four games), Stewart is a TD-dependent fantasy play every week. Inefficient on a per-carry basis (3.90 YPC), Stewart has 12 to 18 carries every week this season, but he's yet to reach the 70-yard rushing mark or rush for a touchdown. (He did catch a touchdown in Week 1, however.) In the first week of byes, Stewart isn't the worst play, but he's more of an uninspiring flex option than an RB2 for Week 5.

RB - Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings (at CHI)

With Dalvin Cook (ACL) lost for the season, the Vikings will turn to Murray to take over the lead-back role. Even with Murray getting his largest amount of carries in Week 4 after the injury, Cook has dominated touches -- 85 to 36 for the rest of the running backs combined -- this season. The Bears front-seven is better than their secondary so I don't expect a ton of improvement in efficiency for Murray, who has averaged 2.71 YPC and 4.0 Y/R.

RB - Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks (at LAR)

The matchup is so, so good. The Rams have allowed opposing backs to rush for 560 yards, 4.96 YPC and six touchdowns this season. They've allowed a top-six weekly fantasy running backs in three consecutive games. Even though Chris Carson has been placed on IR, how can we trust that Lacy or Rawls will be the (primary) one to exploit the matchup? We can't. Rawls was a healthy scratch last week, but it wouldn't surprise me if he's the one that (re-)emerges as the lead back, but I'd prefer to take a wait-and-see approach despite how tempting the matchup may be.

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 5

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