Saturday, October 27, 2018

Week 8 Fantasy Football: Running Backs Start'em, Sit'em

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, Phillip Lindsay is listed below as a "start" for Week 8. And I'd feel comfortable going into Week 8 with him as one of my starting running backs.

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

In other words, if you start two running backs and owned Todd Gurley, James Conner and Phillip Lindsay, you should start Gurley and Conner -- and in turn, bench Lindsay.

So while you won't find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my Week 8 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 8 Fantasy Football RB Start'em

RB - Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos (at KC)

Lindsay had 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown last week and added a six-yard reception in the Thursday night win over the Cardinals. Lindsay now has 14-plus touches in three of his past four games and five of his seven games played this season. Helping his workload cause this week, fellow rookie Royce Freeman has already been ruled out.

Except for Week 3 when he ejected from the game early and had just four touches, Lindsay has finished as a top-30 fantasy running back (standard scoring) with 11-plus PPR points every week. Averaging 5.81 yards per carry this season, the UDFA has yet to average below 4.5 YPC in any game this season.

RB - James White, New England Patriots (at BUF)

Granted, White is better in PPR formats, but he has scored the eighth-most fantasy points (in standard-scoring formats) through Week 7. Even more impressive has been his level of consistency as he has finished no worse than the RB26 despite some big games by backfield mate Sony Michel.

Before last week when Michel left the game early, White had averaged 13 touches per game over his three previous games. With Michel sustaining the injury last week, White set season highs with 19 touches and 11 carries.

Perhaps he won't get as many carries this week even though Michel is expected to miss this week's game, but it'd be reasonable to expect 15-plus touches from White. On 8.71 targets per game, White has averaged an impressive 6.43/54.29/0.86 receiving line this season. Amongst all players, White ranks 11th in receptions and is tied for second behind Tyreek Hill in receiving touchdowns.

With the Patriots favored by nearly two touchdowns in Week 8, there is a ton of touchdown equity for the backfield. White is a high-end RB1 for this week and Kenjon Barner is a nice sleeper play (if Michel sits) as it's possible that the Patriots go into the game with only two active running backs.

RB - Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (at PIT)

With Carlos Hyde traded to Jacksonville, Chubb carried the ball 18 times for 80 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Finishing as the weekly RB14 in standard-scoring formats, the rookie has yet to record his first NFL reception so his PPR upside is somewhat limited. The Steelers have been stingy to opposing running backs, fifth-fewest fantasy points allowed this season, but Chubb remains a viable RB2 this week.

RB - Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (vs. SEA)

Eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the second time this season, Johnson set career highs with 158 rushing yards on 19 carries. Except for Week 1, Johnson has double-digit carries in his other five NFL games and is averaging 15.2 touches per game since Week 2. Even though LeGarrette Blount may steal the goal-line opportunities, Theo Riddick (knee) will miss another game this week. Currently, I have Johnson ranked as a top-10 play this week.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, New York Jets (at CHI)

Crowell has been great, or terrible, or just ok. In the first five weeks of the season, Crowell alternated between big game and dud -- weekly RB3, RB48, RB8, RB70 and RB3, respectively. Over the past couple of weeks, he's been solid and has finished as the weekly RB36 and RB35, respectively. As we've seen, the range of outcomes is wide -- e.g., four carries for zero yards in Week 4 to 15 carries for 219 yards and a touchdown in Week 5.

Granted, the matchup isn't favorable, as the Bears have limited the position to the fourth-fewest fantasy points and are the only team to not yet surrender a rushing touchdown this season. That said, Bilal Powell (neck) was placed on IR and Crowell should get enough work to perform as a volume-based back-end RB2 in Week 8.

Week 8 Fantasy Football RB Sit'em

RB - LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (vs. NE)

Yet to clear concussion protocol, McCoy has an extra day to get healthy given that the Bills play on Monday night. That said, he's a "sit" even if he gets clearance. Before leaving Week 7 with a concussion, McCoy had heavy volume in his previous two games -- combined 40 carries and five receptions. Given New England's focus on taking away an opponent's best offensive weapon and their league-low Week 8 implied total, McCoy is not much more than a flex option if he's active.

RB - Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (at LAR)

In between his two-game suspension and the team's Week 7 bye, Jones has led the Packers in rushing in all four games he has played. In addition, he's led the team's backfield in touches in each of the past three weeks. Clearly the team's most talented runner, Jones is averaging 5.9 YPC this season after averaging 5.5 YPC last season. That's the good news.

That said, Jones has just seven, 12, nine and eight touches in his four games, respectively. In fact, none of Green Bay's running backs have reached double-digit touches in their past two games. While he's my highest-ranked Packers running back, it's difficult to trust any of them given the low volume.

RB - Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (at PIT)

An excellent receiver out of the backfield, Johnson has four catches in three of his past four games. If you were expecting an increase in usage, however, with Hyde traded to Jacksonville, that didn't come in his first game without Hyde. Instead, Chubb dominated touches, 18 to five. Tied with Oakland for allowing a league-low 21 receptions to opposing running backs this season, the Steelers have been even better against running backs in PPR formats -- second -fewest PPR points allowed this season.

RB - Carlos Hyde, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. PHI)

Before being traded, Hyde averaged exactly 20 touches per game in Cleveland's first six games. Inactive last week, Hyde should make his Jacksonville debut in London on Sunday. That said, it's unlikely that he approaches anything close to the workload level he experienced in Cleveland and T.J. Yeldon should continue to handle a larger share of the workload this week.

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 8

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