Saturday, November 21, 2020

Week 11 Fantasy Football RB Start'em, Sit'em

The decision on which player to start, or sit, largely comes down to the options on your roster (and/or possibly the players available on your league's waiver wire).

As an example, Kalen Ballage is listed below as a "start" for Week 11. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 11 with him as one of my starting running backs.

Then again, Ballage may be a "sit" for your team.

In other words, if you own Alvin Kamara, Miles Sanders and Ballage, you should start Kamara and Sanders and, in turn, bench Ballage if you can only start two running backs.

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings. Instead of making those direct comparisons, the goal here is to highlight players that we like, or dislike, for the week.

Week 11 Fantasy Football RB Start'em

Damien Harris, New England Patriots (at HOU)

In an offense that has generally struggled, Harris has been one of the few bright spots this season. Coming off career highs, Harris carried the ball 22 times for 121 yards against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10. The second-year back now has reached the 100-yard rushing milestone in half (three) of his six games played this season.

While he's a non-factor as a receiver (only two targets this season), Harris has been incredibly efficient as a runner. Not only is he averaging 5.5 yards per carry on the season, but he has exceeded 5.0 YPC in five of six games.

No team has allowed more YPC to opposing running backs than the Houston Texans (5.53) this season. In addition, only the Detroit Lions (13) have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Texans (11).

Kalen Ballage, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. NYJ)

Ballage is playing for his third team in a year and the third-year back continues his revenge-game tour in Week 11. The former fourth-round pick of the Miami Dolphins had 23 touches -- 18 carries and five receptions -- for 102 scrimmage yards against the Dolphins last week. He now has 40 total touches in his past two games.

Eventually (and maybe soon), Austin Ekeler will return to take over lead-back duties for the Chargers. Until then, Ballage should continue to lead the backfield as the Chargers face the New York Jets this week.

The Jets have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season. Ballage should be aided by positive game script as the Chargers are nearly double-digit favorites and one of the week's highest implied totals.

Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team (vs. CIN)

Fantasy owners may wish that J.D. McKissic was less involved, but Gibson has finished as a top-11 weekly fantasy running back in each of his past three games. Excluding a modest Week 1 performance, Gibson has finished as a top-11 back in four of his past eight games and no worse than RB29 (flex range) during that eight-game span. On the year, the rookie out of Memphis has performed as a top-12 running back in all scoring formats.

As noted above, the Texans have allowed the highest YPC to running backs this season. The Cincinnati Bengals have allowed the second-most (5.21).

Duke Johnson, Houston Texans (vs. NE)

Not only was it a disappointing performance for Johnson, but Houston's entire offense struggled in Week 10. Things should be better for Johnson (and Houston overall) in Week 11.

With David Johnson on IR, Duke will continue to dominate backfield touches. Aside from one C.J. Prosise reception, Johnson had all of the other 14 running back touches in Week 10. Surprisingly, he was held catchless after hauling in nine receptions over the previous two weeks combined. It would be realistic to expect him to approach the 20 touches he had in Week 9 and finish as a mid-range RB2 this week.

Week 11 Fantasy Football RB Sit'em

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (vs. GB)

It's an ideal matchup for the Colts running backs as the Green Bay Packers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Unfortunately for Taylor's fantasy owners, there is little reason for confidence.

After starting his career with 13-plus touches in seven consecutive games, Taylor has single-digit touches in back-to-back weeks. In addition, Taylor ranks third on the team during that span in running back touches -- Nyheim Hines (21), Jordan Wilkins (21) and Taylor (17).

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams (at TB)

Speaking of uncertain workloads, the Rams employ a three-headed backfield as well. Now that rookie Cam Akers is healthy, he has double-digit touches in back-to-back games. Last week, Akers (10) had more touches than both Henderson (eight) and Malcolm Brown (eight).

After averaging 15.5 touches per week from Weeks 2 to 7, Henderson has single-digit touches in back-to-back games. If the team's trio of backs remain (roughly) equally involved, none of them are worth starting in Week 11 in a difficult matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No team has allowed fewer YPC to opposing running backs than the Bucs (3.03) this season.

J.K. Dobbins/Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens (vs. TEN)

Like with the trio backfields above, the Ravens employ similar usage with Dobbins, Ingram and Gus Edwards. With all three healthy again last week, none had more than eight touches -- Edwards (eight), Ingram (seven) and Dobbins (six) -- in Week 10. In the games where all three backs were active, there has been only one time where a back had more than 11 touches (Edwards, 14 in Week 6).

So, even though the Tennessee Titans allow the eighth-most fantasy points to the position, can any of the team's back take advantage? More than likely, the answer is no.

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