Friday, December 4, 2020

Week 13 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, J.K. Dobbins is listed below as a "start" for Week 13. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 13 with him as one of my starting running backs.

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

In other words, if you own Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb and Dobbins and start only two running backs, you should start Cook and Chubb and, in turn, bench Dobbins.

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 13 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 13 Fantasy Football RB Start'em

Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team (at PIT)

The former hybrid (WR/RB) player from Memphis (and before that, JuCo transfer), Gibson entered the NFL with limited touches but unreal efficiency.

Reaching 17 touches only once in his first six NFL games, the rookie has now reached that mark in four of his past five games. During that five-game stretch, he has finished as a top-12 running back every week. Expecting him to score each week, something he has done in five straight, would be unrealistic, but he's an elusive back with sub-4.4 speed at nearly 230 pounds.

While Washington is more than a touchdown underdog to the Pittsburgh Steelers, it's encouraging that Gibson had a season-high seven targets in Week 12. Including last week, he now has three catches in seven of his past nine games.

Even in a difficult matchup (the Steelers have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season), Gibson remains a top-10 fantasy option in Week 13.

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears (vs. DET)

It's rare that fantasy owners are excited to start Montgomery, but the second-year back exploited a favorable matchup against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. Montgomery carried the ball 11 times for 103 yards and added five catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.

This week, Montgomery gets an even better matchup against the Detroit Lions, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Not only do they allow 4.62 YPC on RB carries (sixth-most to the position), but running backs have scored 14 rushing touchdowns (tied for most) against them this season. In addition, no team has allowed more yards per reception (9.87) or receiving touchdowns (seven) to opposing running backs than the Lions this season.

J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens (vs. DAL)

For the most part, the Ravens have deployed a three-headed backfield with Dobbins, Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards when all three backs have been active. While Dobbins and Ingram did not travel to Pittsburgh for Wednesday's game due to COVID protocol, the team utilized Dobbins in more of a featured role in Week 11 (when all three backs were active).

In that game against the Tennessee Titans, Dobbins handled 15 carries for 70 yards (4.7 YPC) and a touchdown and added two catches for 15 yards. (Edwards and Ingram combined for five touches.) On the season, the former Buckeye is averaging 5.3 YPC and 10.3 Y/R.

Provided Dobbins gets a similar usage rate, the rookie is in a smash spot against the Dallas Cowboys, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (at SEA)

Like Gibson, Gallman has a five-game scoring streak of his own. Over the past five weeks, he has a total of 93 touches including 11 receptions, 344 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns. The fourth-year back has finished as a top-16 running back in all five games.

Gallman had a season-high 27 touches last week, but negative game script could adversely impact him this week against the Seattle Seahawks. And Gallman has been anything but efficient, as he's averaged just 3.76 YPC over his five-game hot streak. Even so, there should be enough volume for Gallman to continue to perform as an RB2.

Week 13 Fantasy Football RB Sit'em

Todd Gurley (and/or Brian Hill and/or Ito Smith), Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO)

After sitting out Week 12, limited practice participation early this week puts Gurley on track to potentially return to the field on Sunday. To an extent, Gurley has exceeded fantasy expectations this season due to his nine rushing touchdowns -- only three running backs have more.

While his 167 rush attempts ranks seventh in the NFL, he has a very pedestrian 3.65 yards per carry. Even though he has more than 20 touches in three of his past five games, he has averaged only 56.0 YFS per game with a high of 82 over that span.

Even if he doesn't play this week, I'd sit any other Falcon running back as well given the difficult matchup. The New Orleans Saints have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. They have limited opposing running backs to the third-lowest YPC average (3.46) and the lowest TD% on RB rush attempts (1.36%).

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams (at ARI)

In today's NFL, there are few workhorse backs. Even so, the Rams spread the ball around enough that it makes all of their backs unworthy of a starting spot on your fantasy team(s).

Earlier in the season when Cam Akers missed time, Henderson was getting enough volume -- 15.5 touches per game from Weeks 2 to 7 -- to be productive (three top-12 performances in six games). Even though he has led the team in touches in back-to-back games, Henderson has no more than 10 touches in four consecutive games and has finished as the RB37, RB24, RB58 and RB64, respectively.

Le'Veon Bell, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. DEN)

When Bell signed with the Chiefs, there was some speculation that he could push rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire to be the 1(a) to CEH's 1(b) in Kansas City's backfield. In his five games as a Chief, however, Bell has single-digit touches in all five games with an average of seven per contest. During his five-game tenure, here's how the running back touches have been allocated: Edwards-Helaire 53, Bell 35 and Darrel Williams 15.

No team has a higher implied total this week than the Chiefs, who are two-TD home favorites. Positive game script could lead to a few more touches for the backs, but even when Bell scores a touchdown (like in Week 11), he barely finished inside the week's top 24 running backs (RB24 in Week 11).

Bell could be worth a dart throw in a DFS tournament, but if you're looking to secure a playoff berth or improve your playoff seeding, your team likely has two better options on your roster.

BUST ALERT: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (at BAL)

Not an outright "sit," Elliott has the potential to "bust" in Tuesday's matchup in Baltimore. In fact, he's "busted" in five of his past six games. Zeke has finished with more than 8.0 (half-PPR) fantasy points and inside the top 24 weekly running backs only once during that span.

The workload has been there, as Elliott has 20-plus touches in four of those six games, but the production hasn't. During that six-game span, he's exceeded 51 rushing yards only twice. And while he had six touchdowns in the five games that Dak Prescott played, he has scored only one touchdown over his past six.

The Ravens have been middle of the road in terms of YPC allowed to running backs (4.36, T-14th), but only the Saints (1.36%) have allowed a lower TD% on running back rush attempts than the Ravens (1.79%) this season.

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