Thursday, December 24, 2020

Week 16 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, Leonard Fournette is listed below as a "start" for Week 16. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 16 with him as one of my starting running backs.

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

In other words, if you own both Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb and Fournette and only start two running backs, you should start Henry and Chubb and, in turn, bench Fournette.

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings. Instead of making those direct comparisons, the goal here is to highlight players that we like, or dislike, for the week.

[Note: This will be our final Start'em, Sit'em of 2020, but we will post Week 17 rankings.]

Week 16 Fantasy Football RB Start'em

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears (at JAX)

In August, few fantasy managers were excited to draft Montgomery as their RB2. Closing out the (fantasy) season, those same fantasy managers are thrilled to have him on their rosters in December.

Over his past four games, the former Cyclone's worst (yes, worst) game was 22.8 fantasy points (half-PPR scoring). During that four-game span, he has finished as fantasy's weekly RB6, RB1, RB7 and RB1, respectively.

Exceeding 100 scrimmage yards and scoring in each of those games, the second-year back has racked up 571 yards from scrimmage, 13 receptions and six touchdowns. Even though Tennessee's Derrick Henry (102.3) edges him out in fantasy points scored over that stretch, Cleveland's Nick Chubb (RB3, 79.1) has more than 20 points less than Montgomery (99.6).

Facing the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, the matchup couldn't get much better for Montgomery.

The Jaguars have allowed the fourth-most fantasy poinst to opposing running backs this season. Game script should work in Montgomery's favor as the Bears are favored by a touchdown (plus) and have one of the week's top-eight implied totals. Not only has Jacksonville allowed three 100-yard rushing games since Week 12, Henry gashed them for 26/215/2 rushing just two weeks ago.

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at DET)

Ronald Jones is expected to miss another game this week and the team will (perhaps reluctantly) turn to Fournette again. With RoJo sidelined last week, Fournette had 14 carries for 49 yards (3.5 YPC) and two touchdowns and added three catches for 16 yards (5.3 Y/R).

While Fournette was inefficient last week, this week's matchup sets him up for success.

No team has allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season. Detroit's opposing running backs have averaged 4.66 YPC (seventh-most) and converted 4.84% of their carries (second-most) into touchdowns.

Nearly double-digit favorites, the Buccaneers have the second-highest implied total of the week.

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

With Mark Ingram a healthy scratch, more was expected from Dobbins in Week 15 against the Jaguars. That said, he delivered a solid performance for his fantasy managers with 14 carries for 64 yards and a score plus a 17-yard reception. Dobbins has now finished as the RB18 (or better) with a minimum of 13.1 fantasy points in four consecutive games.

As double-digit home favorites, positive game script should benefit Dobbins. Even though the New York Giants rank sixth in the NFL in rushing defense, they have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

David Johnson, Houston Texans (vs. CIN)

The last time Johnson reached the 45-yard rushing milestone (ok, I realize that's not a thing) was October 6th when he rushed for 57 yards on a season-high 19 carries. While Johnson has missed some games between then and now, here are his rushing lines since then: 14/42, 2/16, 10/44/1 and 8/27.

So, why is he listed as a start?

With Duke Johnson out, Deshaun Watson relied on (David) Johnson in the passing game to the tune of 11 catches for 106 yards. It's unclear if Duke will miss another week, but he was sidelined at Wednesday's practice. David won't get 11 targets again in Week 16, but it would be reasonable to expect 15-plus touches including three to five catches in a favorable matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16 if Duke is out again.

In his 10 games played, Johnson has finished as a top-25 fantasy running back in all but two games this season.

Week 16 Fantasy Football RB Sit'em

Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (at BAL)

A waiver-wire gem earlier in the season, Gallman had a run of six consecutive top-16 weekly running back performances from Weeks 7 to 13. The Giants either won or were within a field goal of all six of those games.

Since then, the Giants have lost back-to-back games by double digits and enter Week 16 as a double-digit road underdog to the Ravens. Finishing as the RB27 and RB58 over the past two weeks, respectively, Gallman had an eight-game low with nine touches and 29 scrimmage yards in Week 15.

Ito Smith / Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons (at KC)

More than likely, the Falcons will be chasing points early in this game. Regardless of which back gets the largest workload, none of them can be trusted. The last time that an Atlanta running back has finished as a top-40 weekly running back was in November (Smith, RB12 in Week 12).

Even if Gurley is no longer the "lead" back, Smith has been relatively ineffective as well. While he set season highs in touches (17) and yards from scrimmage (75) and scored his only touchdown in Week 12, Smith has failed to exceed 45 scoreless scrimmage yards in three consecutive games.

James Conner / Benny Snell, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. IND)

Before their Week 4 bye, a Steelers running back -- Conner or Snell -- had the team's three highest yards from scrimmage outputs of the season for the backfield. Since their Week 4 bye, a Steelers back has reached 65 YFS in only five of 11 games.

It's possible Conner (quad) will return in Week 16, but if he does, it's difficult to trust either one in a difficult matchup in fantasy championship week. Using only running back carries, the Colts have allowed the eighth-fewest YPC (3.82) this season.

Not only does Pittsburgh operate one of the league's most pass-heavy offenses, but Conner has averaged 3.13 YPC or less in four of his past five games. In the five games he's played since the calendar flipped to November, Conner has averaged only 3.53 YPC.

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