Saturday, November 6, 2021

Week 9 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, Khalil Herbert is listed below as a "start" for Week 9. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 9 with him as one of my starting running backs.

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

In other words, if you roster Najee Harris, Joe Mixon and Herbert and start two running backs, you should start Harris and Mixon and, in turn, bench Herbert.

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 9 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 9 Fantasy Football RB Start'em

Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears (at PIT)

There are some indicators that would point to sitting (not starting) Herbert. The matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers is difficult -- only five teams are stingier when it comes to fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs this season. In addition, no team has a lower implied total this week than the Bears.

That said, Herbert has emerged as a matchup-proof RB2 until David Montgomery is able to return.

In a timeshare with Damien Williams in Week 5, Herbert had 18 carries for 75 yards. Since then, it's been all Herbert even with Williams returning from the COVID list. From Weeks 5-8, only Derrick Henry (81) has more touches than Herbert (69). If we use average touches per game to adjust for byes, Herbert (23.0) would still be fifth over that stretch behind Najee Harris (29.5/G), Henry (27.0), Alvin Kamara (26.0) and Dalvin Cook (24.5).

Despite the difficult matchup, Herbert is a volume-based RB2 and he's performed well even in difficult matchups (only back to rush for 100 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season).

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills (at JAX)

Buffalo's backfield usage has been split fairly evenly between Moss and Devin Singletary. Excluding Week 1 when Moss was inactive, Moss has 53.79% of the duo's touches this season.

Favored by more than two touchdowns, no team has a higher implied total in Week 9. Positive game script could lead to a few extra carries for the backs and Moss is more likely to get the goal-line touches.

In addition, Moss has a minimum of four targets in three consecutive games. During that three-game stretch, he has a team target share greater than 16% in two of those games.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons (at NO)

Even more so than the overall level of production, the week-to-week consistency has been even more surprising. Excluding Week 1, Patterson has finished as fantasy's (half-PPR) RB5, RB22, RB1, RB21, RB18 and RB13, respectively.

During that six-game stretch, C-Patt has double-digit touches and a minimum of five targets in every game. Furthermore, he has averaged 14.5 touches and 6.3 targets per game over that same span. Outside of Week 1, he has scored no fewer than 13.1 fantasy points (half-PPR).

Even without adjusting for Atlanta's bye week, Patterson has performed as a top-10 fantasy back regardless of scoring format. Even though the New Orleans Saints have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, starting Patterson is not a difficult choice for fantasy managers.

Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins (vs. HOU)

Rostering Gaskin has been a frustrating experience for fantasy managers. Week-to-week usage and production has felt like a roller coaster ride.

With Malcolm Brown placed on IR, Gaskin had 15-plus touches in back-to-back games for the first time this season. While it was an odd zero-target game for Gaskin in Week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts, Gaskin has a minimum of four targets in each of his other seven games this season.

Given the matchup against the Houston Texans, the Dolphins are favored despite also having only one win. Positive game script should lead to another 15-touch performance (and cautious optimism) for Gaskin this week.

Week 9 Fantasy Football RB Sit'em

Latavius Murray, Baltimore Ravens (vs. MIN)

Murray is listed above, but this applies to any and all of Baltimore's running backs as a blanket sit'em. Since Week 3, a Ravens running back has reached double-digit touches in only two of five games.

Inactive in Week 7 and on a bye in Week 8, Murray had only a 24.0% and 23.68% team rushing share in his past two games, respectively. Murray has scored a touchdown in four of six games this season. He has finished as the week's RB22-RB31 in the games that he's scored and outside the top 50 when he didn't.

In other words, he's a TD-dependent flex option.

Adrian Peterson, Tennessee Titans (at LAR)

With the injury to Derrick Henry, the back-to-back rushing champion, the Titans have signed Peterson, fifth all-time on the NFL rushing yardage list. Even if it's likely that AP eventually handles the largest share of the workload for the Titans during Henry's absence, waiting a week to insert him into your lineup makes sense. Obviously, Henry's massive workload won't be shifted directly to Peterson. Jeremy McNichols will also see a significant workload bump and I actually have him ranked one spot ahead of Peterson.

Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons (at NO)

Davis has finished as a top-24 fantasy back in only one game this season (Week 2). In a different week (Week 5 vs. the New York Jets, he had his only game this season with double-digit fantasy points.

Given Patterson's expanding role in the offense, Davis shouldn't be viewed as anything other than a flex option in a difficult matchup. To his credit, he has performed in the flex range (RB25-RB36) in five of seven games.

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