Saturday, October 23, 2021

Week 7 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, James Conner is listed below as a "start" for Week 7. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 7 with him as one of my starting running backs.

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

In other words, if you roster Alvin Kamara, Jonathan Taylor and Conner and start two running backs, you should start Kamara and Taylor and, in turn, bench Conner.

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 7 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 7 Fantasy Football RB Start'em

Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams (vs. DET)

For the majority of fantasy managers, Henderson has become an every-week starter regardless of matchup. In our Rest-of-Season (ROS) Fantasy Football Rankings, Henderson is the RB14.

Some of the running backs on bye this week include Austin Ekeler, Najee Harris, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott and more. A week of rest for those elite backs means that Henderson catapults into our top three with a mouth-watering matchup against the Detroit Lions.

Favored by more than two touchdowns at home, the Rams should be feeding Henderson all of the touches that he can handle. In fact, it would not be a shock for Sony Michel to get a flex-viable volume of touches in garbage time.

In a 27-point win on Sunday, Henderson had a season-high 23 touches, but he has a minimum of 16 touches in every game that he has appeared. Yet to finish any worse than RB19 in half-PPR scoring, Henderson ranks top 12 in fantasy points despite missing a game this season.

In addition to having the week's highest implied total, the Lions have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. The Lions have allowed a league-high 12 touchdowns to opposing running backs, a league-high 93.1% catch rate, 9.44 Y/R (third-most) and 4.58 YPC (eighth-most). Regardless of how you slice it, this matchup gives Henderson RB1 overall upside.

[Note: If you roster Henderson, the good news is the Rams have another dream matchup (Houston Texans) in Week 8.]

James Conner, Arizona Cardinals (vs. HOU)

Mostly a non-factor in the receiving game, Conner has as many rushing touchdowns (five) as he has receptions (five). Only Derrick Henry (nine) has more rushing touchdowns this season than Conner, who has one of the week's highest TD equities. The unbeaten Cardinals are 18-point home favorites over the Houston Texans.

Only the Los Angeles Chargers (5.29) have allowed more yards per carry to opposing running backs than the Texans (5.15). Even though Conner has only finished as a top-30 fantasy running back in the weeks he has scored two touchdowns, the floor and ceiling are incredibly high this week.

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs (at TEN)

In last week's win, Williams carried the ball 21 times for 62 yards and two scores and added three catches for 27 yards on four targets. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire on Injured Reserve, Williams ended the week as fantasy's RB7 (half-PPR scoring). Only Dalvin Cook (31), Najee Harris (30) and Leonard Fournette (28) had more touches than Williams (24) last week.

While he may not get 24 touches again this week, the Chiefs are one of three teams with an implied total north of 30 points and the Titans-Chiefs game has the highest total (by a wide margin). Williams is a top-10 fantasy running back in our rankings this week.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons (at MIA)

Those waiting for Patterson's production to return to earth are still waiting. The only thing that was able to slow him down was the team's Week 6 bye.

Through the first five weeks of the season, Patterson has racked up 173 rushing yards, 25 catches for 295 yards and five total touchdowns. Even when we don't adjust for last week's bye, Patterson has scored the 10th-most fantasy points through Week 6.

Patterson played a season-high 46 offensive snaps (59%) with Calvin Ridley out in Week 5, but he had played only 23-26 offensive snaps per game in Weeks 1-4. If there's a concern it's the relatively modest snap counts, but he has been much more effective than Mike Davis.

The Dolphins have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Averaging more than 20 half-PPR fantasy points per game over his past four games, Patterson is ranked inside our top 10 fantasy running backs for Week 7.

Week 7 Fantasy Football RB Sit'em

Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears (at TB)

Bye weeks may necessitate that we start players that we would otherwise prefer to sit. Herbert could be one of those for you this week (as he is for me in the Scott Fish Bowl). It was an easy choice to start the rookie running back last week, but the difficult matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers makes him more of a flex option even in a week with six teams on bye.

In the two games without David Montgomery, Herbert has carried the ball 37 times for 172 yards and a touchdown and added two catches for 15 yards. Damien Williams missed last week's game, but he has been activated for Week 7. Even so, The Athletic's Kevin Fishbain believes Herbert has leapfrogged Williams on the depth chart.

Tampa has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and only the New Orleans Saints (2.84) have allowed fewer yards per carry to opposing running backs than the Bucs (3.39) this year. Not only are the Bears double-digit underdogs, but they rank in the bottom three this week in NFL implied totals.

Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins (vs. ATL)

One player that had a great game against the Buccaneers was Gaskin, who caught 10 passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns and finished that week as fantasy's RB4. I had noted that week that Gaskin could have sneaky upside, only if we could trust his volume, since he's a talented receiving back and the Bucs are so stout against the run. Because I noted we couldn't trust the volume, I listed him as a "sit" that week.

In a game that should have been more favorable for the running backs in general, Gaskin had five carries for nine yards and two catches for five yards againt the Jacksonville Jaguars in London last week. As I've said before, we can't trust Gaskin or the Dolphins coaching staff to give him a consistent workload.

Here are Gaskin's workloads and weekly finishes over the past four weeks: 16 touches (RB32), two touches (RB77), 15 touches (RB4) and seven touches (RB49), respectively.

Unless forced to start him out of necessity, I'd prefer to keep Gaskin on my bench despite the plus matchup.

Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders (vs. PHI)

Scoring twice (once on the ground and once through the air), Drake had his best fantasy performance of the season (RB9) in Week 6. Even though he totaled a season-high 73 yards, Drake had only six touches and managed to play only 12 offensive snaps (21%).

In the first three weeks of the season, Drake had a minimum of 11 touches in each game. Since then, he has a total of only nine touches over his past three games. On such limited volume, it's highly unlikely that Drake is able to repeat his Week 6 performance.

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