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Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Week 5 Running Backs

Week 5 start 'em and sit 'em recommendations for the running back position from senior fantasy football expert Michael Fabiano.

Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate weekly look at the NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team. Fantasy superstars such as Patrick Mahomes and Alvin Kamara will not be featured in this column. All player matchups are based on a PPR scoring system.

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Week 5 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

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Week 5 Start 'Em: Running Backs

Byes: Lions, Packers

Start of the Week

James Robinson at Texans

Robinson didn’t have a monster stat line last week, but he continues to dominate the Jaguars backfield snaps and touches. The undrafted rookie is averaging 18 touches and 111.5 scrimmage yards per game after four weeks. He's in a great spot to succeed this week too, as the Jaguars head to Houston to face a Texans defense that’s struggled against running backs. Thus far, backs have found the end zone six times and averaged the sixth-most fantasy points against them.

Start ‘Em

Todd Gurley vs. Panthers

Gurley is coming off a two-touchdown game in Green Bay, and he’s now scored four times in four games while averaging 17.3 touches a game. He’ll remain a rock-solid RB2 this week when the Panthers visit the Mercedes-Benz Dome. Carolina's defense has been brutal against running backs, allowing an average of 160 scrimmage yards and the second-most fantasy points to the position in 2020. In a game that could become a shootout, Gurley should be in most starting lineups.

Mike Davis at Falcons

Christian, who? Alright, I’m kidding, but Davis has been a true godsend for those who landed him off the waiver wire. Over the last two weeks, only three running backs (including Dalvin Cook) have more touches. Davis is also third in targets and fifth in fantasy points at the position over that time. The Falcons have allowed an average of more than 29 fantasy points per game to opposing backs this season, including the second-most catches to the position, so start Davis again.

Devin Singletary at Titans

Singletary has seen his snaps and touches rise in each of his last two games, as the backfield has been all his in the absence of Zack Moss. Even if Moss returns to face the Titans, I will stick with Singletary as a flex starter in a plus matchup. Tennessee has played just two contests (bye in Week 4 due to COVID-19), but their defense has given up four total touchdowns, and the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs in that time. Start Singletary this week.

Joshua Kelley at Saints

Kelley figures to see a bunch of volume out of the Chargers backfield this week, as the team has lost Austin Ekeler due to an injured hamstring. So while a matchup against the Saints might not be a standout (New Orleans has allowed the 17th-“most" fantasy points to running backs), Kelley is still a virtual must-start flex or RB2 in most leagues. Justin Herbert ranks seventh among quarterbacks in throwing to his runners, so Kelley could see some extra targets out of the backfield.

More Starts

  • Kareem Hunt vs. Colts
  • Raheem Mostert vs. Dolphins
  • Antonio Gibson vs. Rams

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Week 5 Sit 'Em: Running Backs

Sit of the Week

Kenyan Drake at Jets

Drake has had two straight amazing matchups versus the Lions and Panthers, and he’s scored a combined 12.4 fantasy points. Combined! Next up is another great matchup, this time against a Jets defense that’s allowed the eighth-most points per game to running backs. Does it matter, though? Drake is averaging 3.8 yards per rush, and he didn’t run a single pass route last week. Kyler Murray is also running more, which is sapping more of Drake’s value. He’s a risk-reward flex, at best.

Sit ‘Em

Darrell Henderson at Football Team

Just when we thought we had the Rams backfield all figured out, coach Sean McVay pulled the old switcheroo on us. In Week 4, Malcolm Brown, not Henderson, led the backfield in snaps, touches, and fantasy points. Wonderful. Next up is a date with the Football Team, who have actually allowed just 115.8 scrimmage yards and the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs this season. With so much up in the air and a bad matchup next, Henderson is a fade.

Mark Ingram II vs. Bengals

Confusion, thy name is the Ravens backfield. After the first four weeks, OC Greg Roman has split snaps between J.K. Dobbins (88), Ingram (80), and Gus Edwards (70). The trio is also splitting touches, with Ingram leading the way at a modest 9.3 per game, and none of the three are averaging more than 8.2 fantasy points per game. So while this week's matchup against the Bengals is a good one, starting Ingram (or any Ravens back) is a low-floor, dart throw in all fantasy leagues.

Myles Gaskin at 49ers

Gaskin is getting a substantial workload for the Dolphins, as he ranks 10th among backs in offensive snaps (178) and has averaged nearly 17 touches per game. Here’s the problem: Gaskin has averaged just 0.73 fantasy points per touch. That’s not great. He also has a tough matchup next on the schedule, as the Dolphins go up against a formidable Niners defense that’s surrendered the fewest scrimmage yards (77.8) and fantasy points (14.0 PPG) to opposing running backs this season.

Latavius Murray vs. Chargers

Murray is coming off a solid, two-touchdown line against the Lions, but this weekend’s matchup against the Chargers isn’t nearly as favorable. Their defense has allowed fewer than 80 rushing yards per game, and the 10th-fewest points a game to backs, so Murray could find it tough to produce. Also, keep in mind that he had averaged fewer than six fantasy points per game in Weeks 1-3 before going off for 21.3 this past week. At best, Murray is a risk-reward, low floor flex play.

More Sits

  • Le'Veon Bell vs. Cardinals
  • Rex Burkhead vs. Broncos (COVID-19)
  • Nyheim Hines at Browns

DFS Fades

  • Miles Sanders at Steelers (DraftKings: $6,500)
  • Melvin Gordon at Patriots (DraftKings: $6,400)
  • Joe Mixon at Ravens (DraftKings: $6,300)

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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the latest news and analysis!

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