Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Week 7 Running Backs - Fades, Matchups, Sleepers & DFS Bargains

Week 7 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 7 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

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Week 7 Start ‘Em: Running Backs

Byes: Colts, Dolphins, Ravens, Vikings

Start of the Week

Ronald Jones at Raiders 

Jones has been a solid option for fantasy fans with an average of 17.4 points over his last four games. During that time, he's leading the Bucs backfield in snaps and touches. While the threat of Leonard Fournette's return looms, RoJo is likely to remain the top back in this week's matchup in Las Vegas. The Raiders defense has allowed 168.1 total yards, eight total touchdowns, and the second-most fantasy points to running backs. At worst, Jones is a high-end No. 2 option.

Start ‘Em

David Johnson vs. Packers

Johnson has not looked great this season, averaging just over four yards per rush and a modest 12.8 fantasy points per game. Still, he’s scored at least 12.3 points in four of six games and could have been better in Week 5 had Deshaun Watson not overthrown him in the end zone. This week, Johnson gets a nice matchup against a Packers defense that’s allowed the most points to runners. Green Bay has also allowed 19-plus points to four running backs in their first five contests.

Todd Gurley vs. Lions

Gurley put up a ho-hum stat line last week, scoring fewer than 10 fantasy points in a win over the Vikings. Still, he leads all Falcons runners in snaps and touches and continues to see plenty of volume. I’d start him as a No. 2 back this week, as the Falcons host a Lions defense that’s allowed seven total touchdowns and the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. What’s more, four enemy backs have put up 15-plus points against them, including three who scored over 20 points.

Giovani Bernard vs. Browns

The Bengals have ruled Joe Mixon out for Week 7 due to a foot injury, so Bernard will take over the top spot on the depth chart ahead of a matchup vs. the Browns. While their defense is middle of the road against running backs, four players at the position have scored 14-plus fantasy points including one (Ezekiel Elliott) who put up over 20 points. Bernard should see plenty of volume in the game, and his skills as a pass catcher make him a solid floor play with plenty of upside. 

Justin Jackson vs. Jaguars

This could easily be Joshua Kelley too, but Jackson led the Chargers backfield in snaps, touches, and fantasy points before their bye week. Regardless, either can be plugged in as a flex starter this week when the Jaguars visit SoFi Stadium. Jacksonville has struggled to stop running backs, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to the position. Last week, their defense surrendered a combined 40.1 points to the duo of D’Andre Swift (27.3 points) and Adrian Peterson (12.8).

More Starts

  • Antonio Gibson vs. Cowboys
  • D'Andre Swift at Falcons
  • Jamaal Williams at Texans

DFS Bargains

  • J.D. McKissic vs. Cowboys (DraftKings: $4,600)
  • Giovani Bernard vs. Browns (DraftKings: $4,500)
  • Jamaal Williams at Texans (DraftKings: $4,000)

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Week 7 Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

Sit of the Week

David Montgomery at Rams (MNF)

There’s a good chance you’ll have to start Montgomery this week, even after his modest 13.7 points (despite a great matchup) in Carolina. I would temper expectations though, as the Rams have allowed just three touchdowns to running backs this season. Aside from the duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Miles Sanders, the position has averaged a very modest 15.1 fantasy points against DL Aaron Donald and his defensive crew. I would consider Montgomery a risk-reward No. 2 back.

Sit ‘Em

Darrell Henderson vs. Bears (MNF)

Henderson continued to be the Rams featured back last week, leading the team with 32 snaps and 14 touches. Still, the threat of losing touches to Malcolm Brown and Cam Akers looms, and a matchup against the Bears isn’t a favorable one. Their defense has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to backs, and not a single back has scored more than 15.6 points against them. You might get 10-14 points, but he’s a low-ceiling flex option.

Jerick McKinnon at Patriots

McKinnon will find himself playing a bigger role in the Niners offense this week, as Raheem Mostert is out with an injured ankle. So while he will be worth a look based on volume alone, it was odd to see the Niners go with Jamycal Hasty, not McKinnon, down the stretch of last week’s win over the Rams. New England has also been tough on backs, allowing just two touchdowns and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position. I consider McKinnon is a risk-reward flex choice.

Le’Veon Bell at Broncos

We’ll start to see at least a glimpse of what Bell’s value will be as a member of the Chiefs this week. While any outcome is possible, I don’t see him taking over as the lead back ahead of Clyde Edwards-Helaire (who looked great in Buffalo). Bell also has a tough matchup ahead, as the Broncos have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs. In fact, only Derrick Henry and James Conner have produced more than 73 scrimmage yards against them so far this season.

Damien Harris vs. 49ers

Harris is certainly worth a roster spot in most leagues, but he’s a mere matchup-based starter at this point. Last week, he played just 11 snaps and saw seven touches in a loss to the Broncos. That lack of volume isn’t going to get it done. Harris also has a bad matchup next on the schedule, as the Niners come in to visit Foxboro Stadium. Their defense has been tough on running backs, surrendering just 3.4 yards per attempt and the fewest fantasy points to the position this season.

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More Sits

  • Kenyan Drake vs. Seahawks (SNF)
  • Phillip Lindsay vs. Chiefs
  • Frank Gore vs. Bills

DFS Fades

  • James Robinson at Chargers (DraftKings: $6,200)
  • Jerick McKinnon at Patriots (DraftKings: $5,800)
  • Phillip Lindsay at Chiefs (DraftKings: $5,300)

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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