Week 9 Start ‘Em: Running Backs
Byes: Bengals, Browns, Eagles, Rams
Start of the Week
Chase Edmonds vs. Dolphins: Edmonds will be the top back in Arizona for the next few weeks, as Kenyan Drake is out with an injured ankle. That’s good news for his fantasy value, as the talented runner now has a clear path to touches in a matchup against the Dolphins. Their defense has struggled against the run, allowing an average of 149 scrimmage yards and the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs. Edmonds, who has averaged more than six yards per rush this season, should be lit this week.
Week 9 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
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Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. Panthers: It’s come to this, folks. Once an obvious starter, Edwards-Helaire is now subject to the matchups with Le’Veon Bell in the mix. The good news is that CEH has seen far more snaps than Bell (60 to 34) over the last two weeks. The bad news is that the touches have been nearly a 50-50 split. Regardless, I’d continue to roll with the rookie in a smash spot against the Panthers. Their defense has allowed a total of five runners to score at least 22.8 fantasy points, including two with over 30.
Antonio Gibson vs. Giants: Gibson looked like a fantasy superstar before Washington’s bye week, scoring 18.8 fantasy points in a win over the Cowboys. I’d keep him active this week too, as the Football Team hosts the Giants in an NFC East battle. New York’s defense has struggled against running backs, as five players at the position have scored at least 16.7 points against them. That’s good news for Gibson, who leads his backfield in snaps and touches while averaging more than 13 fantasy points per game.
David Johnson at Jaguars: Johnson hasn't put up monster numbers, but he's averaging 13.3 fantasy points and has been a mid-tier No. 2 runner in most weeks. He's also getting nearly 17 touches per game as the top back in Houston's offense. Johnson should be good for 14-plus points this week as he travels to Duval County to face the Jaguars. Their defense has been bad against running backs, allowing an average of more than 150 scrimmage yards and the fifth-most fantasy points to the position.
Justin Jackson vs. Raiders: Jackson appears to have taken over the top spot on the Chargers depth chart, as he dominated snaps (41) and touches (20) in last week’s loss to Denver. What’s more, it appears Joshua Kelley has fallen out of favor in the rotation. I like Jackson as a No. 2 back or flex starter this week, as he’ll face a Raiders defense that has struggled to stop running backs. The Silver & Black have given up an average of nearly 150 scrimmage yards per game, and the sixth-most points to the position.
- DeeJay Dallas at Bills
- J.K. Dobbins at Colts
- Damien Harris at Jets (MNF)
- D’Andre Swift at Vikings (DraftKings: $5,000)
- DeeJay Dallas at Bills (DraftKings: $5,000)
- Justin Jackson vs. Raiders (DraftKings: $4,900)
Week 9 Sit ‘Em: Running Backs
Sit of the Week
Ezekiel Elliott vs. Steelers: This one is difficult, folks. I understand that you have to start Elliott in most cases, but he’s been bad since the Cowboys lost Dak Prescott. Over the last three weeks, he ranks a disappointing 28th among running backs based on fantasy points. If that isn’t enough to be in total freak out mode, couple it with a brutal matchup against the Steelers. Their defense has surrendered fewer than 80 rushing yards and the second-fewest fantasy points to enemy backs, so Zeke’s struggles could continue.
Jonathan Taylor vs. Ravens: Taylor is by no means a must-sit player. In fact, he’ll be active in a lot of leagues. However, his stock is going in the wrong direction. Over the Colts' last two games, the gap between Taylor and Wilkins in terms of snaps and touches has closed, and Wilkins lapped him in fantasy points last week in a win over Detroit. Furthermore, the Colts continue to use Nyheim Hines as a receiver. Taylor is also dealing with “a little bit” of an ankle injury and has a matchup against a tough Ravens defense.
Devin Singletary vs. Seahawks: Singletary wasn’t bad in the stat sheets last week, rushing 14 times for 86 yards in a win over the Patriots. However, he played fewer snaps than Zack Moss and was a distant second to his rookie teammate in red-zone looks (6 to 1). While I don’t see Moss taking over the top spot and becoming a true featured back, his usage is a problem as it pertains to Singletary’s value moving forward. So while a matchup against the Seahawks isn’t bad on paper, I’d be fading Singletary this week.
Gus Edwards at Colts: Edwards looked good in last week's loss to the Steelers, rushing for 87 yards on 16 carries while also finding the end zone. Still, he did play far fewer snaps than J.K. Dobbins (Edwards missed some time in the game), and he'll give fantasy fans next to nothing as a pass-catcher. Couple that with a matchup against the Colts, who have one of the best run defenses in the league with LB Darius Leonard in the mix, and I'd beware of Edwards this week. If you start a Ravens back, it's Dobbins for me.
James White at Jets (MNF): White was at one point a solid flex option with a good floor in PPR leagues. Now, he's barely even worth a roster spot in many fantasy leagues. Over the last two weeks, he ranks third among Patriots running backs in snaps and has seen a minuscule five touches in that time. The matchup against the Jets is a positive one, but if the touches (more to the point, the targets) aren't there, then White isn't going to be worth much in fantasy land. At this point, he's hard to trust across the board.
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- Melvin Gordon at Falcons
- Ronald Jones vs. Saints (SNF)
- Wayne Gallman at Football Team
- Ezekiel Elliott vs. Steelers (DraftKings: $6,600)
- Todd Gurley vs. Broncos (DraftKings: $6,200)
- Jonathan Taylor vs. Ravens (DraftKings: $6,000)
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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