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Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 15: Running Backs - Fades, Sleepers, Matchups, DFS Bargains

Start 'em and sit 'em running backs for Week 15 from senior fantasy football expert Michael Fabiano.

Week 15 Start ‘Em: Running Backs

Start of the Week

Jonathan Taylor vs. Texans (1 p.m. ET, CBS): It appears that Taylor has taken claim to the top spot in the Colts backfield, as he’s led the team in both snaps and touches in each of his last three games. Last week, Taylor had a 44 percent touch share in Las Vegas. He’ll be on the low-end No. 1 runner radar this weekend as the Colts face the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Their defense has allowed 17 touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points to opposing runners.

Week 15 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

Be sure to check out my Week 15 rankings before finalizing any lineup decisions or if your league has special scoring rules, sign up for SI Fantasy+ for customized rankings.

MORE: Week 15 Rankings, Articles, Reports & Tools Hub

Start ‘Em

David Montgomery at Vikings (1 p.m. ET, FOX): Montgomery has had a trio of big games in a row, scoring four touchdowns and a combined 76.9 fantasy points. In that time, he’s also seen a 35 percent touch share in the backfield. He’ll look to make it four straight this weekend as the Bears go up against the Vikings. Their defense has allowed 15-plus fantasy points to running backs eight times, including Ronald Jones’ 15.4-point effort in last week’s loss to the Buccaneers.

Cam Akers vs. Jets (4:05 p.m. ET, FOX): Akers was used in a featured role last week, as he totaled 50 snaps, a 60 percent touch share, and 21.4 fantasy points in a win over the Patriots. He gets an even better matchup this week, as the winless Jets visit SoFi Stadium. Their defense has been generous to runners, allowing an average of more than 24 fantasy points per game. As long as Akers continues to see a big workload, he could push for top-15 numbers this weekend.

Mike Davis at Packers (Sat. 8:15 p.m., NFLN): I'm not sure if the Panthers will have Christian McCaffrey back in their lineup this week, but Davis would be a solid start (again) if he were sidelined. Davis produced 26.3 points last week and had a touch share of 31.4 percent in his featured role. If he remains the lead back, Davis will face a Green Bay defense that's surrendered 18 total touchdowns and the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Raheem Mostert at Cowboys (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Mostert played 40 snaps with a team-high 31 percent touch share last week, and this week's matchup in Dallas puts him on the RB2 radar. The Cowboys have given up the second-most rushing yards to running backs, and the position has averaged nearly 25 fantasy points per game against them in 2020. Mostert has dealt with a bum ankle lately, but he's been taken off the Niners injury report and should be good to go.

More Starts

  • Leonard Fournette at Falcons (1 p.m. ET, FOX)
  • D’Andre Swift at Titans (1 p.m. ET, FOX)
  • J.K. Dobbins vs. Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

DFS Bargains

  • Raheem Mostert at Cowboys (DraftKings: $5,800)
  • J.D. McKissic vs. Seahawks (DraftKings: $5,700)
  • Kenyan Drake vs. Eagles (DraftKings: $5,500)

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Week 15 Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

Sit of the Week

Todd Gurley vs. Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, FOX): Gurley had a decent run earlier this season, but he's simply not 100 percent at this point. That's been evident in his usage, as Gurley has averaged just 20.5 snaps and 8.5 touches over his last two games. In fact, Ito Smith has scored more points than the former fantasy superstar at that time. Gurley also had a bad matchup next on the schedule, as Tampa Bay has allowed the fewest rushing yards (59 YPG) to backs this year.

Sit ‘Em

Ezekiel Elliott vs. 49ers (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Elliott went into last week’s game in Cincinnati with an injured calf, and he had a near split in touches with Tony Pollard. In fact, Pollard had more fantasy points in the contest. If Elliott is at less than 100 percent (and his numbers had been mediocre at best when healthy), it’s tough to trust him as more than a flex starter against the Niners. Their defense has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire at Saints (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX): Edwards-Helaire saw a 44 percent touch share and put up a respectable 14.1 fantasy points last week in a win over the Dolphins. So while he’s still in the RB2/FLEX conversation, a game in New Orleans isn’t attractive. Their defense has allowed one running back to score a touchdown against them at home, and just two have scored more than 14 points. In all, visiting backs have averaged 14.4 points against the Saints.

David Johnson at Colts (1 p.m. ET, CBS): It looks like David will return to action after a one-week absence, but starting him in fantasy leagues isn't recommended. This week’s matchup is a brutal one, as the Colts have been tough against running backs with stud DL DeForest Buckner and LB Darius Leonard in the middle of their defense. David also lost targets in the passing game to Duke Johnson in Week 13, which lowers the ceiling of both running backs.

Giovani Bernard vs. Steelers (Mon. 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN): Bernard’s time as a useful fantasy option is at an end. Last week, despite a plus matchup against the Cowboys, he scored just 3.3 fantasy points while finishing behind both Samaje Perine and Trayveon Williams in snaps and touch share. The Steelers also have the best defense in the league against running backs, as the position has scored just eight touchdowns and averaged the fewest fantasy points.

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More Sits

  • James Conner at Bengals (Mon. 8:20 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Sony Michel at Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
  • Devin Singletary at Broncos (Sat. 4:30 p.m. ET, NFLN)

DFS Fades

  • James Robinson at Ravens (DraftKings: $7,100)
  • Ezekiel Elliott vs. 49ers (DraftKings: $6,100)
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire at Saints (DraftKings: $5,800)

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 all of the latest breaking fantasy football news and the best analysis in the business!

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