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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Fantasy Football Week 5: Running Backs - Fades, Sleepers, Matchups, DFS Bargains

Cordarrelle Patterson is having a career year and finds himself as the RB Start of the Week.

UPDATED: October 8, 2021

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at the best and worst matchups based on a PPR scoring system in fantasy football. This column will not cover the elite players in the NFL like Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, Davante Adams or Travis Kelce. Instead, I'll look at the players you have the most questions about to help you set the most effective starting lineup possible. For all of your final fantasy lineup decisions, be sure to check out my weekly player rankings which will be updated daily throughout the 2021 NFL season.

Week 5 Start ‘Em: Running Backs

Start of the Week

Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Jets (London 9:30 a.m. ET, NFL): Patterson is the No. 3 running back in fantasy football (not a typo) after four weeks, yet started in just 31 percent of Yahoo! leagues last week. That won’t be the case anymore, as the veteran faces a Jets defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to running backs this season. That includes the second-most receiving yards (288) to the position.

Week 5 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em


Start ‘Em

Chase Edmonds vs. 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX): Edmonds has been pretty solid through four weeks, ranking 12th in fantasy points among running backs. He'd be even better if the Cardinals didn't lean on James Conner in the red-zone, but Edmonds still leads the backfield in snaps and touches on the season. The Niners have allowed the ninth-most points and the seventh-most catches to to backs, so FLEX Edmonds again.

Chicago Bears Damien Williams

Damien Williams at Raiders (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS): Williams should see a featured role in the Bears’ offense this week in the absence of David Montgomery, who suffered an injured knee in a win over the Lions. Las Vegas’ defense can be gashed by running backs, as Austin Ekeler, Najee Harris and Ty’Son Williams have all scored 16-plus fantasy points against them. If you were able to grab Damien, start him this weekend.

Leonard Fournette vs. Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Fournette appears to be the top back in Tampa Bay, as he saw a 44 percent touch share and played 63 snaps against the Patriots last week. He’ll be a solid No. 2 fantasy back this week when the Buccaneers host the Dolphins. Miami’s defense has been terrible against running backs, allowing six total touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to the position in 2021.

Damien Harris at Texans (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Harris put up a stinker last week, but that’s not a surprise against the Buccaneers and their stout front seven. He should rebound this week in a positive matchup against the Texans in a game that should see the Patriots run the football often. Houston’s defense has allowed four touchdowns and the fourth-most rushing yards to running backs, so consider Harris a nice FLEX option.

More Starts

  • D’Andre Swift at Vikings (1 p.m. ET, FOX)
  • Josh Jacobs vs. Bears (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)
  • Chuba Hubbard vs. Eagles (1 p.m. ET, FOX)

DFS Bargains

  • Chase Edmonds at 49ers ($5,900)
  • Damien Harris at Texans ($5,500)
  • Leonard Fournette vs. Dolphins ($5,200)

SI Recommends

Week 5 Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

Sit of the Week

Miles Sanders at Panthers (1 p.m. ET, FOX): Sanders’ stock has taken a massive hit, as the Eagles have become a pass-heavy offense over the last two weeks. He tallied nine combined carries and a 17.1 percent touch share spanning those games. Sanders is also losing touches to Kenneth Gainwell, who averaged a bananas 2.3 points per touch in a loss to the Chiefs. At best, Sanders is a risk-reward FLEX option against the Panthers.

Sit ‘Em

Melvin Gordon at Steelers (1 p.m. ET, FOX): Gordon will be a low-end RB2 or FLEX option this week, but beware of a matchup against the Steelers. Their defense has been brutal against the pass, but running backs have not had much success, with no running back scoring more than 11 fantasy points against them this season. Gordon also continues to split work with rookie Javonte Williams, which hurts his value each week.

San Francisco 49ers Trey Sermon

Trey Sermon at Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX): Sermon looked good in last week’s loss to the Seahawks, rushing for 89 yards while out-touching the rest of the Niners’ backfield, 19-6. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Niners will get Elijah Mitchell back from an injured shoulder, and a matchup against the Cardinals isn’t great on paper. At best, Sermon should be considered a risk-reward FLEX option this week.

Myles Gaskin at Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Gaskin has been a massive dud this season, averaging 7.9 fantasy points in his first four games. He’s also losing touches to Malcolm Brown, who saw a 25 percent touch share last week. If that’s not enough to sit Gaskin, this week’s matchup against the Buccaneers is brutal. Their defense has allowed just one touchdown and 2.8 yards per attempt to running backs this season.

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James Conner vs. 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX): I was wrong about Conner last week, as he scored two touchdowns for the second straight week. He’ll play the same role against the Niners, who have yielded the eighth-most points to runners. Looking deeper into the numbers, however, 52 percent of the points the 49ers’ defense has allowed to backs have come in the passing game. Start Chase Edmonds, but be wary of Conner.

More Sits

  • Samaje Perine vs. Packers (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX)
  • Latavius Murray vs. Colts (Mon., 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Javonte Williams at Steelers (1 p.m. ET, FOX)

DFS Fades

  • Antonio Gibson vs. Saints ($6,400)
  • Miles Sanders at Panthers ($5,700)
  • James Conner vs. 49ers ($5,600)

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. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!

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