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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Fantasy Football Week 8: Running Backs - Sleepers, Fades, Matchups, DFS Bargains

Darrell Henderson looks to bounce back against a shaky Texans run defense

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.

Byes: Raiders, Ravens


Week 8 Start ‘Em: Running Backs

Start of the Week

Darrell Henderson at Texans (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Henderson was a disappointment in Week 7, as he scored a mere 9.4 fantasy points in a win over the Lions. I’d keep the faith in him this week though, as a matchup against the Texans makes him a terrific option. Their defense has allowed eight total touchdowns and an average of more than 25 fantasy points a game to enemy running backs, so Henderson should bounce back.

Week 8 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em


Start ‘Em

Elijah Mitchell at Bears (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Mitchell is the clear top running back in the 49ers offense, as he led the backfield in snaps, touches and fantasy points last week. This week’s matchup against the Bears isn’t great on paper, but their defense has given up 15-plus fantasy points to five different running backs including four in their last five games. At this point, Mitchell should be seen as a solid No. 2 option for managers.

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Damien Harris at Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS): Harris has recorded two straight big stat lines, scoring 17-plus points in each of the last two weeks. He’s in a good spot to continue that streak, as the Patriots face a Chargers defense that’s allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Unless New England falls into a negative game script, Harris should find success in the stat sheets once again.

Chuba Hubbard at Falcons (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Hubbard couldn’t get the job done last week, due in large part to the poor play of Sam Darnold and a negative game script. Still, he remains the unquestioned top back in a Panthers offense that will want to run the ball often against the Falcons. Their defense has allowed the seventh-most points per game to runners, and nine backs have scored double digits against them in 2021.

Khalil Herbert vs. 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Herbert is proving to be a special player for the Bears as a rookie. Despite the return of Damien Williams, he played 51 snaps and saw a 45 percent touch share in last week’s loss to the Buccaneers. He also rushed for 100 yards in the game, which is a season high for a back against Tampa’s strong run defense. The Niners have given up 15-plus points to five runners, so start Herbert.

More Starts

  • Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Fox)
  • Zack Moss vs. Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
  • Darrel Williams vs. Giants (Mon. 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

DFS Bargains

  • Elijah Mitchell at Bears ($5,400)
  • Zack Moss vs. Dolphins ($5,200)
  • Kenneth Gainwell at Lions ($5,000)

Week 8 Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

Sit of the Week

Myles Gaskin at Bills (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Gaskin has been pretty hot in recent weeks, as he’s scored 17-plus fantasy points in two of his last three games including a 31.9-point performance in Week 5. So while he’s going to be on the FLEX radar, keep in mind that a matchup against the Bills is anything but favorable. Their defense has given up just four touchdowns and the second-fewest fantasy points a game to opposing backs.

Sit ‘Em

D’Ernest Johnson vs. Steelers (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Johnson is coming off a massive week, posting 168 total yards against the Broncos during bye-mageddon. The Steelers have allowed just one runner to score more than 11.6 fantasy points in a game against them, however, a list that includes Aaron Jones, Joe Mixon and Melvin Gordon. The Browns will also get Nick Chubb back this week, leaving Johnson to the sidelines.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Melvin Gordon vs. Football Team (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox): Gordon has failed to score more than 11.2 fantasy points in four straight games, during which time he’s averaged a modest 9.1 points. He’ll be tough to trust as more than a FLEX this week, as the Broncos host the Football Team at Mile High. Their defense has allowed just 71 rushing yards a game to enemy backs, so Gordon could post another modest stat line.

Mike Davis vs. Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Davis has a “revenge” game against the Panthers this week, but you simply can’t start him after what we saw against Miami. In that game, the Falcons gave Cordarrelle Patterson a 34 percent touch share compared to Davis, who had a mere 8.5. This signals a move to Patterson as the team’s top back with Davis seeing more of a secondary role. I’d keep the veteran on the sidelines.

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Michael Carter vs. Bengals (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Carter had eight receptions on nine targets last week, as backup quarterback Mike White checked down often to both him and Ty Johnson. That potential scenario makes Carter a FLEX option this week, as the Jets will be without Zach Wilson. Carter is unlikely to do anything on the ground versus the upstart Bengals, however, so he will be a risk-reward option in standard leagues.

More Sits

  • David Johnson vs. Rams (1 p.m. ET, Fox)
  • Jamaal Williams vs. Eagles (1 p.m. ET, Fox)
  • Mark Ingram vs. Buccaneers (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)

DFS Fades

  • Antonio Gibson at Broncos ($5,700)
  • Myles Gaskin at Bills ($5,600)
  • Melvin Gordon vs. Football Team ($5,200)

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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