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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Running Backs Fantasy Football Week 1: Rashaad Penny to Dominate

The 2022 fantasy football season can't begin without Michael Fabiano's Week 1 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em.

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 Josh Allen, Jonathan Taylor or Cooper Kupp. Instead, I'll look at the players you have questions about who could exceed or fail to meet expectations at each position. For all of your final fantasy lineup decisions, be sure to check out my weekly player rankings which will be updated daily throughout the NFL season.

Fabs Top 10 Running Backs
1. Jonathan Taylor at Texans
2. Christian McCaffrey vs. Browns
3. Derrick Henry vs. Giants
4. Austin Ekeler vs. Raiders
5. Joe Mixon vs. Steelers
6. Dalvin Cook vs. Packers
7. Alvin Kamara at Falcons
8. D’Andre Swift vs. Eagles
9. Najee Harris at Bengals
10. James Conner vs. Chiefs

Complete Week 1 rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | FLEX | K | DST


Week 1 Start ‘Em: Running Backs

Start of the Week

Rashaad Penny vs. Broncos (Mon., 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN): Penny was a league winner for fantasy fans at the end of last season, and he’ll have a chance to make an impact right out of the gate in 2022. While the matchup against the Broncos isn’t very favorable, Penny should see the lion’s share of the backfield work while Ken Walker is sidelined. That alone makes him an attractive No. 2 fantasy runner.

Washington Commanders Antonio Gibson

Start ‘Em

Antonio Gibson vs. Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Gibson didn’t have what you would call a good preseason or camp, but the absence of Brian Robinson makes him an attractive No. 2 runner or flex. The Jaguars allowed nearly 24 fantasy points a game to running backs last season, and Gibson should get the majority of early-down work and goal-line opportunities. For now, get him in your lineups.

SI Sportsbook Player Prop: Gibson OVER 58.5 rushing yards

Chase Edmonds vs. Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Edmonds will share the workload with Raheem Mostert, but I see him as easily the better of the two Miami backs in fantasy leagues. Coach Mike McDaniel will undoubtedly get Edmonds the football in creative ways, and his pass-catching chops make him a better option in PPR leagues. New England also allowed the eighth-most catches to runners last year.

A.J. Dillon at Vikings (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox): The Packers offense will lean on the run more often this season, which makes Dillon a much more attractive option for his fantasy managers. The Vikings allowed the 10th-most points to backs last season, and the position averaged 4.5 yards per rush against them. While Dillon will split the work with Aaron Jones, he’s still a solid flex in his season opener.

Josh Jacobs at Chargers (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS): Jacobs, a top-12 fantasy runner a season ago, is in a good spot to make an impact in what should be a high-scoring game against the Chargers. He’s had a lot of success against them in his career, averaging 17.3 fantasy points in his last five games. Los Angeles also surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to backs last season, so I like Jacobs as a flex choice.

SI Sportsbook Player Prop: Jacobs OVER 49.5 rushing yards

More Starts
• David Montgomery vs. 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox)
• James Conner vs. Chiefs (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)
• Dameon Pierce vs. Colts (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

DFS Bargains

• A.J. Dillon at Vikings ($5,300)
• Chase Edmonds vs. Patriots ($5,200)
• Dameon Pierce vs. Colts ($4,800)

Week 1 Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

Sit of the Week

Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Saints (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Patterson was a surprise top-10 fantasy running back last season, but I'm concerned about his workload this week. With both Damien Williams and Tyler Allgeier in the mix, Patterson will be stuck in a difficult committee situation. He'll also face a Saints defense that was the toughest in the league for opposing running backs to score points against in 2021.

New York Jets Breece Hall

Sit ‘Em

Breece Hall vs. Ravens (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Hall is considered the top rookie in the fantasy world this season, but it might take some time for him to make an impact. In fact, Michael Carter appeared to be the starter in the preseason. This week's game against the Ravens isn't favorable either, as their defense surrendered an average of 3.7 yards per rush to running backs last season. Hall is a flex at best.

Ezekiel Elliott vs. Buccaneers (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC): Zeke is going to be in the majority if fantasy starting lineups this week (including a few of mine), so take this as a more of  warning to avoid him in smaller of daily leagues. The Cowboys offensive line is a huge question mark without Tyron Smith, and the Buccaneers figure to have a strong run defense. That's a bad combo for Elliot's prospects. 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire at Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS): Edwards-Helaire will be in the flex starter conversation this week, but I'm concerned about his role. Kansas City will likely use a committee led by CEH, but it'll also mix in veteran Jerick McKinnon, Isiah Pacheco and maybe Ronald Jones. The Cardinals were also tough on backs last season, allowing the ninth-fewest points to the position.

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Damien Harris at Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Harris has had success against the Dolphins in the past and should be considered a risk-reward flex starter this week. He lands in the sit 'em portion of the column though, as he'll lose work to Rhamondre Stevenson and maybe even Ty Montgomery in passing situations. A negative game script would make Harris even less likely to produce.

More Sits
• Kareem Hunt at Panthers (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
• James Robinson at Commanders (1 p.m. ET, Fox)
• Melvin Gordon at Seahawks (Mon. 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

DFS Fades
• Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Saints ($5,800)
• Kareem Hunt at Panthers ($5,700)
• James Robinson at Commanders ($5,600)


More fantasy & NFL coverage:

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 to help you win a fantasy championship!


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