Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate weekly look at the NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team. Fantasy superstars such as Patrick Mahomes and Christian McCaffrey will not be featured in this column. All player matchups are based on a PPR scoring system. For your final lineup decisions, be sure to check my weekly fantasy football lineup rankings.
Week 1 Start 'Em: Running Backs
Start of the Week
Todd Gurley vs. Seahawks
The running back position isn't all that tough to figure out in Week 1. You're going to start the dudes you drafted to be starters. I want to point out that Gurley has done extremely well against Seattle over the last two seasons. In that time, he's scored 18-plus fantasy points in all four games and has posted 25 or more points twice. It’ll be a nice start versus a familiar foe for Gurley, who is locked into the RB2 conversation this week.
Boston Scott vs. Washington Football Team
The Eagles will be without Miles Sanders this week due to an injured hamstring (soft tissue injury), so Scott is destined to see a bigger role in the offense. He showed some fantasy flashes late last season, lighting up the Giants like a Christmas tree in two games and posting nearly 14 points against Washington in another contest. Additionally, the Washington Football Team allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs at home last season
Raheem Mostert vs. Cardinals
The 49ers backfield can be difficult to predict to be certain, but Mostert looks like the main man for coach Kyle Shanahan at this point, ahead of both Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon. As a result, he’s well worth a flex start in most leagues ahead of this week’s matchup versus Arizona. Their defense did improve in the offseason, but it still allowed nearly 27 fantasy points per game to enemy running backs on the road in 2019.
James White vs. Dolphins
White might not be the “sexiest” option in fantasy football, but he offers an attractive floor and a reliable role as New England's pass-catcher out of the backfield. He's got a nice matchup this week too, as Miami allowed the fourth-most scrimmage yards and an average of more than 26 fantasy points per game to enemy running backs a season ago. I like White as a safe flex starter who should get plenty of targets from Cam Newton in Week 1.
Antonio Gibson vs. Eagles
The DK Sportsbook has the Eagles giving 5.5 points in this game, and 64-percent of the action is going with Philadelphia. So, if game script indicates a pass-laden attack for Washington in the second half, then that means Gibson could end up being a strong flex option. The pass-catching back has drawn rave reviews, so much so that the team released Adrian Peterson. I’d roll the dice on the rookie this week in an important NFC East battle.
- Mark Ingram II vs. Browns
- Marklong Mack/Jonathan Taylor at Jaguars
- Chris Thompson vs. Colts
Week 1 Sit 'Em: Running Backs
Sit of the Week
Leonard Fournette at Saints
Fournette is having a rollercoaster summer, as he's been cut by the Jaguars then signed by the Buccaneers. While I do see him taking over as Tampa's lead back at some point in the season, it likely won't be in Week 1. Coach Bruce Arians is committed to Ronald Jones as the starter and isn't sure what role Fournette will have this week. What's more, the Saints were brutally tough against running backs a season ago.
Devin Singletary vs. Jets
Speaking of difficult backfields to decipher, welcome to the situation in Buffalo. Zack Moss sounded like the second coming of Thurman Thomas if you read all the camp reports, while Singletary struggled with fumbles and didn't get much positive press. I'd have a tough time starting Singletary this week, as he'll lose valuable goal-line work to Moss and Josh Allen. The Jets were actually tough against runners in 2019.
D’Andre Swift vs. Bears
Swift is dealing with an injured leg, and there are no guarantees he will even see the field this week against Chicago. Regardless, whether it’s Swift or some combo of Kerryon Johnson or Adrian Peterson, it's tough to trust any of the Lions backs this week. So, while the Bears were bad against home running backs a season ago (27.5 PPG), it's tough for me to determine any touch share in a confusing committee scenario.
Jordan Howard at Patriots
The lack of a preseason will make it difficult to decipher some of the league's backfield situations this week. Miami's is among them, as there's no clear touch split between Howard and Matt Breida entering the regular season. And while the Patriots did lose some key components on the defensive side of the football due to Coronavirus opt-outs, this unit was still the toughest for fantasy running backs to score points against last season.
James Robinson vs Colts
The absence of Ryquell Armstead and Devine Ozigbo sure do make Robinson an alluring option, and I’m sure he’ll be a flex starter in leagues just based on volume alone. However, game script could mean more of Chris Thompson and less of Robinson in the second half against Indianapolis. Plus, the Colts defense was actually in the top-nine in terms of allowing the fewest fantasy points to enemy running backs in 2019.
- Ronald Jones at Saints
- Kareem Hunt at Ravens
- Latavius Murray vs. Buccaneers
- Nick Chubb at Ravens (DraftKings: $6,500)
- Fournette at Saints (DraftKings: $6,000)
- Le’Veon Bell at Bills (DraftKings: $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. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the latest news and analysis!
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