Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 2: Running Backs - Hold Firm on Jonathan Taylor

Week 2 start 'em & sit 'em recommendations for the running back position from senior fantasy football expert Michael Fabiano

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.

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Week 2 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

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Week 2 Start 'Em: Running Backs

Start of the Week

Jonathan Taylor vs. Vikings

Taylor is now the new lead back in Indianapolis after Marlon Mack tore his Achilles in Week 1. While the rookie will continue to share touches with Nyheim Hines, he still handled 57.7 percent of the team’s backfield touches in Jacksonville. The Vikings also allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs in their opener, so Taylor is in a good spot to make an impact. He’s a virtual must-start in a game with a 47.5 over-under total.

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Start ‘Em

Raheem Mostert at Jets

Mostert is coming off a huge performance against the Cardinals with 151 total yards and one touchdown, and he’s in line for another solid line in New York. While the Jets allowed just 22 fantasy points to Bills running backs last week, that total swells to 33.7 points when you add in Josh Allen’s rushing totals. The Men in Green are seven-point home dogs too, so game script could mean more Mostert and the Niners' backfield in the second half.

Todd Gurley at Cowboys

Gurley played just 45.5 percent of the offensive snaps a week ago, but he led the team in backfield touches and was used near the goal line. He’ll be a solid RB2 this week, as
he’ll face a Cowboys team that gave up two touchdowns and 26 fantasy points to Malcolm Brown in their opener. Dallas is also down both LB Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee, which hurts the middle of the defense. Look Gurley to produce a top-15 performance.

Ronald Jones vs. Panthers

It’s a risk to start Jones, who is one fumble or missed assignment from losing his job to Leonard Fournette. However, he did play 33 snaps compared to nine for Fournette in Week 1, and Jones also dominated the touches (19 to 6). Carolina’s defense is still brutal against the run, which was evident in their opener, so the Buccaneers should have a lot of success on the ground. Based on last week’s data, that makes Jones a legit flex option.

Zack Moss at Dolphins

This could be Devin Singletary too, as the two shared the workload in their opener against the Jets. Next up is another great matchup, this time against the Dolphins, who allowed the second-most scrimmage yards to runners (251), including 217 on the ground, in Week 1. DraftKings Sportsbook has Buffalo as a 5.5 road favorite, so game script could also help Moss, the power back of the duo, to get additional touches in the second half of the contest.

More Starts

  • Latavius Murray at Raiders (MNF)
  • Todd Gurley at Cowboys
  • Nyheim Hines vs. Vikings

DFS Bargains

Week 2 Sit 'Em: Running Backs

Sit of the Week

James Conner vs Broncos

Conner missed most of last week’s game with an injured ankle, but he’s slated to be back in Week 2. Whether or not he sees a featured role after what Benny Snell Jr. did in New York, however, remains to be seen. Conner’s lack of durability makes him a risk too, and the Broncos allowed fewer than four yards per carry to Derrick Henry in their opener. At best, Conner should be seen as a risk-reward flex starter in most fantasy leagues.

Mark Ingram II at Texans

Ingram’s matchup looks good on paper, as the Texans allowed 138 rushing yards and a touchdown to Clyde Edwards-Helaire in their opener. However, here’s the problem: Ingram played just 21 snaps (second to J.K. Dobbins' 23) and seemed to have lost his role as Baltimore’s goal-line back to this rookie teammate. So while the matchup might make him worth a look as a flex starter, Ingram’s low floor is a huge issue in a backfield committee.

Sit ‘Em

D’Andre Swift at Packers

Swift has to be the sickest man in all of Detroit after dropping what would have been a game-winning touchdown in a loss to the Bears. The rookie also took a back seat to Adrian Peterson in terms of carries, as the veteran had 58.3 percent of the rush attempts compared to Swift’s 8.8 percent. With Kerryon Johnson also in the mix, this three-headed backfield monster is tough to decipher regardless of the matchup. Buyer beware.

Sony Michel at Seahawks (SNF)

Michel started for the Patriots and scored a touchdown last week, but he played on just 19 snaps and averaged a gross 3.7 yards per attempt. He was also second on the roster in carries behind quarterback Cam Newton, who was used heavily as a runner and had five rushes (two touchdowns) in the red zone. While the Seahawks did allow a nice stat line to Todd Gurley last week, Michel is a tough sell for fans this weekend.

Antonio Gibson at Cardinals

Gibson is one of my favorite rookie sleepers, but it isn't easy to trust him after seeing Washington's opener. He did have 11 touches in the game, but Gibson played just 18 snaps and played second fiddle to Peyton Barber in the red zone. In fact, Barber had 10 red-zone touches, including six inside the five-yard line, while Gibson had just one such attempt. So while the matchup is good on paper, Gibson’s workload is an issue.

RED ALERT! We're seeing another running back started in 36% of fantasy leagues and they're going to be sorely disappointed when he doesn't perform. Don't look at last week as an indicator of this week. Join the SI Fantasy+ Member Club to get all of our high-stakes input prior to your Week 2 action.

More Sits

  • Cam Akers at Eagles
  • Leonard Fournette vs. Panthers
  • Matt Breida vs. Bills

DFS Fades

  • James Conner vs Broncos (DraftKings: $6,800)
  • Mark Ingram II at Texans (DraftKings: $5,400)
  • Melvin Gordon at Steelers (DraftKings: $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. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the latest news and analysis!

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