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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 2: Running backs

You have lineup questions. We have answers. At least we hope. Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is here to help fantasy managers make those pressing lineup decisions. And you know what is a good decision? Starting Patrick Mahomes. But that's too obvious, so you won't see that here. Instead here are some of the most-pressing questions. And, if you can't find a player you are looking for, please check out the latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings.

Start 'Em

Breece Hall
New York Jets NYJ

This is a tougher matchup for Breece Hall than he had in Week 1, but I do not care. In his first game back from his ACL injury, Hall played 17 snaps (31 percent) and carried the ball 10 times for 127 yards. He was also targeted twice, catching one pass for 20 yards. He had multiple massive runs and likely would have scored on one of them if he was closer to 100 percent -- or if Garrett Wilson had thrown a block instead of celebrating early. Barring any health setbacks, he is only going to get more dynamic as the season progresses. He is already incredibly explosive and will likely be more and more involved in the offense as well. Hall has worked his way back to must-start status already.

David Montgomery
Detroit Lions DET
Jahmyr Gibbs
Detroit Lions DET

David Montgomery was the main character in Week 1, playing 79 percent of the snaps and tallying 21 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. He was not utilized as a receiver but is clearly the lead back ... for now. I say “for now” because Jahmyr Gibbs was clearly the more impressive player, displaying explosiveness Montgomery can only dream of. Gibbs played 27 percent of the snaps with seven carries and two targets, but he nearly matched Monty’s yardage total with 60. The Lions said they wanted to ease him in -- I am expecting to see more Gibbs this week. After spending the 12th overall pick in this year's draft on him, they should be committed to cashing in sooner rather than later. Plus, in 2022, Seattle allowed the third-most fantasy PPG to running backs. That included the fifth-most rushing yards on outside runs, which bodes well for Gibbs. And, they gave up three rushing touchdowns in Week 1 (to Kyren Williams and Cam Akers). Play your Lions backs this week.

James Cook
Buffalo Bills BUF

James Cook dominated the volume in Week 1. He played 60 percent of the snaps, earning 12 of 15 running back carries and six targets (catching four). He was able to show off his burst, and he nearly had a receiving touchdown (slight underthrow by an oddly inaccurate Josh Allen). He was also held in check at times, but he was up against arguably the best defense in the league. This week, he faces the Raiders, who allowed the fifth-most fantasy PPG to RBs last season. They’ve also allowed the most receiving yards (842) and third-most receptions (110) to backs since the start of last season. Big days are coming for Cook, and they start in Week 2.

Miles Sanders
Carolina Panthers CAR

Miles Sanders played 58 percent of the snaps and saw 18 carries in Week 1, rushing for 72 yards. But more importantly, he was targeted six times, catching four passes for 26 yards. It was the most targets he’d seen in a game since the 2020 season. That’s a huge boost to his fantasy value. The Saints rank in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy PPG and rushing production allowed to backs, but we did just watch Derrick Henry gash them for 56 yards as a receiver. Sanders’ volume is too good to get away from, even in a matchup that might not look the best on paper. He is a strong RB2 and brings more upside if he can find the end zone.

Sit 'Em

Cam Akers
Los Angeles Rams LA

Cam Akers and Sean McVay really are the Ross and Rachel of the NFL. Do Gen Zers get that reference? Anyway, Akers played just 35 percent of the snaps and, despite somehow scraping together 22 carries, managed just 29 yards (and a late touchdown). Talk about inefficient. He also did not see a target. Meanwhile, Kyren Williams played 65 percent of the snaps, had 15 carries and two targets and vultured two goal-line touchdowns. This week, the Rams face the 49ers, who, since last season, have allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to running backs and the fewest rushing yards in the NFL. There is no way you can start Akers in the toughest possible matchup for an RB.

Isiah Pacheco
Kansas City Chiefs KC

The Chiefs-Lions Kickoff Game might feel like a lifetime ago, but let’s not forget Isiah Pacheco’s discouraging usage. He played 47 percent of the snaps and carried the ball just eight times. The saving grace is that he did see four targets (after totaling 14 all of last year), but he was once again pulled near the goal line for Jerick McKinnon. That was a trend last year, as the Chiefs like to get creative and pass-happy in that area. Pacheco finished with just 54 total yards and 9.4 fantasy points against a Lions defense that should have been a juicy matchup. Pacheco might be the “lead option,” but as long as the Chiefs are utilizing three backs, it will be tough to start him. He remains more of a floor play.

Rachaad White
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TB

Rachaad White was a fade for me leading up to the season and in Week 1. I’m not victory-lapping off one game, but there's now a full season and one game showing that White is simply inefficient. He played 79 percent of snaps and had 19 touches ... but managed just 49 yards. The receiving volume was also not there, as he was targeted just twice, and he didn’t have a single play go for 10-plus yards -- after having the lowest such rate last season (at six percent). All the concerns coming into the season came to fruition in Week 1. Volume is great, but with this kind of inefficiency, he might not even maintain that for long. The Bears are a favorable matchup for backs, but I’m still nervous about White in this one. If he struggles in Week 2, it’ll be time to panic.

Antonio Gibson
Washington Commanders WAS

Antonio Gibson was the clear secondary back behind Brian Robinson in Week 1. He was out-snapped 59 percent to 37 percent and only saw three carries and one target. Robinson was getting the work near the goal line as well. Meanwhile, the Broncos defense looked as stout as ever in Week 1 and made life extremely tough on Josh Jacobs. There is no way you can start Gibson in this game.

Alexander Mattison
Minnesota Vikings MIN

After (correctly) suggesting to sit Najee Harris in Week 1, I’m not going to shy away from bringing some more heat here. Alexander Mattison ran 11 times for 34 yards (3.1 yards per carry), to go along with three catches for 10 yards and a touchdown on four targets in the season opener. The touchdown was a nice play and salvaged his day, but he was largely inefficient. Now he gets the task of facing the stout Eagles defense on a short week. Philly ranks in the middle of the pack against the run, but there’s a strong chance Mattison could be game-scripted out if the Vikings fall behind. Like Harris last week, Mattison is not a must-sit, but if you are debating between him and another option, I’d probably go the other direction.

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