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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1: Running backs

You have lineup questions. We have answers. At least we hope. Start 'Em & Sit 'Em has helped fantasy managers for years 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 latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings right here.

Start 'Em

Aaron Jones
Green Bay Packers GB · RB

People still have a lot of deference and respect for the Vikings defense. Much in the same way that people still feel like Smash Mouth is one of the best bands in the world. But hey now, you’re no longer an all-star. And by that I mean the Vikings; but also Smash Mouth. The Vikings were respectable last year against RBs. But that was with Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph. But Jones was downright disrespectful against the Vikings, averaging close to 30 fantasy points per game against them last season. I have fears about Jones long-term fantasy output this season. But not this week.

Kenyan Drake
Arizona Cardinals ARI · RB

All right, look. I hesitated to even add Drake in here because he was coming off the board at the end of the first round or early second in most fantasy drafts this summer. But he was cruising around in a walking boot, though he mocked that notion on Twitter. I can understand if you’re concerned. But don’t be. He was not only a monster against the 49ers when he was first acquired by the Cardinals in the middle of last season. But remember, these two teams played each other two weeks later and Drake was good again when he scored 14 points. I know it was kind of a letdown. Like going from Ocean’s 11 to Ocean’s 12. But when you went back and watched the second one, you realized it was a lot better than you were giving it credit for.

Todd Gurley
Atlanta Falcons ATL · RB

Speaking of things that weren’t as bad as you remember it, Gurley wasn’t terrible last year for the Rams. He had more than 1,000 scrimmage yards and 14 touchdowns. And maybe like Clooney in Ocean’s 12, you just thought he was mugging it up for the cameras while he got a paid vacation to his Lake Como house. Again, it was still pretty good. Maybe not up to his lofty standards, but still good. Same goes for Gurley. And I love his situation. The Rams offensive line was awful last year. And I understand the Falcons have had the same problem for years. But there is hope if right tackle Kaleb McGary, taken 31st overall last year, can improve and right guard Chris Lindstrom (who stood out in camp) can stay healthy. I’d have no hesitation starting Gurley this week. 

Mark Ingram
Baltimore Ravens BAL · RB

Nobody likes to run the ball more than the Ravens. And while we all want to make JK Dobbins the next big thing in fantasy football, let’s give a little love to Big Truss himself, Mark Ingram. He’s not done yet. The Browns gave up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs last season. They brought in Joe Woods to be the new defensive coordinator. And he should be great. The Browns defense should be improved this season. But I’m not going to be afraid to try to exploit that in the early part of the season.

Indianapolis Colts IND · RB

No sooner do I preach about how teams will lean on the veterans and here I am advocating for the Colts rookie running back. And one who is locked into a time-share with Marlon Mack. But that’s the reality of the NFL. I love Taylor this week as a flex option because the Colts have one of the best lines in the NFL. Game script could favor the Colts running the football. And while the Jaguars defense is going to be good at some point. They were giving up a lot points to running backs last season before they had so much fluidity on the roster. Which I feel is a pretty nice way of saying they traded everyone away.

Sit 'Em

Le'Veon Bell
New York Jets NYJ · RB

Why did you even draft this guy? Oh sure, it might have been because you got him in the ninth round for all you know. But this really is a troubling situation. Watching Bell struggle with the Jets is kind of like when you see a pro wrestler kill it on the indie circuit and then he thinks he’s going to make huge money in the WWE. But the WWE doesn’t know how to use that guy and it leads to a lot of frustration all around. I know we’ve all got a person in mind who I’m talking about. And yes, current IMPACT champion Eric Young and AEW tag champs #FTR is exactly who I am thinking about in this instance. If you were, too, we will be best friends. Bonus points if you also thought of Kenta Kobayashi. 

Devin Singletary
Buffalo Bills BUF · RB

Singletary was good during his rookie season. Though his numbers might have been a bit inflated since he rarely faced eight-man boxes last year (five percent of the time). But he had a lot of trouble holding on to the rock, and the Bills invested similar draft capital in Zack Moss this year. And Moss figures to be the goal-line back, which kind of nukes Singletary’s value. Because there is nothing worse than starting a guy and then watching that other dude score all of the touchdowns

Cam Akers
Los Angeles Rams LA · RB

Akers was the pick in most of your fantasy drafts over the past couple of weeks. And if there is one player who knows what it’s like to run behind a sub-par offensive line, it’s Akers who played his college ball at Florida State. (And funny, I’m old enough to remember when the Seminoles were an elite-level college football teams.) Akers looks like the back to have. But Sean McVay endorsed Kyle Shanahan’s maddening use of running backs during the offseason. And if the Rams don’t run the ball inside the 5-yard line like they did when Todd Gurley was the running back, the value of the runners in Los Angeles could be hampered. Take a minute and let this work itself out. 

Leonard Fournette
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TB · RB

The Buccaneers are constructing a fantasy roster that your friends who don’t pay a lot of attention to fantasy would put together with guys like Gronk and Fournette. It’s hard to imagine Fournette having a huge game, given the limited practice time and the fact the Saints were stingy against opposing RBs last year. I know Bruce Arians said he would be involved. He also loved Ronald Jones this summer. SO WHICH IS IT BRUCE? My guess? I could for sure see him rushing for 27 yards and a scoring a pair of touchdowns as he summons the ghost of LeGarrette Blount. As much as I feel like that is going to happen, I can’t in good consciousness recommend playing Fournette hoping that happens. 

Jordan Howard
Miami Dolphins MIA · RB

Howard is on his third team in as many seasons, and as a Bears fan, I hope he finally gets an opportunity to shine in a featured role and, welp, they also added Matt Breida to the mix as well. Further exasperating the situation is the fact the Patriots allowed only one rushing touchdown in 2019. And you might point out to the fact the Patriots had a lot of turnover on defense (to the Dolphins benefit with newly signed Kyle Van Noy). But New England always has a lot of turnover on defense and yet it still continues to be the strength of this team. 

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