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The Cutback: Running Back Start/Sit Week 12

Week 12 is here, and @GBridgfordnfl is back to provide you with your weekly starts and sits, and we’re here to talk running backs.

Welcome Back! Week 12 is here, and the DynastyNerds writers are back once again to provide you with your weekly starts and sits. We will be making our recommendations based on weekly consensus PPR rankings from FantasyPros. Here are the cast and the position groups they will be covering to help you win your week. Follow their socials, and be sure to check out their picks for this week as well.

A Quick Note: These are recommendations based on matchups, previous performance and other contributing factors. These are not law. Any questions? The DMs are always open. 

Week 11 Hit/Miss Recap

*Hits and misses will be defined as whether or not a player finishes inside the top 24.*

Starts

  • Jonathan Taylor: Hit – RB12
  • Kalen Ballage: Hit – RB16
  • Salvon Ahmed: Hit – RB19

Sits

  • Darrell Henderson Jr.: Hit – RB53
  • Phillip Lindsay: Hit – RB36
  • Leonard Fournette: – Hit – RB28

WE ARE BACK BABY! It took us a while to get here, but we crushed a 6/6 week on our calls. Taylor finished as RB12 on the week, and if his offensive linemen weren’t so grabby on just one play, he would have finished as RB2 on the week. Ballage ran well again as his team’s lead back. It wasn’t a smashing success, but he was a hit for our parameters. Our final hit of the day was Ahmed from Miami. The Dolphins couldn’t get a ton going in the running game, but they buoyed his day with receiving work RB19 cashed, so we’ll take it.

Henderson got shut down on Monday, just as we all expected. With Cam Akers back and healthy, along with the involvement of Malcolm Brown, Henderson’s role is trending downwards, and it will continue to do that until something changes. Lindsay was extremely effective on the day, but he didn’t get any work in the receiving game to boost his final stats. Fournette’s hands helped us finish our perfect week three drops that would have moved him up to RB2 status.

Starts

J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team

Last week, after being an extremely consistent PPR running back, McKissic’s value disappeared. He had six carries for 43 yards to go with three receptions for 26 yards. After the team got out to a big lead, they weren’t forced to throw the ball as frequently. This week, they’ll be facing off against the Dallas Cowboys, and things should look a lot different, which is perfect for McKissic.

Most players that are catching passes out of the backfield need to see incredible amounts of volume to be viable in fantasy. For his career, McKissic hasn’t needed a ton of volume to do that. He increases his average PPG by 4.99 in the 12 games that he’s seen at least five targets per game. That would have made him as a borderline top 24 last week, but he has the perfect matchup to be even better than he was last week.

The Dallas Cowboys defense, despite featuring three solid linebackers, struggle to contain running backs. They are the ninth-worst team in the NFL in terms of fantasy points allowed to the running back position. The main thing that you are hoping for is the Cowboys can move the ball effectively on offense. If they can put up points, Washington will have to throw, and that means more points for McKissic.

Duke Johnson, Houston Texans

As I was last week with Taylor, I am ready to get hurt again. Johnson has a smash matchup this week against the Detroit Lions, and, if he’s going to perform at all this season, this is the week that he’s going to pull it off. Teammate David Johnson is still out with an injury, which means all of the touches belong to Duke for another week.

Similar to McKissic, it’s all about the receiving game again. Johnson has 24 games for his career where he’s seen at least five receptions compared to 64 games where he hasn’t. In those games, his average PPG is more than doubled. 16.4 points are outstanding production, and he would have been RB10 on the week in Week 11 with that average line.

The Lions allow a league-worst 29.1 fantasy points per game to the running back position, and they don’t have the horses to improve dramatically. None of their linebackers are great in coverage, so Johnson should have a field day against them. Throw in the fact that left tackle Laremy Tunsil should return for this game, and the makings are there for Johnson to get back into the top-24 finishers.

Frank Gore, New York Jets

First, I want you to know that this hurts to write. I don’t know how we got here. Gore has been playing in the NFL for what seems like forever. The ageless wonder isn’t as quick or nimble as he used to be, but he continues to put up fantasy value. With teammate La’Mical Perine now on injured reserve, there is no longer a threat to the veteran back. With all of the injuries around the league, that puts the stock of Gore pointing upwards.

irst of all, the fact that Gore has played in over 230 games is just bonkers. He’s played more games at running back, not including playoffs, than anyone in history. Anyway, Gore remains unphased regardless of workload, coaching scheme, blocking scheme, or whatever else is going on around him. In the games he’s seen at least 15 carries, he averages just under 17 points per game. The Miami defense is really good against the pass, but they got gashed by the Denver Broncos on the ground. If the Jets want to stay in this game, Gore is the way to do it.

The current backup to Gore becomes former Lion Ty Johnson. Johnson is a decent fill-in, but it’s clear that Gore is going to be the ride-or-die for head coach Adam Gase. The Dolphins are 10th against running backs in PPG allowed at 19.6, and they just gave up 189 yards on 33 carries to the Broncos. Gore isn’t a great play this week, but with so many starters out with injury, he might be your best fallback option.

Sits

Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos

Gordon is taking the place of teammate Phillip Lindsay in the sit column this week because his matchup is not nearly as rosy. The New Orleans’ Saints have been the best team in football this season against the running back position for fantasy, as they’re allowing just 12.5 fantasy PPG to that position. With another good running back next to him, Gordon’s path to fantasy relevance gets a lot murkier.

For his career, Gordon has almost always been reliant on volume because it gives him more opportunities to score touchdowns. In the games where he has failed to score, his production is cut in half from 22.32 to 11.95. The Saints are allowing a rushing touchdown in just half of their games, and they’re likely to be playing with a lead against Denver with the way quarterback Taysom Hill was clicking with wideout Michael Thomas last week.

The Saints are allowing just 74.3 rushing yards per game through ten games, and they’ve allowed just five touchdowns on the season. Gordon has been extremely consistent this year, but this matchup has been erasing running backs all season. The issue with Gordon is you likely won’t have a better option. If you’re lucky enough to have someone like Gore or Duke, maybe you give them some run over Melvin this week.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

Similar to Gordon, you probably don’t have a better option than CEH to get into your lineups. You spent premium draft capital to get him on your roster. After a resurgence in Week 11 saw him score two touchdowns, why are we sending him back to the bench? It’s because he plays a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense that has all of the pieces to stop him. Through 11 games, they’ve given up eight rushing touchdowns but just 73.0 yards per game.

You also have to factor in Le’Veon Bell as a threat to his touches. It’s still Clyde’s backfield, but Bell has seen at least five touches in every game since joining the team. Luckily for Edwards-Helaire, he’s only lost out on one touchdown during that span, but that’s still five touches at a minimum that are going to someone other than him. Volume reigns supreme in fantasy, as we all know, and less volume = fewer points.

The Buccaneers have the defensive front to make running difficult, but they also have the linebackers to stick with Clyde in the passing game. Lavonte David and Devin White can both run sideline-to-sideline with him. The Bucs are 4th in the NFL with just 14.7 fantasy points allowed to the running back position. It’s tough to put him on the bench this late in the year, but you, if the depth allows, fade him for the week.

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