The last week of the fantasy season is here. It went by so fast. Are you in a ‘win and get in’ situation? I am here to help with the running back start/sit questions.
Week 13 was split right down the middle, going 2-2 on my calls. It was a better week on the start/sit calls. That brings my record on the season is: 12 hits, 10 misses, and 2 pushes.
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There is one thing I want to note. For this article and every running back start/sit article I write, I won’t include players like Christian McCaffrey or Austin Ekeler. These are apparent starts so long as they aren’t on bye or injured. If you don’t start them, well, you’re a Taco. I’ll be focusing on players who are a bit harder to decide whether to start or what to expect from them. All scoring in this article series will be PPR. All stats/RB# number finishes come from FantasyPros. So, let’s make this a great season as we watch over 200+ games of NFL football. It’s back! Good luck with this dynasty fantasy football season.
Let’s recap Week 13.
Start: Devin Singletary, Texans, RB21 – finished RB 33 miss
The efficiency was there for Singletary – 4.5 ypc, but the volume was not. Singletary out-snapped Pierce 31/26, but Dameon Pierce outcarried Singletary 15/8, and there was not much volume in the passing game, with only 2 total targets to the running backs for the Texans.
Start: Najee Harris, Steelers, RB22 finished RB24 miss
Najee held the edge in snaps and touches over Jaylen Warren and was fairly efficient. The lack of productivity was more a function of the offense being unproductive. Had Harris been able to garner a touchdown, he would have been RB14. And a hit, but alas…
Start: Joe Mixon, Bengals, RB23 – finished RB1 hit
Mixon has season highs in targets (7), receptions (6), and receiving yards (49). While I didn’t expect him to be the RB1 in Week 13, Mixon would have been RB11 without the two rushing touchdowns.
Sit: Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions, RB9 finished RB29 hit
So, you see, what had happened was… I’m not going to use that GIF again, but it really tells the story. Did I think Gibbs was too high at RB9? Yes. Did I think he would be an RB3 on the week? No. I expected a mid to low-end RB2 in Week 13. Gibbs was efficient in the running game, 9/60, but only had 2 targets. Gibbs also did not get much in the red zone.
Let’s see if we can keep the hot streak rolling in Week 14.
Sit: Austin Ekeler, Chargers, RB5
History tells us this should be a smash spot for Ekeler against a poor Denver defense. The reality is that Ekeler has not looked good this year. He has an explosive run rate of 3.2%, which ranks 27th for running backs with a minimum of 90 carries. His missed forced tackle rate of .12 is 40th of 41 qualifiers. In the past, we would look for Ekeler to make up points in the receiving game, but in 2023, he has been getting his lowest volume of targets and receptions since 2018. To top things off, head coach Brandon Staley has talked about using Johsua Kelley more. I’m putting Ekeler outside my top ten.
Start: Javonte Williams, Broncos, RB21
This is a hold-your-nose start. Williams has double-digit points in two games in 2023. Williams tied his season high in targets in Week 12 and had at least three receptions in five of his last six games. The Chargers give up the second most receptions and third most receiving yards to running backs. I’m looking for Williams to put up season-highs in targets, receptions, and yards against the Chargers this week. I have him finishing inside the top 15 running backs.
Start: Joe Mixon, Bengals, RB11
Joe Mixon goes to work today as the RB6 on the year and RB11 in points per game. He is going up against a Colts team that gives up the fourth most fantasy points per game to running backs. We saw Mixon get two rushing touchdowns last week en route to finishing as the RB1. The Colts give up the third most rushing touchdowns in the NFL. I’m not sold on journeyman quarterback Jake Browning being as efficient as he was in Week 13, which will facilitate the Bengals leaning on the running game in Week 14. I think Mixon has a top 6 finish in Week 14.
Sit: David Montgomery, Lions, RB19
David Montgomery has finished outside the RB2 range one time in 2023. He has been a solid RB2 over the last four weeks. But his yards and rushing efficiency have declined over the last four weeks. Add to the mix that he splits the backfield with an excellent receiver and dynamic runner in Jahmyr Gibbs. It does not look like a good game for Monty. I have Montgomery as an RB3 this week.
Start: Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions, RB20
Speaking of Jahmyr Gibbs, I think Gibbs is ranked too low in Week 14. Yes, the Lions trust Montgomery as a runner and pass catcher. Yes, Montgomery finished as RB14 when these teams met in Week 11. Gibbs finished as RB3 the last time these two teams met. The Bears give up the third most receptions to running backs, and Jahmyr Gibbs is a great receiver. I am looking at Gibbs as a top 14 running back in Week 14.
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