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The Cutback: Running Back Start/Sit Week 16

Week 16 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 16 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 15 Hit/Miss Recap

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

Starts

J.D. McKissic: Hit – RB4

Kareem Hunt: Miss – RB50

Jeffery Wilson Jr.: Miss – RB27

Sits

James Conner: Void

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Hit – RB34

Ezekiel Elliott: Void

I went 50 percent on the week, and who knows what would have happened if the two inactives had played. My best call of the week was McKissic, though. He finished as RB4 in PPR, and he was on a tear all day. The Wilson call looked real good in the second half of that game, but Raheem Mostert being active took some carries away, which kept us just out of range. Hunt was bad. The path was there for him to succeed, but due to an injury and a negative game-script, he just didn’t get the touches that we expected.

The sits are where we got weird. James Conner was scratched on Monday afternoon. After that, Benny Snell went out for a strong day with 18 carries for 84 yards and a score. He also had three catches for 23 yards. Zeke was scratched the morning of the game, and teammate Tony Pollard grabbed the RB1 spot of the entire week. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was our other hit of the week. Unfortunately, he left early with an injury that is likely to sideline him for the remainder of the year.

Starts

Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals

In Week 14, we all thought that Bernard was finally finding the bench. Then, in Week 15, he made us all look like idiots with a workhorse game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that saw him finish as RB9 on the week in PPR. He had 26 touches compared to just six combined from the team’s other two running backs. Now, he’s going to face the Houston Texans, who have struggled to stop running backs all year long.

It was announced earlier in the week by Head Coach Zac Taylor that Joe Mixon (foot) would not be returning for this week. In regards to that, it’d be stunning if he returns at all this season. Bernard will be the primary back for this team to end the season, and, as long as Ryan Finley is under center, they’re going to lean on him heavily. His touches were far from efficient, but volume reigns supreme in fantasy.

The Texans allow over five yards per carry on the ground to running backs, and they’re tied for the league-worst with 17 touchdowns allowed on the ground. The Bengals are on the verge of losing their third spot in the draft order, but the Texans just look like the better team right now. Bernard should be a starter this week. 


Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams

That Cam Akers breakout was pretty fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? Akers suffered a high-ankle sprain in the team’s Week 15 loss to the New York Jets, and he’s already been ruled out for Week 16 against the Seattle Seahawks. With that happening, it’s clear that Henderson will be the lead back because Malcolm Brown just has not been filling that role this year when Akers has been hurt.

For his career, Henderson has eight games that he has seen at least ten carries. He averages nearly 12 fantasy points per game in those eight games compared to just under four points per game in the other 13 outings. Akers was active for the last outing between these two teams. However, he was last on the team in snaps, and Henderson got the goalline work. Against a struggling Seattle Seahawks team, he could see a favorable game script.

The Seahawks have allowed 16 touchdowns to running backs this season, and they’re allowing an average of 18.5 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. If this game were taking place earlier in the year, I would probably be fading Henderson. The problem is this Seahawks’ offense has looked neutered for the past six weeks outside of the Jets’ matchup. Henderson should safely finish as an RB2.

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’m glad I put off writing this article one more day because I was gifted the news that Ronald Jones has been ruled out for the team’s Week 16 game against the Detroit Lions. Fournette wasn’t overly effective in Week 15, but he dominated the touches. He had 45 snaps compared to just 12, ten, and one for the other three active backs. With Jones out again, Fournette is going to be the guy.

With the Bucs, Fournette has been great as the leading back. He averages a touchdown and four receptions per game in the outings that he has had at least ten carries per game. Teammates LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn will get on the field, but they just aren’t at the same level as Fournette at their current stages. McCoy is a decent receiver, but he just can’t run the ball. For Vaughn, he just isn’t the guy yet, and it’s not clear that he’s ever going to be a starter for this team.

In addition to Fournette being the unquestioned starter, the Detroit Lions have been the absolute worst team in the NFL at defending running backs for fantasy. They give up an average of 27.1 fantasy points per game. One of the main reasons why has been their issues in the red zone. They’ve allowed 25 touchdowns to that position this year, which is six more than any other team. Fournette with Jones is such an easy play.

Sits

Wayne Gallman, New York Giants

I’ve been on Wayne Gallman constantly since Saquon Barkley went down with his injury, but I can’t ride with him this week. The Giants have a road matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, and the Ravens have been really good football as of late. They’ve held opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground in two of the last four games, and the Dallas Cowboys put up 111 because Baltimore was playing soft defense with a big lead. 

Gallman and the Giants have another working against them. Quarterback Daniel Jones (hamstring) is dealing with a hamstring injury that could force him to miss this game. Even if he plays, it’s pretty clear that he will be playing at less than 100%. Gallman would become the primary focus of the Ravens’ defense when they force quarterback Colt McCoy to try and beat them.

The Ravens rank 14th in the NFL in fantasy points allowed to running backs. They’re tied for third with just seven rushing touchdowns allowed this year. When they get down in the red zone, you’re not just going to run over this team to score. In fact, three of those seven rushing touchdowns came against the Cleveland Browns in the team’s Week 14 win. I’d be fading Gallman if I have the ability to do so this week. 

Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers

When Christian McCaffrey went down with an injury earlier in the year, we all panicked because we lost our first-round pick that probably got drafted in the top three of your leagues, no matter the league style. You picked up his backup Mike Davis off of the waiver wire, and he’s been a starter pretty much every week for you since. Now, when you’re in fantasy championships, there is a legitimate case to be made for fading him.

Outside of the three weeks where CMC was the starter, Davis has just dominated the snap counts. He’s played at least 50 percent of the snaps in every game since, and he has 180 more touches than any non-CMC running backs. I always preach that volume reigns supreme in fantasy, but this is an outing where I am fading that idea.

The Washington Football Team is currently leading the NFC East, and they need a win in this outing. With the defensive front they have, they’re going to dominate the matchup in the trenches, which will pose a lot of issues for Davis. They’re allowing just 15.5 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, which is the sixth-best mark in the league. It’s tough to bench Davis and his volume, but you might have to.

D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

It took him a few weeks to finally become the lead running back for the Detroit Lions, but, once it happened, it became the D’Andre Swift show. His receiving ability shows up in every game, but you’re now fading him with your season on the line because they’re about to be playing in one of the most bizarre games we’ve seen in a long time. The majority of the coaching staff is out due to Covid-19 protocols, and they have an interim coach in place of their interim coach.

One of the main reasons Swift has been maintaining good fantasy value this year has been his work in the receiving game. Those aren’t going to be widely available against the Bucs, who feature two athletic linebackers in Devin White and Lavonte David. Swift was viewed as a possible league-winner, but this is the absolute worst combination of events happening at the worst possible time.

The Buccaneers are averaging 14.3 fantasy points per game allowed to the running back position. That’s the second-best mark among all teams, outside of the New Orleans Saints. They’ve allowed 175 fewer yards on the ground than any other team, and Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings is the only one that has cleared 100 yards on the ground this year. He’s also the only one that has gone over 80 yards on the year.

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