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The Cutback: Running Back Start/Sit Week 4

Week 4 is here, and the DynastyNerds writers are back once again to provide you with your weekly starts and sits, and we’re here to talk running backs.

Welcome Back! Week 4 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 3 Hit/Miss Recap

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

Starts

Jerick McKinnon: Hit – RB14

James Conner: Hit – RB7

James Robinson: Hit – RB4

Sits

David Johnson: Hit – RB25

Todd Gurley: Miss – RB18

Leonard Fournette: Hit – RB54

Going 5-of-6 is a pretty good week. Especially when you consider this is the second week in a row, I hit that mark. Johnson was still a decent option last week, but he qualified as a hit for these purposes. Unfortunately, you can’t get Robinson as a sleeper anymore, because he broke out in a big way last week.

The miss of the week was Gurley. This offense moved the ball at will during the first half, and Gurley got into the end zone. He’s playing up to expectations to start the year, and you can’t ask for more right now. Fournette was an unfortunate hit, but the possibility for improvement is there in the future if he can usurp Ronald Jones.

Starts

Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fournette is currently trending towards being out for the week with an ankle injury, and that means that we have a clear picture of who’s going to be the starter in the Tampa backfield. It’s going to be Jones and no one else, and he’s actually been productive in the past when he’s held the lead-back duties.

For his career, in the eight games, he’s had at least 12 rushing attempts. He averages just under 14 PPR points per game. As your RB2 or flex option, you’ll take that stat line all day long. Jones is a decent receiver out of the backfield, so he can run up some extra points in that way. Throw in the fact that the Buccaneers figure to be up big in this game, and we could see Jones see an even heavier workload than he normally may.

Jones should be a solid flex option this week due to the volume that he’ll receive, but he definitely has RB2 upside this week as well. If you roster Jones in any leagues, he’s a safe start, and he can give you a reliable third producer depending on who you’re starting at the other two running back spots in your lineup.

Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens

Ingram has started this season at an extremely slow pace, which is unfortunate to see, but Week 4 against the Washington Football Team is just the kind of get-right matchup that he needs. The game script figures to go heavily in favor of Baltimore due to their defense’s ability to slow down Washington’s offense. While most high-powered offenses look to run up high scores through the air, Baltimore wants to suffocate its opponents like a boa constrictor with the running game.

The main issue for Ingram this year has been his lack of touches. He has had 10 carries in just one of the three games, and that’s simply not enough for him. I’m not sure if they are trying to keep him healthy for the back half of the season, but he’s still able to carry a decent workload if they were to give him the touches.

Looking back to last season and the start of this year, Ingram has been a great fantasy asset when he’s been given some run out of the backfield. In games where he had at least 10 carries, he averaged just under 16 PPR points per game. I think he gets at least 10 carries and then some in this game. An RB2 finish should be well within the realm of possibility for him this week. 

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

Montgomery has struggled to get the lead-back role early in his career, but it’s his time now with teammate Tarik Cohen out for the year with a torn ACL. With that happening, he is a near must-start for fantasy this week. The team has Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield, but he’s a change-of-pace guy more than he’s an actual running back.

Since entering the league, Montgomery has seen at least 15 carries in just eight games. In those eight games, he’s averaged just under 15 points per game. That’s a solid stat line out of your RB3 that you’re able to put in there at your flex spot, or you could play him over Derrick Henry or James Conner if they’re out for the week. 15 carries are more than within his reach this week.

The Indianapolis Colts’ defense has played really well to start the season, but they have had a lot of easy matchups thus far. This Bears’ team will be able to spread the field better with Nick Foles under center, leading to lighter boxes for Montgomery. If you roster him at all this week, he’s a great option to be in your lineups.

Sits

Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team

Gibson is RB23 over the last two weeks, but that ranking is going to drop in Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens. He’s taken over the lead-back role in Washington, but he’s just got too tough of a matchup this week. The Ravens are currently the fourth-best team in terms of the fantasy points they’ve allowed to running backs, and they have the offense to run up the score, which would force Washington to throw more and run less.

In addition to the tough matchup, Gibson has been very reliant on touchdowns the last two weeks. 12 of his 25.6 points PPR points have come from touchdowns, and we never chase touchdowns. Based on this small sample size, he’s averaging a touchdown every 13 touches, and that efficiency isn’t going to continue. We are always on the hunt for volume rather than touchdowns.

The only way that you can hope for a lot of production out of Gibson this week is if he’s able to get a lot of receiving work, and Washington has a designated receiving back in JD McKissic. More than likely, you drafted to be nothing more than your third or even fourth running back. If you have him, I would try to leave him on the bench for this week. 

David Johnson, Houston Texans

Johnson started the year strong against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he’s been trending down in the last two weeks. He was an RB1 in Week 1, but he’s just RB33 in the last two weeks. In Week 4, he has a matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, and this Vikings’ defense has been carved up by teams all year. I don’t think that continues this week.

This Texans’ front still has a lot of room to work, but, more importantly, Deshaun Watson can pick apart the Vikings’ secondary that has been ravaged by injuries and free-agent departures. Even without DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans’ receivers are still much more talented than this Minnesota secondary.

Johnson is an interesting flex option in most weeks, but I think Houston is forced to throw because of their own defensive woes. When that happens, Duke Johnson, who is healthy again, will be the primary beneficiary of that role. Let both Johnson’s stay on your bench this week.

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