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The Cutback: Running Back Start/Sit Week 5

Week 5 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 5 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.

Week 4 Hit/Miss Recap

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

Starts

  • Ronald Jones: Hit – RB14
  • David Montgomery: Miss – Tied for RB25
  • Mark Ingram: Miss – Tied for RB25

Sits

  • Antonio Gibson: Miss – RB5
  • David Johnson: Miss – RB23

This week was absolutely brutal. Antonio Gibson took full advantage of his opportunities in the blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens en route to an extremely productive week of fantasy. Jones finished as RB14, which even seems low when you look at how efficient he played against the Los Angeles Chargers. He just couldn’t snag a touchdown to elevate his day to the next level.

Montgomery and Ingram each missed by just a couple of points, but they were disappointing for different reasons. The Chicago Bears just weren’t setting him up for success in any way, and they continue to waste his talent and fantasy upside. Ingram salvaged his day with a touchdown, and he continues to see his stock drop with these poor performances. Johnson’s day was far from good, but everyone else’s was that bad. I missed it, but the analysis was sound.

Starts

James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers

This one isn’t my boldest call of the week, but it needs to be stated. As long as James Conner is healthy, he’s a great fantasy asset. This week, against the Philadelphia Eagles, he’s healthy, and he’s a great fantasy option as a result. This Eagles’ defense is only allowing 3.8 yards per carry for the year, but they’re allowing 4.6 yards per carry over their last three, including 5.8 per to the San Francisco 49ers last week.

Take a quick second to look at Conner’s splits. Those games when he’s the featured guy, he’s a monster for fantasy, and people are fading him because his matchup isn’t great. However, you have to look past the Eagles’ front to see where he’s going to really see benefits this week. The Eagles lack a lot of talent on the second level, and Conner could have a huge game as a receiver out of the backfield.

Benny Snell Jr. and Jaylen Samuels are solid secondary options to Conner, but the Steelers don’t use them for an extended time. They prefer to rely on individual running backs to be their bell cow. That’s not changing, and this Philadelphia team needed to play half of the 49ers’ team just to get their first win of the year. I think Conner runs up a big total against them.

Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills

Through the first four weeks of the season, I’m thrilled that Singletary is playing up to the standard that we were all hoping for coming into the year. Teammate Zack Moss has vulture some of the work from him, but, in the two games that Moss has missed, Singletary has been playing at a crazy level.

In the two games Moss played, he’s averaging under 10 points per game, but that average increases to over 17. Singletary is performing up to the level that we expected out of him. Now, Buffalo just needs to take advantage of that production. Moss can come in to spell him when he needs a breather, but Singletary needs to be the workhorse.

The one thing to watch out for this week is whether or not the game will be played. After their Week 4 game was postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak, the Tennessee Titans have yet to start practicing after another positive test Wednesday morning. The Titans are currently last in the NFL in yards per carry allowed, and, if this game happens, Singletary could be in for a big day.

Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens

I’m going back to the well one last time. If I get bit, so be it. I still believe in the talent that Ingram possesses, and he’s playing alongside a quarterback that helped lead them to the best rushing attack in football last year. Now, with Lamar Jackson dealing with a knee injury, we could see more instances where the Ravens rely on Ingram to preserve Jackson.

In Week 5, they have a matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, who are proving to be feisty early on, but they still leave something to be desired on the defensive side of the ball. They’re 24th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed with a mark of 4.9. In 2019, Baltimore averaged a healthy 5.5 yards per carry. They’re at 5.4 right now, and Ingram is due for some positive regression.

With injuries abounding and bye weeks starting, there is a legitimate chance that you have to start Ingram this week, and this isn’t the worst week to be forced into that. He’s still a talented player in a great offense. He doesn’t necessarily have RB1 upside this week, but I think he should safely slot in as an RB2.

Sits

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams

The hype train for Darrell Henderson is coming to a rapid stop. After missing the last two weeks, rookie running back Cam Akers is returning from his rib injury, and he figures to cut into the lead role that Henderson has had over the last few weeks. It’s also coming at an extremely inopportune time for Henderson. After putting together two great performances, he stumbled last week, which opened the door for Akers.

Henderson needs volume to be fantasy viable, and, in addition to Akers, he was out-snapped by 22 percent by Malcolm Brown in Week 4. He has yet to play more than 49 percent of the snaps in any game, while Brown has played at least 49 percent of the snaps in every game. In his 11 career games, he’s received at least 10 rushing attempts in four of them, and he outscored his average by 11 PPR points. He’s unlikely to see that workload this week.

Henderson had a great matchup last week that should have seen his offense lean on him, and he was highly ineffective. Prior to his injury, Akers was the lead back in this offense. Even if Henderson still sees a good-sized workload, I would be finding other options to get slotted into my lineups this week. 

Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers

First thing’s first: pour one out for Austin Ekeler. After it appeared he was finally getting the workload we were all hoping for, that momentum was dashed away. To step up in his place, the Chargers have the rookie, Joshua Kelley. After a decent start to the season, Kelley has been trending down in recent weeks. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry in Week 1, but that number has fallen off significantly down to 3.3 yards per tote.

In Week 5, he draws a matchup against the New Orleans Saints that’s going to make his life just as difficult as it has been the past couple of weeks. The Saints are tied for fourth in the NFL in yards per carry allowed at 3.6. The team’s two best offensive linemen, Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga, are questionable heading into the matchup, and the left side of the line leaves a lot to be desired.

Quarterback Justin Herbert has played well to start the year, and he’s going to develop as the year goes on. However, I think we’re going to see the Saints stack the box against them and force him to throw to beat them. That will make Kelley’s job more difficult, and his fantasy value diminishes as a result. If he was your backup behind Ekeler, you might not have another fantasy viable option, but I would be looking for one.

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

Montgomery is definitely going to bite me on this one. I’ve been in on him all season, but, after several down weeks, I’m fading him in a bad matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Other than the snaps for Cordarelle Patterson, who occasionally lined up as a wide receiver, Montgomery dominated the running back snaps. He had all but one. Despite that, he totaled just 57 scrimmage yards on 13 touches. That’s an average of 4.4 yards per touch, and the Bucs are going to be even more difficult.

The Bucs, dating back to last season, have been the NFL’s best run defense, and they’re currently allowing just 2.7 yards per carry through the first four weeks of the season. Their linebackers, Devin White and Lavonte David, can run with Montgomery on routes of the backfield, and this Bears’ offensive line just isn’t clicking how they need to hold off this Bucs’ front.

The narrative around Montgomery is that he needs volume to be successful. It was always assumed that, if Tarik Cohen were to miss time, that would happen. He still didn’t get a crazy volume of touches because the offense just wasn’t flowing through him. Their path to winning is their defense playing up to the level they have thus far, while the offense plays smart football. I don’t know that quarterback Nick Foles helps them do that, so I’m fading Montgomery right now.

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