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The Cutback: Running Back Start/Sit Week 9

Week 9 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 9 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 8 Hit/Miss Recap

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

Starts

Melvin Gordon III: Hit – RB22

Darrell Henderson: Miss – RB37

Sits

D’Andre Swift: Hit – RB45

Justin Jackson: Miss – RB9

Devonta Freeman: Did Not Play

This week was equal parts weird and lucky. For Gordon, we were banking on the absence of teammate Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay played, but it didn’t matter as Gordon still managed to finish in the top 24. For the Rams, Henderson saw his team fall behind early, and his role was zapped instantly. He played just 19 percent of the snaps, which was far-and-away the fewest he had seen since Week 1. If the team sees more big deficits moving forward, this could be a troubling trend.

For the sits, we went 1-of-2, as Freeman missed the game. Swift got shut down by the Indianapolis Colts’ defense, and that was expected. He’ll have better weeks because his matchups just won’t be this hard every week. For Jackson, he put all of Kelley into his rear-view mirror. After splitting snaps, he fully captured the entire role, and he got a lot of touches when the team was up big on the Denver Broncos.

Starts

Damien Harris, New England Patriots

There have been some rumblings in the fantasy-Twitter world that Harris is just a flash in the pan rather than a long-term thing. However, with how this team is currently constructed, he’s set up for success better than just about any other player on this offense. There are next-to-no receiving options, and, for all of their struggles, the team should still be leading on Monday night against the New York Jets.

Sony Michel continues to deal with an injury, and, as long as Harris is healthy, he’s going to be the lead back without any competition. James White and Rex Burkhead may cut into some of the receiving work, but Harris takes nearly all of the carries. As we’ve always said, volume reigns supreme in the world of fantasy.

Against the New York Jets, he’s got an advantageous matchup, and he should get a fair amount of work late in the game when his team is leading. The Jets allow an average of more than 20 fantasy points per game to the running back position because teams are typically running the ball on them with ease. The Patriots can do that with Harris and quarterback Cam Newton.

Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

Do you guys wanna hear a secret? The Broncos shouldn’t have signed Gordon because Phillip Lindsay is just as good if not better and cheaper. Coming off of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons as an undrafted free agent that saw him make a Pro Bowl appearance, the Broncos elected to give Gordon an average salary of $8 million rather than investing money in their offensive line to protect their potential franchise quarterback. Enough about Gordon.

We’re here for Lindsay. The Broncos are heading for a matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, and Lindsay has a lot of potential in this game. For one, Lindsay has been crushing it for Denver. Even in small spurts, he’s been playing well. In a small sample size, he’s averaging six yards per carry, and he’s showing the ability to generate big plays. 

The Falcons only allow 16.2 fantasy points per game, but that number is likely to climb this week. The Broncos have wanted to lean on the running backs while quarterback Drew Lock gets his feet under him. Even if he is splitting touches with Gordon, Lindsay projects to have a big role that he can excel in moving forward.

Sits

Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In the last two weeks, the Buccaneers have done one thing very consistently. They have fed Leonard Fournette more touches than Ronald Jones. After seeing a 13 percent snap advantage in Week 7, that increased to a 73-24 percent split in Week 8. The key issue has been an early mistake by Jones that forced him into the Bruce Arians doghouse. Even if that doesn’t come, I think we’re seeing a trend in favor of Fournette.

Look at the raw splits that we’re seeing through the first eight games this season. In the games where Fournette sees at least five carries, Jones is seeing his scoring average cut in half. Volume reigns supreme in fantasy football, and when you have a talented running back like Fournette in the backfield, you’re going to see less volume. It’s simple.

On top of all of that, his matchup is not particularly enticing. The New Orleans Saints are struggling with pass defense, but they’re playing like a top-five defense against running backs for fantasy. In Week 1, with Fournette not even integrated into the offense, Jones had 18 touches for 82 yards. That’s not great, and he’s seeing his role dwindle with every week that goes by.

JaMycal Hasty, San Francisco 49ers

This likely makes no sense when you consider that Green Bay’s run defense has been run over repeatedly in the last couple of years, including twice by the 49ers just last season. Despite that, he should be a downgrade for you this week. Due to injuries all over this offense, the 49ers are going to be patchwork to produce. With a severely limited and outmatched receiving group, Mike Pettine will load the box and force quarterback Nick Mullens to beat them.

Outside of the one game where Hasty fell into the end zone, he has yet to do much. He’s averaging less than five fantasy points per game, and he’s yet to take a firm grasp of the backup snaps. When Tevin Coleman left with an injury last week, it was teammate Jerick McKinnon who led the running backs in snaps rather than Hasty. We’ve already made the case that volume is king for fantasy, which has yet to change.

Green Bay has been the worst team against running backs this year, and they’ve been torn up by guys like Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings and Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints in the passing game. Hasty has seen just four targets on the season. Meanwhile, McKinnon has been targeted the fourth-most of any San Francisco pass catcher. There just isn’t enough meat on the bone to be confident in Hasty this week despite the good matchup. 

Le’Veon Bell, Kansas City Chiefs

First of all, the matchup, as with Hasty, is outstanding. Bell is going up against a Carolina Panthers’ defense that has been giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to the running back position, so Bell should be in for a great week, right? Wrong. Bell looked good in his Kansas City Chiefs’ debut, but he came crashing back to Earth in Week 8 against the New York Jets en route to six carries for seven yards.

It was only his second game with the team, so he wasn’t expected to take on a full workload. However, he still struggled to fully take that secondary-back role despite this team rolling to a huge win. While Clyde Edwards-Helaire played 50 percent of the snaps, the other 50 percent were split between Bell, Darrell Williams, and Darwin Thompson. He’s not getting enough work in this offense.

Some have Bell ranked inside their top 24 for this week, and it makes no sense, especially when you consider guys like Chris Carson and Lindsay are behind him in those standings. Primary running backs are behind him, but, if you’re getting the lead-back work, you should almost always be ahead of backups in rankings. Just move Bell down your ranks this week.

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