Running back sleepers, matchups, and more

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One of the most nerve-wracking things in fantasy football is making lineup decisions. You have to consider so many different variables. The great news is that the team at Pro Football Network is here to help. Not all matchups are equal, but here are our top start ’em, sit ’em running back plays for Week 2.

Week 2 Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

Which running backs are starts heading into Week 2?

Start ‘Em | Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris didn’t have the NFL debut that fantasy managers envisioned. He rushed 16 times for 45 yards and also caught 1 of 3 targets for 4 receiving yards.

The No. 24 overall pick had an exceptional career at the University of Alabama. Harris totaled 3,843 career rushing yards, which ranks first in Crimson Tide history. He also accumulated 4,624 all-purpose yards in his Alabama career, which ranks second in school history.

Unfortunately, the Steelers’ offensive line struggled to create running lanes against the Bills in Week 1. The good news is that Harris and Pittsburgh’s OL have a great matchup at home in Week 2 against the Raiders. Las Vegas’ defensive front gave up the sixth-most PPR fantasy points (31.2) to running backs in Week 1. Therefore, Harris can be viewed as a low-end RB1.

Start ‘Em | AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers

The Packers’ Week 1 loss to the Saints was an anomaly. This week, Green Bay’s offense and defense will look to remove that raunchy taste from their mouths against the Lions.

One silver lining for AJ Dillon last week was that he was targeted twice as a receiver out of the backfield. The 23-year-old running back should inherit the workload of former Packers running back Jamaal Williams.

From 2017-20, Williams averaged 11.1 opportunities (rushing attempts plus targets) and 50 total yards per game. Williams finished as an RB3+ in 69% of his 59 active games while playing 45% of the offensive snaps. This includes 11 RB1 finishes.

The Packers are the favorite against the Lions. The over/under is set at 48.5 for the contest. Dillon can be inserted into lineups as an RB3 or flex.

Start ‘Em | Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns

Kareem Hunt finished Week 1 against the Chiefs with 9 opportunities, 61 total yards, and 1 touchdown. Meanwhile, fellow running back Nick Chubb stockpiled 17 touches, 101 total yards, and 2 touchdowns. Chubb only played 53% of Cleveland’s offensive snaps, so Hunt will continue to be actively involved. This trend has been in place since Hunt joined the Browns back in 2019.

From 2019-2020 (24 active games), Hunt averaged 14 opportunities and 13.3 PPR fantasy points per game. He is firmly on the RB2 radar against the Texans in Week 2. The Browns’ offensive line should not have any problems creating running lanes for Hunt and Chubb.

Start ‘Em | Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

Javonte Williams rushed 14 times for 45 yards in his NFL debut against the Giants. Melvin Gordon had the better fantasy performance on the day, rushing 11 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. However, Gordon’s touchdown run accounted for 69% of his rushing yards.

As expected, the Broncos distributed the snaps and opportunities fairly evenly between Williams and Gordon. Both have a similar skill set that allows offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to use both interchangeably and not tip-off opposing defenses. The Broncos also have a solid offensive line led by renowned coach Mike Munchak. This unit has an advantage over the Jaguars’ defensive front this week.

Don’t hesitate to insert Williams into fantasy lineups as an RB3 with upside.

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Week 2 Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

These running backs should be left on your bench in Week 2.

Sit ’Em | Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ronald Jones rushed 4 times for 14 yards last week against the Cowboys. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he “struggled mentally” to “get over” his lost fumble. Jones’ committee-mate Leonard Fournette turned 16 opportunities into 59 total yards.

On Tuesday, Arians said Jones would start this week against the Falcons. And on the surface, it’s easy to get excited about this matchup.

The Eagles eviscerated the Falcons’ defense for 173 rushing yards in Week 1. Nevertheless, Jones, Fournette, and Giovani Bernard will all be involved against Atlanta. The usage in the Buccaneers’ backfield will continue to give fantasy managers migraines this season.

Sit ‘Em | Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons

Mike Davis turned 15 rushing attempts into 49 yards against the Eagles. He also had 3 receptions for 23 yards. Davis played a high percentage of the offensive snaps, but he did split opportunities with Cordarrelle Patterson. Opportunity share will continue to be Davis’ biggest strength. Yet, the Falcons’ offensive line is an abomination. This OL, Davis, and the entire Falcons’ running game could struggle against the Buccaneers’ defensive front in Week 2.

Sit ‘Em | Mark Ingram, Houston Texans

It may be tempting to start Mark Ingram this week against the Browns. He rushed 26 times for 85 yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars. The Texans’ offense steamrolled Jacksonville on their home field.

But Ingram only played 42% of the Texans’ offensive snaps. He also averaged an anemic 3.3 yards per attempt. Running backs David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay should continue to see touches in the Texans’ backfield. The 31-year-old Ingram is a sell-high candidate.

Since 2000, there have been 226 running backs who scored 230+ PPR fantasy points. This feat has only been accomplished by seven RBs who were 31+ years old, which doesn’t bode well for Ingram. The most recent was DeAngelo Williams, who finished with 231.4 fantasy points in 2015.

Sit ‘Em | James Conner, Arizona Cardinals

James Conner amassed 53 yards on 16 rushing attempts against the Titans in Week 1, but he saw zero targets. Chase Edmonds, on the other hand, rushed 12 times for 63 yards. He also caught all 4 of his targets for 43 receiving yards. Did you know that 8 of Conner’s attempts came with the game well in hand in the fourth quarter?

Arizona’s backfield is looking like a committee at the moment. Yet, that could change as the season progresses. Edmonds’ prowess as a receiver makes him more desirable in fantasy football. The Cardinals have a favorable matchup against the Vikings in Week 2. Arizona is the favorite, and the total is currently at 51.

Conner looks appetizing as a potential flex option, but I’d fade him this week in most formats outside of very deep ones.



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