Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2018): Running Back Edition: Week 9: Aaron Jones, LeSean McCoy & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:


Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears
at Buffalo

With the rise of Tarik Cohen and the emergence of Mark Trubisky it has become easy to overlook Howard.  That said he’s actually rushed for a touchdown in back-to-back games and is coming off a day where he got 22 carries against the Jets.  It was all about the game flow, with the Bears breaking out to a lead and then feeding Howard the ball to work on the clock.  Would it be surprising to see a similar scenario in Buffalo?

All signs point towards Nathan Peterman getting the start at quarterback, and that alone likely spells disaster for the Bills.  A lot of Buffalo’s defensive issues have come against opposing running backs who can catch the football (408 yards and 3 TD) and that’s going to speak to Cohen’s value, but Howard isn’t completely inept catching the football and the usage potential alone will give him value.  While he’s not a great play, he’s a viable RB2 in all formats.

Verdict – Start ‘Em (viable RB2 / good FLEX play)


LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills
vs. Chicago

McCoy saved his day in Week 8 by catching 6 passes for 82 yards against the Patriots, but he’s generally struggled to run the football this season (257 rushing yards, 3.4 yards/carry).  He hasn’t been a significant pass catching threat overall (167 total yards, so just 85 receiving yards in his other six games) and draws a Chicago defense that’s given up the third fewest points per week to opposing running backs.  The key numbers are:

  • 0 rushing TD allowed
  • 719 total yards allowed

Banking on a TD?  Banking on replicating his pass catching numbers?  You shouldn’t be.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em (only desperation FLEX play due to the bye weeks)


Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers
at New England

Jones is coming off a big game against the Rams, turning 12 carries into 86 yards and 1 TD.  The problem is that the 12 carries represents his season high, and in a game that could quickly devolve into a shootout it’s highly likely that the offenses are forced to take a pass heavy approach.  When it comes to targets, even with Ty Montgomery now in Baltimore look at what’s left for the team:

  • Aaron Jones – 8 targets
  • Jamaal Williams – 17 targets

Obviously neither number blows you away, but Williams caught 25 passes a year ago compared to 9 for Jones.  It’s obvious who will likely absorb more of Montgomery’s opportunities, and in this one that makes Williams a potentially more intriguing “gamble”.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em (low-end FLEX play)


Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
at Carolina

With Ronald Jones sidelined the only alternative the team has is Jacquizz Rodgers, so there’s little risk of Berber losing his role.  Overall the numbers have been fairly pedestrian (3.7 yards/carry), but Barber has rushed for over 80 yards in two of his past three games, has averaged 4.6 yards/carry over this stretch and found the end zone for the first time in Week 8.  While a matchup with the Panthers isn’t necessarily ideal, everything is pointing in the right direction from a workload and output perspective.  Considering the bye weeks, that’s all we really need.

Verdict – Start ‘Em (viable RB2)


Devontae Booker – Denver Broncos
vs. Houston

With Royce Freeman sidelined Booker stepped into the complimentary role to Phillip Lindsay and delivered with 13 touches going for 101 yards.  There’s a good chance that workload is replicated against the Texans, and the key here is that they are a defense that’s struggled against running backs who are capable of catching the football having yielded a league high 5 receiving TD.  Of course Lindsay is a proven pass catcher as well (18 receptions for 136 yards and 1 TD), so Booker isn’t guaranteed to get more than his typical handful of targets per game.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em (high risk, high reward FLEX play)

Sources – ESPN,

Pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $6.75!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 9 rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Latavius Murray, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Chris Carson & More
Thursday Night Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Week 9 (2018): Jalen Richard, Matt Breida, Jordy Nelson & More


  1. Inglorious Bastards says:

    Hello Professor,

    Full point PPR. Who would you start in the Flex position out of these players: Aaron Jones, Amari Cooper, Courtland Sutton, Josh Gordon and Sony Michel(if healthy/activated)…

    Also, I’ve Randall Cobb in my bench and both Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk on the wire now. Dump Cobb for one of these player or just hold still. Thank you for your advices throughout the season. They have been extremely useful.

  2. mike says:

    Need to drop someone with Ebron and Engram on a bye. Either TE or Corey Davis or Doug Baldwin. Ppr. I have M. Thomas, J brown, watkins and DJ Moore as well at WR. Thanks.

  3. STEVE says:

    Hir Professor,

    Doug Baldwin against the Chargers or DJ Moore against the Bucs?

  4. George says:

    Hi Professor! PPR league, pick one please: Higgins, Allison, D. Moore (hawks), kearse, sharpe or M. Williams?? The bye week struggle is REAL!! Lol Thank you!

  5. George says:

    Sorry one more Prof, PPR league, Aaron Jones or DJ Moore (Torrey smith is out)?? I Appreciate the help!

  6. d says:

    hey professor, 1/2 ppr league and i just found out thompson is out this week. who would you start at flex duke or should i pick up booker and play him at flex

  7. Mike says:

    WhTs up man? Who you got between Goff and Cousins? I’ve never had 2 QBs so closely ranked every week.

  8. mikey says:

    please help im going insane this week tryingto decide who to start professor!

    WRs: juju or john brown, kenny golladay, courtland sutton

    RBs: todd gurley, james conner, tarik cohen or lamar miller or nick chubb???

    helllppp meeee…lol thanks!

    ps: im really just close to saying oh what the heck and start conner? or would that be a huge mistake? pitts o-line has improvedsince week 2 no?? or is that my bias for conner showing? same logic for juju.

    and then when it comes to t.cohen and lamar miller theyre prolly equal in value this week given opponents.

    if you dont buy my steelers better o-line argument does that mean courtland sutton is a better start over juju given texans stout pass defense?

    i cant pull the tigger on anyhting this week! i hate myself!

    thanks professor~!

    • WR – Smith-Schuster

      RB – Can’t sit Gurley

      • mikey says:

        Professor, what are your thoughts on conner this week? thanks for your excellent advice!

        • Tough matchup, but still a RB1

          • mikey says:

            thanks for the advice, i got gurley at RB1 on my roster and im really scared to start conner vs an at home angry ravens team coming off a loss, my team is 7-1 right now, but I really love conner and want to start him, I trust the pitts o-line now, and ravens d-line is hurt to an extent and it’s a revenge game for steeelrs, albeit on b-more home turf. Taking all that into consideration, my head still says no, but my heart says play him!

            I got tarik cohen on flex, but i dont know if i should play conner or instead play chris carson or nick chubb or lamar miller in his place or any of those guys instead of cohen at flex.

            Im gonna hold on to my balls and start gurley and conner haha!

            if i go down i go down with my top 2 guns.

          • mikey says:

            but also, to cut the risk of pittsburgh losing and gettign shut out or something, I’m sitting juju, he is due for a big game, but, the ravens 2ndary is not as hurt as ravens d-line, they’ll be able to cover juju like week 2 and i wont risk having 2 steeler playrs on my roster with conner at RB, I ll spread that risk around by starting conner and sitting juju.

            im starting dj moore instead (i loath starting rookies but tyler boyd is on the a bye week and im actually starting 2 rookies the other being courtland sutton…also sitting kenny golladay).

            so this is my live roster

            QB- Fitzmagic
            RB- Gurley
            RB- Conner
            WR- DJ Moore
            WR- Courtland Sutton
            TE- Greg Olson (yeah 2 panther players both catch passers 2 much risk)
            FLEX- Tarik Cohen
            K- Tavechio
            DEF- Bears

          • mikey says:

            ok im glad i started conner BEASSST! but..not fitztragic, i switched last minute from well..

  9. John K says:

    Pick 3 please. Conner, Drake, Miller, Howard, Jones. Thanks! Also Fitzmagic or Matty Ice?

  10. JJ says:

    Goodwin or Moore (Hawks)? Thanks

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