Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2019): Running Back Edition: Week 2: Leonard Fournette, Devonta Freeman, Derrick Henry & More

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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:

Start ‘Em – Derrick Henry – (TEN; vs. IND)

Henry enjoyed a big Week 1, with 84 rushing yards on 19 carries while adding a 75 yard touchdown reception. We’d like to see him utilized in the passing game a little bit more (he was targeted only twice), but it’s not like Dion Lewis was a significant pass catcher either (he turned four targets into three receptions). With the Colts being torched for 100 receiving yards and 2 TD by opposing running backs in Week 1 (as well as 119 yards and 1 TD on the ground), it’s easy to envision a big day for Henry in both regards.

Only adding to that would be his performances against the Colts over the past two years:

  • October 16, 2017 – 147 yards and 1 TD
  • November 26, 2017 – 89 yards
  • November 18, 2018 – 46 yards
  • December 30, 2018 – 106 yards

In other words he’s a good bet in all formats.

Sit – Philip Lindsay (DEN; at CHI)

While Chicago was a disappointment overall in Week 1, their defense against opposing running backs wasn’t the issue. They gave up a total of 54 yards (39 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards), so the matchup alone is going to limit anyone’s upside potential. Now throw in that Denver deployed a timeshare, as opposed to what everyone had expected:

  • Phillip Lindsay – 11 carries for 43 yards
  • Royce Freeman – 10 carries for 56 yards

While Lindsay does have the additional value of being utilized in the passing game (he turned 6 targets into 4 receptions and 23 yards), it’s not enough to overcome the matchup. Maybe as a FLEX, but that comes down to your alternatives.

Start – Leonard Fournette (JAX; vs. HOU)

Fournette’s first week was a bit of a disappointment, totaling 94 yards but he failed to find the end zone and also lost a fumble. That could cause some to be a little bit skeptical, especially since there were questions hovering over him heading into the season. However the Houston Texans, playing without Jadaveon Clowney, were torched both on the ground and through the air by Alvin Kamara and company in Week 1:

  • Rushing – 140 yards and 1 TD
  • Receiving – 76 yards (on 9 receptions)

No one is going to confuse Fournette with Kamara, but with little competition and a questionable quarterback situation you’d expect him to be the focus of the offense.

Sit ‘Em – Devonta Freeman (ATL; vs. PHI)

It’s hard to justify sitting him, though it’s easy to argue that he’s nothing more than a FLEX option for the coming week. The usage in the first week of the season is an obvious concern:

  • Ito Smith – 6 carries for 51 yards
  • Devonta Freeman – 8 carries for 19 yards

Freeman was targeted 4 times in the passing game, but in what was basically an even timeshare is that enough? The Eagles were stingy against the run in Week 1, yielding 28 yards on the ground, and that’s going to keep Freeman’s upside significantly suppressed.

Other Running Backs to Start:

  • Austin Ekeler (SEA; vs. DET) – What timeshare? Ekeler was clearly the preferred back in Week 1 and draws a Lions’ defense that allowed 142 total yards to opposing running backs in Week 1
  • Joe Mixon (CIN; vs. SF) – The caveat here is assuming he’s healthy, but while Mixon disappointed in Week 1 he should again be the lead back and draws a 49ers’ defense that allowed 171 total yards to opposing running backs in Week 1

Other Running Backs to Sit:

  • Kenyan Drake (MIA; vs. NE) – He draws a tough matchup, is sharing time with Kalen Ballage and there’s a good chance Miami is forced to go pass happy with a big deficit.
  • David Montgomery (CHI; at DEN) – It doesn’t matter if he’s the most talented running back on the team or not, if they aren’t going to give him the touches. After Week 1 is anyone confident that he’ll be utilized as the favored running back?

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

Make sure to check out all of our Week 2 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses

9 COMMENTS

    • As much as I don’t like it, I’d lean Lindsay & Peterson. Murray is definitely the second back through the rotation, so his usage is questionable. As great as Hockenson looked in Week 1, he’s still a rookie and can’t be trusted quite yet

  1. Hey Roto!

    I have a hobbled Mixon starting now along with Mack, but have Jacobs and AB on the bench. Half PPR, need to start 3 of the 4. Who do you like?

    Thanks!

    • Let’s see the news on Mixon, but the fact that he practiced is promising. I have a hard time trusting AB this week, because how many opps he gets and whether or not the Patriots pull the starters with a big lead remains to be seen

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