Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2019): Running Back Edition: Week 5: Marlon Mack, Wayne Gallman, David Montgomery & 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 – Marlon Mack (Indianapolis Colts at KC)

Mack is coming off a disappointing performance against the Raiders, rushing 11 times for 39 yards (3.5 YPC). However in the first three games he was a force, getting consistent opportunities and routinely delivering:

  • at LAC – 25 carries for 174 yards & 1 TD
  • at TEN – 20 carries for 51 yards
  • vs. ATL – 16 carries for 74 yards & 1 TD

The Kansas City defense hasn’t been great against opposing running backs, including allowing 509 rushing yards (fourth most in the league) and 151 receiving yards. Things would look worse had they been allowing TD (3 total TD allowed), but that’s just masking the issues. Assuming Mack is fully healthy, and he is battling calf/ankle issues, he’s a must play. Monitor the news ahead of Sunday’s game, but if he’s on the field he’ll be a solid option.

Sit – Wayne Gallman (New York Giants vs. MIN)

The idea of sitting Gallman has nothing to do with the potential return of Saquan Barkley, as it’s unlikely that the superstar plays this week (though his return doesn’t seem far off). Instead this is tied to the return of Golden Tate, adding another weapon to the passing attack, and also a difficult matchup.

The Vikings have allowed the sixth fewest points per week to opposing running backs, with 339 rushing yards and 1 TD (they have allowed 2 receiving TD). With the difficult matchup and the potential usage/game flow questions he’s a better fit as a FLEX option. He’s not completely unusable, but he also isn’t an ideal option.

Start – Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans vs. Buffalo)

The Bills are generally viewed as a tough matchup, but they are actually in the back half of the league in defense against opposing running backs. The numbers appear to be suppressed a little bit, with 304 rushing yards allowed, but they’ve also only had 74 attempts against them (ninth fewest in the league).

Usage shouldn’t be an issue for Henry, who hasn’t had fewer than 15 carries in a game and is coming off a 27 carry effort. With the Titans’ passing game questionable, look for them to again try to control the game on the ground and that should lead to another strong effort for Henry.

Sit – David Montgomery (Chicago Bears at OAK)

There is no question that Montgomery is going to be the lead runner for Chicago, but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily going to be effective. As it is he’s averaged better than 3.4 yards/carry once this season, overall taking 58 carries for 200 yards (3.4 yards/carry). He also is a virtual non-factor in the passing game, limiting his opportunities to make plays. With Mitchell Trubisky likely sidelined the Raiders will be able to stack the box and focus on stopping the rookie runner, further sending him down the rankings and making it harder to trust as anything more than a FLEX.

Other Running Backs to Start:

  • Mark Ingram (BAL vs. PIT) – Ingram has either been a monster (100+ yards twice this season, scoring 5 TD between those two games) or a pedestrian option. He’s alternated the good and the decent, so if you wanted to play the trend game he’s “due”. Of course Pittsburgh has also allowed the fifth most points per game to opposing running backs, with a total of 678 yards allowed, and that’s going to cement his role.
  • Devonta Freeman (ATL vs. HOU) – The Texans have allowed 592 total yards to opposing RB, including 251 receiving yards. While Freeman has had just one big performance on the ground, he does have 17 receptions across the four games. That’s going to cement his role in your lineup, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him producing on the ground as well. It’s easy to be discouraged, but this isn’t the week to sit him.

Other Running Backs to Sit:

  • Matt Breida (SF vs. CLE) – Already part of a convoluted committee with Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, there’s a chance that Tevin Coleman returns to the mix as well. Already full of questions, would you be willing to trust him?
  • Miles Sanders (PHI vs. NYJ) – Sanders is coming off a nice performance (11 carries for 72 yards), but he was out-shined by Jordan Howard (15 carries for 87 yards and 2 TD). With that type of split and coming off a game where he wasn’t targeted in the passing game, the risk may simply outweigh the reward. He’s a potential FLEX option, but he’s better left on your bench if possible.

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 5 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses

5 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, Prof! I get 0.5 PPR in my league. I’ve got the following 4 players. Need to start 1 at RB and 1 at FLEX: Damien Williams, Frank Gore, Sterling Shepard, and Jaylen Samuels. Can you please help me decide? Thanks.

  2. Standard Marlon Mack or Austin Ekeler
    Flex Joe Mixon, Marquise Brown or James White
    Flex Lesean McCoy or Alshon Jeffrey
    Standard John Brown, Geronimo Allison or Robby Anderson
    Start two standard Marlon Mack, Melvin Gordon, James White or Damien Williams
    Standard Josh Gordon, Calvin Ridley or Marquise Brown
    Start two standard Josh Gordon, T.Y. Hilton or Marquise Brown
    Flex Devonte Freeman or James white
    Standard Melvin Gordon or Marlon Mack
    Standard John Brown or Curtis Samuel

    • Standard Marlon Mack or Austin Ekeler — Mack if healthy, but I’d lean Ekeler
      Flex Joe Mixon, Marquise Brown or James White — Mixon
      Flex Lesean McCoy or Alshon Jeffrey — McCoy
      Standard John Brown, Geronimo Allison or Robby Anderson — Yuck, I guess Brown but begrudgingly
      Start two standard Marlon Mack, Melvin Gordon, James White or Damien Williams — Mack/Gordon
      Standard Josh Gordon, Calvin Ridley or Marquise Brown — Ridley
      Start two standard Josh Gordon, T.Y. Hilton or Marquise Brown — Hilton (if healthy) / Brown
      Flex Devonte Freeman or James white — Freeman
      Standard Melvin Gordon or Marlon Mack — Same as w/Ekeler
      Standard John Brown or Curtis Samuel — Samuels

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