Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2019): Running Back Edition: Week 6: Derrick Henry, Kerryon Johnson, Todd Gurley & More


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 – Kerryon Johnson (Detroit Lions vs. GB)

Johnson has been given 20+ carries in each of the past two games, including delivering 26 carries for 125 yards in Week 4 against the Chiefs (the Lions had a bye in Week 5). While he hasn’t been a pass catching force to this point (his season high is 2 receptions), he has the potential to make an impact there as well. Taking on a Packers’ defense that’s continually been burnt by the run the matchup is ideal:

  • Rushing Yards – 606 (fifth most)
  • Rushing TD – 6 (tied for second most, behind only the Ravens)

Their 246 receiving yards to opposing running backs also puts them in the bottom ten in the league. With Johnson’s 9 targets leading the way for Lions’ running backs it will offer another opportunity to potentially make an impact.

Sit – Jordan Howard (Philadelphia Eagles at MIN)

Howard has been part of a near 50/50 platoon over the first few weeks of the season:

  • Jordan Howard – 53 carries for 248 yards
  • Miles Sanders – 54 carries for 193 yards

Howard has been the better runner, though that’s not an area where Houston has been exploited much (390 rushing yards allowed). Instead it’s been through the air (336 receiving yards is second most in the league), and Sanders has been the more utilized running back there with 10 receptions and 133 yards (Howard has 6 receptions for 47 yards).

With uncertain usage and a difficult matchup, Howard is best left as a FLEX and even that isn’t a guarantee.

Start – Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans at DEN)

The Broncos are currently allowing the fifth most points per week to opposing running backs, being burned by both the run (560 rushing yards, 5 TD) and the pass (227 receiving yards, 1 TD). With Henry having scored in four of five games this season, while also averaging nearly 20 carries per game, it would seem easy to envision him exploiting the matchup. In most weeks he’s not going to be a RB1, but for this week he has to be on the radar.

Sit – LeSean McCoy (Kansas City Chiefs vs. HOU)

The return of Damien Williams clearly had an impact on the usage of McCoy, who didn’t receive a carry in Week 5. That’s not to say that he was a touch monster prior to that, having never received more than 11 carries or registering more than 3 receptions in a game, but it’s clear that Williams is the lead back.

Even if McCoy saw a role in the running game, the matchup against Houston isn’t ideal for his skill set:

  • Rushing – 390 yards, 2 TD
  • Receiving – 336 yards, 1 TD

So the Texans has been far more prone against running backs who can catch the football. With both Damien & Darrel Williams also playing a role in that regard, McCoy is an easy player to sit.

Other running backs to start:

  • Melvin Gordon & Austin Ekeler (Los Angeles Chargers vs. PIT) – Both Gordon and Ekeler had a role in Week 5, and that’s something we’d expect to continue. The Steelers have struggled against both the run (518 yards and 4 TD) and the pass (239 yards), so it’s easy to envision both posting RB2 like performances.
  • Carlos Hyde (Houston Texans vs. KC) – While the Chiefs are middle of the pack in points against per week by opposing running backs, that’s because they’ve managed to avoid allowing touchdowns (3 TD). Their 668 rushing yards allowed is actually most in the league, and that should give Hyde a chance to produce.

Another running backs to sit:

  • Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams vs. SF) – It’s easy to argue that he should be a RB2, but his value has been salvaged by finding the end zone twice in each of the past two weeks. Considering the 49ers haven’t allowed a TD to an opposing RB in four games in ’19 and that Gurley is banged up, he needs to be dropped down your rankings and is no longer a must use.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 6 rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends


  1. Hi, Prof. My league awards 0.5 PPR. Wondering if I should start RB Chase Edmonds over WR Terry McLaurin at FLEX, if David Johnson doesn’t end up playing. What do you think? Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Prof. It looks like Johnson might give it a go. I guess it’s risky to start Edmonds then. Now, I’m a bit worried about Kamara. He’s my RB1. And I have Damien Williams as RB2. My flex right now is Terry McLaurin who has a decent matchup against Miami. Do you think Kamara will play? I certainly think so. Let’s see! Thanks, once again.


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