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 – Sony Michel – New England Patriots (vs. CLE)
It’s not like Michel has been a monster this season, averaging a meager 3.3 YPC, and we all know it’s nearly impossible to trust a New England running back. That said Michel has 41 carries over the past two weeks, is coming off a 3 TD day and has averaged 18.5 carries/game over the past four weeks.
The Browns also represent a favorable matchup having allowed the eighth most points per week to opposing running backs. Over their past two games they’ve been particularly bad:
- Week 5 (at SF) – 280 total yards, 3 TD
- Week 6 (vs. SEA) – 202 total yards, 1 TD
Of the touchdowns three of them have been rushing TD. That puts Michel squarely on radars.
Sit – Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles (at BUF)
Sanders isn’t alone, as we wouldn’t recommend starting Jordan Howard this week either, but Sanders is the more obvious sit. He’s been the clear #2 back, especially in the running game, as he’s had 10 carries or fewer in three straight games. Over this stretch he’s totaled 18 carries for 42 yards, and while he has had 10 receptions it’s hard to say that he’s locked in to produce anything in a tough matchup:
- Rushing Yards Allowed – 487 yards, 4 TD
- Receiving Yards Allowed – 213, 2 TD
Consider both Eagles running backs as TD dependent options, making both of them high risks in a struggling offense. If we had to pick one it would be Howard over Sanders.
Start – Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers (at KC)
After Week 6 there were some legitimate concerns about Jones and his future as the lead back for Green Bay. However he was right back leading the way last week against the Raiders:
- Aaron Jones – 12 carries for 50 yards
- Jamaal Williams – 3 carries for 5 yards
Both running backs had 4 receptions and a TD catch (they combined for 8 catches, 59 yards and 2 TD), but where the Chiefs have struggled is stopping the run. Thus far they’ve allowed 889 rushing yards, second most in the league (just 4 yards behind the Cincinnati Bengals). That makes Jones, who appears to clearly be the lead ball carrier, a viable option.
Sit – Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills (vs. PHI)
Singletary returned to the Bills lineup in Week 7, but he struggled despite facing the lowly Miami Dolphins. He managed just 7 carries for 26 yards (3.7 YPC) while not reeling in a reception (Frank Gore was at least better, taking 11 carries for 55 yards). Ultimately Singletary figures to emerge as a viable option, but at this point it’s clear that Gore is preferred.
That said is even Gore a viable option against the Eagles? He wouldn’t be more than a FLEX against a defense that had been rolling against opposing running backs prior to Week 7 (though we can’t compare what Ezekiel Elliot did to what the Bills’ combination is capable of). Even now Philadelphia has allowed the seventh fewest points per week to opposing running backs, meaning Singletary is a must sit and Gore is more of a last resort FLEX).
More Running Backs to Start:
- Ty Johnson (DET vs. NYG) – We wouldn’t necessarily call Johnson a must start, but after the Giants made Chase Edmonds look like an All Pro in Week 7 it’s hard not to lean on Johnson this week. We just need to be careful because Johnson could share touches with J.D. McKissic, but he was the clear favorite a week ago and even in a shared role there’s enough upside in the matchup to make him worth utilizing.
- Austin Ekeler (LAC at CHI) – The Bears are always viewed as a difficult matchup, but we watched them get torched in Week 7 without Akiem Hicks (178 total yards, 2 TD) as Latavius Murray lead the charge. While Ekeler will continue to share touches with Melvin Gordon, the Bears have struggled against running backs who can catch the football (348 receiving yards is fifth most in the league). After Gordon struggled in Week 7 it’s fair to wonder if Ekeler will get more carries, but even just as a pass catcher he’s worth using.
More Running Backs to Sit:
- Mark Walton (MIA at PIT) – Walton seemingly took over as the Dolphins’ lead running back in Week 7, and that at least puts him on the FLEX spectrum for Week 8. However the Steelers have allowed the fourth fewest points per week to opposing running backs over the past four weeks and the Dolphins in general are a mess. He’s on radars, but better left on the bench to see how things play out.
- Royce Freeman (DEN at IND) – The Colts have allowed the sixth fewest points per week to opposing running backs. Freeman is going to share the opportunities with Phillip Lindsay, and over the past two week he’s totaled 21 carries for 69 yards and 1 TD. His bigger influence has come catching the football (4+ catches in five of the past six games), but the Colts have allowed the fourth fewest receptions to opposing running backs (26).
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings: