Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em is the ultimate look at the best and worst matchups based on a PPR scoring system in fantasy football. This column will not cover the elite players in the NFL like Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, Davante Adams or Travis Kelce. Instead, I’ll look at the players you have the most questions about to help you set the most effective starting lineup possible. For all of your final fantasy lineup decisions, be sure to check out my weekly player rankings which will be updated daily throughout the 2021 NFL season.
Week 5 Start ‘Em: Running Backs
Start of the Week
Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Jets (London 9:30 a.m. ET, NFL): Patterson is the No. 2 running back in fantasy football (not a typo) after four weeks, yet started in just 31 percent of Yahoo! leagues last week. That won’t be the case anymore, as the veteran faces a Jets defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to running backs this season. That includes the second-most receiving yards (288) to the position.
Week 5 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
Darrell Henderson at Seahawks (Thurs., 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL): Henderson looked good in his return from a rib ailment, scoring 16.6 fantasy points while seeing a near 39 percent touch share in the Rams’ backfield. I’d keep him active this week, as the Rams face a Seahawks defense that’s struggled against running backs. Opposing runners have averaged the second-most fantasy points against Seattle’s defense this season.
Damien Williams at Raiders (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS): Williams should see a featured role in the Bears’ offense this week in the absence of David Montgomery, who suffered an injured knee in a win over the Lions. Las Vegas’ defense can be gashed by running backs, as Austin Ekeler, Najee Harris and Ty’Son Williams have all scored 16-plus fantasy points against them. If you were able to grab Damien, start him this weekend.
Leonard Fournette vs. Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Fournette appears to be the top back in Tampa Bay, as he saw a 44 percent touch share and played 63 snaps against the Patriots last week. He’ll be a solid No. 2 fantasy back this week when the Buccaneers host the Dolphins. Miami’s defense has been terrible against running backs, allowing six total touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to the position in 2021.
Damien Harris at Texans (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Harris put up a stinker last week, but that’s not a surprise against the Buccaneers. He should rebound this week in a positive matchup against the Texans. Houston’s defense has allowed four touchdowns and the fourth-most rushing yards to running backs, so consider Harris a nice FLEX option.
- D’Andre Swift at Vikings (1 p.m. ET, Fox)
- Chase Edmonds vs. 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox)
- Chuba Hubbard vs. Eagles (1 p.m. ET, Fox)
- Chase Edmonds at 49ers ($5,900)
- Damien Harris at Texans ($5,500)
- Leonard Fournette vs. Dolphins ($5,200)
Week 5 Sit ‘Em: Running Backs
Sit of the Week
Miles Sanders at Panthers (1 p.m. ET, FOX): Sanders’ stock has taken a massive hit, as the Eagles have become a pass-heavy offense over the last two weeks. He tallied nine combined carries and a 17.1 percent touch share spanning those games. Sanders is also losing touches to Kenneth Gainwell, who averaged a bananas 2.3 points per touch in a loss to the Chiefs. At best, Sanders is a risk-reward FLEX option against the Panthers.
Melvin Gordon at Steelers (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Gordon will be a low-end RB2 or FLEX option this week, but beware of a matchup against the Steelers. Their defense has been brutal against the pass, but running backs have not had much success, with no running back scoring more than 11 fantasy points against them this season. Gordon also continues to split work with rookie Javonte Williams, which hurts his value each week.
Trey Sermon at Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox): Sermon looked good in last week’s loss to the Seahawks, rushing for 89 yards while out-touching the rest of the Niners’ backfield, 19-6. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Niners could get Elijah Mitchell back from an injured shoulder, and a matchup against the Cardinals isn’t great on paper. At best, Sermon should be considered a risk-reward FLEX option this week.
Myles Gaskin at Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Gaskin has been a massive dud this season, averaging 7.9 fantasy points in his first four games. He’s also losing touches to Malcolm Brown, who saw a 25 percent touch share last week. If that’s not enough to sit Gaskin, this week’s matchup against the Buccaneers is brutal. Their defense has allowed just one touchdown and 2.8 yards per attempt to running backs this season.
James Conner vs. 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX): I was wrong about Conner last week, as he scored two touchdowns for the second straight week. He’ll play the same role against the Niners, who have yielded the eighth-most points to runners. Looking deeper into the numbers, however, 52 percent of the points the 49ers’ defense has allowed to backs have come in the passing game. Start Chase Edmonds, but be wary of Conner.
- Josh Jacobs vs. Bears (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)
- Latavius Murray vs. Colts (Mon., 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- Javonte Williams at Steelers (1 p.m. ET, Fox)
- Josh Jacobs vs. Bears ($5,900)
- Miles Sanders at Panthers ($5,700)
- James Conner vs. 49ers ($5,600)
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!