NFL Fantasy Guide – Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Week 5: Running backs

Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em is the ultimate look at the weekly NFL matchups and how they’ll affect your fantasy football team. All starts and sits are based on standard scoring leagues. Obvious fantasy starters like Cam Newton and Antonio Brown will not be featured. For your final lineup decisions, check our lineup rankings.

Start of the Week – Melvin Gordon vs. Oakland Raiders
Gordon continues to roll in the stat sheets for fantasy fans, as he’s now scored six touchdowns this season after putting up a goose egg all of his rookie campaign. The Wisconsin product has another favorable matchup ahead against the Raiders, who have allowed an average of more than 23 fantasy points per game to running backs.

Todd Gurley vs. Buffalo Bills
Gurley has been one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football after four weeks, but the matchups are about to tilt in his favor starting this week against the Bills. Their defense has allowed 23-plus fantasy points to two of the first four No. 1 running backs on their schedule, so Gurley should rebound for fantasy fans.

C.J. Anderson vs. Atlanta Falcons
Anderson ranks in the top 10 in snaps among running backs, and he’s posted 20 or more touches in all but one contest. So despite some recent issues with the offensive line, I’d keep him in your starting lineup against the Falcons. Their defense has given up the sixth-most fantasy points (22 PPG) to opposing runners this season.

Jordan Howard vs. Indianapolis Colts
Howard has quickly become one of my favorite fantasy running backs. He showed off his skills to the tune of 132 total yards in last week’s win over the Lions, and an upcoming game against the Colts makes Howard a solid choice again. Indianapolis has surrendered an average of more than 24 fantasy points per game to the position.

Latavius Murray vs. San Diego Chargers
Murray, listed as a sit ’em last week, put up a 2.4-point stinker in a win over the Ravens. Still, I like his chances to put up an improved stat line this week when he faces a Chargers defense that’s been weak against the run. In fact, San Diego has surrendered the third-most fantasy points (25.98 PPG) to the position this year.

Jerick McKinnon vs. Texans, Terrance West vs. Redskins

Sit of the Week – Ryan Mathews vs. Detroit Lions
Mathews had a hot start to the season, but he lost work to Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood in the game before Philadelphia’s bye and could now be stuck in an unattractive committee. The veteran back is also going up against a Lions defense that hasn’t allowed a rushing score, so beware of Mathews this week.

Tevin Coleman vs. Denver Broncos
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said that he expects Coleman to be active this week, but will he see enough work to be productive? The talented runner has sickle cell trait, which can cause complications for people under physical stress at high altitudes. I hope the best for Coleman, but fantasy fans need to keep tabs on this situation.

Matt Jones vs. Baltimore Ravens
Jones went off for 19.8 fantasy points in last week’s win over the Browns, but an upcoming matchup against the Ravens is far less favorable. Over the last two weeks, Baltimore’s defense has held the combination of T.J. Yeldon and Latavius Murray to a mere 5.2 fantasy points. Expect some regression with Jones this weekend.

Rashad Jennings vs. Green Bay Packers
No matter if it’s Jennings, Orleans Darkwa or Paul Perkins in the lead-back role for the Giants, none of these runners are a recommended options against the Packers. While Green Bay’s pass defense has been bad, it’s run defense has given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing runners (9.0 FPPG) so far this season.

Jay Ajayi vs. Tennessee Titans
Ajayi looked like Miami’s best runner last week in Cincinnati, but he’s still mired in a four-headed committee mess ahead of this week’s contest against the Titans. Even if Ajayi emerges as the “leader” of this backfield, it’s tough to have much faith against a defense that’s allowed an average of just 13.13 points a game to backs.

Isaiah Crowell vs. Patriots, Theo Riddick vs. Eagles

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