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Figuring out which running backs to start in Week 1 should be easy with seemingly more settled backfields than in past seasons, but here we are, and just like in past seasons, it's still hard. Between unexpected injuries and matchups, there are running backs we never expected working their way into the mix for Week 1. Sifting through which backs to start and bench is tough work and we're here to help narrow it down and find the right answers.

We just really don't know how things are going to play out in a lot of backfields. That means you might need more help than usual with those tough lineup calls, and you've come to the right place for help. Jamey Eisenberg's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em calls at quarterback can help you find the answers for Week 1.

More Week 1: QB Preview | RB Preview | WR Preview | TE Preview

START 'EM & SIT 'EM
Running Backs
Start 'Em
Projections powered by Sportsline
ARI Arizona • #22
Age: 27 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ LV BAL -4 O/U 50
OPP VS RB
26th
PROJ PTS
11.4
RB RNK
25th
Williams will likely see a big workload Monday night after Gus Edwards was lost for the season with a torn ACL on Thursday. We'll see how much the Ravens will use Le'Veon Bell, but Williams will be put in the spotlight in a plus matchup. I like him as a starter in non-PPR leagues and a flex play in PPR. If Williams has a strong game against the Raiders, who struggled against opposing running backs last season, then he could be the leader of Baltimore's backfield moving forward. Edwards, J.K. Dobbins (ACL) and Justice Hill (Achilles) are done for the year, but Williams will compete with Bell, Latavius Murray and potentially Devonta Freeman for the lead role. I'm hopeful Williams does well in Week 1 and can solidify himself as the starter all year.
TB Tampa Bay • #22
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ TEN TEN -3 O/U 52
OPP VS RB
25th
PROJ PTS
11.8
RB RNK
25th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
448
REC
53
REYDS
402
TD
5
FPTS/G
10.5
This game could be a high-scoring affair based on the projected points total (52 from William Hill), and Edmonds should be the lead back for the Cardinals. He'll definitely work in the passing game, and we'll see what happens on rushing downs when it comes to James Conner. I only like Edmonds as a flex play in non-PPR leagues, but I would start him in all PPR formats in this potential shootout. And Conner can be a sleeper as well, but only use him as a flex in non-PPR leagues.
MIN Minnesota • #33
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NE NE -3 O/U 43.5
OPP VS RB
15th
PROJ PTS
13.2
RB RNK
18th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
584
REC
41
REYDS
388
TD
5
FPTS/G
16.4
This isn't going to be an easy matchup for Gaskin given the changes the Patriots made on defense, especially to shore up their run defense with guys like Dont'a Hightower, Davon Godchaux and Christian Barmore. But Gaskin is one of my guys this year, and I don't plan to sit him this week. The Dolphins ran all over New England in Week 15 last year with Salvon Ahmed and Matt Breida combining for 35 carries, 208 yards and a touchdown with Gaskin out, so he has big shoes to fill. But he's going to be Miami's lead running back, and he should make plays in the passing game. Gaskin is a strong No. 2 running back this week.
CAR Carolina • #6
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ ATL ATL -3 O/U 48
OPP VS RB
4th
PROJ PTS
13.4
RB RNK
23rd
2020 Stats
RUYDS
867
REC
28
REYDS
197
TD
6
FPTS/G
14.2
I'm concerned about Sanders' season-long Fantasy outlook, but I would start him this week against the Falcons as a No. 2 running back in all leagues. And hopefully he plays well with Jalen Hurts like he did in three starts with him last season, scoring at least 17 PPR points in two of those outings. While Sanders might lose touches to Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott, this week he should still lead the Eagles in touches. And I like his chances to deliver a strong performance against the Falcons.
NE New England • #28
Age: 32 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs MIA NE -3 O/U 43.5
OPP VS RB
7th
PROJ PTS
10.2
RB RNK
30th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
121
REC
49
REYDS
375
TD
3
FPTS/G
8.3
White is one of my favorite plays this week in PPR, and he should be at least a flex option. I expect Mac Jones to lean on White as a viable option in the passing game. He also had seven catches in two games against Miami last year. Damien Harris is also worth using as a starter in non-PPR leagues and a flex option in PPR, but I like White as the Patriots best running back this week in PPR given his role.
Sleepers
Projections powered by Sportsline
CLE Cleveland • #27
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ KC KC -6.5 O/U 54.5
OPP VS RB
29th
PROJ PTS
11.2
RB RNK
27th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
841
REC
38
REYDS
304
TD
11
FPTS/G
13.7
Hunt should be considered a borderline starter in PPR, and he could be heavily involved if the Chiefs are chasing points. He scored at Kansas City in the divisional round of the playoffs with six carries for 32 yards, and he also added one catch for 2 yards. Nick Chubb is a must-start running back in all leagues, but Hunt could have a big game if the Browns need to make a comeback on the road.
DAL Dallas • #32
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs DAL TB -8 O/U 51.5
OPP VS RB
16th
PROJ PTS
9
RB RNK
32nd
2020 Stats
RUYDS
978
REC
28
REYDS
165
TD
8
FPTS/G
13.3
We'll see how Tampa Bay plans to use all three running backs this week with Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard, but I like Jones the best given the expected game flow of Tampa Bay likely playing with a lead. He should get the most carries, and Dallas should again struggle against the run this year. Fournette is a sleeper in all leagues, and Bernard is worth using as a flex option in PPR. But I like Jones the best given that the Buccaneers should win this game at home.
BAL Baltimore • #33
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYG DEN -3 O/U 42
OPP VS RB
20th
PROJ PTS
9.6
RB RNK
29th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
986
REC
32
REYDS
158
TD
10
FPTS/G
13.2
At some point this season, we should see Javonte Williams as the best running back for the Broncos. He might even be the best Denver running back this week. But Gordon will likely lead the team in touches against the Giants, and I would use him as a flex. New York's run defense should be tough, but the Broncos should be playing with a lead in this game. Williams also has flex appeal in this matchup, but give Gordon the slight edge over Williams as the best Denver running back early in the year.
NO New Orleans • #5
Age: 34 • Experience: 13 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs JAC JAC -2.5 O/U 44.5
OPP VS RB
30th
PROJ PTS
7.5
RB RNK
NR
2020 Stats
RUYDS
299
REC
6
REYDS
50
TD
2
FPTS/G
4.8
The Texans will use Ingram, Phillip Lindsay and David Johnson in a committee, but Ingram might have the best chance for success based on his role in the preseason. And if the Texans are playing with a lead, as shocking as that might seem, Ingram could play well against the Jaguars. I like him as a flex option, with his value higher in non-PPR leagues, and we'll see if Houston can pull off an upset in what might be the Texans best chance to win a game this year.
CLE Cleveland
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs SEA SEA -2.5 O/U 49.5
OPP VS RB
23rd
PROJ PTS
7.9
RB RNK
39th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
380
REC
63
REYDS
482
TD
7
FPTS/G
12.1
The Athletic reported this week that the Colts want Hines to get more touches this season, and he could be needed in the passing game with T.Y. Hilton (neck) hurt. This game also projects to be a high-scoring affair based on the projected points (49 from William Hill), and Seattle was top five last season in receptions allowed to running backs. Jonathan Taylor is a must-start Fantasy option in all leagues, but Hines is worth using as a flex in PPR.
Sit 'Em
Projections powered by Sportsline
GB Green Bay • #8
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs BAL BAL -4.5 O/U 50.5
OPP VS RB
10th
PROJ PTS
10.5
RB RNK
28th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
1065
REC
33
REYDS
238
TD
12
FPTS/G
15.4
Jacobs will hopefully get off to a fast start in this game, but he typically struggles when the Raiders are losing. And we'll see how Las Vegas plans to use Jacobs in tandem with Kenyan Drake. The Ravens run defense should make it tough on the new offensive line for the Raiders, and I would only use Jacobs as a flex option this week at best, with his value higher in non-PPR leagues.
CHI Chicago
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs SF SF -7.5 O/U 45
OPP VS RB
3rd
PROJ PTS
12.7
RB RNK
20th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
521
REC
46
REYDS
357
TD
10
FPTS/G
14.6
Lions coach Dan Campbell said D'Andre Swift (groin) is "ready to go," but we'll see if he gets his full workload. Jamaal Williams could have some sleeper appeal if Swift struggles, but neither is worth trusting against this 49ers defense. Last season, despite dealing with several injuries, San Francisco was still among the best teams against opposing running backs. And the 49ers should get after the Lions and Swift. I would only trust Swift as a flex in this matchup, with his value higher in PPR.
ARI Arizona • #22
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CAR CAR -5.5 O/U 44.5
OPP VS RB
22nd
PROJ PTS
8.1
RB RNK
NR
2020 Stats
RUYDS
0
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
0
FPTS/G
0
The Jets are likely going to use three running backs this week with Carter, Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson, which could be a mess. While I like Carter the best of this group long-term, I don't want to trust him this week against the Panthers. It's not a difficult matchup, and maybe the former Tar Heel going back to North Carolina for his NFL debut will be extra motivation. But his potential for an inconsistent workload makes him risky as a Fantasy starter in the majority of leagues.
CIN Cincinnati • #21
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs PIT BUF -6.5 O/U 48.5
OPP VS RB
6th
PROJ PTS
5.8
RB RNK
47th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
481
REC
14
REYDS
95
TD
5
FPTS/G
7.8
We know the Bills are going to rotate running backs with Moss and Devin Singletary, and maybe Breida gets in the mix as well. Based on the preseason, Singletary enters Week 1 with the most upside, but none of the Buffalo running backs are more than flex options. Last year against the Steelers in Week 14, Moss was held to 13 carries for 43 yards and no receptions. If he doesn't score this week then his Fantasy production could be minimal.
Bust Alert
Projections powered by Sportsline
PHI Philadelphia • #26
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs DEN DEN -3 O/U 42
OPP VS RB
17th
PROJ PTS
16.2
RB RNK
21st
2020 Stats
RUYDS
34
REC
6
REYDS
60
TD
0
FPTS/G
7.7
Barkley is not a must-sit option, and it's hard to bench him if he's expected to play. I have Barkley in a couple of leagues, and I'm starting him this week because of a lack of better options. But we don't know what his expected workload will be coming off last year's knee injury, and the Giants may ease him into the season, especially with a short turnaround in Week 2 when the Giants play Washington on Thursday night. I hope Barkley comes out and dominates, but he's a risky Fantasy play for Week 1.
DET Detroit • #5
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ LAR LAR -7.5 O/U 46
OPP VS RB
8th
PROJ PTS
10.2
RB RNK
14th
2020 Stats
RUYDS
1070
REC
54
REYDS
438
TD
10
FPTS/G
17.7
Like Barkley, it's hard to sit Montgomery, but this is a tough matchup for him against the Rams. Last year, Montgomery played at Los Angeles in Week 7, and he finished with 14 carries for 48 yards and five catches for 21 yards. We love that involvement in the passing game, which should continue, but under 50 rushing yards would be miserable, especially if he fails to score. I'm also starting Montgomery in a couple of leagues because I don't have other options, but I'm not expecting a big performance this week.

So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 1 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that has out-performed experts big-time.