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If you drafted Christian McCaffrey or Jonathan Taylor, go ahead and start them right now. You don't have to think too much about that one. But not all running back decisions will be that easy. It will be our objective to find you the running backs you'll want to move in and out of your lineups based on matchups every week. Playing matchups is key to the position, and we're here to find you the perfect path to a winning 2022.

Jamey Eisenberg has his Start and Sit calls for RB below. His Waiver Wire column also can direct you to the best options who may be available in your leagues. And don't forget to check out Heath Cummings' running back preview for more help with matchup notes, Week 1 numbers to know and more.

START 'EM & SIT 'EM
Running Backs
Start 'Em
Projections powered by Sportsline
JAC Jacksonville • #1
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ WAS WAS -2.5 O/U 44
OPP VS RB
12th
PROJ PTS
12.4
RB RNK
18th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
0
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
0
FPTS/G
0
James Robinson (Achilles) is expected to be active for this matchup with the Commanders, but I'm still counting on Etienne to have a huge role, especially in the passing game. The Jaguars aren't going to rush Robinson back on the field, and they don't have to because of Etienne. He should be a popular target for Trevor Lawrence, especially if the Washington pass rush is an issue and Lawrence needs to dump the ball off. If he scores, Etienne could be a top-10 running back in all leagues this week.
HOU Houston • #31
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs IND IND -7 O/U 46
OPP VS RB
3rd
PROJ PTS
12.8
RB RNK
20th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
0
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
0
FPTS/G
0
The status of Colts star linebacker Shaquille Leonard (back) could determine if Pierce is good or great for this week. You should be starting him regardless given his expected role as the lead running back for the Texans. He has 20-touch potential, and hopefully, Houston uses him in the passing game. Leonard missed Week 16 last year against the Cardinals, and Chase Edmonds went nuts with 16 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown, along with eight catches for 71 yards. Hopefully, Pierce could have a huge game as well if Leonards is out.
GB Green Bay • #28
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ MIN GB -1.5 O/U 47
OPP VS RB
18th
PROJ PTS
11.3
RB RNK
22nd
2021 Stats
RUYDS
803
REC
34
REYDS
313
TD
7
FPTS/G
10.9
We're going to find out this week just how much the Packers will use Dillon in tandem with Aaron Jones, and I expect it will be a lot, especially if Allen Lazard (undisclosed) is out. In Week 17 last year against the Vikings, Dillon played great with 14 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns, along with two catches for 20 yards. In that same game, Jones had eight carries for 76 yards, along with five catches for 30 yards. Let's hope history repeats itself in the rematch, with both finding the end zone this time, and Dillon is worth trusting as a No. 2 running back in all leagues.
SF San Francisco • #25
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CHI SF -7 O/U 41.5
OPP VS RB
8th
PROJ PTS
12.7
RB RNK
14th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
963
REC
19
REYDS
137
TD
6
FPTS/G
15
Mitchell is expected to be healthy after dealing with a hamstring injury in training camp, and he should be started in all leagues when he's playing in a favorable matchup. Last year in Week 1 at Detroit is when Mitchell became a household name after he took over for an injured Raheem Mostert (knee) and had 19 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown. He was San Francisco's best running back in 2021, and hopefully he can do that again this year, starting against the Bears.
WAS Washington • #24
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs JAC WAS -2.5 O/U 44
OPP VS RB
14th
PROJ PTS
13.5
RB RNK
17th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
1037
REC
42
REYDS
294
TD
10
FPTS/G
14.3
With Brian Robinson Jr. (lower body) on the NFI list and out for the first four weeks of the season, Gibson should get plenty of touches as the lead running back in Washington. J.D. McKissic will also play a role on passing downs, and he's worth using as a sleeper in PPR this week against Jacksonville. But Gibson should be a must-start option in all leagues, and hopefully he doesn't fumble away his chance to get back in the good graces of his coaching staff. The Commanders were ready to replace Gibson with Robinson, but now Gibson could get 20-plus touches in a favorable matchup. Last season, the Jaguars were top five in rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs with 17.
Sleepers (Start/Sit)
Projections powered by Sportsline
CLE Cleveland • #27
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CAR CAR -1.5 O/U 42
OPP VS RB
4th
PROJ PTS
11.6
RB RNK
25th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
386
REC
22
REYDS
174
TD
5
FPTS/G
13.8
I'm counting on Hunt to play a pivotal role in the passing game for the Browns this week and likely for as long as Jacoby Brissett is the starter. He's not going to challenge downfield often and with a lot of success, and Cleveland has a suspect receiving corps behind Amari Cooper and David Njoku, which should give extra targets to Hunt. While Nick Chubb will be heavily involved in the game plan as the lead running back for the Browns, so will Hunt. He's at least a flex in the majority of leagues for Week 1.
DAL Dallas • #20
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TB TB -2.5 O/U 51
OPP VS RB
17th
PROJ PTS
11.5
RB RNK
33rd
2021 Stats
RUYDS
719
REC
39
REYDS
337
TD
2
FPTS/G
10.4
We'll find out this week just how much the Cowboys will use Pollard in the passing game, and it's a great matchup for him against Tampa Bay. Last year, the Buccaneers were second in the NFL for receptions allowed to running backs with 118, and they were first in 2020 with 104. It's difficult to run on Tampa Bay, which is why I'm concerned for Ezekiel Elliott. But if Pollard is deployed as a receiver he could be useful as at least a flex in PPR.
BUF Buffalo • #20
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ HOU IND -7 O/U 46
OPP VS RB
24th
PROJ PTS
9.9
RB RNK
31st
2021 Stats
RUYDS
276
REC
40
REYDS
310
TD
3
FPTS/G
6.6
If you've followed me this offseason you know how much I love Hines, and I expect him to have a significant role in tandem with Jonathan Taylor, starting in Week 1 against the Texans. Now, the concern for him will be if Indianapolis is up big against Houston that Hines won't need to do much in the passing game. But I expect Matt Ryan to lean on Hines as a weapon out of the backfield, and he could be second on the team in targets behind Michael Pittman -- all season. Hines is a great flex play in PPR this week.
MIA Miami • #31
Age: 30 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs NE MIA -3.5 O/U 46.5
OPP VS RB
19th
PROJ PTS
6.9
RB RNK
41st
2021 Stats
RUYDS
20
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
0
FPTS/G
2
I'm starting Chase Edmonds as a No. 2 running back in all leagues this week, but I would also consider Mostert as a flex, especially in non- and 0.5-PPR leagues. When healthy, he could lead the Dolphins in carries, and Mike McDaniel likely has a lot of trust in Mostert from their days together in San Francisco. If the Dolphins are playing with a lead -- and they are 3.5-point favorites at home -- then look for Mostert to help kill the clock and rack up some cheap production late in the game.
BAL Baltimore • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYJ BAL -7 O/U 44.5
OPP VS RB
32nd
PROJ PTS
8
RB RNK
39th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
254
REC
30
REYDS
291
TD
3
FPTS/G
8.5
This posting could change if J.K. Dobbins (knee) is ready for Week 1, but Drake and Mike Davis have the chance to be flex plays this week if Dobbins is out. The Jets were No. 1 in Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, and they gave up the most touchdowns to the position by a glaring margin with 28 in total. The defense should improve this season, but Baltimore is going to run the ball no matter who lines up at running back. I'll give a slight edge to Drake given that he should be more talented -- and hopefully get more opportunities -- than Davis in Week 1.
Avoid in shallow leagues (Start/Sit)
Projections powered by Sportsline
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #20
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs BAL BAL -7 O/U 44.5
OPP VS RB
5th
PROJ PTS
11.6
RB RNK
30th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
0
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
0
FPTS/G
0
I hope that I'm wrong by putting Hall in this spot, and in full disclosure, I'm starting him in several leagues. I drafted him to be a No. 2 running back, and I hope he can overcome some of the negatives working against him. For starters, I don't want to see Michael Carter play ahead of Hall, and that could be the case for the Jets based on the preseason. And in a secondary role against a good run defense for Baltimore, you should only consider Hall as a flex at best. He'll have big days this season, but if you can sit him this week then that's the right move.
LAR L.A. Rams • #3
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs BUF BUF -2.5 O/U 52
OPP VS RB
15th
PROJ PTS
10.7
RB RNK
29th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
3
REC
3
REYDS
10
TD
0
FPTS/G
4.3
Like Hall, I'd love to see Akers come out and smash in Week 1 against the Bills. I'd like him to keep Darrell Henderson on the bench and prove, without a doubt, he's the best running back for the Rams this year. But it seems like we're going to see too much of Henderson and potentially rookie running back Kyren Williams as well. And if Williams plays on passing downs then Akers could be in trouble all season. The Bills are a brutal matchup as well, and this should be a game where the Rams are throwing a lot. Let's see how Akers does, and hopefully he's back to being a weekly starter in all leagues as early as Week 2 against Atlanta.

NE New England • #37
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ MIA MIA -3.5 O/U 46.5
OPP VS RB
13th
PROJ PTS
9.9
RB RNK
34th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
929
REC
18
REYDS
132
TD
15
FPTS/G
14
The Patriots backfield remains somewhat of a mystery for Week 1 at Miami. Ty Montgomery (ankle) traveled with the team, and he could surprise us by playing after getting hurt in the preseason. If he's active then he should have a role in the passing game, and we know Rhamondre Stevenson is also going to get his share of touches. Harris will likely need to score to reward Fantasy managers, which he did often last year with 15 rushing touchdowns. He also had 117 total yards against Miami in Week 1 last year, and he had 73 total yards and a touchdown (with four catches) against the Dolphins in Week 18. I just don't want to trust Harris if he's not dominating touches, and he could be in trouble if the Patriots are chasing points. Consider Harris just a flex, with his value higher in non- and 0.5-PPR leagues. As for Stevenson, he's also a flex, but his value will increase in PPR if Montgomery is out.
ATL Atlanta • #84
Age: 31 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs NO NO -5.5 O/U 42.5
OPP VS RB
1st
PROJ PTS
10.2
RB RNK
32nd
2021 Stats
RUYDS
618
REC
52
REYDS
548
TD
11
FPTS/G
14.7
One of the backfields I'm curious to see in Week 1 is the Falcons. We expect Patterson to still be the lead running back, but Damien Williams and Tyler Allgeier are expected to also have a role. In a tough matchup against the Saints, this is likely a situation you want to avoid. The hope for Patterson is that he's involved in the passing game, and he had a monster performance against New Orleans in Week 9 last year with six catches for 126 yards to go with nine carries for 10 yards. In Week 18 in the rematch, Patterson was held to four carries for 11 yards and one catch for 1 yard. At best, Patterson should be considered a flex play in PPR.
DAL Dallas • #21
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TB TB -2.5 O/U 51
OPP VS RB
17th
PROJ PTS
11.6
RB RNK
24th
2021 Stats
RUYDS
1002
REC
47
REYDS
287
TD
12
FPTS/G
14.8
I hope Elliott can reward the Fantasy managers who drafted him in Round 3 in the majority of leagues this year, but I'm concerned about his role in tandem with Pollard and the offensive line. Without left tackle Tyron Smith (hamstring), Elliott could find it tough to get additional rushing yards, and Pollard could take him off the field in obvious passing situations. This week, you probably want to only use Elliott as a flex in most leagues. Tampa Bay has arguably the best run defense in the NFL, and the Buccaneers limited Elliott to 11 carries for 33 yards in Week 1 last year, along with two catches for 6 yards. If Elliott can have a role in the passing game then he could still be productive this week, but asking him to find success against this run defense on the ground is a tall task.