Fantasy Football Week 1 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: Running backs

Editor's Note: Welcome to Week 1! Running back is the most important position in Fantasy, so you're probably not feeling great that things are so unsettled heading into the first week of the season. Sure, Ezekiel Elliott ended his holdout Wednesday, but Melvin Gordon is still nowhere to be found — he and his agent might just be working on a trade right now. Plus, with a busy cut day over the weekend, backfield situations in Kansas City, Houston, and Buffalo were all thrown into some disarray. Add in a dozen or so committees we already expected, and there are a lot of tough lineup calls coming. Luckily, Jamey Eisenberg has his Start and Sit calls for Week 1 ready to go. Check out running back here, and check back later in the day for the rest of the positions. 

START 'EM & SIT 'EM
Running Backs
Start 'Em
Projections powered by Sportsline
BAL Baltimore • #21
Age: 29 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ MIA BAL -7 O/U 37.5
MIA VS RB
25
RB RNK
15th
OWNED
100%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
645
REC
21
REYDS
170
TD
7
FPTS/G
11.8
It will be a common theme throughout the season to stack players against the Dolphins, and Ingram should have a great debut with the Ravens in Week 1. He's had 15 games over the past two seasons with at least 13 carries as a member of the Saints, and he's failed to score at least 12 PPR points just three times, while averaging 17.3 PPR points over that span. It would be a shock to see him get fewer than 13 carries, and he's got top-10 upside in all formats given this matchup.
NE New England • #26
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs PIT NE -5.5 O/U 50.5
PIT VS RB
7
RB RNK
25th
OWNED
100%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
931
REC
7
REYDS
50
TD
6
FPTS/G
10.7
I was initially skeptical of Michel this preseason, when he had an issue with his knee in the offseason and the Patriots added a prominent rookie running back with Damien Harris to this backfield. But Michel has apparently been fine during training camp and looked great in the third preseason outing against Carolina. In his final three games in the playoffs last season, Michel had 71 carries for 336 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and six touchdowns, so hopefully he'll pick up where last season ended.
LAC L.A. Chargers • #30
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs IND LAC -6.5 O/U 44.5
IND VS RB
26
RB RNK
16th
OWNED
99%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
554
REC
39
REYDS
404
TD
6
FPTS/G
12
Melvin Gordon isn't going to play against the Colts because of his contract holdout, which means Ekeler and Justin Jackson will share the workload until he returns. I consider Ekeler a must-start running back this week, with Jackson a high-end flex as a sleeper. Last season, Ekeler averaged 15.3 PPR points in four games when Gordon was either out or injured, and I'm expecting that kind of production this week. Jackson also scored at least 14 PPR points in two of the final three games Gordon missed in 2018. It could be a good week for both Chargers against the Colts.
DEN Denver • #30
Age: 25 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ OAK DEN -PK O/U 43.5
OAK VS RB
15
RB RNK
24th
OWNED
99%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
1037
REC
35
REYDS
241
TD
10
FPTS/G
14.8
Lindsay probably has mixed feelings facing the Raiders. His first ever 100-yard outing came against Oakland in Week 2 last year, as he scored 11 PPR points in that matchup. But he also suffered a serious wrist injury against the Raiders in Week 16, which ended his season and forced him to miss the Pro Bowl. He's healthy now, and he should be ready to dominate Oakland's defense one more time. We'll see how his workload is shared with Royce Freeman, but I'm confident in Lindsay as a starter in all leagues this week.
CHI Chicago • #32
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs GB CHI -3 O/U 46.5
GB VS RB
11
RB RNK
21st
OWNED
98%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
0
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
0
FPTS/G
0
We've only had one glimpse of Montgomery in uniform during the preseason, but it was enough to turn heads. In Chicago's first preseason game against Carolina, Montgomery had three carries for 16 yards and a touchdown, as well as three catches for 30 yards on three targets. I'm hopeful he'll be used in the passing game to that level, and I'm ready to trust him in the season opener against the Packers. We'll see how the Bears use Tarik Cohen and potentially Mike Davis alongside Montgomery, but I'd be surprised if he gets fewer than 15 touches. I'm expecting him to perform like a top-15 Fantasy running back against the Packers at home.
Sleepers
Projections powered by Sportsline
DAL Dallas • #20
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs NYG DAL -7 O/U 45
NYG VS RB
20
RB RNK
43rd
OWNED
87%
Even with Ezekiel Elliott signed and expected to play, I would still consider Pollard a potential flex option, especially given the NFL Network report of Elliott being limited to 20-25 reps. Pollard should get the chance for at least 10 total touches in a plus matchup, and he could be the one killing the clock at the end of the game if Dallas is playing with a lead.
NO New Orleans • #28
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs HOU NO -7 O/U 52.5
HOU VS RB
8
RB RNK
30th
OWNED
93%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
578
REC
22
REYDS
141
TD
6
FPTS/G
8.2
Murray should have the chance for about 15 total touches, and I plan to start him as at least a flex option in several leagues. He's going to handle most of the workload vacated by Ingram, and it's always good to trust the Saints at home in a prime-time game.
PHI Philadelphia • #26
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs WAS PHI -9.5 O/U 45.5
WAS VS RB
14
RB RNK
33rd
OWNED
96%
The Eagles should have the chance to play with a lead in this game, and Sanders might get to showcase his talents in his home debut. I don't consider him a must-start running back yet because of all the mouths to feed in Philadelphia, but I would start Sanders as a flex in most leagues.
SEA Seattle • #20
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs CIN SEA -9.5 O/U 44
CIN VS RB
30
RB RNK
38th
OWNED
89%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
419
REC
9
REYDS
75
TD
2
FPTS/G
4.9
I'm expecting Seattle to have its way with Cincinnati this week at home, and Penny should have the chance for a decent workload as the No. 2 running back behind Chris Carson. While Carson is a must-start running back in all leagues, Penny should be considered a high-end flex.
SF San Francisco • #22
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ TB SF -PK O/U 50.5
TB VS RB
24
RB RNK
34th
OWNED
92%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
814
REC
27
REYDS
261
TD
5
FPTS/G
11.6
The 49ers listed Breida as the starter on their first depth chart, ahead of Tevin Coleman, which was a surprise. While both running backs will play a lot – and I like Coleman as a starting Fantasy option – Breida should be at least a flex in all leagues. He played at Tampa Bay in Week 12 last year and had 14 carries for 106 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and three catches for 34 yards.
Sit 'Em
Projections powered by Sportsline
KC Kansas City • #26
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ JAC KC -4 O/U 52
JAC VS RB
5
RB RNK
23rd
OWNED
100%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
256
REC
23
REYDS
160
TD
6
FPTS/G
6.1
I was already leery about the matchup for Williams against the Jaguars before the Chiefs added LeSean McCoy, and now the uncertainty of his workload makes me want to stay away. While Williams should get the majority of touches, it would not be shocking to see McCoy step in and be heavily involved, not to mention the possibility of rookie Darwin Thompson also getting some looks. I would only consider Williams a flex option this week against what should be a dominant Jaguars defense once again.
TEN Tennessee • #22
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CLE CLE -5.5 O/U 45.5
CLE VS RB
16
RB RNK
31st
OWNED
100%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
1059
REC
15
REYDS
99
TD
12
FPTS/G
12.4
I'm expecting the Titans to be chasing points in this matchup, which isn't ideal for Henry on the road. Along with that, not having left tackle Taylor Lewan (suspension) will hurt the offensive line, and we'll see how Henry is after dealing with a calf injury early in training camp. He should be fine, but I don't love this set up for him, especially in PPR. He's a flex option at best in that format.
WAS Washington • #29
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ PHI PHI -9.5 O/U 45.5
PHI VS RB
18
RB RNK
37th
OWNED
96%
I'm excited that Washington coach Jay Gruden said Guice will get the majority of touches in this backfield ahead of Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, but I want to see it first. I also want to see this Washington offense show me something to have confidence in starting Guice in a tough matchup on the road. I'm confident that will happen eventually, but I'm not there in Week 1, especially with left tackle Trent Williams still away from the team. I'd only use Guice as a flex option for now.
MIA Miami • #32
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs BAL BAL -7 O/U 37.5
BAL VS RB
3
RB RNK
28th
OWNED
98%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
535
REC
53
REYDS
477
TD
9
FPTS/G
12.8
We'll see how the Dolphins plan to use Drake and Kalen Ballage, but this could get ugly fast. With Miami trading left tackle Laremy Tunsil to Houston, a bad offensive line got significantly worse. And now the Ravens are coming to town. I don't know about you, but starting any Dolphins player in Week 1, including Drake in PPR, makes me nervous. This Miami offense could be atrocious all year, especially in a tough matchup against Baltimore.
BUF Buffalo • #26
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYJ NYJ -3 O/U 41
NYJ VS RB
10
RB RNK
36th
OWNED
87%
The Bills apparently let McCoy go because they have confidence in Singletary, but that doesn't mean he's going to get a significant workload in Week 1 against the Jets. Remember, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon are still on the roster, and all three running backs will likely get touches. Gore could even be the starter, and Yeldon could be the primary running back on passing downs, meaning Singletary isn't in line for the main role – yet. It could happen, but I'd rather take a wait-and-see approach against what should be a good run defense for the Jets.
Bust Alert
Projections powered by Sportsline
GB Green Bay • #33
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CHI CHI -3 O/U 46.5
CHI VS RB
1
RB RNK
22nd
OWNED
100%
2018 Stats
RUYDS
728
REC
26
REYDS
206
TD
9
FPTS/G
14.2
You're most likely going to start Jones on Thursday night against the Bears, but you shouldn't be surprised if he struggles. Playing the Bears has been a nightmare for Jones, who suffered two knee injuries in his only two trips to Chicago in his career. We have yet to see how the Packers will use Jones in tandem with Jamaal Williams under new coach Matt LaFleur since both were injured in the preseason. It could be a split, although that would be a surprise, and I'm hopeful Jones just dominates touches because he's the better running back. Still, given the uncertainty, the tough matchup and Jones' history in Chicago, I wouldn't prioritize starting Jones this week. He's a low-end No. 2 running back at best in all formats.
Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

Fantasy Football Today Podcast

Join our Free $1,000,000 Parlay Challenge

Our Latest Stories