Fantasy Football Week 15 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: Running backs
Doug Martin and Leonard Fournette began the season with very different outlooks, but Jamey Eisenberg says you can start both in Week 15.
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Editor's note: Welcome to Week 15! We're handling Jamey Eisenberg's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em column a bit differently this season. You're still getting the same in-depth analysis as always, we're just presenting a bit differently, in an effort to get it out to you earlier in the day. This column takes a long time to write, and in the past, we've usually gotten it out to you in the evening. This year, we're going to publish it position-by-position, to get it into your hands quicker. Here's Jamey's take on running backs for this week.
Don't worry: If you want the classic Start 'Em & Sit 'Em, we'll still be publishing that at the end of the day with every position included. For now, here's running back.
Projections are provided by SportsLine.com. Projected points are for PPR leagues.
|16.9 projected points|
Leonard Fournette Jacksonville Jaguars RB
|Like most of the Jaguars , Fournette was a disaster in Week 14 at Tennessee with 14 carries for 36 yards and two catches for 5 yards. But he should rebound this week against Washington (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, available on fuboTV) . Fournette is a volume back, and he has 12 games in his career with at least 18 carries, including three this season. In those games, he has at least 13 PPR points in each outing, so hopefully he's ready for some heavy lifting in this matchup. Since Week 9, Washington has allowed seven running backs to either score or gain at least 100 total yards. Fournette should add to that total in Week 15 at home.|
|10.9 projected points|
Doug Martin Oakland Raiders RB
|Martin has scored a touchdown in three games in a row coming into Week 15, and he has at least 12 PPR points in three of his past five games. He could benefit if Jalen Richard (ribs) is out or limited, but really this is all about the matchup. The Bengals allow the most Fantasy points to opposing running backs, and there have been 13 running backs with either a touchdown or at least 100 total yards against this defense. Martin should be considered a solid starting option in all formats in Week 15.|
|13.0 projected points|
Chris Carson Seattle Seahawks RB
|Carson comes into Week 15 with at least 12 PPR points in four games in a row, including his best performance over that stretch in Week 14 against Minnesota with 22 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. He also faced the 49ers in Week 13 and had 13 carries for 69 yards, as well as three catches for 39 yards on four targets. He should once again have the chance for a solid outing, especially with Rashaad Penny (knee) out. The 49ers have allowed a running back to score in three games in a row, including Penny in Week 13.|
|10.2 projected points|
Jaylen Samuels Pittsburgh Steelers RB
|There is a chance James Conner (ankle) could play in Week 15 against the Patriots , and if that happens we'll remove Samuels from this list. But we expect Conner to be out as of Wednesday, which should allow Samuels the chance to build off his performance in Week 14 at Oakland. He had 11 carries for 28 yards, as well as seven catches for 64 yards on seven targets, which gave him 15 PPR points. He lost a touchdown to Stevan Ridley against the Raiders , but Samuels had the most playing time, especially in the passing game. And the Patriots have struggled with pass-catching running backs this season, allowing the fifth-most receptions (80) to the position this year. As long as Conner is out, Samuels is a must-start PPR running back, but he should be started in all leagues given his upside in this potential shootout in Pittsburgh.|
|8.9 projected points|
Derrick Henry Tennessee Titans RB
|Henry was one of the biggest stars in Week 14 against Jacksonville with 17 carries for 238 yards (14.0 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. And now he must prove that Fantasy owners can rely on him — that his performance wasn't just a fluke. It's a good thing he's facing the Giants in Week 15. Since trading defensive tackle Damon Harrison to Detroit prior to Week 8, the Giants have allowed three 100-yard rushers and five running backs to gain at least 76 rushing yards in those six games, with four rushing touchdowns. In total, five running backs have scored at least 14 PPR points over that span. Week 14 against Washington was the first time where an opposing running back didn't score against this defense. Henry comes into this game having scored a touchdown in five of his past seven outings, so we know he has the chance to score. But I expect him to do more than that, and I'm willing to trust him as a No. 2 running back in all formats.|
- Damien Williams (vs. LAC): Spencer Ware (shoulder/hamstring) is not expected to play Thursday night against the Chargers, which should allow Williams the chance to get a heavy workload in a big spot. He played well in tandem with Ware in Week 14 against the Ravens, and he had eight carries for 14 yards and a touchdown, as well as four catches for 16 yards and a touchdown on five targets. His value should be higher in PPR leagues, but the Chargers have allowed seven total touchdowns to running backs in their past four games, which bodes well for Williams playing at home on a short week. I like Williams as a low-end starting option in all formats.
- Elijah McGuire (vs. HOU): McGuire could be the lead running back for the Jets this week if Isaiah Crowell (foot) is unable to play. And McGuire played well against the Bills in Week 14 with 17 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown, as well as three catches for 23 yards on four targets. The matchup against the Texans in Week 15 is tough, although Houston has allowed a touchdown to a running back in consecutive games to Nick Chubb in Week 13 and Marlon Mack in Week 14. McGuire will be at least a flex this week in all leagues if Crowell is out.
- Kenneth Dixon (vs. TB): Dixon has forced his way into a timeshare with Gus Edwards with his performance the past two weeks. Dixon has nine total touches in each of the past two games against Atlanta and Kansas City, and he had 43 total yards against the Falcons, followed by 80 total yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs. While Edwards will likely remain the starter and get most of the carries, it appears Dixon will get a bump in touches in Week 15 against Tampa Bay. And it's a great matchup as the Buccaneers are No. 4 in Fantasy points allowed to running backs on the season.
- Ito Smith (vs. ARI): For the second week in a row, Smith had more touches than Tevin Coleman, getting 14-to-11 in Week 14 at Green Bay after getting 8-to-7 in Week 13 against Baltimore. Smith did well against the Packers with 11 carries for 60 yards, along with three catches for 14 yards on four targets, and he's worth using as a flex in Week 15 against Arizona. While Coleman will still get work, Smith could be the best Fantasy option in Atlanta's backfield, and the Cardinals allow the most rushing touchdowns to running backs this season with 16.
- Zach Zenner (at BUF): Zenner was the best running back for the Lions in Week 14 at Arizona with 12 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown, and he might replace LeGarrette Blount as the primary rusher if Kerryon Johnson (knee) remains out as expected against the Bills. Blount struggled against the Cardinals with 12 carries for 33 yards, as well as two catches for 18 yards on three targets, and he added a fumble to boot. If Zenner replaces Blount then Zenner has the chance to be a flex option in Week 15. The Bills are among the league leaders with 18 total touchdowns allowed to running backs this season.
|9.8 projected points|
Josh Adams Philadelphia Eagles RB
|Adams is going to need a touchdown to save his Fantasy value this week. He's gone three games in a row without a catch, and in his past two — with Darren Sproles back on the active roster — he's scored a combined 11 PPR points against Washington and Dallas. Adams has 27 carries for 121 yards (4.5 yards per carry) over that span, but without a touchdown or a reception, his upside is limited. And the Rams have not allowed a running back to score on the ground in their past three games|
|9.8 projected points|
Adrian Peterson Washington Redskins RB
|Yes, the Jaguars run defense was an embarrassment in Week 14 against Henry. He did whatever he wanted, but it was a bad setup for Jacksonville going on the road for a Thursday night game against a good team. That's not the same thing as this matchup, as the defense should be rested at home. And Washington is not a good offense right now, with an abundance of injuries on the offensive line and at quarterback, where Josh Johnson is expected to start. It's hurt Peterson, who was having a standout season prior to everything falling apart around him. If you take out his 90-yard touchdown run in Week 14 at Philadelphia, he has 74 carries for 195 yards (2.6 yards per carry) in his past six outings. He does have three touchdowns over that span. And he showed you against the Eagles that he can still break a long run. But the Jaguars had not allowed a running back to score on the ground in five games prior to Week 14. And they should be tough on Peterson this week.|
|9.4 projected points|
Kenyan Drake Miami Dolphins RB
|The star of the Miami Miracle will be tough to trust this week at Minnesota as anything more than a flex. While his touchdown to end the game in Week 14 against New England was amazing, Drake had done next to nothing prior to that with six carries for 24 yards, along with one catch for 3 yards. He won't be trying to evade Rob Gronkowski this week, and Minnesota is tied for third in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs with six. They also have allowed just three receiving touchdowns to the position. And Drake has proven to be touchdown dependent in his tandem role with Frank Gore, picking up 44 total yards or less in four of his past five games if you take out the miracle play against the Patriots. He also has five games in a row with eight or fewer carries and has hasn't topped 10 touches in four of his past five outings.|
|6.3 projected points|
Peyton Barber Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB
|Barber had his three-game scoring streak snapped in Week 14 against New Orleans, as he finished with 14 carries for 42 yards and just one catch for 2 yards on two targets. While the scoring was a nice distraction, Barber now has three games in a row with fewer than 50 rushing yards. And he's still limited as a receiver with only 14 catches on the season. The Ravens were beat up by Spencer Ware and Damien Williams in Week 14 for 159 total yards and two touchdowns, but Baltimore is still among the league leaders in touchdowns allowed to running backs with nine total (six rushing) for the season. Barber is a low-end flex option in Week 15.|
|11.6 projected points|
Marlon Mack Indianapolis Colts RB
|Since Week 10, the Cowboys defense has allowed the fewest Fantasy points to opposing running backs. Dallas has allowed just two total touchdowns to running backs over that five-game span, coming from Kapri Bibbs and Darren Sproles. During that stretch, the Cowboys limited the ground games for Philadelphia (twice), Atlanta, Washington and New Orleans, and it should be tough for Mack to have a big game this week. He did score last week at Houston, but he managed just 14 carries for 33 yards, with no catches on just one target. Mack is still not doing much in the passing game with two catches or fewer in every game this season, and he's combined for just 66 total yards in his past two games against the Jaguars and Texans. He's still in the flex conversation this week, but it could be tough to be productive against this Dallas defense on the road.|
It's hard to sit Michel outright in non-PPR leagues since he has at least 17 carries in three games in a row. But he's become touchdown dependent with just seven catches on the season. And he hasn't run well the past two weeks with 37 carries for 120 yards (3.2 yards per carry) against Minnesota and Miami. He's lost three rushing touchdowns over that span to fullback James Develin, and Rex Burkhead and James White are also part of this crowded backfield. Now, the Steelers have allowed a running back to score on the ground in six games in a row, but Michel only has one rushing touchdown on the road this season. This feels more like a passing game for the Patriots than trying to lean on Michel, and he should be considered a flex option in most leagues, especially PPR.
So who should you sit and start? And what shocking quarterback could win you Week 15? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 10 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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