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Editor's note: Welcome to Week 8! 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.
Note: Projections are provided by SportsLine.com.
|16.2 projected points|
Phillip Lindsay Denver Broncos RB
|Lindsay has been consistently good all season, with at least 11 PPR points in six of seven games. The lone exception was Week 3 when he was ejected at Baltimore for throwing a punch. But this could be his best game ever if Royce Freeman (ankle) is out. The Chiefs have already allowed 11 running backs to either score or gain 90 total yards this year, including Lindsay (15 PPR points) and Freeman (12 PPR points) in Week 4, and running backs average 5.1 yards per carry against this defense. Even if Freeman plays, you should start Lindsay in all leagues, but I consider him a top 10 Fantasy running back if Freeman is out.|
|11.1 projected points|
Kerryon Johnson Detroit Lions RB
|Finally, we had the #freeKerryon game in Week 7 at Miami when Johnson had season highs in carries (19) and rushing yards (158). He also added two catches for 21 yards on three targets, and his role in the passing game could expand if Theo Riddick (knee) remains out. Johnson has now scored at least 10 PPR points in every game but Week 1 when he had just six against the Jets, and he's averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He only has one touchdown, but his production has been excellent otherwise. This week, he faces a Seattle defense that has allowed just four running backs to either score or gain at least 100 total yards. But now that #freeKerryon is in full effect, he should be in all lineups until further notice.|
|15.0 projected points|
Marlon Mack Indianapolis Colts RB
|I've been saying it for two years now when it comes to Mack — just stay healthy. If Mack stays healthy, he can be a solid Fantasy running back in all leagues, as evidence by his performance the past two weeks. He had 12 carries for 89 yards, as well as one catch for 4 yards in Week 6 at the Jets after being out three games with a hamstring injury. Then he had a dominant outing in Week 7 against Buffalo with 19 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown, as well as two catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. That's good for 40 PPR points in his past two games, and he should stay hot this week. The Raiders have allowed seven running backs to either score or gain 100 total yards this season, and teams are averaging 4.9 yards per carry against this defense. Mack has top-10 upside this week and will be a must-start running back in all leagues for the rest of the year — if he can stay healthy.|
|13.2 projected points|
Tarik Cohen Chicago Bears RB
|Our Start of the Week in Week 7 delivered in a big way once again against New England with six carries for 14 yards, along with eight catches for 69 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets, which was good for 21 PPR points. He's now scored at least 21 PPR points three games in a row, and he should stay hot against the Jets. New York is tied for No. 12 in the NFL with receptions allowed to running backs at 40, and five running backs have either scored or gained 90 total yards against the Jets this season. Jordan Howard is also in play here with the Bears a heavy favorite at home, meaning he could help kill the clock in the fourth quarter if Chicago is playing with a lead, but Cohen should be started in all formats given his recent level of play.|
|12.5 projected points|
Lamar Miller Houston Texans RB
|One reason we had the #freeKerryon game in Week 7 was because of his opponent, the Dolphins, since Miami has been awful against running backs all season. Johnson and LeGarrette Blount became the ninth running backs to either score or gain at least 100 total yards against the Dolphins, and Miller should add to that total in a revenge game. This is his first ever game against his former team since he spent the first four seasons of his career in Miami, and it comes at the right time since Miller just had his best game of the season with 17 PPR points at Jacksonville. Look for Miller to have a strong encore performance on Thursday night.|
- Raheem Mostert (at ARI): If Matt Breida (ankle) is out this week, consider Mostert a must-start option against the Cardinals, who allow the most Fantasy points to opposing running backs. Mostert can even be a flex option if Breida plays. In the past two games against Green Bay and the Rams, Mostert has 19 carries for 146 yards, as well as four catches for 19 yards.
- Chris Ivory (vs. NE): If LeSean McCoy (concussion) is out, look at Ivory as at least a flex option against the Patriots, who have allowed eight running backs to either score or gain at least 90 total yards this season. In two games this year where McCoy was either out or left early — Week 3 at Minnesota and last week at Indianapolis — Ivory had at least 13 PPR points, with more than 100 total yards and three catches in each outing.
- Jalen Richard (vs. IND): Richard and Doug Martin will now lead Oakland's backfield with Marshawn Lynch (groin) on injured reserve, and I like Richard better, especially in PPR. He has scored at least 11 PPR points in four of six games, and he already has 31 catches for 253 yards on 37 targets. He doesn't have more than five carries in any game this year, and he's never been above nine carries in a game in his three-year career, but his role should expand now. And Indianapolis has already allowed six running backs to either score or gain at least 90 total yards this year, and the Colts are tied for second in the NFL in receptions allowed to running backs with 49.
- Kenjon Barner (at BUF): We'll see what happens with Sony Michel (knee) and his availability for Week 8 at Buffalo, but if he's out as expected, Barner could have an expanded role in tandem with James White, who is a must-start running back in all leagues. With Michel getting hurt in Week 7 at Chicago, Barner had 10 carries for 36 yards. He's worth using as flex option this week against the Bills, who allow the 11th most Fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.
- Ronald Jones (at CIN): We don't know the availability this week for Peyton Barber (undisclosed), who was hurt in Week 7 in overtime against the Browns. But if he's out, look for Jones to get an increased workload and have the chance for his best game of the season. He scored his first NFL touchdown against Cleveland, and he's facing a Bengals team in Week 8 that has allowed eight running backs to either score or gain at least 90 total yards. If Barber is out, use Jones as a flex option in all leagues.
|8.2 projected points|
Wendell Smallwood Philadelphia Eagles RB
|The Eagles running backs were a disaster in Week 7 against Carolina, with Smallwood, Corey Clement and Josh Adams combining for 21 carries for 55 yards (2.6 yards per carry) and no touchdowns, as well as four catches for 21 yards on four targets. Smallwood had the most work with nine carries for 32 yards, along with two catches for 5 yards, but I wouldn't trust him this week against Jacksonville in London. Even though the Jaguars have allowed big games to running backs of late, with Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott and Miller all scoring in the past three weeks, it's hard to see Smallwood – or any of his teammates – having similar success. In fact, I still like Clement better than Smallwood given his talent, but at best, both are flex options this week.|
|7.9 projected points|
Frank Gore Miami Dolphins RB
|Gore has led Miami in carries five games in a row, and that could continue in Week 8 at Houston. But he struggled against Detroit in Week 7 with 10 carries for 29 yards, as well as one catch for 4 yards, and it's hard to expect a 35-year-old to be fresh for a Thursday night game. Along with that, Kenyan Drake's role should expand with Miami needing help in the passing game because of injuries to Albert Wilson (hip) and Kenny Stills (groin). I like Drake as a No. 2 running back this week in all leagues, but Gore is a flex option at best. Keep in mind that Houston has allowed just one touchdown to a running back on the ground this season.|
|11.1 projected points|
Duke Johnson Cleveland Browns RB
|Johnson had a disappointing game in Week 7 at Tampa Bay in the first game without Carlos Hyde, who was traded to Jacksonville on Friday. He had just one carry for minus-4 yards, as well as four catches for 23 yards on just four targets while playing in tandem with Nick Chubb. While Chubb is expected to have a hefty workload moving forward, I expected Johnson's role to expand as well. It was the third time in his past four outings with four catches, but he's now been at five carries or less in every game this season. Against Pittsburgh this week, it will be tough to trust Johnson since the Steelers are No. 5 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs and tied for Oakland at No. 1 in fewest receptions allowed to the position with just 21. Chubb is still worth using as a No. 2 running back this week, but Johnson is just a flex at best in PPR.|
|8.9 projected points|
Isaiah Crowell New York Jets RB
|Crowell should be in line for a bigger workload this week with Bilal Powell (neck) out, but he's still just a flex option in most leagues at Chicago. The Bears are the only team in the NFL yet to allow a running back to score on the ground, and only three running backs have either scored through the air or gained at least 100 total yards against Chicago this season, including Gore, James White and David Johnson. Crowell has three games with at least 18 PPR points this season and four games with seven points or less, including two in a row against Indianapolis and Minnesota. I'm expecting another down performance given the matchup with the Bears on the road.|
|10.5 projected points|
Aaron Jones Green Bay Packers RB
|I'm hopeful that coming off their bye that this is the week we have the #freeAaron game for the Packers, but it's hard to expect that given the matchup against the Rams. While Jones deserves more touches — he has nine or less in three of the four games he's been able to play — there's no guarantee the Packers will lean on him more, with Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery still getting work. The Rams also are No. 8 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs, and Green Bay could be chasing points this week, which means the Packers will likely abandon the run. Jones' time is coming, so be patient, but you can't start him in most leagues in Week 8.|
Hyde will make his Jaguars' debut in Week 8 in London, and he's expected to share touches with T.J. Yeldon. This will likely be the last game before Leonard Fournette (hamstring) returns, but I'm not expecting a big performance from Hyde. The Eagles are third in the NFL in fewest Fantasy points allowed to running backs, and only two running backs have scored against Philadelphia this year. With the Browns, Hyde was touchdown dependent for his Fantasy value — he had at least 11 PPR points in the four games he scored and nine points or less in the two games he failed to find the end zone — and we don't know how many touches he'll get this week. I still like Yeldon better this week, especially given his expected role in the passing game, and Hyde should be considered a flex option at best.
So who should you sit and start? And what shocking QB could win you Week 8? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 5 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.