Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em is the ultimate weekly look at the NFL matchups and how they’ll affect your fantasy football team. Fantasy superstars such as Patrick Mahomes and Alvin Kamara will not be featured in this column. All player matchups are based on a PPR scoring system.
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Week 4 Start ‘Em: Running Backs
Start of the Week
Kenyan Drake at Panthers
If at first you don’t succeed; try, try, try again! So, while Drake didn’t work out as the Week 3 Start of the Week, I’m going back to well in a plus matchup at Carolina. No team has allowed more fantasy points to running backs since last season, and only the Raiders have given up more points to the position in 2020. Backs have the most receptions (32) and have averaged the third-most scrimmage yards (188.3) when facing the Panthers less-than-ferocious defense. I love Drake this week.
James Robinson at Bengals
Robinson has been an absolute steal in drafts or off the waiver wire, averaging nearly 18 touches and over 20 fantasy points per game this season. He’s in a great spot to continue that success in Week 4, as the Jaguars head to the Queen City to face the Bengals. Their defense has struggled against the run, allowing 155.3 rushing yards and the fifth-most fantasy points to enemy running backs. Cincinnati has also allowed the most rushing yards after first contact (280).
Darrell Henderson vs. Giants
It looks like we have some clarity in the Rams backfield, as Henderson has had 35 touches over the last two weeks. Malcolm Brown has just 18 touches in that time. Henderson has also just flat out looked great, averaging a stout 6.1 yards per rush while also averaging the 11th-most fantasy points (19.5) among backs in that time. He should continue to roll against the Giants, who have allowed a total of eight runs of 10-plus yards and the ninth-most fantasy points to enemy runners.
Devin Singletary at Raiders
Singletary had a nice outing last week with Zack Moss on the shelf, scoring 16.1 fantasy points while leading Buffalo’s backfield in snaps (55) and touches (17). While his stock will depend on whether or not Moss can return, Singletary does have a nice matchup against Las Vegas. After three weeks, their run defense has allowed 133.3 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns, and the most points to opposing running backs. Consider Singletary a viable No. 2 runner or flex starter.
Mike Davis vs. Cardinals
Davis looked good in his first game as the top back for the Panthers, playing 39 snaps while handling 21 touches and seeing nine targets. He now has a Christian McCaffrey-ish 17 targets in the last two games. Davis should keep on rolling this week, as he goes up against a Cardinals defense that’s allowed the third-most receiving yards and nearly 29 fantasy points per game to running backs. Also, Teddy Bridgewater ranks tied for sixth among quarterbacks in targeted runners.
- Melvin Gordon at Jets (TNF)
- Jerick McKinnon vs. Eagles
- Kareem Hunt at Cowboys
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Week 4 Sit ‘Em: Running Backs
Sit of the Week
Mark Ingram at Football Team
Remember last season when Ingram was an absolute stud? Well, a lot has changed. The veteran finds himself smack dab in the middle of a three-headed backfield committee that’s seen him lose work to both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. While Ingram leads the trio in touches (28), he’s averaging 8.7 attempts and is sharing red-zone work with Dobbins. Washington’s defense hasn’t been great against backs, but it has allowed just 123.7 scrimmage yards a game to the position.
Antonio Gibson vs. Ravens
As much as I’m a fan of Gibson, who has scored in each of his last two games, this week’s matchup against the Ravens is hard to ignore. This defense has been tough on enemy running backs dating back to last season, allowing an average of just 18.7 fantasy points per game to the position. Gibson still isn’t seeing a featured back’s snap totals (26 in Week 3) or touches (12 in Week 3) either, so green-lighting him this week is clearly difficult. At best, he’ll be a risk-reward flex starter.
Leonard Fournette vs. Chargers
I have to be honest with you, folks. I can’t get a read on how Bucs coach Bruce Arians is using Fournette and Ronald Jones. It seemed like Fournette would be the main man after a solid performance in Week 2, but instead, it was RoJo who led the backfield in snaps and touches. Couple the confusion with a game against a Chargers defense that’s held both Joe Mixon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire to modest numbers, and the Bucs backfield is one to avoid if at all possible.
Sony Michel at Chiefs
Michel is coming off a solid performance, rushing for 117 yards in a win over the Raiders. Of course, a huge chunk of his yards came on two runs (38, 48 yards), and Michel still isn’t seeing a ton of snaps or touches on a week-to-week basis. Rex Burkhead is the New England running back to start in fantasy until James White returns to the team. So while the Chiefs haven’t been “formidable” versus runners after three weeks, I see Michel as a simple case of chasing fantasy points.
Devonta Freeman at Rams
Freeman was a hot name off the waiver wire last week, and he was eased into the offense with 15 snaps and five touches. I’m not sure how much more work he’ll see in Week 4, but a committee with Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis remains possible. Game script can also be a big issue for Freeman and the Giants back this week, as their offense is a train wreck, and their defense is worse. For now, Freeman and his Big Apple backfield mates should be on the fantasy sidelines.
- D’Andre Swift vs. Saints
- Myles Gaskin vs. Seahawks
- Joshua Kelley at Buccaneers
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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the latest news and analysis!
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