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Fantasy Football

Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em: Week 1 Must-Start, Must-Sit Running Backs

Nick Lepri

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Early on in the fantasy football season, one of the best ideologies to follow is to “start your studs.” You took these players early on in your fantasy football draft, so despite their matchup in Week 1 you should be starting them. But should you always be leaning on those ideals? I’ve compiled a list, much like a start ’em sit ’em, that analyzes the rankings to give you some must start and must-sit running backs for Week 1 of the NFL season. 

Fantasy Football Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em: Week 1 Must Start/Sit Running Backs

Must Starts

Raheem Mostert – SF (at Detroit Lions)

Basically, any player that is a starter on the San Francisco 49ers is a must-start in this matchup. While during fantasy draft season Trey Sermon was getting more hype when compared to Raheem Mostert, Mostert is the clear starter in this game. While eventually, Sermon could take over as the lead back, in Week 1 it would take an injury for Mostert to lose the starting role. The Detroit Lions defense stands little chance against the rushing attack of the 49ers with Mostert at the helm.

Gus Edwards – BAL (at Las Vegas Raiders)

Following the injury of JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards skyrocketed up draft boards. As of today, Le’Veon Bell has signed with the Baltimore Ravens. This is not the best news for Edwards’ outlook on the season, but there is still a solid chance that he just is not his old self as we have seen recently. Even so in Week 1, Edwards is a clear must-start. The Baltimore offense should stomp all over the Raiders and be able to drain the clock later in the game by rushing the ball with Edwards. He has top-12 running back potential on the week especially if this game gets out of hand in the Ravens’ favor.

James Robinson – JAX (at Houston Texans)

Just like with Edwards, an injury opened the door for James Robinson. While Travis Etienne was never going to be a workhorse back he would have siphoned enough volume to make Robinson an undesirable fantasy option. But with Etienne gone the outlook on Robinson’s season could be top 12. In this matchup, it certainly is as the Houston Texans defense may be the worst in the whole league. Despite this game having a very low Vegas total, Robinson should get enough work to make him a must-start fantasy running back.

Damien Harris – NE (at Miami Dolphins)

While the Miami Dolphins have one of the best defenses in the NFL, their soft spot is against the run. With Mac Jones becoming the starter of the Patriots and Cam Newton being cut this really opens a large volume of rushes to go Damien Harris way. It is also great because it is far less likely that Jones vultures Harris on the goal line when compared to Newton. 

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Mike Davis – ATL (vs Philidelphia Eagles)

The Falcons vs. Eagles is a must-watch matchup in Week 1. This is two teams with solid offenses with not so solid defenses, which should lead to a back-and-forth affair. While that normally does not cause a run-heavy affair, Mike Davis has enough receiving upside to mitigate the lower rushing percentage.

Must Sits

Leonard Fournette – TB (vs Dallas Cowboys)

Leonard Fournette may be one of the clearest must-sit running backs in years. With how Bruce Arians runs this offense, it will be confusing week to week on who to start at running back. Even though this is a very easy matchup for rushing success against the Dallas Cowboys, Ronald Jones II will likely get the nod as the lead back. Taking a risk on Fournette even with the upside he presents in an easy matchup is unwarranted. 

Josh Jacobs – LV (vs Baltimore Ravens)

Josh Jacobs was a running back that a majority of fantasy football experts were fading. Even with that said many fantasy players elected to draft him in the third or fourth round. While normally the sentiment of “start your studs” is a must in Week 1, how sure are we that Jacobs is even a stud? With the addition of Kenyan Drake sucking away targets, with this matchup likely going in the Ravens favor there will not be much opportunity to run the ball for Las Vegas.

Chase Edmonds/James Conner – ARI (at Tennessee Titans)

In Arizona, we have a classic scenario of a running back by committee that will utilize a hot-hand approach. By the end of this game against the Titans, it should be more clear who you should be starting week in and week out between Chase Edmonds and James Conner. But in Week 1, it is very up in the air who the lead back will be. If Edmonds is the guy, then he should have a solid game. If Conner becomes the guy, he should have a solid game but the uncertainty should drive you away from this situation. 

Devin Singletary/Zack Moss – BUF (vs Pittsburgh Steelers)

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Devin Singletary and Zack Moss for the Bills are in a similar situation as Edmonds and Conner. But in this case, this is going to prove to be a tough matchup for either back against the Steelers. This is just another situation where we need to wait out and see which running back will have the fantasy value. 


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