NFL Fantasy Week 5: Start ‘em, sit ‘em- running backs

Running back is usually the most easily predicted position in NFL Fantasy. Barring injury, the same cast of characters usually grace the top 20 scoring positions each week.

Week 4 blew up the rankings. Pete Carroll unexpectedly handed the ball to Mike Davis. Matt Nagy turned Tarik Cohen into Tyreek Hill. Hue Jackson gave Nick Chubb three chances to score a touchdown, and as the song says, 2 out of 3 equals 22.50 standard NFL Fantasy points… or something like that.

Who will step up in Week 5? Who should take a seat on our NFL Fantasy bench? We’re thinking about these guys:

Start this guy: Aaron Jones (at Detroit)

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers called out his offense, telling them they were not performing at a playoff-caliber. He might expect more from his receiver group, but a post-game get-together with coach Mike McCarthy undoubtedly included a discussion of Aaron Jones’ role.

Rodgers had let it slip he felt Jones should be on the field more, but McCarthy went full-committee against Buffalo. Jones’ superior performance over Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery was hard to miss.

Expect Jones to see more of a workload. Facing a generous Lions run defense, the timing couldn’t be better. Even in a shootout, Jones can do enough in the passing game and take enough carries to warrant a start.

Sit this guy: Dalvin Cook (at Eagles)

Dalvin Cook explained to reporters his hamstring is not 100-percent and that they should not expect too much from him until it is. He made it clear he doesn’t want to play at less than full-throttle.

He sounded like a player tentative to tempt fate by running hard on a tender leg. Mike Zimmer should read the same thing and bench him, but that doesn’t appear to be the plan.

Either way, I’d look elsewhere until I hear Cook sound more optimistic about his own potential in your NFL Fantasy lineup, especially against the Eagles.

Start this guy: Bilal Powell (vs Broncos)

Running the ball against the Denver Broncos defense is not the easiest plan of attack. However, Bilal Powell will take on that task Sunday… possibly more times than expected.

Isaiah Crowell seems to be wearing out his welcome in New York. Recent antics are not very appreciated by the coaching staff or by some teammates. That could explain Bilal Powell’s 63% snap count and 15-5 advantage in touches against the Jaguars. Crowell’s 3 total yards did nothing to make the Jets regret that ratio.

Powell also saw 7 pass targets, second only to Quincy Enunwa’s 8. In the Jets’ conservative, Sam Darnold-protecting offense, that could become a pattern. I already dumped Crowell where ever I had him. Powell will see another season of hanging on the fringes of NFL Fantasy value.

Sit this guy: Lamar Miller (at Cowboys)

Lamar Miller is nursing some undisclosed injury. Whether that was the reason for his almost 50-50 split of touches with Alfred Blue last week is as unclear as what is hurting him.

What is clear is that Miller’s NFL Fantasy value is affected by something. Whether it is the Texan’s insistence on giving Blue playing time or Miller’s mysterious injury, RB ratings of 35, 29, and 30 the past three weeks isn’t starter-worthy.

Miller's best NFL Fantasy performance was opening day when his 109 total yards was good enough for the RB-20 spot. Interestingly, Alfred Blue was the RB-24 the same week. Blue has as many touchdowns (1) as Miller, too. Neither appear likely to lead our NFL Fantasy team to victory in Week 5, even against a Cowboys team without Sean Lee.

Start this guy: Chris Thompson (at Saints)

Chris Thompson’s role as the third-down back always makes him a good start in PPR leagues, but against the Saints, he needs to be started everywhere.

The obvious reason is a potential game script mandating a heavy passing attack. That would put Thompson on the field too much to ignore.

An ankle injury to Adrian Peterson makes Thompson even more attractive, as he may need to be an every-down back for parts of the game.

Coach Jay Gruden ran some high-yield misdirection plays with Thompson last year. Coming off a bye week to face a high scoring offense might be time for some of those plays to resurface.

Sit these guys: Chris Carson and Mike Davis

If you follow my NFL Fantasy columns, you are already aware of Pete Carroll’s total disdain for my NFL Fantasy team. He doesn’t like yours, either.

That’s why he made it sound like Chris Carson was in line for another big workday last week, right up until the minute before game time when he made Carson inactive. Then he skipped the guy Carson’s NFL Fantasy owners rostered as a handcuff and started Mike Davis over Rashaad Penny.

So, after consecutive weeks of 100-yard rushing games from Seattle’s Carson and Davis, complicated by the 6-yards per carry Penny contributed in relief, I am seriously thinking about plugging CJ Prosise into my lineup.

Of course, I’m kidding. That would be crazy, right? What I am not kidding about is that we can’t trust a full-blown committee of Carson, Davis, Penny, and the guy next to the Gatorade table won’t kill the fantasy value of all Seattle running backs. I’m not starting any of them.

Extra points

TJ Yeldon against the Chiefs was deemed too obvious to use in this article.

Matt Breida is getting a larger share of the workload each week in San Francisco. Unless Josh Rosen’s receivers help him turn this into a passing game, Breida could take advantage of the Cardinals’ generous run defense.

Kenyan Drake is no longer on any of my NFL Fantasy rosters. It is only a matter of time before Frank Gore’s name starts showing up in sleeper articles.

Jay Ajayi is too big a risk to start against Minnesota team out for revenge and to prove they are not as bad as they looked against the Rams.

Full disclosure: Be gentle

I take solace in reading the Week 4 start ‘em and sit ‘em advice of my NFL Fantasy peers and realizing things could have been worse.

If you cut me some slack and let me swap out the injured Chris Carson for his replacement, Mike Davis, I’d salvage a 60% success rate (6 of 10).

Alas, without that, it’s a 50-50 proposition in Week 4. But this week will be better. Almost perfect even! You can count on that as much as you can count on anything else related to NFL Fantasy football!

This article was originally published on sports