Start ‘em, sit ‘em: Week 1 running backs

Some players seem primed for a great week… and some not so much. Check if your running backs should start or sit.

Can you imagine drafting the running backs from the top of your board and then having someone tell you not to play them in Week 1? Well, if you can’t, keep reading. That’s what we’re doing here. But don’t worry! We also have some good plays from the ranks of late RB2 and RB3s. 

START THIS GUY: Dalvin Cook, Minnesota (vs. Saints)

There could be a lot of points flying around this game. You could theorize that the running game might be abandoned late as the Vikings struggle to keep up. But the Saints gave up the third-most points to running backs last season. A running back who can catch is further protected if Minnesota goes away from the run. But it won’t matter as this one stays pretty close. 

Dalvin Cook will catch a pass for a touchdown and finish with 72 yards rushing and 40 more receiving. Latavius Murray vultures a rushing touchdown to prevent an even bigger debut. 

SIT THIS GUY: Marshawn Lynch, Oakland (at Tennessee) 

This isn’t the homecoming just yet. Raider Nation will provide an emotional boost next Sunday. On this Sunday, the Tennessee crowd will enjoy watching their defense bottle up Lynch in a limited number of opportunities. Lots of passing and a three-headed running game serve to preserve the old man for next week’s gig and limit Lynch’s output in Week 1. 

Put him down for 10 carries, 42 yards, and a short catch to get warmed up for the Jets in Week 2. 

START THIS GUY: Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (vs. Indianapolis) 

A suspect offensive line, a resurgent passing game, or fatigue might conspire to keep Gurley from coming all the way back to his 2015 form and fantasy numbers, but none of that will matter this week. The Rams take advantage of one of the most generous fantasy run defenses and extended time of possession to give Gurley plenty of carries and screens. 

Gurley kicks off his comeback year with over 30 touches, good for 120 yards rushing and 65 yards passing. His two touchdowns make it a great fantasy day. 

SIT THIS GUY: Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville (at Houston)

In what figures to be an emotional day in Houston, the Texans do the same thing the Houston Astros did- they come up with a huge victory for their city to enjoy. Along the way, Jacksonville’s hotshot rookie gets introduced to a real NFL defense. I am not buying that Fournette’s foot is 100% and anything less means a long day in Texas. 

Fournette runs 20 times for 75 yards, cannot score, and leaves the field with a slight limp. 

START THIS GUY: C. J. Anderson, Denver (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)

The Chargers’ defense is getting better. They will bottle up Anderson for the majority of his snaps. But Anderson is like Rocky Balboa- hit him hard a dozen times and then watch him break a screen for a 30-yard touchdown. Jamaal Charles will get a few series, but it’s Anderson who scores twice in a great matchup. 

Anderson gets 18 rushes for 70 yards and adds 57 yards on four catches. Plug in one touchdown by air and one by land to cap off C. J. Anderson’s reminder to all that he is still the workhorse in Denver. 

SIT THIS GUY: Ty Montgomery, Green Bay (vs. Seattle)

Well, since I already have to apologize to my friends in Wisconsin for putting Aaron Rodgers and Martellus Bennett on the sit list, I might as well defy the odds and make my case that nobody on Green Bay is worth much of a play this week. This is a little trickier since a scrambling Rodgers might help Montgomery by checking down all night. 

But, I am sticking to my guns, as well as my prediction of a big Seattle victory. Montgomery catches a lot of dump-off passes but can’t escape the Seahawk defenders. Give him eight catches for 58 yards and 12 rushes for 36 more. No scores. 

Too-easy-to-write-about top five

David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, Jay Ajayi, and Devonta Freeman. 

Week 1 flash in the pan prediction

In Cincinnati, Jeremy Hill takes an improvised dump pass from Andy Dalton and turns it into a 36-yard touchdown play just ten minutes after capping the Bengals’ opening drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Hill successfully fends off Joe Mixon’s hostile takeover bid for another week by accounting for 75 yards rushing, 60 yards passing, and the two touchdowns.

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Pat Opperman


Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.