Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 7 running backs

Veterans Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell, and Mark Ingram aren’t impressed with this ‘Year of the Rookie Running Back’ talk. But can you start ‘em?

Leonard Fournette made sure the rookies were represented on the NFL fantasy leaderboard this week, but a bunch of second- and third-year backs joined some grizzled veterans among the Week 6 rushing leaders. Which runners can you trust enough to start in Week 7? Here’s what we think. 

Start this guy: Melvin Gordon, LAC vs DEN 

Even after Orleans Darkwa and the New York Giants shocked the Broncos with 148 rushing yards Sunday night, Denver owns the top defense in the league against running backs. Normally, when a stout defense gets embarrassed like that, I avoid their potential bounce-back effort the next week. But the Chargers have as good a chance as anybody of repeating the Giants’ performance. 

Melvin Gordon touched the ball 60 times in the Chargers last two games. Those games happen to be the Chargers’ first two wins of the season. It is a pattern that played out over the last two seasons, too. The more Gordon touches the ball, the more likely the Chargers are to win. He finished as the RB-1 with two touchdowns, after earning the RB-2 ranking in Week 5. 

The Chargers will feed their star running back the ball as much as they can in an effort to hand Denver their second straight loss. 

Sit this guy: Doug Martin, TB at BUF

Since his return from suspension, Doug Martin has run effectively for the Buccaneers. Last week, the Buccaneers’ game situation limited Martin’s rushing opportunities. This week, it will be the stout Buffalo rushing defense that stymies him. Buffalo’s defense has been balanced, with few standout players, but the results have made them a top-ten D/ST and have them ranked among the stingiest defenses for each skill position. 

Start this guy: Adrian Peterson, ARI at LAR

Herschel Walker once got famously traded to the Minnesota Vikings where he had a glorious first game and then faded into mediocrity over the next three seasons. Adrian Peterson gets to run against the exceedingly generous rushing defense of the Los Angeles Rams this week, assuring us that any regression in ‘All Day’ Peterson won’t happen on this particular day. With Arizona’s starting offensive line finally back on the field and the energy provided by Peterson, look for a banner rushing day in LA for the geriatrics from the desert. 

Sit this guy: LeGarrette Blount, PHI vs WAS 

Carlos Hyde put up a top-ten fantasy rushing score last week against the Redskins, but he didn’t run particularly well. Washington held him to 2.1 yards per carry, but two short touchdowns saved his fantasy line. In Philadelphia, they do not change running backs at the goal line. Whichever back gets the team onto the red zone generally finished the series. Washington has the swarming type of defense to hold Blount’s overall rushing game in check. He won’t have the vulture opportunities to make him an NFL fantasy leader this week. 

Start these guys: Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, NO vs GB 

Even with Drew Brees eager to put up a big day in the air, the Saints will find plenty of touches for each of their running backs. Last week, the pair combined for 237 yards of offense. That is something we may see often out of New Orleans now that Adrian Peterson is out of the rotation. Against the Brett Hundley-led Green Bay Packers, the Saints could go conservative late in the game, offering more chances to their running back duo. 

Sit these guys: Matt Forte and Elijah McGuire NYJ vs MIA 

For all the offensive angst coming out of Miami, the Dolphins have quietly put a top-ten defense together. Devonta Freeman broke a 40-yard run against them last Sunday that skewed the averages. Otherwise, the Falcons’ high-powered running attack managed three yards per rush. The Dolphins will force Josh McCown to repeat last week’s passing performance against a much better secondary. Meanwhile, look somewhere else for your fantasy running backs. 

Week 7 flash in the pan prediction

LeSean McCoy gets more involved in the Bills’ offense after the bye week, but it is Mike Tolbert who vultures a short run and scores again on a Tyrod Taylor check down pass on the way to 15 NFL fantasy points. 

Full disclosure: about last week

My 67% accuracy rate continues! Despite Alvin Kamara being held out of the end zone, his 87 yards put him just inside the RB-2 level. That was far better than my other start em’s. Denver abandoned the run and sat CJ Anderson most of the game, while Elijah McGuire was a non-factor. Fortunately, my three sit ‘ems were all good calls, finishing as the RB39 (Aaron Jones), 43 (Matt Breida) and 52 (Marlon Mack). 

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