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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 16

You have lineup questions, we have lineup answers -- at least we hope so. Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is here to help fantasy managers make difficult roster decisions. And you know what is a good move? Starting Christian McCaffrey. But that's too obvious, so you won't see such simple analysis here. Instead, we're exploring more debatable situations. And if you can't find a player you are looking for, please check out the latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings.

Start 'Em

James Cook
Buffalo Bills BUF

Josh Allen said it best: Let James Cook. It took a bit longer than we would have liked, but ever since Joe Brady took over as interim OC, Cook has blossomed into a must-start RB1. He has scored 16 or more fantasy points in every game since, averaging 24.1 ppg over that span. He has been a top-three fantasy RB in each of the last two weeks. And the best part is, he’s had nothing but tough matchups as of late (going against the Jets, Eagles, Chiefs and Cowboys). Now he gets the Chargers, who have given up a ton of production recently. I have been riding with Cook all year long -- no way I’m stopping now. 

Bijan Robinson
Atlanta Falcons ATL

Last week was insanely frustrating. Robinson fumbled and then was benched. He finished with seven carries and one catch, while Tyler Allgeier had twice as many carries. Benching your best and most explosive runner for a singular mistake is detrimental to the team. While Robinson has not lived up to fantasy expectations this year due to questionable usage, there’s still too much potential this week to get away from. The Colts have allowed the eighth-most rushing yards and second-most rushing touchdowns to backs this season. They’ve given up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position. If you survived last week, or perhaps were on bye, stick with Robinson this week. 

Derrick Henry
Tennessee Titans TEN

After years of watching "King Henry" run wild against them, the Texans got a modicum of revenge last week. Yet, despite the lack of results, Henry still received 20 touches. And while the dud certainly stung, he had topped 18 fantasy points in his previous three games. The volume and production have simply been too good to get away from, especially in a much better matchup against the Seahawks, who have allowed the most rushing yards and touchdowns since Week 9. Tyjae Spears is also an upside flex option in this one, as the ‘Hawks have also given up plenty of receiving production to backs recently.

D'Andre Swift
Philadelphia Eagles PHI

Swift had a great matchup on paper last week against the Seahawks and it turned out to be a floor game. He finished with 9.5 fantasy points, but the volume was there. He played 59 percent of the snaps, getting 18 carries and three targets. He was stopped at the goal line, only to watch Jalen Hurts then punch it in (a frustratingly common occurrence). Swift has another favorable matchup this week against the Giants, who have allowed the third-most rushing yards and 10th-most fantasy ppg to RBs. This could be a game where the Eagles take an early lead and use Swift to grind out the clock. 

Ezekiel Elliott
New England Patriots NE

We have seen two games without Rhamondre Stevenson. In one, Elliott went off for 27 fantasy points. The other? He scored just 9.6. I think we can call that his ceiling and his floor. What do the two games have in common? Elliott saw elite volume in each. After posting a stat line reminiscent of Christian McCaffrey in Week 14, Zeke played 86 percent of the snaps with 11 carries and six targets in Week 16. Now he gets the Broncos, who have allowed the most rushing yards and second-most fantasy ppg to running backs this season. Zeke remains in play as long as Stevenson is out. 


Panthers RB Chuba Hubbard can be elevated from your bench this week. He only scored 12 fantasy points last week, but played 75 percent of the snaps and received 24 touches. He plays the Packers, who have allowed the seventh-most rushing yards since Week 11. Kansas City's Jerick McKinnon is another option, as he has averaged 14.4 fantasy ppg the last two weeks. He faces the Raiders, who have been better against the run as of late but have still allowed the 11th-most fantasy ppg to RBs. While I prefer him if Isiah Pacheco (shoulder) is out again, McKinnon should remain involved in the passing game and near the goal line either way. Chicago's D’Onta Foreman is a boom-or-bust option, but he has a good chance of going boom this week against the Cardinals, who have allowed the second-most rushing yards all season and the most since Week 11. In what could be a favorable game script, Foreman is in play.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: McKinnon (groin) was ruled for Kansas City's game against Las Vegas on Monday. Pacheco does not have a designation after practicing in full all week.

Sit 'Em

Javonte Williams
Denver Broncos DEN

It was a rough go for Williams in Week 15. He played fewer than half the snaps and shared work with Samaje Perine. He was actually outscored by Perine, 5.7 fantasy points to 4. Williams now has 10 fantasy points or fewer in four of his last five games. This week, he plays the Patriots, who have allowed the fewest rushing yards to backs since Week 11. They have yielded just 2.5 yards per carry and no rushing touchdowns in that span. The floor is low and, given the matchup, I would try to get away. 

Jerome Ford
Cleveland Browns CLE

While he is coming off a down game, Ford has shown to be a safe-floor option. He has not topped 15 fantasy points since Week 7, but he has only been held to single digits twice in that span. Most weeks, he’s good for 10-to-12 fantasy points. But the floor gets lowered in a tough matchup. Houston has given up the fourth-fewest rushing yards on the season. Since Week 11, they have allowed just 2.9 yards per carry to backs. They just shut down Derrick Henry. Without a touchdown, Ford could be looking at another single-digit fantasy day. If you have another option, take it. 

Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT

Harris just hit a new low in what has been a down season. Last week, he scored just 1.3 fantasy points and finished outside the top 70 running backs. It was his third straight game with single-digit fantasy points and fourth in his last five. Harris splits work with Jaylen Warren, but the latter is used more in the passing game. When the Steelers are trailing, you tend to see Warren more -- and it’s certainly possible they’ll be trailing in this one. Harris needs a touchdown to have any chance at approaching 15 fantasy points. The Steelers are moving from Mitchell Trubisky to Mason Rudolph, but that does not instill a ton of confidence. The floor is still low for this offense. I would use the more explosive Warren over Harris, especially against the Bengals, who give up some long runs. 

Gus Edwards
Baltimore Ravens BAL

The "Gus Bus" once again needed a touchdown to crack double-digit fantasy points. In fact, he has not crossed that threshold without scoring a touchdown in any game this season. He should see more work with Keaton Mitchell out, but Justice Hill will still be a factor, and Lamar Jackson is always a threat to steal some rushing work. Also, the matchup is just too scary. The Niners have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards and the seventh-fewest fantasy ppg to running backs this season. Even with a bump in volume, Edwards is always more of a floor play -- and that floor is lowered in this matchup. 

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