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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 17

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

Jahmyr Gibbs
Detroit Lions DET

David Montgomery
Detroit Lions DET

The Lions running backs continue to show they can co-exist. Last week, they each had 19 touches and scored at least one touchdown. Gibbs scored two and was more used in the passing game, so he finished with 24 fantasy points. It was his fourth time since Week 10 with more than 21 points. He has reached double figures in all but one game in that stretch. Montgomery has less upside, but he has reached double figures in every game since Week 10. The Cowboys present a tough matchup -- but the same could be said for this duo, aptly nicknamed “Rhythm & Blues.” Gibbs has reached must-start status, and Montgomery is as safe as they come. 

Jonathan Taylor
Indianapolis Colts IND

Taylor returned from a three-game absence last week and played 59 percent of the Colts' offensive snaps, logging 18 carries and one target. He may have only finished with 10.3 fantasy points -- clearly more of a floor week -- but the volume is too good to ignore. He will be the focal point of the game plan against the Raiders this week. Vegas has been better against the run with Antonio Pierce at the helm, but on the year, the Raiders have allowed the ninth-most rushing yards to backs and the 11th-most fantasy PPG. Volume keeps Taylor in play this week. 

Austin Ekeler
Los Angeles Chargers LAC

In the first game under interim coach Giff Smith, Ekeler played 64 percent of the Chargers' offensive snaps, with 15 carries and four targets. He may have only turned it into 11.6 fantasy points, but the volume is tantalizing, especially considering a matchup like this. On the year, the Broncos have allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to backs, plus the most rushing yards, the eighth-most receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns. We could be in store for a vintage Ekeler day. Remember, he did score 21 fantasy points against this Broncos defense in Week 14. 

D'Andre Swift
Philadelphia Eagles PHI

Chances are, if you had Swift last week, you had a Merry Christmas. He ran for 92 yards and a touchdown, scoring 15.2 fantasy points. He should be able to build upon that this week against the Cardinals, who have allowed the second-most rushing yards to backs this season and the most since Week 11. They have also allowed the most fantasy PPG to backs. In a game where the Eagles should spend plenty of time leading, look for Philly to heavily utilize Swift to grind out the clock, just like last week. 

Ty Chandler
Minnesota Vikings MIN

I know Chandler disappointed last week and potentially eliminated some fantasy teams in the process. But he had the toughest matchup a running back could have against the Detroit Lions. Chandler did play 65 percent of the snaps, even though he saw just eight opportunities. He gets a much better matchup this week against the Packers, who have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards to backs this season. In total, they have allowed the ninth-most fantasy PPG to backs. If you survived last week, you can stick with Chandler. 


Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT
Jaylen Warren
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT

These two are not widely available off the waiver wire, but if you have them on your bench, they’re both in play on Sunday. Last week, Harris had 19 carries and Warren had eight carries and six targets. They face a Seahawks defense that’s allowed the most rushing yards and second-most touchdowns to backs since Week 9, plus the sixth-most receiving yards since Week 10. The Pittsburgh duo could easily hit double digits apiece in this one.

Sit 'Em

Jerome Ford
Cleveland Browns CLE

Ford scored a touchdown last week and still finished with single-digit fantasy points. That’s never a good sign. He has 25 rushing yards or fewer in three of his last four games and is not heavily involved in the passing game. Plus, he always has to worry about Kareem Hunt stealing goal-line work and vulturing touchdowns (like Hunt did last week). The Jets are much stronger against the pass than the run, but given Ford’s low floor as of late, I would get away if you have another option you like. 

Chuba Hubbard
Carolina Panthers CAR

Hubbard continues to see a lot of volume, but he’s been more of a safe-floor option than a strong start. He has scored reliably in each of the last three weeks, recording between 11.6 and 12.3 fantasy points. But the floor gets lowered in a tough matchup … which he has this week against the Jaguars. They’ve allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards to RBs on the season. If you have another option, I would take it. 

Khalil Herbert
Chicago Bears CHI

The Bears running backs have been unpredictable on a week-to-week basis this season. Heading into Week 16, one could have said with confidence that Herbert was no longer the top back. And then he went off, rolling to 112 rushing yards and a TD. But that came against the Cardinals, one of the very best matchups a running back could hope for. Herbert has a much tougher opponent this week in the Falcons, who have allowed just one rushing touchdown to running backs and the third-fewest fantasy PPG. Do not take last week’s bait. Stay far away from the Bears backfield. 

AJ Dillon
Green Bay Packers GB

Scoring a touchdown and finishing with less than eight fantasy points is less than ideal. That’s exactly what Dillon “accomplished” last week. He may have found paydirt, but he played fewer snaps than Patrick Taylor (20 to 12). He saw just seven carries and zero targets and finished with 12 yards. Now he faces a tough Vikings defense squarely in the No. 2 spot behind Aaron Jones. You cannot trust him even if you’re in a pinch. Stay far away this week. 

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