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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running backs for Week 3

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 Patrick Mahomes. But that's too obvious, so you won't see the reigning MVP 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

Travis Etienne
Jacksonville Jaguars JAX

Travis Etienne is coming off a down game, but is in the ultimate get-right spot against the Texans. On the season, they’ve allowed 236 rushing yards and a league-high six rushing touchdowns. Since last season, they’ve allowed the most rushing yards by far (3,130 -- no one else is over 2,900). Etienne faced Houston twice last season and topped 100 total yards in each game, averaging 18.7 fantasy PPG. Start him with confidence this week.

Brian Robinson
Washington Commanders WAS

I picked Brian Robinson Jr. as a start before his massive second half in Week 2, but that performance cements him as a stud. He played 55 percent of the snaps, saw 18 of 20 RB carries, ran 17 routes and finished with three targets. In total, he compiled 129 yards, two touchdowns and 28.9 fantasy points -- most at the position in Week 2. This week, he faces the Bills, who have struggled against the run since last season. And through the last two weeks, Buffalo has allowed 6.8 yards per carry on inside runs -- most in the league by more than a yard per carry. Robinson has dominated all the work in Washington, and that includes 25 of the Commanders’ 33 inside runs so far this season. Fire him up.

Raheem Mostert
Miami Dolphins MIA

Raheem Mostert had a big Week 2, going for nearly 26 fantasy points on Sunday night. He played 74 percent of the snaps, saw 18 carries and totaled 127 scrimmage yards and two rushing scores. That was after he went for 13 fantasy points in Week 1. (He’s scored three touchdowns in two games so far.) With his explosiveness and the Dolphins’ proficiency at moving the ball, Mostert will be a weekly threat to score. This Sunday, he faces a Broncos squad that just handed Brian Robinson Jr. the top RB finish of Week 2. You want exposure to this Miami offense.

Kyren Williams
Los Angeles Rams LA

Kyren Williams was a huge pickup after Week 1, but had the hardest test a running back could face in Week 2, going against the 49ers. Not only did he pass that test, he earned an A+ with flying colors. The new RB1 in L.A. played 96 percent of snaps, carrying the ball 14 times for 52 yards and a score. But it’s his usage in the passing game that stands out. He ran 43 routes, saw 10 targets and caught six of them for 48 yards and a TD. In total, that’s 100 yards, two touchdowns and 28 fantasy points. The Bengals have allowed the second-most rushing yards in the NFL this season. Williams has been too good to consider benching, and the matchup makes him one of the best starts of the week.

Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT

Najee Harris was off to a slow start in Week 2, but came to life (a bit) in the second half. This is all about the matchup, though. The Raiders have allowed the third-most rushing yards to running backs so far this season (271). They’ve also allowed the second-most receptions (17) and eighth-most receiving yards (86) to the position. That’s after allowing the fourth-most receptions (98) and third-most receiving yards (790) to the position last season. Seeing a trend? If you don’t start Harris this week, there was really no point in drafting him. Also, his teammate, Jaylen Warren, has been playing around 40 percent of the snaps and has been heavily involved in the passing game, making the Steelers' RB2 a high-upside flex option in this matchup, as well.

Sit 'Em

James Conner
Arizona Cardinals ARI

James Conner put up numbers against the Giants in Week 2 and is going to be a starting option most weeks. But this is not most weeks. This is the Dallas Cowboys, who limited Saquon Barkley to 63 total yards and 9.3 fantasy points in Week 1. In Week 2, they held all three Jets running backs to single-digit yards. Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook and Michael Carter scored 3.2 fantasy points … combined. In two games, against two very talented backfields, the Cowboys have allowed a total of 89 rushing yards. This defense could be one of the best in recent memory, meaning you should sit the vast majority of RBs they encounter.

Dameon Pierce
Houston Texans HOU

The Texans' offensive line is extremely banged up, with four starters missing Week 2 action, and that has been dragging down Dameon Pierce. As noted by NFL Network researcher LaQuan Jones, the Houston line has a 56.8 run-blocking grade from PFF -- that is not good. It’s led to Pierce totaling just 82 yards in the first two games of the season. Moreover, the preseason hype over Pierce’s involvement in the passing game has yet to materialize, as he has just four catches for 13 yards on six targets. I don’t expect things to change this week against the Jaguars, who have allowed just 93 rushing yards to running backs so far this season (on a mere 3.1 yards per carry). Unfortunately, you have to sit Pierce until we see better results.

Rachaad White
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TB

I had Rachaad White as a sit in Week 1, and that was the right call. I had him as a sit in Week 2, and that was the wrong call. Let’s go for best two out of three, shall we? White was able to take advantage of the matchup in Week 2, but he’s very volume dependent -- a side effect of posting only a single run for 10-plus yards, after having a league-low six percent of carries hit that mark last year. Now he faces the Eagles, who’ve allowed just 82 rushing yards to backs this season. They’ve also allowed 2.9 yards per carry -- and just 2.2 on inside carries. An inefficient back against a tough run defense? Fade for me.

Dalvin Cook
New York Jets NYJ

It’s been a rough start to the season for Dalvin Cook. In Week 2, he played just 35 percent of the snaps and managed a mere four carries, one target, 12 total yards and a fumble lost -- “good” for 0.2 fantasy points. The preseason expectation was that he and Breece Hall would split work, but Michael Carter’s involvement makes this a fantasy nightmare. Through two games, Cook has scored just nine fantasy points. Now he has a tough matchup against the Patriots' defense. I would get away from him until we see better usage and results -- if we ever do.

AJ Dillon
Green Bay Packers GB

AJ Dillon had the backfield to himself in Week 2 and turned 16 touches into just 63 yards and 7.3 fantasy points. There’s a chance Aaron Jones will return in Week 3, but either way, Dillon draws a tough matchup against New Orleans. Through two weeks, the Saints have allowed just 149 rushing yards to backs and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Dillon is best left on the bench.

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