When it comes to starting and sitting running backs and wide receivers, fantasy managers often have to make tough calls. When a starter is banged up but still active on Sunday, it’s hard to trust them (especially if they aren’t one of your studs). Do you put in their backup? Do you risk it? What if your starter hasn’t been performing well this season? Trust your gut and start who you think will perform the best based on matchup, practice reports, and your own feelings.
START These Running Backs
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
Yes, it’s odd to put a top-10 draft pick in the start section. This should be a no-brainer, but there are some fantasy managers out there that are having second thoughts after Cook’s performance thus far. He started the season with 90 rushing yards but followed up that up with a 17-yard dud in Week 2. He has seven receptions for 37 yards combined in both weeks and he has yet to find the end zone. The Vikings face the Lions in Week 2 and this should be a Cook blow-up spot. Start him with confidence.
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens
At the time of this writing, there has not been an update on Damian Harris’ knee injury from Week 2. The injury may not end up costing him time. However, if the knee is an issue, look for Stevenson to be the one to pick up the slack. In Week 2, Stevenson was on the field for more snaps, but Harris had more carries. Both backs were used and if Harris is banged up even a bit, look for Stevenson to take on a bigger role against the Ravens.
SIT These Running Backs
Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
After Week 1, Burkhead played more than 70 percent of the snaps for the team. All of the preseason talk about Dameon Pierce seemed to be mistaken while the team went with the 32-year-old veteran as their lead back. Burkhead hasn’t been able to move the ball and in Week 2, he didn’t even have a carry. He had two receptions for nine yards. Pierce was given 15 carries in Week 2 and it seems that the team recognizes that he is the better back. Burkhead may still have value in the passing game, but the torch has officially been passed to Pierce. Hold on to Burkhead for another week or so (especially if you have Pierce on your roster), but don’t start him.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
While Alvin Kamara was on the bench with a minor injury in Week 2, Ingram filled in with 60 rushing yards. It wasn’t an amazing performance and certainly not enough for him to earn any playing time once Kamara is back. He is expected to play this week, so those fantasy managers that grabbed Ingram for the week with the hope that he may rekindle some Saints magic need to put him back on the bench (unless, of course, Kamara is out). He’s a great handcuff to Kamara, but that is it.
START These Wide Receivers
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos (SNF)
Aiyuk seems to have more of a connection with Jimmy Garoppolo than he did with Trey Lance. In Week 1 with Lance, he had three targets (he caught two for 40 yards). In Week 2, with Garoppolo, he had eight targets, and he caught five of them for 63 yards. The 49ers face the Broncos in Week 3, and Aiyuk should see his role continue to expand. The team is struggling at running back and it’s not clear if tight end George Kittle will play, so Aiyuk is a solid WR3 this week.
Greg Dortch, Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams
For those that picked Dortch up off waivers, you get at least another week to use him. Rondale Moore is likely still out, based on reports from beat writers. Dortch is doing a decent job filling in for him in the slot, which results in points for fantasy managers. In Week 1, he had seven receptions for 63 yards. In Week 2, he had four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. Dortch has a combined 13 targets in two games. He is worth a look as a WR3.
SIT These Wide Receivers
Russell Gage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Green Bay Packers
It seems that no matter how many Bucs receivers are injured or not playing (ahem, Mike Evans), Gage still cannot bring himself to have fantasy value. Breshad Perriman is the wide receiver that should be started, not Gage. Add in a hamstring injury that he is still dealing with, and it is nearly impossible to trust him. In Week 2, when Gage should have had a great game, he managed five receptions for 28 yards. While the volume is there, Gage can’t seem to do anything with it. In PPR formats, he’ll still have value, but don’t expect the big game that it seems like he should have.
Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (TNF)
Claypool was a popular name on draft day, but it was just based on his history. So far in 2022, he has eight receptions for 44 yards. Total. Yet, he is still starting in leagues that have at least two wide receivers in their lineup. Claypool is a WR4, at best, on this team. This week's opponent is the Browns on Thursday night. This could result in a low-scoring game. Don’t count on points from Claypool.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.