Freeman has gotten off to a painfully slow start
In recognition of the release of the new Rambo movie, I will make an unexpected connection between the second film in the series and my Week 3 fantasy start/sit advice for fantasy running backs. In the final scene of Rambo: First Blood Part II, Sylvester Stallone's title character is asked how will he live and his answer is simply "Day by day" and he walks off.
Because it is sometimes necessary to adjust as things happen. We all have our seasonal expectations, but then things get turned upside down and we had better be prepared to fight. Therefore, I'm bringing out my inner Rambo and going fearless by suggesting four (!) backup running backs to start and whether or not you should sit the starter as well. Let's start with one that might be the biggest surprise.
Week 3 Start/Sit Advice for Running Backs
Start Tony Pollard
I know, this takes Rambo-like guts to make this call. However, I'm not being completely reckless. Notice I didn't say to sit Ezekiel Elliot. That's because you'd be absolutely crazy to sit Elliott this week. But I would start Pollard ahead of other potential RB3s listed higher in most rankings like Adrian Peterson, Kenyan Drake or Raheem Mostert.
Pollard makes for a very sneaky start this week. The Cowboys are going to lean on the run game more than usual. Expect Zeke to feast, but my guess is that he is on the sidelines around the fourth quarter. The Dolphins have given up a league-worst 194 rushing yards per game. The next closest team is Washington at 168 yards per contest. Don't be surprised to see Pollard get a dozen carries or so along with a trip or two into the end zone.
Let's stay in the NFC and continue with my no guts, no glory recommendations:
Start Ito Smith, Sit Devonta Freeman
It is time.
Freeman is only 27, but he looks like a 37-year-old running back. He looks sluggish and his 2.2 yards per carry backs that up. Of course, some will argue that the Falcons have played some tough run defenses. Not a bad argument. However, Smith has played the exact same teams at the exact same time and has a healthy, robust 6.3 ypc.
This assumes of course that the Atlanta coaches see what we see. But even if they keep Freeman as the primary back this week, I would be surprised if we don't see closer to a 50/50 split. Since Smith is nearly tripling Freeman's output, a near 50/50 split should lead to Smith easily outproducing Freeman.
But let's switch to one that is a little less obvious.
Start Royce Freeman, Sit Philip Lindsay
Lindsay was a nice story last year, but I think Freeman becomes the Broncos' lead back.
Up to this point in the season, the split has been just about even:
Lindsay per game stats: 50 percent snap rate, 12 carries, 6.5 targets
Freeman per game stats: 50 percent snap rate 10.5 carries, 4 targets
Moreover, despite fewer carries, Freeman has outgained Lindsay 163 to 132 yards with a 5.2 yards per carry vs Linday's 3.3. Furthermore, Freeman is averaging 6.6 yards per target while Linday is averaging a pedestrian 4.1 yards per target.
With a new coaching staff that has no loyalty to Linday, expect the tide to continue Freeman's way.
Start Frank Gore, Sit Devin Singletary
The Bengals have given up the most fantasy points to running backs this year. With that cushy matchup against the Bengals, I was going to suggest Frank Gore when I first started writing this article. However, this is even a simpler call based on the recent news:
Meanwhile, #Bills coach Sean McDermott told reporters that RB Devin Singletary is out for Sunday, which means Frank Gore will get even more of a load.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 20, 2019
Sometimes it is that simple when you live day to day!
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.