After what seemed like an eternity, Week 1 of the NFL season and, more importantly, fantasy football season is finally upon us. This means it’s back to figuring out who to start and who to sit each week, hopefully without pulling out your hair.
Take running back for example. You know to start Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott (at least for this week) without any hesitation or second thoughts. But what if you drafted Todd Gurley, Marshawn Lynch or Mark Ingram? Are they must-starts each and every week. Or even this week?
Here are some running backs I think you definitely should start and a few that you may want to at least consider leaving on your bench this week.
START THESE RBs...
Devonta Freeman, ATL (vs. CHI)
This is a good week one start because the Bears gave up 122 yards per game last season to running backs. Seeing as Freeman gives you options as a runner and receiver out of the backfield, he’s a good option to open the season. The Falcons will be looking to start off hot after that blown Super Bowl.
Todd Gurley, LAR (vs. IND)
Gurley was one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football last season. But that was then, and this is now... and a matchup against the Colts makes Gurley a virtual must-start. Indy's defense surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points (20.9 ppg) to backs last season, including 146.8 scrimmage yards a game to the position.
Bilal Powell, NYJ (vs. BUF)
The Jets offense is a fantasy wasteland, except for Powell. He's an attractive fantasy option against a Buffalo defense that allowed the second-most points (24.56 ppg) to road running backs last season. The Bills were also tied for first in total touchdowns allowed (12) and second in scrimmage yards allowed (155.6 ypg) to road runners.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Terrence West, BAL (vs. CIN)
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict (suspension) is out for this game, and the Bengals have struggled with opposing running backs when he hasn't played the past two years. He's missed 11 games over that span, and an opposing running back has scored double digits in Fantasy points in eight of those outings. Danny Woodhead will also benefit with Burfict out, but he could still be slowed by the hamstring injury that limited him this preseason. West should get a heavy workload, and he could finish as a top-10 Fantasy running back this week if the track record for the Bengals holds up when Burfict sits down.
SIT THESE RBs...
Marshawn Lynch, OAK (at TEN)
Beast Mode will have to wait another week to be activated as the Titans gave up the fewest points to running backs last season. They have a sneaky solid defense.
All Bengals RBs (vs. BAL)
No matter who gets the start, rookie Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill, or Giovani Bernard, it’ll be tough sledding against the fifth-best run defense from 2016. The entire front seven for the Ravens will be bringing the pain for any ball carrier.
Mark Ingram, NO (vs. MIN, Mon.)
Ingram was a top-10 fantasy back a season ago, but that was before the Saints added Adrian Peterson and rookie Alvin Kamara in the offseason. Now in what could be a backfield committee, the Alabama product becomes an even bigger risk against a Vikings defense that allowed the eighth-fewest points to backs (15.9 ppg) last year.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Ameer Abdullah, DET (vs. ARI)
Abdullah is considered one of the better flex options in fantasy leagues, but a Week 1 matchup against the Cardinals makes him difficult to start. Arizona's defense allowed the third-fewest rushing yards (75.4 ypg), the second-fewest receiving yards (22.5 ypg) and an average of just 17.3 fantasy points a game to home backs in 2016.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.