So in Week 8 of the fantasy football season and the running back that owners will miss the most is... Jay Ajayi? OK, Le’Veon Bell is pretty good too and Todd Gurley can be, but that’s how kind of how this season has gone as Ajayi went from the dog house to posting back-to-back 200-yard games.
He and Bell and Gurley (Terrance West and Rashad Jennings too) will all be back next week. As for this week, which RB should you start? First, let’s take a look and see how my start/sit advice stacked up with the results.
Start DeMarco Murray (18.7 fantasy points) – He’s getting all the carries he can handle and is a must-start every week.
Start Melvin Gordon (30.1 FP) – You might not love his yards per carry, but you no complaints about all those touchdowns.
Sit Matt Forte (25.4 FP) – Forte got more than 30 touches and produced, but can he keep this up?
Sit Jay Ajayi (27.6 FP) – There’s no way he’s rushing for 200-plus yards three weeks in a row, right? Well, he can’t because he’s on bye this week.
Teams on bye: Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, San Francisco
START THESE RBs...
Jacquizz Rodgers, TB (vs. OAK)
In two games since taking over the starting job, Rodgers has tallied a ludicrous 62 touches (56 carries, six receptions) for 292 total yards (255 rushing, 37 receiving). That's some Le'Veon Bell/David Johnson-type volume, and now the sixth-year pro gets to face a Raiders defense that is allowing 5.1 yards per carry to opposing running backs and ranks 29th in Football Outsiders' rush defense efficiency. It's understandable to be apprehensive about Rodgers, who has been underwhelming throughout his career, but I'm treating him as a must-start option in all leagues, no matter how shallow.
Spencer Ware, KC (at IND)
Ware went off for 131 scrimmage yards, one touchdown and 19.1 fantasy points in a win over the Saints. He also saw 69 percent of the offensive snaps, compared to four percent from Jamaal Charles and it doesn’t look like Charles is going to be making an impact any time soon. Next up is a date with the Colts, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points (24.7 ppg) to running backs.
Christine Michael, SEA (at NO)
The Cardinals put "The Awakening" to sleep last week, holding Michael to 5.5 fantasy points in five quarters. Still, I consider him a must-start RB ahead of this week's matchup against the Saints. Their defense has been terrible against the run, allowing an average of more than 26 fantasy points per contest to opposing runners.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Latavius Murray, OAK (at TB)
Murray looked great in his return from an injured toe, scoring twice against the Jaguars. He also saw 58 percent of the offensive snaps, while DeAndre Washington (18 percent) and Jalen Richard (six percent) saw lesser roles. Murray should be in fantasy lineups against the Buccaneers, who have allowed the eighth-most points to RBs.
SIT THESE RBs...
Jordan Howard, CHI (vs. MIN, Mon.)
Well, it was fun while it lasted. Howard turned in two consecutive 100-yard performances following the injury to Jeremy Langford and was looking like a fantasy superstar, but he has quickly fallen back to earth. In the last three weeks, Howard's snap percentage has gone from 95.5 to 68.8 and 45.8, while his touches have gone from 19 to 17 to seven. Over that same stretch, Ka'Deem Carey's snap count percentage has gone from 3.0 to 31.3 to 54.2, and his touches have gone from two to nine to 11. Not only is his workload unpredictable – and unreliable – at this point, but the matchup couldn't get much worse, as the Vikings have yet to allow anyone to tally more than 56 rushing yards (!) in a game.
Jonathan Stewart, CAR (vs. ARI)
Stewart was a fantasy monster in his last game before Carolina's bye week, scoring two touchdowns and 20.5 fantasy points against the Saints. He has a much tougher matchup this week though, against a Cardinals defense that's allowed the second-fewest (12.5 ppg) fantasy points to running backs. Stewart is a major risk as a result.
Mark Ingram, NO (vs. SEA)
David Johnson racked up 171 total yards against this defense on Sunday night, but he needed a whopping 46 looks (carries plus targets) and 41 touches to get there. While DJ ultimately got his yards, it was a super-human effort from the Seahawks’ defense, which was on the field for an absurd 46-plus minutes but still managed to keep one of the best backs in the NFL in check (3.4 yards per carry, 4.5 yards per target) the entire time. It was just another example of Seattle's No. 1 run defense, and there figures to be little room for Ingram, who is averaging a career-low 3.9 yards per carry. He's likely going to need a touchdown to save his day, but he has just three through six games (one on the ground), while the Seahawks have allowed just two scores to opposing running backs, both of which were by Carlos Hyde in garbage time.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Lamar Miller, HOU (vs. DET)
Sadly, it’s no longer Miller Time. The heavy workload has caught up to him it seems, and now he’s nursing a shoulder injury that saw him split work with Alfred Blue. You’ll want to monitor this situation all week long, and even though you start your studs, it may be time to let Miller rest. Hopefully the Texans do the same thing. Miller ran well against Denver — 11 times for 61 yards, but if he doesn’t have the volume, and he’s at less than 100 percent health-wise, he can’t be trusted.
— 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.