So let’s take a quick recap of my start/sit fantasy running back advice from Week 4.
Start Karlos Williams (13 fantasy points) — Not as productive as expected but he did catch a TD pass late to salvage his afternoon.
Start Mark Ingram (12.8 FP) — Respectable 77 yards on the ground, plus keeps getting targeted in the passing game which is amazing if you have him in a PPR league.
Sit Toddy Gurley (16.1 FP) — I thought he would be eased in. Apparently that’s not the case.
Sit Doug Martin (20.3 FP) — After stinking it up for the first three games he exploded for 106 yards and a TD against the Panthers.
After a so-so week last week it’s time to improve and nail it this week.
Here’s your start/sit for running backs in Week 5.
Byes: Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, New York Jets
START THESE RBs...
Devonta Freeman, ATL (vs. WAS)
Of course you are going to start Freeman at this point. All he’s done since getting the starting gig is rush for 209 yards and score six touchdowns. Even if Tevin Coleman dresses and is ready to play, there is no way the Falcons are going to take Freeman off the field. That is unless like last week against the Texans, the Falcons find themselves up big and decide to use some backups. Freeman is playing against a Washington Redskins defense that has given up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, so they’re pretty good. But Freeman is too hot and the Falcons' offense is to potent not to start him.
DeMarco Murray, PHI (vs. NO)
This is a huge gamble. Murray has done nothing thus far to show that he’s even worth being a starting running back in the NFL. The Eagles' terrible offensive line hasn’t helped either, but “great” running backs are supposed to still produce. Murray is a start this week because he called out head coach Chip Kelly after last week’s loss to Washington. Much like when Jimmy Graham voiced his displeasure in his role in the Seahawks' offense and then went out and caught seven passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, Murray is going to have to put his money where his mouth is this week. Helping Murray’s cause is that the New Orleans Saints and their vanilla defense are paying the Eagles a visit. Look for Murray to finally breakout and have his first 100-yard game as an Eagle.
T.J. Yeldon, JAC (at TB)
Yeldon is coming off the best game of his young career last week where he rushed for 105 yards, but he still hasn’t scored a touchdown. The good news is that Yeldon will still be the bell-cow back for the Jaguars as they have no one else to hand the ball off too. He’s definitely a RB2 this week against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
LeGarrette Blount, NE (at DAL)
You never know what you are going to get with Bill Belichick and New England running backs. So far this season Belichick has shown that he really likes and trusts Dion Lewis. But when the going gets tough, that’s when Blount sees the field. This week the Patriots travel to Dallas to face a Cowboys defense that gets linebackers Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain back from suspension. The Patriots are going to need Blount to pass block and smash the football up the middle. Another two-touchdown day isn’t out of the question for Blount.
SIT THESE RBs...
Jeremy Hill, CIN (vs. SEA)
Hill hasn’t done anything this year other than play so poorly that he now finds himself in a timeshare with Giovani Bernard. Hill’s only saving grace is that he managed to score three touchdowns last week against the Chiefs but keep in mind that he was on the field for just 30 of 54 offensive snaps. There’s nothing more you need to know really other than the fact that this week Hill is going up against a Seattle Seahawks defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Stay away.
C.J. Anderson, DEN (at OAK)
It’s looking more and more like Anderson is a complete bust and that last year was just a fluke. Head coach Gary Kubiak has announced that both Anderson and Hillman will split the carries down the middle, but it’s only a matter of time before that shifts to 75 percent Hillman and 25 percent Anderson. If you can, do yourself a favor and see if you can find a gullible owner in your league who still believes that Anderson can turn things around and dump him. This week he plays against the Oakland Raiders, who so far this season are around the middle of the pack (13th) in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs. But this week, most of those points will go to Hillman.
Melvin Gordon, SD (vs. PIT)
For some reason or another, Gordon hasn’t been able to get it going this year. Through the first four games he has been a massive disappointment, scoring zero touchdowns and producing a pathetic 24.2 total fantasy points. It’s Danny Woodhead that is getting all the looks and touches in the Chargers' backfield, especially when it matters and in the red zone. This week Gordon goes up against a Steelers defense that has actually been pretty good against the run. They’ve allowed fewer than 14 fantasy points to running backs in three of their first four games, so sit Gordon this week.
YOU`VE BEEN WARNED...
Todd Gurley, STL (at GB)
Okay, Gurley is good and is going to be really, really good. The Rams finally turned Gurley lose in the fourth quarter last week against a pretty good Arizona Cardinals defense and the rookie exploded for 146 rushing yards on only 19 carries. This week he gets a great matchup against a Green Bay Packers defense that is allowing 115 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. So why isn’t Gurley a must start? Can you trust the Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher to give the ball to Gurley 20-plus times? Or are they still going to try and ease him in? Plus, what happens if the Rams find themselves down early in the game, which is always a possibility against an Aaron Rodgers-led team. If this happens, Gurley might be phased out of the game plan in favor of Tre Mason or Benny Cunningham.
— 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.
(DeMarco Murray photo courtesy of Getty Images)