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Why You Should Start Le'Veon Bell and Other RB Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for Week 4

Le'Veon Bell

Le'Veon Bell

Week 4 means the welcome return of a familiar face to the running back scene, but also the first time fantasy owners must navigate those pesky bye weeks. Before I get to my start/sit advice in the backfield, let’s see how I did in Week 3.

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Good Calls...
Start DeMarco Murray (26.5 fantasy points) – Murray is getting all the work he can handle in Tennessee, especially in the passing game.

Start Melvin Gordon (17.8 FP) – He didn’t have as good of a day as he should have, but you’ll still take those points.

I warned you about starting Jerick McKinnon (7.7 FP) against the Panthers. His time will come, but the Panthers were too tough of a test.

Bad Calls…

Start Matt Forte (8.4 FP) – The Chiefs were allowing 126 yards rushing per game so why the Jets would let Ryan Fitzpatrick keep throwing it (6 INTs) is beyond me

Sit Jeremy Hill (21.7 FP) – Hill had his best game of the season against the Broncos, rushing for 97 yards and two TDs.

Sit Carlos Hyde (25.5 FP) – Who would have thought that Hyde would run for 103 yards and score two TDs against the Seahawks?

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

Teams on bye: Green Bay, Philadelphia

START THESE RBs...

Le’Veon Bell, PIT (vs. KC)

This is the only week that I am going to be able to include Bell here so I’m taking full advantage of it. You made it. Bell is finished with his three-game suspension, and now you can unleash him into the wild with great pleasure. DeAngelo Williams filled in admirably two out of those three weeks, as expected, but now you can get your money’s worth on the guy you likely took early in your draft. The best part for all of you wise owners who have Bell in PPR: he’s ready to catch balls. Never forget that this guy caught 83 passes in 2014. His knee is ready, and we’re all ready to watch him work.

Jordan Howard, CHI (vs. DET)

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Howard is the best running back the Bears have had on their roster all season and he finally got to show it Sunday night after Jeremy Langford got hurt. Now, the rookie is the Bears’ main running back with Langford out for at least a month and Ka’Deem Carey banged up. Howard may get 20-plus carries against Detroit this week. The Lions are dead last in yards per carry allowed in the NFL (5.1). You attack the Lions by running at them. Howard is going to have a big game in his first NFL start, think at least 100 yards and a TD.

Carlos Hyde, SF (vs. DAL)

Hyde did absolutely nothing last week for the first three quarters against the Seahawks, then in garbage time, when most teams throw the ball to try to come back, he scored two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the final quarter. This week Hyde and the 49ers get the Cowboys. The Dallas defense is among the bottom five in yards per carry allowed, despite the fact that the Cowboys have faced some of the worst running teams in the NFL the first three games – Giants, Redskins and Bears. Conversely, Hyde has faced three top-eight run defenses (in yards per carry allowed) this season and is No. 11 in rushing yards and tied for first in rushing TDs. It’s Hyde’s easiest matchup of 2016 to date and the toughest one for the Dallas run defense.

MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...

Dwayne Washington, DET (at CHI)

According to Yahoo! and NFL.com, this guy is not owned nearly enough. That will probably change this week, considering the byes and how he’s clearly the lead back in a run-light offense. He only had 11 touches Week 3, but you could see him killing the clock when the Lions are killing the Bears, couldn’t you?

SIT THESE RBs...

Christine Michael, SEA (at NYJ)

The Jets’ defense has allowed the third-lowest rushing yards per game rushing this season, which is a continuation from their No. 3 performance in 2015. This is a tough run defense. New York has held opposing offenses to less than 90 rushing yards in seven of its last nine games. Michael’s claim to fame is rushing for 106 yards last week, a game where he ran for a 41-yard TD on his first carry, and then was held to 65 yards on 19 carries (3.4 ypc) the rest of the way. He also caught two passes for all of five yards. He’s not that great of a running back, he’s been forced into the starting role, and now faces the best run defense he’s seen this season in the Jets. I don’t see a big upside week here.

Jerick McKinnon, MIN (vs. NYG, Mon.)

It’s true that you probably blew most (if not all) of your FAAB budget getting McKinnon. Matt Asiata drew the start last week against the Panthers, but it was McKinnon who led the Minnesota backfield in snaps (36) and touches (17). Still, he recorded a poor 2.8 yards per carry and is facing a Giants defense that's surrendered the second-fewest points to RBs. Unless you're in need, I'd bench McKinnon.

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Latavius Murray, OAK (at BAL)

Even with all of the injuries and two teams on bye, Murray very well could be considered bench-worthy with the Ravens on deck. Baltimore held the Jaguars to 31 rushing yards on 18 carries in Week 3, and Murray’s looking at a ceiling of 12 carries with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington breathing down his neck for touches. Murray’s 22-yard TD run last week saved his fantasy owners. Don’t count on a repeat this Sunday.

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...

Todd Gurley, LA (at ARI)

Gurley had two TDs last week…so what! It was his fifth game in a row with 85 rushing yards or fewer. It was the 11th time in his last 12 games with less than 90. Last week also marked the fourth game in a row that Gurley caught just one pass in a game. He’s caught all of eight passes in his last nine games. I’m a huge fan of Gurley’s. He’s just having the fantasy life choked out of him by Jeff Fisher’s offense. Now, he faces an Arizona defense gunning for him, like all defenses do, except that the Cardinals have a pretty good group to gun with. Looks like another sour fantasy week for Gurley ahead. All you can pray is the Rams get to the 1-yard line for a (not so) easy TD plunge.

— 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.