Last week Le’Veon Bell showed why he’s a must-start fantasy running back, but you already knew that. As to which ones to start and which to sit in Week 5, you’ve come to the right place. But first, let’s take a peek and see how my advice did in Week 4.
Start Le’Veon Bell (17.8 FP) – I know this was too easy.
Start Jordan Howard (13.2 FP) – Looks like Howard really is the best running back in Chicago.
Sit Latavius Murray (2.4 FP) – The Raiders are good, but you don’t want any part of their backfield in fantasy. Murray’s also now dealing with a toe injury.
I warned you about starting Todd Gurley (8.2 FP) and he didn’t do much against the Cardinals. At least he’s getting more involved in the passing game.
Sit Christine Michael (15 FP) – Didn’t do much on the ground, but his TD catch saved his fantasy day.
Teams on bye: Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle
START THESE RBs...
Todd Gurley, LA (vs. BUF)
Normally Gurley would be an automatic start, but he’s been the biggest bust in all of fantasy football through the first four weeks of the season. He’s rushed for a total of 216 yards and two touchdowns in four games, and doesn’t have a single 100-yard performance to his credit. Luckily for Gurley owners, things are about to change this week when the Bills travel all the way across the country to take on the Rams. Buffalo is 10th in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs, and this defense has yielded 23-plus fantasy points two of the first four No. 1 running backs it has faced. So Gurley should finally look and produce like a first-round pick.
C.J. Anderson, DEN (vs. ATL)
Anderson still doesn’t have a 100-yard game this season, but he has scored four touchdowns in four games, ranks in the top 10 in snaps among running backs, and he's gotten 20 or more touches in all but one contest. So while Anderson might not be putting up big-time numbers, he’s consistent, which is something fantasy owners love. This week Anderson and the Broncos welcome the high-scoring but somewhat defensively challenged Atlanta Falcons to town. The Falcons' defense is allowing 4.5 yards per carry, which is 26th in the league.
Jordan Howard, CHI (at IND)
The rookie is doing what Jeremy Langford couldn’t, and that’s break tackles and create something from nothing. He showed off his skills to the tune of 132 total yards in last week's win over the Lions, and this week gets another great matchup as the Bears travel to Indy to take on the Colts. Howard might end up being the No. 1 fantasy RB this week thanks to the Colts, who have surrendered more than 24 fantasy points per game to the position.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Terrance West, BAL (vs. WAS)
Kenneth Dixon, who is set to make his NFL debut in Week 5, is widely expected to take over this backfield at some point this season, but the rookie will probably be eased back into action. That means more opportunity for West, who turned 21 touches into 113 yards last week. He's averaging 5.1 yards per attempt over his last 31 carries, and now he's at home with a positive game script (four-point favorites) against a Washington defense that is 31st in the NFL in yards per carry allowed.
SIT THESE RBs...
Latavius Murray, OAK (vs. SD)
A whopping 43.4 percent of Murray's fantasy production has come from three touchdowns. You don't want to blame a guy for scoring touchdowns, but at the same time, it's not something you can bank on when he has played just 50.5 percent of the offensive snaps and received just 43.8 percent of the RB touches over the last three weeks. A matchup at home against the Chargers is a great one, but Murray is tough to trust as long as he's in a committee with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. He’s also dealing with a toe injury that could sideline him for this week, if not longer. So don’t even think about it, just bench Murray and keep your expectations for the rest of the season low.
Charles Sims, TB (at CAR)
Whatever the opposite of a vote of confidence is, Sims got it from his head coach this week. Dirk Koetter suggested the Buccaneers will determine specific roles for his players, which suggests Sims won't be an every-down back even with Doug Martin out. The matchup against the Panthers is a tough one and Sims himself has a right knee injury. No one should feel comfortable starting Sims this week against Carolina who have pretty solid against the run this season, as the Panthers have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher.
Ryan Matthews, PHI (at DET)
Mathews had a hot start to the season, but he lost work to Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood in the game before Philadelphia's bye and could now be stuck in an unattractive committee. The veteran back is fighting an ankle injury and this week is going up against a Lions defense that hasn't allowed a rushing score, so beware of Mathews this week.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Matt Forte, NYJ (at PIT)
I know it might be really hard to bench Forte this week with four teams on bye and all of the injuries at the position, but you shouldn't expect a dominant stat line on the road against the Steelers. After Forte's hot start (42 fantasy points in a standard league) in the first two games, he's slowed down with just nine fantasy points combined against Kansas City and Seattle the past two weeks. Bilal Powell also has seen his workload increase, as he played more snaps (37) than Forte (34) in last week’s loss to Seattle. The Steelers are a tough matchup for Forte too, as they have allowed only 78.3 rushing yards per game to RBs. Game flow also could force the Jets to throw more, so another disappointing fantasy day could be in store for Forte.
— 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.