Ronald Jones, Justin Jackson, Rashaad Penny, Miles Sanders, Jeff Wilson, More Expert Start/Sit Advice For RBs
Getty Images. Pictured: Bucs RB Ronald Jones, Chargers RB Justin Jackson, Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny
Setting your lineups can be difficult, especially with COVID-19 outbreaks galore and the fantasy football semifinals upon us.
Below you will find some running backs I like, as well as some I don’t like for Week 16 based on matchups, injuries, trends and more.
Be sure to consult our experts’ real-time rankings for fantasy football start/sit advice on any COVID- or injury-impacted players.
Fantasy RBs To Start/Sit In Week 16
Sony Michel, Rams at Vikings
Editor’s note: Rams RB Cam Akers was designated to return on Thursday. There’s no guarantee he will make his return in Week 16, but if he does, it will impact our expert’s analysis for Sony Michel.
Like many of the Rams, Darrell Henderson Jr. spent most of the days leading up to Week 15 in COVID-19 limbo. He ultimately started this game against the Seahawks, but was out-touched and outperformed by Michel. Henderson saw six carries for 23 yards and caught two passes for four yards while Michel saw 18 carries for 92 yards and caught two passes for 23 yards. It is unclear if this workload split was a premonition for Week 16 against the Vikings, but it’s certainly concerning enough to rank Michel over Henderson this week.
This is a positive matchup against Minnesota, which has a defense that allows the 11th-most fantasy points to running backs this year. Michel should be a RB2 this week.
Miles Sanders, Eagles vs. Giants
Sanders was seemingly unhampered by the ankle injury he suffered in Week 13 against the Jets. He saw 18 carries for 131 yards and caught two passes for 15 yards against Washington — good enough for 16 fantasy points in half-PPR. Jordan Howard saw 15 carries for 69 yards and Kenneth Gainwell saw zero touches all game. He appears to be the Eagles’ de facto No. 1 for now and should be regarded as a RB2 this week against the Giants, who have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs this year.
Jeff Wilson Jr., 49ers at Titans
Wilson shined in Week 15 against Atlanta with Elijah Mitchell sidelined. He saw 21 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown while JaMycal Hasty and Kyle Juszczyk each saw just one attempt. The matchup is less than ideal against the Titans, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs this year, but Mitchell has been ruled out once again for this Thursday night game. Wilson will likely be in line to see at least 20 touches and should be considered a low-end RB2 based on workload alone.
Justin Jackson, Chargers at Texans
Jackson had a surprisingly nice day for fantasy in Thursday night’s overtime loss to the Chiefs. He saw 13 carries for 86 yards and caught a pass for 13 yards, while Austin Ekeler — who was questionable entering this matchup — saw 12 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown and tacked on four catches for 23 yards. Joshua Kelley saw seven carries for 21 yards.
Ekeler has landed on the COVID-19/reserve list as of Wednesday. If he is vaccinated, he could have a chance to return for this Sunday’s road game against the Texans, but his status is certainly in jeopardy. Jackson would likely be in line for 20+ carries if Ekeler sits, making him a high-end RB2 against Houston’s bottom five defense against fantasy running backs.
Verdict: Start as RB2 if Austin Ekeler is inactive
Ronald Jones II, Bucs at Panthers
Jones had a pedestrian evening against the Saints last Sunday and tallied eight carries for 63 yards and caught two of eight passes. The Bucs also lost three of their star playmakers in the effort: Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Evans will reportedly be fine, but Godwin and Fournette will miss the rest of the fantasy playoffs with a torn ACL and hamstring injury, respectively.
In the wake of placing Fournette on injured reserve, the Buccaneers inked veteran Le’Veon Bell, who played for the Ravens most recently. Jones should still be in line for the lion’s share of the workload even with the addition of Bell.
Jones immediately vaults into the RB2 conversation — even with the Panthers’ run defense on deck in two of the Buccaneers’ next three games.
Verdict: Start as RB2
Chuba Hubbard, Panthers vs. Buccaneers
To the dismay of fantasy managers and Panthers fans alike, it doesn’t look like Hubbard is going to be this year’s Mike Davis. Hubbard has not crested the double-digit mark since Week 8 in Atlanta and saw just eight carries for 50 yards against the Bills last week. Ameer Abdullah had the much better day for fantasy and saw eight total touches in the contest for 55 yards and a touchdown. Hubbard gets another brutal matchup this week against the Buccaneers, who have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs all year. Toss in the Panthers’ suboptimal quarterback situation which could be a rotating platoon of Cam Newton and Sam Darnold, and it’s a recipe for disaster. You cannot rely on Hubbard for your fantasy semis.
Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots vs. Bills
Stevenson had the chance to step up with Damien Harris sidelined last week, but was a total dud in the Patriots’ Saturday night loss to the Colts. He saw 10 carries for 36 yards and caught a pass for four yards, which put many managers in a hole heading into the Sunday slate. Harris could return this week just in time for this scary matchup against the Bills, who have been tough against running backs all year. This entire backfield is a sit for me in Week 16.
Rashaad Penny, Seahawks vs. Bears
Penny was one of the top waiver adds in Week 15 after a monster, two-touchdown showing in the week prior against the Texans. He tallied 11 carries for 39 yards and caught two passes for five yards in a game in which Seattle struggled to get anything going on offense. Fellow running back DeeJay Dallas was the lone Seahawk to find the end zone in the game and saw eight carries for 41 yards and caught three passes for 11 yards. Penny isn’t trustworthy this week, even against the Bears’ middle-of-the-road run defense.
Duke Johnson Jr., Dolphins at Saints
Johnson exploded quite literally out of nowhere in Week 15 against the Jets. He tallied 22 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for 20 yards, finishing as the RB1 for the week. Myles Gaskin was active for this game, but spent most of the week on the COVID-19/reserve list so it’s possible he was in a more limited role due to lack of practice beforehand. At any rate, I doubt Johnson’s production is something we can expect week-to-week, especially with the Saints, Titans and Patriots on deck for the remainder of the year. He is a firm sit for me this week in New Orleans, which has a defense that allows the second-fewest fantasy points to the position all year.
Chase Edmonds, Cardinals vs. Colts
As if Week 15 needed anything weirder to happen, the Cardinals were upset 30-12 by the lowly Lions. This led to a strange game script which did not favor the run game in Edmonds’ return from injured reserve. He saw six carries for 53 yards while James Conner saw eight carries for 39 yards and caught two passes for 31 yards. I am worried about starting him this week with the Colts on deck, as Indianapolis’ defense has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this year. Edmonds is a low-end RB3 this week for me with more risk than reward.
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