Fantasy Football playoffs are coming up very soon, so every week means just that much more as the standings get tighter and tighter. And for Week 11 of the NFL season, there are definitely some matchups that help – and hinder – fantasy football owners in terms of the running back position.
There are going to be your run of the mill RB1 options that absolutely should be started on a weekly basis and are matchup-proof, so the likes of Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Alvin Kamara, Miles Sanders, and others are certainly going to be in there on an every-week basis, acting as set it and forget it options.
But for the others, there certainly are matchups that will dictate how you should use them, whether they should exist in your starting lineup or sit this week out – take a peek at which players we think you should start and which players you should sit in Week 11.
RBs to Start in Week 11
James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, their undefeated start has mostly been due to their stout defense that has consistently shut down their opponents and taken the pressure off of their offense. But QB Ben Roethlisberger and his weapons have kept a productive unit on the field in every game, a testament to how well this team is built from top to bottom.
Running back James Conner has been a big question mark lately this year, but not getting enough touches has not been the cause for concern. Across the past two weeks, Conner has registered at least 11 touches, including two receptions in each game, yet his 20 total yards against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9 and his 48 total yards against the Cincinnati Bengals last week certainly are underwhelming targets.
But fear not, a perfect remedy for a struggling player is to play the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars, something that the Steelers get to travel for on Sunday. For Conner, the Steelers should be able to control the flow of the game from start to finish, letting their defense do the talking, which should hopefully provide Conner with at least 15 carries and a much higher yardage total than lately, hopefully getting back into the end zone too. Fantasy football owners can lock him in.
Damien Harris, New England Patriots
The conversation surrounding the New England Patriots offense is always how they have a lot of average to above-average options at running back, yet there is not the one that stands out the most. Well, enter Damien Harris.
Even with Sony Michel making his return finally, Harris’ role within the NE offense certainly fits well next to Cam Newton, but more than anything in winning scenarios, something that they have staring them in the face against the Houston Texans. For Harris, his 22/121 line on the ground against the Ravens last week is a showcase of what he can do in a full-time role, something that could happen again this week against a struggling HOU defense.
Kalen Ballage, Los Angeles Chargers
When Austin Ekeler went down and was placed on the IR earlier this year, Kalen Ballage was not even thought of being an option on the replacement Bingo card for the Los Angeles Chargers. But with both Justin Jackson and rookie Joshua Kelley facing either injuries or production struggles, Ballage, who was claimed after the New York Jets let him go, gets to exact some revenge against the Jets this week.
HC Anthony Lynn revealed that Ballage will be the primary back for the Chargers moving forward, according to Daniel Popper of The Athletic, boasting a solid chance against a winless Jets squad that is only going to have five healthy cornerback options on its roster, all of which will be in over their heads this week, which could make this game get out of hand early and give Ballage more work.
Other Week 11 starts – Nyheim Hines (IND), Antonio Gibson & J.D. McKissic (WAS), Mike Davis (CAR)
RBs to Sit in Week 11
Adrian Peterson / Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions
A cruel reality that fantasy football players everywhere are all too used to is the flash in a pan players that finally get their shine… just to lose their roles the following week due to coaching differences or injury. Insert D’Andre Swift into that conversation now.
After a dominant 21-touch, 149-yard, 1 score outing against Washington in Week 10, Swift suffered a concussion, which questionably did not show up until a mid-week injury report after this Sunday contest. Regardless, with Swift being out, the onus falls on both Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson to pick up the slack.
The Carolina Panthers are much tougher on the pass than on the run, but both AP and Johnson do not have that type of safe floor to justify being startable options. AP figures to earn more touches on the day, but with both Danny Amendola and Kenny Golladay out, their WR group, which is down to Marvin Jones Jr., Marvin Hall, and rookie Quintez Cephus, is missing pieces as well.
The volatility of this offense makes this rushing attack very hard to trust – at the very least, AP can be considered a low RB3 option this week, but desperation should be the only reason you even think about starting him.
James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Regardless of how the rest of the season goes for the Jaguars, they can for sure hang their hat on finding a diamond in the rough with undrafted rookie James Robinson, as he went from not being drafted to being their starting running back, a title he should not be giving up anytime soon.
But here is the deal – they play the Steelers this week, and no guaranteed volume of touches should make Robinson rosters all that comfortable with starting him this week. Rookie QB Jake Luton is scheduled to make another start in relief of the injured Gardner Minshew, and Luton, while he did look feasible against Green Bay’s defense last week, the Steelers D is on a whole ‘other level.
Robinson’s touch total will probably be enough to justify a starting role this week, but his ceiling and floor both considerably drop when compared to other weeks, so try and pivot away if you can.
Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
For all Joe Mixon rosters (myself included), I am sorry – the flashes in the pan for Mixon this year do not soften the blow of his injury bug he has recently had. Plus, with him now being placed on the IR, Giovanni Bernard will take over the touches from here on out until he returns.
This week, the Bengals play the Washington Football Team, a team that boasts one of the stoutest front sevens in the league, something that will certainly not be a good match for a below-average offensive line like what the Bengals have.
But the biggest problem for Bernard’s fantasy football production this week is the role that Samaje Perine, someone that vultured a TD from Bernard back in Week 8 and earned eight total touches against the Steelers last week. While Perine will be the backup to Bernard, the long-time backup to Mixon will have a bit of an unsteady Week 11 matchup, which will ride on if Bernard gets goal-line touches or not.
Other Week 11 sits – Jonathan Taylor (IND), Darrell Henderson Jr. (LAR), Todd Gurley II (ATL), Melvin Gordon III (DEN)