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Fantasy Football Week 2 Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

fantasy football, running backs, starts & sits, saquon barkley, melvin gordon, austin ekeler, david montgomery

Mining the waiver wire for your Week 2 pickups certainly is how you should continue to build your fantasy football lineup – but keeping an eye on the players you already have on your roster and managing them is just as important. And after the kind of week the group of rosterable running backs had, hitting on those starts and sits is even more crucial.

Running backs hold the most value in fantasy football leagues unless you are playing in a two-quarterback or Superflex format – but even then, your running backs are extremely important to help give your roster a leg to stand on. Tight ends and wide receivers both rely on the decision-making of their quarterbacks to get them the ball, but running backs only rely on the play calling to get them the ball, meaning they have a higher likelihood of earning a touch and increasing their value.

This week’s starts and sits for the running backs will include some household names, but does not include the big names that should always be starting in your lineups – players such as Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and other leaders at this position are going to be must-starts and are not impacted by their opponents.

*Additionally, here are ClutchPoints’ start ’em sit ’em recommendations at wide receiver, quarterback, and tight end*

This list includes those who are still worthy of being categorized as RB1 or RB2 options, but certainly could be affected both by the expected game plan heading into games and opponent’s defensive strengths. Knowing who to start and who to sit, especially earlier in the week, will help you adjust your fantasy football roster and make the required moves.

*Watch NFL games LIVE with fuboTV (Click for free trial)*

Week 2 Starts

David Montgomery

Chicago Bears

As the Chicago Bears headed into the new stadium for the Los Angeles Rams, all eyes were on the QB room and the play of both Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields. But it was their running back, David Montgomery, who stole the show and ended up being this offense’s best player in a blowout loss.

Montgomery put up a healthy 16/108/1 while hauling in a lone reception Sunday night, starting off his season just how he finished his 2020 campaign. As the Bears host the Cincinnati Bengals (who just held Cook to 104 total yards on 26 touches), Montgomery should be locked and loaded in your lineups, even with the QB issues this team currently has.

Expecting another 100-yard rushing affair is certainly in the cards, but Montgomery should be able to earn over 20 touches in a game that should see the Bears try to dictate the pace early on through the rushing attack.

Austin Ekeler

Los Angeles Chargers

Seen as a dark-horse candidate to finish this year as the overall RB1 in fantasy football, LAC’s Austin Ekeler began his ‘21 campaign by giving his fantasy teams a few sleepless nights leading up to Sunday’s contest. Even after earning a questionable tag due to a hamstring injury suffered in practice, Ekeler was out there against Washington, coming through with a rushing score on 15 carries.

Not having earned any targets in the passing game certainly is an element to follow for Ekeler, as he thrives catching balls out of the backfield, but the fact that he earned goal-line touches (as opposed to last season) helps paint an optimistic picture for the 2021 season for Ekeler. As the Chargers host the Cowboys and their below-average defense, look for Ekeler to regain his receiving work and produce over 100 total yards on his way to a top-8 RB performance.

Kareem Hunt

Cleveland Browns

Holding the role as one of fantasy football’s best backup options, Kareem Hunt holds the most standalone value for any non-starter in the league. As the backup behind Nick Chubb in Cleveland, Hunt earns a decent amount of playing time in all situations, exactly what was demonstrated in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs.

Even though he did only earn nine touches, his 33 rushing yards and 28 receiving yards helped produce fantasy relevancy, as did his rushing TD and a two-point conversion. With the Browns facing the Houston Texans, they may end up running away with this game, which could give Hunt more run if they decide to rest Chubb.

Regardless of game score, look for Hunt to earn double-digit touches in this game, setting himself up for a solid RB2 floor with the potential to hit some big plays to really jack up his production.

Other Starts – Damien Harris, Chase Edmonds, and Myles Gaskin

Week 2 Sits

Melvin Gordon III

Denver Broncos

Outside of his fourth-quarter, 70-yard touchdown run, Melvin Gordon was relegated to splitting work with UNC rookie Javonte Williams. While Gordon did start out the game in the backfield, he ultimately received fewer carries but more targets than his running back counterpart.

The writing is on the wall for Gordon as he progresses through the final year of his contract with the Broncos – and as Williams gets more familiar with the offense, Gordon’s role will likely decrease, plummeting his fantasy value in the process.

Even against the Jaguars in a very winnable game for Denver, Gordon may not be looked to as much, especially since this would be a great defensive unit for Williams to earn a lot of run against. Lower your expectations for Gordon and keep him out of your lineup this week, even against an easier defense.

Saquon Barkley

New York Giants

The long-awaited return of Saquon Barkley from his ACL and MCL injuries last season was met with underwhelming, but understandable results, only earning 11 total touches. But as the team remains cautious with their star running back and his workload, any sort of increased expectations for Week 2 should be tempered.

The Washington Football Team has one of the league’s best front seven, and with Barkley still on a pitch count, any sort of RB1 efficiency cannot be expected. 11 touches are not enough to justify starting Barkley, especially with the kind of expectations and role Barkley holds on your team.

On a short week against a divisional foe, sit Barkley (as tough as it is to sit a big name) and wait for him to break out Week 3 against the Falcons.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Kansas City Chiefs

Will the work be there for Clyde Edwards-Helaire? Absolutely – he is the starting back for the Chiefs.

But trusting him to improve upon his 14/43 rushing and 3/29 receiving stats against a very tough Baltimore Ravens defense may be a bit of a tough ask, even for a guy who is commanding the majority of backfield touches in a high-powered offense.

Fantasy football is a game of matchups, and this one just is not on Edwards-Helaire’s side, so sitting him would be the best way to handle his status this week. While putting what is likely one of your better running backs on your bench is a tough decision to make, sitting CEH and seeing him struggle yet again is the best route to take this week – provided you have the running back depth to do so.

Other Sits – Devin Singletary, Mike Davis, and Ty’Son Williams