Start or Sit Bilal Powell
This week, we take a look at a running back who technically isn’t even the starter. This week, should we start or sit Bilal Powell at the Lions?
The preseason is over, and the 2018 fantasy football season is officially here. That means fantasy football owners get up on Sunday morning and proceed to rearrange their lineup six-or-seven times before begrudgingly hitting submit, and hoping for the best. Here at Football Absurdity would like to cut that process down to just impotently rejiggering your lineup four-or-five times. Each week, we will highlight multiple players at each position (ignoring Kicker and DST, as one should) and we ask the question: start or sit <player>? I wish I could take it easy on myself and say to start Todd Gurley and sit Mike Davis every week, but life isn’t easy (and neither are fantasy football start or sit questions), so we take a look at players on the periphery.
Haters will tell you that Bilal Powell is the starter and Elijah McGuire, when healthy, is the presumed change-of-pace back behind Crowell. Here’s the rub, though: Crowell can’t catch and McGuire has a broken foot. That means that while the Jets are up and salting the game away, it’ll be Crowell mustering the tough runs up the middle to help them go three-and-out. Powell is the better all-around back between the two, and it appears as though he will get the chance to peddle his fantasy football wares in Detroit. In fact, NJ.com projects Powell as the starter on Sunday, though they concede it will be a timeshare.
But does that even affect whether you should start or sit Bilal Powell? He spent last season in a timeshare, and it didn’t seem to phase him one bit. He set a career high in carries while maintaining a yards per carry average above the cherished 4.0 YPC line. He was tasked with only 33 targets last year after averaging nearly 70 the two years prior, but the prior experience showed he can handle the target and carries when asked… The Jets just asked at different times. This year they turn to Powell as their hurry-up back, and given that Crowell and McGuire are already banged up, it’s a forced turn. Still, he produced in the role last season, getting 98 of his carries and 22 of his carries when the Jets were down.
And the Jets will definitely be down with rookie Sam Darnold in his first start against the Detroit Lions and their high volume pass attack. The Jets will definitely be chasing points late, as it is unlikely Darnold can go blow-for-blow with a refined Matthew Stafford passing game. That means lots of opportunities, carries, and targets, for Powell.
Opportunity is the name of the game against the Lions. They allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs last season. Only the Falcons allowed more running back receptions, and only Buffalo and Tampa Bay had more running backs cross the goal line against them. The Lions were also in the top-ten in running back yards per carry last year (4.2).
I would break ties towards starting Bilal Powell this week as a flex in PPR leagues. However, if you have him as your RB2, just start prepping for 2019 now. Because you messed up bad at the draft. Still, with a rookie quarterback under center, the Jets will likely lean on other parts of their game to carry him week one. That means a ton of opportunity for Powell against an iffy defense against running backs. The answer to, “should I start or sit Bilal Powell” is: Start.