Fantasy Football Week 13: Start or Sit Austin Ekeler, Gus Edwards, or Lamar Miller?
It’s week 13, which means for many of us it is a de facto week one of the playoffs. For those of us scraping and scrambling at 6-6, losing this week makes it impossible to stamp our tickets to the postseason come week 14 and beyond. This is the week where the grind of the fantasy football season abates for the rest of the year, as every week is for your life (assuming proverbially, though I do not know the stakes of your particular fantasy football league). With every start or sit decision potentially meaning heading onto the playoffs, or packing it in for the year, every decision needs thorough vetting. We are here to help, as we hope to provide you with some basic facts to help you with your start or sit decisions. This week, we highlight three running backs who are RB2 plays with juicy matchups this week.
Start or Sit Austin Ekeler at Pittsburgh
Melvin Gordon injured his knee last week on, given the situation, might be the worst play call of the entire season. His death means opportunity for one of the best 1b guys in the league to finally become the undisputed 1a in Los Angeles. He lit up the Cardinals in a partial game last week, topping 100 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Doing that against the Cardinals isn’t exactly a spectacular feat, and can be mostly ignored. Instead, let’s check the usage the last time Melvin Gordon sat out. He had twelve carries and seven targets against a very strong Titans team (in London). That’s the kind of workload you want to try to bank on. The Steelers, on paper, are also a very difficult matchup (fourth-fewest fantasy points to RBs). However, they’ve been slipping over the last few weeks. They’ve given up six RB touchdowns in their last four games, and have yielded three 100+ yard running back days in that span. With Austin Ekeler suddenly thrust into the starting lineup, it’s likely you have a valid “start or sit Ekeler” decision in front of you. With a huge shootout facing him in what has been a beatable matchup lately, Ekeler is a start.
Start or Sit Gus Edwards at Atlanta
Gus Edwards has received 72.7% of his career carries in the last two weeks of the season, and it makes you kind of wonder if John Harbaugh & Co. have some awful brain worms or something. The truth is that he is a great RB to take advantage of a running QB like Lamar Jackson; he’s no-nonsense, north-south runner who effortlessly slips between would-be tacklers. He’s extraordinarily fluid in his motions, and he has a preternatural ability to ensure he moves forward, not backward. In short: he’s good, and he is extremely productive with teams worrying about Lamar Jackson. The 116.5 rushing yards he’s averaged in the last two games is another way of saying that he has been productive. This week, he gets a cupcake matchup against the Falcons, who allow the third-most fantasy points to RBs this year, including five double-digit days in their last four games (since their bye). Even worse? Running backs have ripped off nearly six yards per carry in that same timespan. Don’t worry about Edwards’ sitting out Wednesday’s practice: He returned Thursday, which puts him far ahead of Alex Collins (bruised ego), who looks as though he will miss Sunday. Gus Edwards has just two games under his belt, so the “start or sit Edwards” question is valid. This week, I would start him and ride a hot hand into a juicy matchup.
Start or Sit Lamar Miller versus Cleveland
People want to pooh-pooh Miller’s performance last week because outside of his 97-yard run, he had just 11 carries for 65 yards. Let me rephrase that. Outside of his amazing run, which surely kept him from getting more carries on that particular drive, people want to dismiss Miller’s week last week because he averaged nearly six yards per carry if you take out his amazing run. It’s all hogwash and more anti-Lamar Miller propaganda from the haters and the losers. The simple truth is that Miller has at least 100 yards in four of his last five games, and has a touchdown in three of those contests. The Texans offense is churning right along, and Lamar Miller is a key component of their success. The Browns, despite their offensive success recently, have not done much to stop opposing running backs. They’ve given up four double-digit fantasy days to opposing running backs in their last four games, including three 19+ point efforts against them. That is to say, they’ve earned their ranking as the seventh-best running back matchup, and they haven’t done much to improve it recently. They’re a defensive sieve, and Miller can take advantage of their defensive shortcomings. Lamar Miller is a strong start if you are trying to decide whether you should start or sit Lamar Miller, as he is unlikely to crater your team, and has a great shot at a touchdown.
All three of these running backs could be great options this week, though you probably can’t start them all. If you have to choose who to start or sit between them, I would go with
- Lamar Miller
- Gus Edwards
- Austin Ekeler