Fantasy football week one is in the books, and we had a lot of our questions answered… or did we? You can’t make a pattern with one data point, and so far that’s all we have. That doesn’t mean that we can’t dive into what happened in week one to answer some start or sit questions for week two, though! Let’s keep this train rolling by answering whether or not we should start three running backs who had differing levels of success in week one: should you start or sit Ronald Jones II, Nyheim Hines, or Antonio Gibson?
Start or Sit Ronald Jones II versus Carolina?
Let me put you in on a little bit of the “behind the scenes” of my writing. Last season, I utilized two free spaces for analysis: start all running backs against Carolina, and start all tight ends against Arizona. So far, one game into 2020, I can hang onto one of these free spaces. The Carolina Panthers put up little resistance on the ground against the Panthers, with Josh Jacobs going for 130+ total yards and three touchdowns. Devontae Booker chipped in over 50 yards on seven touches, as well. They remain a free space (and an argument should be made to sell Josh Jacobs now).
In week one, Ronald Jones rushed the ball 17 times and had two receptions, totaling 82 yards. I’m not going to get big-brained with this, and assume that Bruce Arians will stick with the sophomore back until he loses his grip on the job, and Arians switches to Fournette. Plus, he gets to ride the wave of Angry Brady this week after Touchdown Tom looked more like Pick Six Tom for the third-straight game last week. I’m windmill slamming this pick: start Ronald Jones II against Carolina.
Start or Sit Nyheim Hines versus Minnesota
Yes. Start Nyheim Hines. Next question. You knew I had to take a victory lap after making Nyheim Hines the face of my running back sleepers column in August. He has everything in place to have a mini-Ekeler breakout: talent, opportunity, and a quarterback who is familiar with Ekeler. Hines’ week one wasn’t a fluke, he’s one of ten players to handle 80 targets and 80 rush attempts as a rookie, so the dual-threat has always been there. Second, the Colts used him for targets and goal-line looks. He scored twice on fifteen touches, kicking in 73 yards, and getting play before second-round rookie phenom Jonathan Taylor. Third, Philip Rivers orchestrated the Ekeler breakout by constantly throwing to running backs. Hines is a running back, and he constantly threw the ball to him. Taylor will lead the way, but Hines will do plenty this weekend.
The Vikings won’t put up much of a defense against Hines this week, likely because they won’t put up much of a defense against anyone this season. The Packers rolled all over this Vikes defense so hard that it made Aaron Rodgers look like he came out of 2012. Start Nyheim Hines this week against the Vikes.
Start or Sit Antonio Gibson at Arizona
I am not huge on Antonio Gibson. I thought he was a fun flier, but he ended up going in the first half of the draft and I was majorly out on him at that price point. That doesn’t automatically make him useless for fantasy football as a weekly upside play. Last week, he had eleven touches that he turned into 44 yards. Not exactly inspiring production, but the Eagles were crushing the Football Team offensive line all game. What makes me excited for Gibson this week is two-fold: Gibson’s pass-catching chops (he was a part-time WR in college) and the way in which the 49ers’ RBs scored on Arizona last week.
If you saw one highlight from the 49ers-Cardinals game, it was probably Jimmy G putting himself through the spin cycle. If you saw two highlights, you probably saw Raheem Mostert giving a thorough “welcome to the league, rook” to Isaiah Simmons on a 70+ yard catch-and-run touchdown. The 49ers’ other passing touchdown came to Jerick McKinnon, who was wonderful in his return from football after two catastrophic injuries. Both of these touchdowns are well within Antonio Gibson’s wheelhouse, so he makes for a tasty start in your flex spot this week, just slightly behind the other two fellas in this article.
This week, I’m going all-in on Nyheim Hines, for better or for worse. This is doubly true in a PPR. Ronald Jones is slightly behind him, as his matchup is juicy enough to warrant a start. Gibson sits slightly behind these guys in “wild hair” territory but is still worthy of a flex start this week.
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