Week nine has some of the hardest decisions when it comes to starting a running back. Some of my favorite running backs have bad match-ups, whereas guys with easier schedules have problems of their own. There are some tough questions that need to be asked. Lucky for you, week nine has some sneaky good options that will get you through the week. This week, we will be asking if you should start or sit J.K. Dobbins, Justin Jackson, or David Montgomery.
Start or Sit J.K Dobbins versus Indianapolis
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Because the Baltimore Ravens are the number one rushing team in the NFL, so something has got to give. With Mark Ingram unlikely to be back in week nine, J.K. Dobbins has shown he is the next man up in Baltimore.
After showing strong in Pittsburgh with 15 carries for 115 yards, Dobbins will be facing an Indianapolis Colt team that is ranked second against the run. Against the Steelers, he was on the field for 66% of the team’s snaps and averaged 7.6 yards per carry. This is significant because the Steelers are the fifth-best run defense in the NFL, so Dobbins has shown he can produce against a good defense.
While Lamar Jackson is a big part of Baltimore’s rushing numbers, he also makes the Ravens rushing game more difficult to defend. The Colts have not had to face a quarterback this season with Jackson’s mobility. The closest they’ve come is Gardner Minshew. If you trust that the Ravens will continue to dominate in rushing the ball, then you have to start J.K. Dobbins.
Start or Sit Justin Jackson versus Las Vegas Raiders
The question since Austin Ekeler landed on IR was who was going to take over the starting running back job for the Los Angeles Chargers. Over the last few weeks, it has become clear that Joshua Kelley, once believed to be the front-runner, is falling behind Justin Jackson. Last week, Kelley was only on the field for 24% of the team’s snaps, compared to the 47% he was on the field the previous week. Kelley’s flagging production has finally caught up with him.
With Justin Jackson getting more consistent looks, he is definitely a guy you want to roll with going forward. Especially in week nine. The Los Angeles Chargers average 136.7 rushing yards per game, ranking eighth in the NFL. They are also first in rushing attempts per game, averaging 33 rushing attempts.
The opportunities are there for Justin Jackson in week nine and few teams provide as many opportunities for running backs as the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. In true Las Vegas fashion, the Raiders have given up the most rushing touchdowns, because when you go to Vegas, it is to try scoring big. If you are looking for a potentially big payoff, you will want to start Justin Jackson.
Start or Sit David Montgomery versus Tennessee
There is nothing more depressing than being a fan of the Chicago Bears. You would think by now that we would no longer be surprised at how inept our offense is, but the Chicago Bears are fantastic at making the least out of the most talent. Nothing is more evident in this scenario than David Montgomery.
I addressed the concerns about David Montgomery last week and not much has changed. His offensive line is decimated with injuries, down four starters. To add insult to injury, the guys he has left have COVID-19. However, Montgomery isn’t letting the rest of his offense slow him down. Montgomery’s 303 yards after contact is fifth in the NFL and his 18 broken tackles are the most of any running back. Perhaps most interesting of all is since Tarik Cohen went on IR, Montgomery is averaging 6 targets, 4 catches, and 27 yards per game. Montgomery has seen an increased role in the passing game.
That increased role is coming at a good time in week nine. The Tennessee Titans have given up the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Where most of those points come from is the end zone. The Titans have given up the eighth-most rushing touchdowns to running backs AND they have given up the fifth-most receiving touchdowns to running backs. Overall, the Titans give up the third-most touchdowns to running backs. If you can trust the Chicago Bears to get into the red zone against the Titans, then Montgomery is going to have opportunities to score, and you will want to start David Montgomery.
Who to Prioritize?
Now that we have figured out the running backs we want in week nine, we need to figure out how to rank them. The clear cut number one of the bunch is Justin Jackson. He has the combination of a great match-up and a clear path of opportunity to succeed against the Raiders. After that, I lean towards J.K. Dobbins. Despite having the hardest match-up of the week, he is also the primary running back on the best rushing offense in football. I trust the Ravens to find ways to utilize him. Finally, if I have nobody else I can trust, I would roll with David Montgomery. While Montgomery will have opportunities to succeed on offense, it will still be an uphill battle for him. As he has all year, Montgomery will have value based on usage alone. As much as I love David Montgomery, it is hard to really trust the Bears offense.
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[Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/David_Montgomery_in_2019.jpg, cropped under CC BY SA 2.0]