Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 5: Breaking Down Riskiest RB Decisions

There are a number of tricky running back decisions in fantasy football for Week 5.  While the quarterback position can usually produce a consistent level of points, running backs are so volatile that they can make or break your team.

We saw some big performances from risky guys like Le’Veon Bell and Danny Woodhead in Week 4, but we also saw some major disappointments like Chris Johnson and Darren McFadden.

Which high-risk, high-reward running backs should you start, and which should you sit this week?  Let’s take a look here.

Note: All information regarding points scored is based off ESPN’s standard scoring leagues.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a complete train wreck through the first four weeks of the season.  MJD hasn’t been much better, scoring just 19 points in four games.

Would you consider dropping MJD at this point?

Would you consider dropping MJD at this point?

Most of those points came in Week 3, when he scored 11 points thanks to 43 yards and a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks, who had started taking it easy at the end of the game.  Last week against the Indianapolis Colts, he ran for 23 yards on 13 carries, putting up just two measly points.

As a team, the Jaguars are running for just 49 yards per game, the second-worst in the NFL.  The Rams may give up 133.5 rushing yards per game, but they won’t give up nearly as many this week.

As good as Jones-Drew has been in previous seasons, he’s just not the same running back in 2013.  Even if you’re in a deeper league, I don’t think MJD is even worth a flex spot at this point based off how poor of performances he’s had through a quarter of the season.

Verdict: Sit ‘Em

Johnathan Franklin, Green Bay Packers

As strange as it seems, the Green Bay Packers actually have a legitimate rushing attack in the 2013 season.  They’re running for 128 yards a game, good enough for ninth in the league.

While he didn’t play in the first two games, Johnathan Franklin exploded onto the scene in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals.  He finished the game with 103 yards and a rushing touchdown on the ground, putting up 16 fantasy points.

Even after losing that crucial fumble at the end of the game, you can expect head coach Mike McCarthy to get Franklin involved often in this week’s game against the Detroit Lions.  James Starks isn’t going to be playing, and Eddie Lacy is coming back after suffering a concussion in Week 2.

The Lions have had their troubles on defense.  They’ve given up 110.8 rushing yards per game and allowed at least 20 points in every game.

Even with Franklin splitting carries this week, he has so much upside and the potential to break out big runs that he’s certainly worth a start this week, especially against the Lions.

Verdict: Start ‘Em

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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If you drafted Chris Johnson this season, chances are that you drafted him high, and you’re probably kicking yourself right about now.

CJ2K has yet to produce double-digit fantasy points up to this point in the season.  Last week against the New York Jets, he had just 21 yards on 15 carries.  On the year, he has 277 yards on 84 carries, averaging just 3.3 yards per attempt as well as zero touchdowns.

This week, the Tennessee Titans will be taking on the Kansas City Chiefs.  As good as their defense has been, allowing just 188.8 passing yards and less than 11 points per game, they haven’t been the most-productive defense against the run.  They’re allowing 117.5 yards per game on the ground, ranking 25th in the league.

With Ryan Fitzpatrick playing quarterback for the next few weeks, expect Johnson to get plenty of carries in this game in order to take the pressure off the backup QB going against this tough pass defense.  He may not break off a lot of big runs, but Johnson should put up enough points due to sheer volume to be worth playing in the flex spot this week.

Verdict: Start ‘Em

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