Week 2 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Don't Bail on Running Backs With Good Workloads

The start-or-sit dilemma is virtually synonymous with managing a fantasy football team.

Having the foresight to start the wide receiver who erupts for 100 yards and a touchdown in a cakewalk matchup while sitting a receiver against a shutdown cornerback feels so good.

And that's why hundreds of fantasy articles each week are dedicated to start-or-sit scenarios. But answering the question of, "Should I start Player X?" is hard. Context matters.

Mostly, when it comes to answering the question of, "Who do I start?," the real answer is, "Well, who else is available?"

That's why for this version of a start-or-sit column, I'm going to be listing out all relevant fantasy football players each week and bucketing them into tiers.

No player is ever a must-sit. I mean, sure, your tight end might have a terrible matchup and be playing in a game with a low over/under, but what if the only option left is second-stringers who see no run?

However, we also know that, yes, there are players you should want to sit if you have any other viable options. That's my overall goal with this start-or-sit column.

And to take some of the guesswork out of it, I'll be leveraging thousands of slate simulations that are based on numberFire's player projections with dynamic measures for variance, such as quarterback rushing, running back receiving, and receiver target depth.

The results will boil down to three tiers: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider starting whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives (i.e. players listed above them on the list).

These players are listed in order of frequency of hitting the stated threshold (i.e. QB12, RB24, WR24, and TE12 performances and higher on the list means more startable).

The groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench or the waiver wire, should I start this player this week?

Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.


Start With Confidence: These players are at least 50% likely to finish the week as a top-12 quarterback, according to the slate simulations.

- Patrick Mahomes at BAL (70%)
- Kyler Murray vs. MIN (62%)
- Josh Allen at MIA (61%)
- Dak Prescott at LAC (61%)
- Russell Wilson vs. TEN (60%)
- Justin Herbert vs. DAL (58%)
- Lamar Jackson vs. KC (57%)
- Tom Brady vs. ATL (56%)

Consider If Needed: This tier has odds between 35% and 49% to post a top-12 week.

- Aaron Rodgers vs. DET (46%)
- Jalen Hurts vs. SF (43%)
- Matthew Stafford at IND (41%)
- Baker Mayfield vs. HOU (41%)
- Joe Burrow at CHI (39%)
- Ben Roethlisberger vs. LV (38%)

Despite Aaron Rodgers' poor game in Week 1, the simulations are high on him to post a top-12 week against the Detroit Lions, who allowed Jimmy Garoppolo to throw for 314 yards on just 25 attempts.

Jalen Hurts was the poster boy for this piece in Week 1, as he was in the top tier at the position. Now, he's in the second tier in a tougher matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, but he's still 43% likely to be a top-12 passer despite the matchup. That's a top-10 rate.

Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams were really aggressive on first down in Week 1, a good sign for the fantasy upside of a quarterback who isn't going to run the ball often. The Indianapolis Colts gave up a hyper-efficient outing to Russell Wilson in Week 1 (254 yards and 4 touchdowns on just 23 attempts).

The algorithm isn't bailing on Ben Roethlisberger yet even after he posted a 5.7-yard average depth of target in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. The Pittsburgh Steelers/Las Vegas Raiders game has a solid enough 46.5-point over/under. I'd be more partial to Ryan Tannehill (34%) than Roethlisberger, but the sims slightly disagree. With how close it is...that simply speaks to the format of this piece. Median projections go only so far, and a lot of these quarterbacks are tightly bunched in this range.

Bench If Possible: These quarterbacks are under 35% likely (15th or worse) to net a top-12 result and aren't in the one-quarterback-league conversation.

- Teddy Bridgewater at JAC (34%)
- Jimmy Garoppolo at PHI (34%)
- Ryan Tannehill at SEA (34%)
- Tua Tagovailoa vs. BUF (31%)
- Jameis Winston at CAR (31%)
- Kirk Cousins at ARI (30%)
- Trevor Lawrence vs. DEN (29%)
- Matt Ryan at TB (26%)
- Sam Darnold vs. NO (26%)
- Tyrod Taylor at CLE (26%)
- Zach Wilson vs. NE (24%)
- Jared Goff at GB (24%)
- Derek Carr at PIT (23%)
- Carson Wentz vs. LA (23%)
- Daniel Jones at WSH (22%)
- Taylor Heinicke vs. NYG (18%)
- Mac Jones at NYJ (18%)
- Andy Dalton vs. CIN (16%)

Running Back

Start With Confidence: These running backs are at least 65% likely to finish the week inside the top 24, according to the slate simulations. You're starting them.

- Christian McCaffrey vs. NO (82%)
- Dalvin Cook at ARI (82%)
- Derrick Henry at SEA (80%)
- Alvin Kamara at CAR (79%)
- Nick Chubb vs. HOU (78%)
- Aaron Jones vs. DET (76%)
- Antonio Gibson vs. NYG (72%)
- Chris Carson vs. TEN (69%)
- David Montgomery vs. CIN (68%)
- Saquon Barkley at WSH (66%)
- Najee Harris vs. LV (66%)
- Joe Mixon at CHI (65%)
- Ezekiel Elliott at LAC (65%)

Najee Harris played every single snap in Week 1 and also ran 70.6% of the team's pass routes. Play him and don't overthink that situation.

Consider If Needed - This tier is sitting between 40% and 64% for an RB2 week, and you're probably starting some of them even if they're shy of that top tier.

- D'Andre Swift at GB (64%)
- Austin Ekeler vs. DAL (64%)
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire at BAL (62%)
- Damien Harris at NYJ (61%)
- Jonathan Taylor vs. LA (60%)
- Miles Sanders vs. SF (59%)
- Myles Gaskin vs. BUF (56%)
- Mike Davis at TB (55%)
- Chase Edmonds vs. MIN (53%)
- Darrell Henderson at IND (49%)
- James Robinson vs. DEN (48%)
- Melvin Gordon at JAC (48%)
- Leonard Fournette vs. ATL (42%)
- Josh Jacobs at PIT (40%)

Myles Gaskin plays a team that just forced a fantasy dud from Najee Harris despite a 100% snap rate, but Gaskin himself had a really good receiving role (48.3% route rate and 5 targets). He could be a trendy sit candidate, yet he's still the priority back in an offense that is a slight home underdog.

Mike Davis draws the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who pretty much rendered Ezekiel Elliott irrelevant in Week 1. However, Davis was one of just seven running backs to maintain at least a 75.0% snap rate, and he also ran a position-high 73.6% of routes in Week 1. You'll really need a good alternative to justify fading that workload.

Chase Edmonds commanded a 60.6% snap rate in the Arizona Cardinals' offense while running 64.7% of the team's routes and seeing 4 targets, and he even had a red zone carry. He's the 1A in the Arizona backfield at the very worst, so don't let committee fears get you too down on him yet as he enters a potential shootout against the Minnesota Vikings.

Bench If Possible: These backs are under 35% likely to net a top-12 result.

- Javonte Williams at JAC (37%)
- Devin Singletary at MIA (37%)
- Kareem Hunt vs. HOU (35%)
- Kenyan Drake at PIT (33%)
- James White at NYJ (32%)
- Ty'Son Williams vs. KC (27%)
- Elijah Mitchell at PHI (27%)
- Damien Williams vs. CIN (26%)
- Jamaal Williams at GB (26%)
- Nyheim Hines vs. LA (24%)
- Ronald Jones vs. ATL (23%)
- J.D. McKissic vs. NYG (22%)
- James Conner vs. MIN (21%)
- David Johnson at CLE (21%)

Wide Receiver

Start With Confidence: You're starting these guys in a 12-team league.

- Tyreek Hill at BAL (75%)
- Davante Adams vs. DET (68%)
- DeAndre Hopkins vs. MIN (67%)
- Stefon Diggs at MIA (62%)
- D.K. Metcalf vs. TEN (62%)
- Calvin Ridley at TB (61%)
- Amari Cooper at LAC (57%)
- A.J. Brown at SEA (56%)
- Keenan Allen vs. DAL (56%)
- CeeDee Lamb at LAC (54%)
- Justin Jefferson at ARI (54%)
- Tyler Lockett vs. TEN (52%)
- Deebo Samuel at PHI (51%)
- Chris Godwin vs. ATL (51%)

Consider If Needed: These players are more matchup dependent for Week 1 than the tier above but are likely where we are looking for a lot of our WR2, WR3, and FLEX plays this week.

- Allen Robinson vs. CIN (46%)
- Diontae Johnson vs. LV (44%)
- Jarvis Landry vs. HOU (43%)
- Cooper Kupp at IND (43%)
- Ja'Marr Chase at CHI (42%)
- Tee Higgins at CHI (41%)
- Robert Woods at IND (40%)
- Mike Evans vs. ATL (39%)
- Antonio Brown vs. ATL (39%)
- Terry McLaurin vs. NYG (39%)
- Courtland Sutton at JAC (38%)
- Corey Davis vs. NE (38%)
- D.J. Moore vs. NO (36%)
- DeVonta Smith vs. SF (36%)
- Marvin Jones vs. DEN (35%)
- Adam Thielen at ARI (35%)
- Julio Jones at SEA (34%)
- Brandin Cooks at CLE (33%)
- Mike Williams vs. DAL (32%)
- Chase Claypool vs. LV (32%)
- DJ Chark vs. DEN (30%)

Allen Robinson had one of the best workloads in Week 1 among all receivers (11 targets, a 27.5% target share) and should've tallied twice as many half-PPR points as he did. He ran 95.3% of the Chicago Bears' pass routes, via NextGenStats. The Cincinnati Bengals are shaping up to be an exploitable matchup, too.

Terry McLaurin was one of five receivers who ran 100% of his team's pass routes (just 22 in total), and he still garnered 4 targets. The low Week 1 output was a factor of the game script and had nothing to do with his role.

Marvin Jones and DJ Chark had pristine Week 1 peripheral numbers. Jones saw 9 targets (3 downfield, 3 red zone, and 3 end zone), and Chark led the week with 7 downfield targets and accrued 1891 air yards. Though their matchup is tough against the Denver Broncos, that should lead to more passing volume for the Jacksonville Jaguars' top options.

Mike Williams posted elite peripherals (and stats) in Week 1. Notably, he racked up 116 air yards with an 83.7% route rate but is listed outside the WR30 on FantasyPros' consensus ranks for the week (and in the odds, here, of course, but he's a confident start if you have him).

Bench If Possible: These players finished as a WR2 or better under 25% of the time.

- Kenny Golladay at WSH (30%)
- Marquise Brown vs. KC (26%)
- Will Fuller vs. BUF (26%)
- Tyler Boyd at CHI (26%)
- Henry Ruggs at PIT (26%)
- Emmanuel Sanders at MIA (23%)
- JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. LV (23%)
- Robby Anderson vs. NO (21%)
- Tyrell Williams at GB (21%)
- Jakobi Meyers at NYJ (21%)
- A.J. Green vs. MIN (20%)
- Brandon Aiyuk at PHI (20%)
- Christian Kirk vs. MIN (20%)
- Rondale Moore vs. MIN (19%)
- Laviska Shenault vs. DEN (19%)
- Cole Beasley at MIA (19%)
- Nelson Agholor at NYJ (18%)
- Darius Slayton at WSH (18%)
- Jaylen Waddle vs. BUF (18%)
- Jalen Reagor vs. SF (17%)
- DeVante Parker vs. BUF (17%)
- Michael Pittman Jr. vs. LA (16%)
- Zach Pascal vs. LA (15%)
- Sterling Shepard at WSH (14%)
- Tim Patrick at JAC (14%)

Tight End

Start With Confidence: These guys are the big five.

- Travis Kelce at BAL (85%)
- George Kittle at PHI (78%)
- Darren Waller at PIT (74%)
- Mark Andrews vs. KC (64%)
- Kyle Pitts at TB (59%)

Despite a down game for Kyle Pitts in his opening game, we shouldn't panic. He ran 78.9% routes, ranking him 7th at the position. Mark Andrews (93.9%) led the position, so don't overthink him this week, either.

Consider If Needed: You'll likely be starting these options if you don't have a top-five tight end.

- Noah Fant at JAC (54%)
- T.J. Hockenson at GB (51%)
- Rob Gronkowski vs. ATL (46%)
- Jared Cook vs. DAL (43%)
- Logan Thomas vs. NYG (41%)
- Dallas Goedert vs. SF (40%)
- Austin Hooper vs. HOU (38%)
- Jonnu Smith at NYJ (36%)
- Tyler Higbee at IND (34%)

T.J. Hockenson wound up second in expected fantasy points among all tight ends in Week 1 in my model, thanks to a steady 67.3 air yards and 10 targets. Jared Cook ranked third and had 8 targets for 56 air yards.

Despite finding himself at the bottom of this tier, Tyler Higbee ranked second among all tight ends in route rate (92.6%) in Week 1, so stand pat unless you have access to someone higher on the list than he is. I'd even bump I'm up under Logan Thomas on this list if ranking everything personally.

Bench If Possible: These tight ends aren't in the starting conversation in 12-team leagues.

- Hayden Hurst at TB (31%)
- Eric Ebron vs. LV (30%)
- Zach Ertz vs. SF (30%)
- Mike Gesicki vs. BUF (29%)
- Robert Tonyan vs. DET (29%)
- Dawson Knox at MIA (26%)
- Hunter Henry at NYJ (25%)
- Adam Trautman at CAR (24%)