Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 8: Running Backs Guaranteed to Explode

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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 8: Running Backs Guaranteed to Explode
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Chris Johnson (right) should be back in the good graces of fantasy owners

Deciding which running back to start and which running back to sit can make one lose their mind. However, in Week 8 there are a couple of running backs who are the closest thing to a guarantee to explode this week as you can get.

Fantasy football is as fickle as they come. If you’re one of the many owners who sat Shonn Greene during his Week 6 three-touchdown, 36-point rampage, you can surely attest to that.

However, like everything in life, you can be rewarded for paying close attention to details.

For instance, before Week 7, Chris Johnson owners were wondering what to do with the former RB1 lock. He was fresh off a decent 91-yard performance in Week 6 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and a Week 5 24-yard stinker against the Minnesota Vikings.

Which Johnson would we see in Week 7?

But while the Vikings and Steelers are top-ranked fantasy run defenses, Johnson’s Week 7 opponent—the No. 28-ranked Buffalo Bills—was anything but. He was a sure start.

The result? 195 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries for 36 points.

Case in point.

This week, with a Week 8 matchup versus the Indianapolis Colts, Johnson is sure to do the same.

The Colts rank No. 30 against running backs this season, giving up an average of 31.4 fantasy points to opponents. Teams are averaging 118.3 yards per game on the ground, with an average of 1.3 touchdowns per game.

Which back will be the most explosive in Week 8?

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Whether Johnson is back or not will be left to debate after matchups against the Chicago Bears (No. 3 against the run) and the Miami Dolphins (No. 4 against the run) in Weeks 9 and 10. 

For now, enjoy what is guaranteed to be an onslaught against the Colts.

After three touchdowns and two 100-plus-yard performances in his first four games, Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee has cooled down a great deal in his last two performances—51 yards against the New England Patriots and 56 against the San Diego Chargers.

Fresh off a bye week and with a Week 8 matchup forthcoming against the New Orleans Saints—the worst fantasy run defense in the league—expect McGahee to restore faith to his owners.

Allowing opposing running backs 33.0 PPG, the Saints have also allowed a rushing touchdown in five of their six games. They’ve also allowed more than 100 yards in five of those games as well.

With Denver ranking No. 4 in third-down conversions, expect McGahee to see the optimal amount of carries in Week 8. You can also bet on him making every single one of them count en route to what should be his biggest fantasy performance of the season.

What can prove to be even more frustrating then the usual start ‘em, sit ‘em debate is dealing with a backup running back.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Vick Ballard (center) is set to break out this week
That’s the conundrum Vick Ballard owners have been dealing with since Donald Brown went down with an injury for the Indianapolis Colts.

After failing to record more than 25 yards in his first six games this season, Ballard was only started by 31 percent of owners in Week 7. Those 69 percent who left him on the bench missed out on his promising 84-yard performance on 20 carries.

With the Titans defense up next, owners should have high hopes that the 22-year-old rookie will find the end zone for the first time in his career.

The Titans rank No. 26 against running backs, allowing 27 PPG and seven touchdowns through their first seven games of the season. They’ve allowed more than 120 rushing yards in five of those games.

Ballard is sure to go off.

Another running back trying to make the most after an injury to the starter is the Green Bay Packers’ Alex Green.

In three games this season, Green has averaged 54.3 yards per game on an average of 17.3 carries per game.

While those numbers aren’t impressive, it has to be noted that his last two opponents were the stout defenses of the Houston Texans and the St. Louis Rams.

In his first action, during Week 5’s matchup with the Colts, Green finished with 63 yards on 10 carries after replacing the injured Cedric Benson.

In Week 8, Green is set to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars and their soft defense.

The Jaguars rank No. 29 in the league, allowing an average of 31.2 PPG to opposing running backs. Teams have averaged 144 rushing yards per game. Only once have they not conceded more than 100 yards on the ground.

With the defense likely to be focusing all of their effort on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, expect Green to take them by surprise.

All in all, while the biggest names are sure to be the most consistent producers during any given fantasy season, the biggest producer in a given week varies with every passing week.

Matchups are the determining factor behind who will shine and who will crumble.

If you stick with these picks, you’re assured to have good production from your running game this week.

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