Early in the 2013 season, getting solid running back production in fantasy football has been a fickle business. While players like LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson have been excellent, running back committees and early-season injuries have rendered the position thinner than usual.
Thus, you're likely facing a difficult sit-or-start inquiry with at least one of the running backs on your roster. Never fear, my fellow fantasy nuts, for I am here to help you decide whether that questionable call is worth your time or should ride the pine this week.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals, allowing 9.5 points to opposing running backs in ESPN standard-scoring leagues.
Analysis: Last week, Starks came on in relief duty for Eddie Lacy (concussion), rushing 20 times for 132 yards and a touchdown. Not surprisingly, he was a huge addition on the waiver wire this week, but is he really worth a start? Seeing as last week was his first 100-yard rushing performance—and the Bengals are quite good against the run—his prospects this week aren't terribly promising.
Thoughtful Verdict: If Starks was a more compelling handcuff—think Bernard Pierce, Ben Tate or Bryce Brown—he'd be started across the board in all formats. But he's not, meaning Lacy owners probably have no choice except to start him. The rest of you do, however, and should avoid him.
Abrupt Verdict: START for Eddie Lacy owners, SIT for everyone else.
Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
Matchup: San Francisco 49ers, allowing 22.5 points to opposing running backs in ESPN standard-scoring leagues.
Analysis: Generally speaking, a player traded mid-week, learning a new offense and facing the tough 49ers run defense on Sunday is a tough start. Generally speaking, that player would be spending the week on your bench. But chances are, Richardson was either a late first- or early second-round pick for your team, and you may not have a better option. That's a predicament, because Richardson is in line for a pretty paltry showing in his Indy debut.
Thoughtful Verdict: If you are really thin at running back, you probably don't have a choice but to start him. Good luck to you. Everyone else, this week Richardson should remain on your bench.
Abrupt Verdict: SIT
David Wilson, New York Giants
Matchup: Carolina Panthers, allowing 18.0 points to opposing running backs in ESPN standard-scoring leagues.
Analysis: There could be a point this season where you can no longer trust David Wilson as a fantasy commodity, where Tom Coughlin's lack of trust in his young runner will finally relegate him to your bench for good. This is not that week.
Fumbling issues aside, Wilson is clearly the best back the Giants have, as Brandon Jacobs offered little in his return and Da'Rel Scott simply doesn't have Wilson's upside. Watch Wilson enough, and you can see how much talent he has—a breakthrough for fantasy owners is coming.
Thoughtful Verdict: Wilson may be your RB3 at this point and only up for flex consideration, and if you have a safer option, you might be going that route. But I think this is the week he'll finally have a big week—this is a good matchup for him—and should be in your lineup. I should know—he's in mine.
Abrupt Verdict: START
Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams
Matchup: Dallas Cowboys, allowing 9.5 points to opposing running backs in ESPN standard-scoring leagues.
Analysis: Richardson isn't a particularly compelling player, evidenced by his 176 yards from scrimmage and zero touchdowns after two weeks. And he faces a Dallas defense that has been very stingy against opposing running backs. Add in the fact that he's probable to play but has battled a foot injury, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Thoughtful Verdict: If injuries or poor drafting have left Richardson as your RB2, you really have no choice but to start him. But if he's a weekly flex consideration, look elsewhere.
Abrupt Verdict: SIT
Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, make ill-fated NFL predictions and tweet cheesy jokes. Good times are had by all.