Start Nyheim Hines if you need to, but don’t expect more than a low-end RB2.
While Jonathan Taylor is out this week it isn’t wise to assume that Hines will simply step right in and be a monster as Taylor was last year. So far this year, Hines has only 8 carries and a paltry 11 rushing yards. He does have 17 receptions for 113 yards, but has no touchdowns at all on the year. Hines has never been one to get very many carries and has only ever crossed the ten carry threshold four times in his career since 2018.
We don’t just have to look at Hines himself to make the argument that this week will likely not be an incredible boom week, however. Jonathan Taylor is currently ranked RB22 on the year and he has scored only a single touchdown. Taylor has at least 20 attempts in three of his four games this year, has 9 receptions to add to those attempts and is still underperforming. The Colts offensive line simply isn’t getting it done this year and we have no reason to expect Hines to do better than Taylor. If you need a flex option you can plug him in but I am not starting him over anyone who I trust to give me at least 10 to 12 fantasy points.
Don’t start a Denver Running Back.
With Javonte Williams out for the season, the temptation to play Melvin Gordon or Mike Boone is real. However, just like in Indianapolis, no RB has been all that successful so far in Denver. Gordon has fumbled 4 times in the same amount of weeks. Williams is only RB32 on the season (yes, he went out last game, but had 10 carries before he did, so I’m counting it). Mike Boone has very rarely seen the field, and when he has, he doesn’t typically get more than a handful of attempts. The Broncos also immediately brought in Latavious Murray from the Saints practice squad, so we can assume that they know they have a significant need. While that is the case, we can’t assume that he will play this week since it is a short one. I don’t want to start any of these guys going forward if I can help it.
Start the running backs from the New England and Detroit matchup.
I know it’s normally gross to recommend starting a Patriot running back but any starter who is healthy heading into this game is a good play. The Lions are allowing the most points scored in the entire league (35 per game!), and also have the most points scored on offense on the year. Last week Jamaal Williams had 108 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns against the Seahawks, and I don’t think it’s that big of an ask for him to do basically the same thing against a Patriots defense that is giving up 5.1 yards per attempt.
Similarly, go ahead and start both Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson with confidence. The Lions have given up 5.6 yards per attempt and also a whopping 10 touchdowns. Last week in Green Bay the Patriots showed us that even with a 4th round rookie QB they could run the ball, totaling 167 yards on the ground. Have no fear, regardless of who the starting QB is, and slot both of the Pats RBs into a spot in your lineup. We may see them both score and go over 80+ yards each.
You should play Geno Smith over Kyler Murray this week.
Geno Smith is better than you think. Maybe he’s not talented, but he is successful, and is now QB #9 on the season. While he is typically a pocket passer, he does have some occasional rushing upside and is playing really well. Geno is over a 77% completion rate, and is playing a New Orleans team that is coming off of a London Game. Anyone who has faced travel like and major time zone changes will tell you that even if you get adjusted back relatively quickly, you feel off for quite a while. We haven’t seen teams coming off of a London game without a bye week very often, but when they have they haven’t done well. You can dig into that more here if you are interested.
As for Kyler Murray, he is facing a stout Eagles defense. The Eagles have only given up 708 yards of passing offense on 149 attempts, which is only 4.7 yards per attempt. That number is lower than every single NFL teams yards per pass attempt, and the Cardinals are already the league’s lowest in that category at 5.7. The Cardinals are also terrible on 3rd down and you can’t get points if you can’t stay on the field. Murray doesn’t have over 30 rushing yards in any game this season, something that he eclipsed in 50% of his games last year. In general, the Cardinals are a mess and are lucky to be 2-2. If you have Kyler, it may be best to put him on the bench this week.