Chris Carson Start/Sit Week 5: Will he be hot or cold on Thursday night?

by 24USATVOct. 7, 2021, 6 p.m. 17
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Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson has frustrated fantasy football managers for years. Unfortunately, this year is no different. Fantasy managers likely drafted Carson as a flex option or bench stash going into the season. Given his upside and week-to-week potential, he’s been someone that fantasy managers have been leaning on more than they expected. But how’s that working out so far?

Carson’s 2021 has been…underwhelming. He has 232 rushing yards on 54 carries, a 4.3 yards per carry average and 58 yards per game. Carson’s rushed for 91, 31, 80, and 30 yards each week so far, respectively. That’s not ideal and far from consistent.

Carson has 3 touchdowns on the year, but 2 of them came in Week 2. This isn’t something you can lean on in fantasy. His rushing stats so far have been below average. In PPR scoring, Carson is the RB23 on the year and RB26 in points per game. In terms of starting lineups, he’s likely competing for your flex spot more often than your RB2 spot.

On top of that, the Seahawks are 2-2 and all over the map themselves. In that Week 2 matchup where Carson did well for fantasy, the team lost in overtime to the Titans. When he ran for 80 yards and a touchdown in Week 3, the team lost to the Vikings. It almost feels like lately, when Carson does well, the team loses.

Carson and the Seahawks in Week 4

Ironically, the opposite logic fits for Week 4. Carson rushed for a meager 30 yards, but the team beat the division rival San Francisco 49ers. Carson wasn’t even the team’s leading rusher, as that title went to stalwart RB Alex Collins, who ran for 44 yards and a touchdown. Watching that game, Collins looked like the better option, even though Carson got more carries.

Carson’s 2.3 yards per carry in Week 4 was abysmal. His average was 57th for Week 4, just ahead of Marlon Mack and Alexander Mattison, who each had 10 carries of their own.

How much of this is Carson’s fault?

Let’s use Pro Football Network’s own Offensive Value Metric (OVM) to continue the comparison. For Week 4, Carson scored a lowly 1.24. Mack, meanwhile, scored a whopping 19.34, while Mattison scored a 2.75. Using this metric shows that, while none of them did well, Mack had a more significant impact than the other two on what little he did get.

This isn’t to say that Mack is “better” than Carson, per se. It just shows that Carson didn’t do much to increase his yardage himself. It tells me that Mattison was more comparable to Carson than Mack was in terms of next-level stats.

Week 4 provided a lot of duds in terms of fantasy RB performances, though. D’Andre Swift, Myles Gaskin, Josh Jacobs, and others failed to perform up to their expected output. Maybe it was a bad week, but maybe Carson is over the hill. Now, fantasy managers are wondering what to do with him in Week 5.

Looking ahead to Week 5 against the Rams

The Seahawks host the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football in Week 5. This is another divisional matchup with a lot of potential scoring for fantasy. The game is also on prime time, so everyone will be watching, making the highs feel higher and the lows feel lower.

On the year, the Rams are giving up an average of 123.5 yards on the ground. They let James Conner, Chase Edmonds, and the Cardinals rack up 216 yards last week in a dominating performance against them. The Rams can be run on, but will Carson be the one to do it this week?

Running backs are the most fragile commodity in fantasy football. They tend to get hurt more often and for longer. They’re also the hardest to predict weekly, primarily due to game script and in-game injury possibilities. That being said, I can’t imagine you have a lot of better options on your bench to start over Carson this week.

Start or sit Chris Carson in fantasy on Thursday Night?

You may want to bench Carson and take a risk starting Conner — who seems to be finding the end zone — for the Cardinals against the 49ers this week. Maybe you have someone like Eagles RB Kenneth Gainwell, who you can start if you need more upside. If you have two solid RBs, then maybe bench Carson for a deeper WR option this week, especially in PPR.

Overall, I’m not benching Carson just to bench him. Still, it’s going to be tough to play him this week. This might just be a hold your nose and hope for the best kind of thing. In standard formats, he’s probably in my lineup because touchdowns matter more, and he might fall into the end zone this week. Outside of that, I’m looking elsewhere, if possible.

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