Regardless of league format, whiffing on running backs always seems to bite fantasy football managers, rendering them the most scrutinized position in the fictitious game.

They may not get the love in contract negotiations, but make no mistake, running backs are extremely valuable for our purposes. Stars aren’t quite living up to the hype, while under the radar guys are contending for league-lead in yards. Thus, we have some important decisions to make.

Brian Robinson Jr. and James Cook are both second-year running backs, but which one should fantasy football managers trust in Week 7?

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Brian Robinson Jr. Fantasy Outlook This Week

Last weekend wasn’t Robinson’s best game, as he rushed 10 times for 31 yards in the win against the Atlanta Falcons. Don’t let the Falcons’ record fool you, though. That defense is legit.

The New York Giants aren’t playing defense nearly as well as Atlanta, and Robinson was very successful against them last year.

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In the two matchups against the Giants last season, Robinson had 89 and 96 rushing yards, respectively. This season, the Giants’ run defense is way worse. They’re currently 31st in the league in run defense, allowing 147.5 yards per game.

An area in which Robinson has improved is catching the ball. In the entire 2022 season, he had only nine catches. Through the team’s first six games this year, he has 11. In the past two weeks, he has had six receptions.

Robinson’s slowly earning the trust to be a factor on passing downs for the Washington Commanders.

James Cook Fantasy Outlook This Week

Cook had a solid rushing game against the Giants last week, rushing 14 times for 71 yards. Surprisingly, he didn’t receive a single target in the passing game, which is not normal for the Buffalo Bills running back. He has 14 catches on the season and is largely viewed as an excellent asset in the passing game.

One issue for Cook (and his fantasy managers) is the amount of touches Latavius Murray is getting. The most carries Murray had this year was six — before the game against New York. In Week 6, he had 12 carries for 45 yards.

MORE: Fantasy Football Week 7 Cheat Sheet

Now, it could have been a matter of game script, and ultimately nothing to worry about. However, this week could be really telling on the number of opportunities Cook will have moving forward.

While the New England Patriots have struggled this year, the defense has still been solid. They are 10th in total yards allowed (306 yards per game) and have kept their team in games when the offense isn’t giving up free points.

Should You Start Robinson or Cook?

In the Pro Football Network Start/Sit Optimizer, PFN’s Consensus Rankings say that Cook is the play, despite Robinson being projected to outrush him (80 yards to 53). The reasoning here is that Cook is much more involved in the passing game, as he is projected for three catches and 24 yards.

This is a tough decision, as both players have legitimate Week 7 upside. I’m going against the optimizer on this one, in large part because of the matchup. Robinson should continue to be a strong play against the Giants.

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