Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running back

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It doesn’t get better than watching once and future waiver-wire pickups Chris Carson and Samaje Perine get 20 carries apiece, does it? Oh, it does? You’re right. It definitely does. But that’s the reality we live in, and that reality wreaks havoc on our Week 3 fantasy rankings for running backs.

Sure, the top 12 or so looks normal (even if no one really wants to start Lamar Miller), but after that, things get weird. Obviously, we’re accounting for matchups and projected usage, but as we saw last week with LeGarrette Blount, projections are only that. With so many full-blown committee situations (and early-week injury questions), our handicapping is severely handicapped.

We’ll continue to dig through the stats and look for anything that will give you an edge when setting your lineups this week.




Reminder: We’ll update our rankings throughout the week and add player analysis, so please check back often. And don’t forget to take a look at the myriad of ways your team could lose in Week 3.

Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings: RBs

These rankings are for standard, non-PPR leagues

1 Jay Ajayi, Dolphins @ Jets.
2 Le’Veon Bell, Steelers @ Bears. His first two weeks have been uninspiring, but the Bears have allowed a running back touchdown in each of the first two games and had trouble with Tevin Coleman as a receiver out of the backfield in Week 1. Bell can make them pay.
3 Devonta Freeman, Falcons @ Lions.
4 Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys @ Cardinals.
5 Todd Gurley, Rams @ 49ers. Everyone who drafted him last year can’t stand to watch, but Gurley is putting up numbers thanks to heavy volume and his ability as a pass-catcher. Expect more of the same Thursday night.
6 Kareem Hunt, Chiefs @ Chargers.
7 Carlos Hyde, 49ers vs. Rams.
8 Ty Montgomery, Packers vs. Bengals.
9 Melvin Gordon, Chargers vs. Chiefs.
10 Dalvin Cook, Vikings vs. Bucs.
11 Leonard Fournette, Jaguars vs. Ravens (in London). A rare garbage-time rushing touchdown saved Fournette’s day in Week 2. He’ll have a tough test against the Ravens’ aggressive run defense, but once again, volume makes the rookie a must-start.
12 Lamar Miller, Texans @ Patriots. D’Onta Foreman seems to be breathing down his neck, but with 11 days to prepare for this one, expect Miller to dominate carries a little more than he did in Week 2. The Patriots were better against the run in Week 2, but they still allowed 4.8 yards per carry to New Orleans’ backs. Miller is in good position here.
13 C.J. Anderson, Broncos @ Bills.
14 Isaiah Crowell, Browns @ Colts. A non-factor through two games, Crowell finally gets a plus matchup. Expect 15-plus carries in this pillow fight.
15 Jonathan Stewart, Panthers vs. Saints. Stewart hasn’t impressed as a runner through the first two weeks, but his 33 carries are 12 more than Christian McCaffrey, who’s done even less. Against the Saints, Stewart will find room to run and quite possibly punch in a short score.
16 Frank Gore, Colts vs. Browns.
17 LeSean McCoy, Bills vs. Broncos.
18 Marshawn Lynch, Raiders @ Redskins.
19 Jacquizz Rodgers, Bucs @ Vikings.
20 Mike Gillislee, Patriots vs. Texans. Realistically, Gillislee might be a “TD-or-bust” play, but he’s had at least 15 carries in each of the first two games, so fantasy owners have to give him some respect.
21 Ameer Abdullah, Lions vs. Falcons. Detroit certainly seems more committed to running the ball this year, and while that hasn’t yielded huge results, it did seem like they wore down the Giants late in Week 2. Abdullah benefitted with a 34-yard scamper to pad his stats. The Falcons have struggled against backs this year, giving up the third-most fantasy points, and they’ve been especially bad at covering backs on pass routes. Abdullah is a capable receiver, so expect a decent amount of total yards.
22 Buck Allen, Ravens @ Jaguars (in London). Allen seems to have vaulted a banged-up Terrance West as Baltimore’s top back, and his superior receiving skills give him more upside even if the two receive the same amount of carries.
23 Derrick Henry, Titans vs. Seahawks. The Seahawks have struggled against the run this year, giving up 5.2 yards per carry and 111 yards per game. With DeMarco Murray nursing a sore hamstring, we like Henry just a touch more this week.
24 Chris Carson, Seahawks @ Titans. No one would be shocked if a healthier Thomas Rawls (ankle) saw more playing time this week, but after Carson’s 20-carry, 93-yard effort, it’s a good bet that he’ll be Seattle’s “primary back” again. The Titans have been a little better than average against RBs this year after allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to them last year, so this will be a tough test for the rookie, but Carson is still in play as at least a flex back.
25 Christian McCaffrey, Panthers vs. Saints.
26 Tarik Cohen, Bears vs. Steelers.
27 Joe Mixon, Bengals @ Packers. Mixon hasn’t been involved much as a receiver, but he’s led the Bengals in carries in each of the first two games. With the offense stuck in neutral, expect the dynamic rookie to be featured more.
28 Jordan Howard, Bears vs. Steelers. If Howard’s shoulder is still limiting him, this is probably too high of a ranking, but he’s still the primary “runner” over Tarik Cohen. If healthy, it’s fair to expect 13-plus carries, including goal-line work. The Steelers had some trouble with the speedy Dalvin Cook in Week 2 (5.3 ypc), and Howard’s bruising style could also give them problems. Still, it’s tough to imagine him getting as many yards as Cohen.
29 Tevin Coleman, Falcons @ Lions.
30 Darren Sproles, Eagles vs. Giants. Is LeGarrette Blount really done as Philadelphia’s primary runner? After a zero-carry day in Week 2, he might be. Sproles certainly doesn’t fit the profile of a feature back, but he led the Eagles in carries last week with 10. Another week in double digits might be unlikely, but we know Sproles will also be involved as a receiver. The Giants run defense has been worn down in each of the first two weeks, so if Philadelphia can get a lead, Sproles could rack up cheap yards.
31 DeMarco Murray, Titans vs. Seahawks. Murray’s tight hamstring is a concern, especially with Derrick Henry playing well. He could still put up good numbers in this surprisingly decent matchup, but the risk has him moving down our rankings.
32 Theo Riddick, Lions vs. Falcons. The Falcons allowed a league-leading 55.4 receiving yards per game by RBs last year, and this year they’ve already been torched by Tarik Cohen (8-47, TD) and Ty Montgomery (6-75, TD). Riddick is arguably the best pass-catching back in the league, so he has more upside than usual in this one.
33 Rob Kelley, Redskins vs. Raiders. It’s looking more and more like Kelley (ribs) will play on Sunday, but it’s unclear just how many touches he’ll get. He’ll likely split time with Samaje Perine, making him tough to start, but working in his favor is that he’s coming off a good game and he’s facing a mediocre Raiders’ run defense allowing 4.8 ypc.
34 Chris Thompson, Redskins vs. Raiders. If Rob Kelley (ribs) is out, expect Thompson to see a few more carries than normal in addition to his stellar work as a pass-catcher. He’s always a threat for a big play, and the Raiders are always a threat to give one up.
35 Paul Perkins, Giants @ Eagles.
36 Chris Johnson, Cardinals vs. Cowboys. Johnson is the best bet for carries in Arizona’s anemic backfield. The Cowboys were just trampled by C.J. Anderson and Co. in Denver, so Johnson might have more value than we’re giving him credit for, but playing time remains a bit of a concern with Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington still in the mix.
37 Mark Ingram, Saints @ Panthers. If the Saints would just commit to Ingram, he’d be about 15 spots higher in our rankings. As it stands, he’s splitting time with Adrian Peterson and ceding some passing-down work to Alvin Kamara, so against a tough run defense like Carolina, he might not even be a flex.
38 Terrance West, Ravens @ Jaguars (in London).
39 Matt Forte, Jets vs. Dolphins. Forte out-touched Bilal Powell by seven, but most notable is that Forte had four targets while Powell only had two. Powell and even Elijah McGuire likely have more upside than Forte, but he remains New York’s RB1 for now.
40 James White, Patriots vs. Texans.
41 Samaje Perine, Redskins vs. Raiders.
42 Jeremy Hill, Bengals @ Packers.
43 Wendell Smallwood, Eagles vs. Giants. Smallwood could break out as Philadelphia’s primary back soon — maybe this week — but based on his three-carry day last week, we can’t rank him too high just yet.
44 Bilal Powell, Jets vs. Dolphins.
45 Orleans Darkwa, Giants @ Eagles.
46 Thomas Rawls, Seahawks @ Titans.
47 Duke Johnson Jr., Browns @ Colts.
48 D’Onta Foreman, Texans @ Patriots.
49 Jalen Richard, Raiders @ Redskins.
50 LeGarrette Blount, Eagles vs. Giants.
51 Shane Vereen, Giants @ Eagles.
52 Adrian Peterson, Saints @ Panthers.
53 Alvin Kamara, Saints @ Panthers.
54 C.J. Prosise, Seahawks @ Titans.
55 Giovani Bernard, Bengals @ Packers.
56 Andre Ellington, Cardinals vs. Cowboys.
57 Kerwynn Williams, Cardinals vs. Cowboys.
58 Charles Sims, Bucs @ Vikings.
59 Mike Tolbert, BIlls vs. Broncos
60 DeAndre Washington, Raiders @ Redskins.
61 Chris Ivory, Jaguars vs. Ravens (in London).




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