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Fantasy Football Week 3: Early Top 50 Running Back Rankings

So far, this guy is worth whatever pick you used to draft him... and some.
So far, this guy is worth whatever pick you used to draft him... and some.Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Jamal CollierAnalyst IIISeptember 17, 2012

There are currently 23 running backs I would prefer to start over the Tennessee Titans’ disappointing Chris Johnson in Week 3.

There are exactly zero running backs I would prefer to start over the Buffalo Bills’ remarkable C.J. Spiller in Week 3.

Whether you’re 0-2, 2-0, 1-1 or anything in between heading into the third week of NFL play, chances are your fantasy team has been affected by some sort of injury to its running back stable.

Six of the top 20 drafted running backs have missed all or parts of games already this season due to injury or the residue of a training camp holdout.

They include the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew, the Chicago Bears’ Matt Forte, the St. Louis Rams’ Steven Jackson, the San Diego Chargers’ Ryan Mathews, the Buffalo Bills’ Fred Jackson and the New York Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw.

That’s to speak nothing of the ineffectiveness (through two weeks) of Johnson, the Oakland Raiders’ Darren McFadden, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles and the Atlanta Falcons’ Michael Turner (one game).

Trent Richardson gets a pass from his first NFL game by exploding in Week 2 against the Bengals...after he was likely benched in countless fantasy leagues.

But that’s of no consequence heading into Week 3.

For those scoring at home, that leaves 10 top-20 options entering the year that still inspire confidence (or, at least, comfort) in their fantasy owners.

That's not exactly a passing grade for success, but that’s what we expected from the running back position before 2012 began.

So far, three of the four consensus first-round picks (LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster and Ray Rice) are still holding their weight on fantasy teams. All three scored double-digit fantasy points in each of the first two weeks of play.

You know who else did that this year?

Frank Gore, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Reggie Bush…and C.J. Spiller.

That’s it.

That’s why Spiller deserves respect. He didn’t even start the season as the bell-cow for the Bills. And here he is, at the top of the RB mountain for at least one more week.

I’ve made the mistake of starting Johnson over Spiller twice this year. That’s not happening again unless or until Spiller has a bye week or is behind Fred Jackson on the depth chart.

Spiller was in my top five last week and did not disappoint. Now, I’m saying that I’m not starting anybody over Spiller until his play suggests otherwise.

At least not this week.

1. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (at Cleveland Browns)
2. Arian Foster, Houston Texans (at Denver Broncos)
3. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (at Arizona Cardinals)
4. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens (vs. New England Patriots)
5. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (vs. Green Bay Packers)
6. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers (at Minnesota Vikings)
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars (at Indianapolis Colts)
8. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
9. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
10. Michael Bush, Chicago Bears (vs. St. Louis Rams)
11. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (vs. New York Jets)
12. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Dallas Cowboys)
13. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns (vs. Buffalo Bills)
14. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals (at Washington Redskins)
15. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
16. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. San Francisco 49ers)
17. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (at Chicago Bears)
18. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (vs. Atlanta Falcons)
19. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints (vs. Kansas City Chiefs)
20. Andre Brown, New York Giants (at Carolina Panthers)
21. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots (at Baltimore Ravens)
22. Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
23. Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (vs. Houston Texans)
24. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans (vs. Detroit Lions)
25. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (vs. New York Giants)
26. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (at New Orleans Saints)
27. Ben Tate, Houston Texans (at Denver Broncos)
28. Cedric Benson, Green Bay Packers (at Seattle Seahawks)
29. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (vs. New York Giants)
30. Shonn Greene, New York Jets (at Miami Dolphins)
31. Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons (at San Diego Chargers)
32. Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions (at Tennessee Titans)
33. Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers (at Oakland Raiders)
34. Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)
35. Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions (at Tennessee Titans)
36. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (vs. Kansas City Chiefs)
37. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (vs. Kansas City Chiefs)
38. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons (at San Diego Chargers)
39. David Wilson, New York Giants (at Carolina Panthers)
40. Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers (vs. Atlanta Falcons)
41. Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs (at new Orleans Saints)
42. Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams (at Chicago Bears)
43. Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)
44. Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers (at Minnesota Vikings)
45. Curtis Brinkley, San Diego Chargers (vs. Atlanta Falcons)
46. Mike Goodson, Oakland Raiders (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
47. Roy Helu, Washington Redskins (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
48. Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers (vs. New York Giants)
49. Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
50. Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers (at Oakland Raiders)

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