Week 3 of the 2013 NFL regular season is underway, and fantasy football owners are all searching for last-minute answers. During a year in which the league's running backs have been unpredictable, that means all eyes will remain on the backfield.
The question is, which running backs have been moving up the food chain and becoming greater fantasy football threats?
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
PPR League Points: 21
Standard League Points: 19
2013 Season Statistics: 2 GP; 12 ATT, 60 YDS, 1 TD; 2 REC, 35 YDS, 1 TD
Week 2 of the 2013 NFL regular season concluded with Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals torching the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. He only achieved nine touches for 65 yards, but he scored two touchdowns and emerged as a fantasy football star in the making.
Don't expect him to slow down against Green Bay.
Bernard will see more touches as the season rages on, and he'll make the most of those opportunities as Cincinnati's checkdown receiver. It's still unclear whether or not he'll overtake BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the team's featured back, but the upside is present and Bernard is moving up the rankings.
A game against the Packers is a great place for Bernard to continue his progression.
Should Bernard step up against Green Bay, he'll become an attractive player in every fantasy football league. For that reason, it's advisable that you go out and sign him before another owner can, even if he does ride your bench until he discovers consistency.
The Bengals drafted Bernard for a reason, and we saw flashes of brilliance on Monday Night Football. Get excited.
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
PPR League Points: 42
Standard League Points: 28
2013 Season Statistics: 2 GP; 39 ATT, 138 YDS, 1 TD; 14 REC, 114 YDS
The Chicago Bears' offense has been superb under new head coach Marc Trestman. Jay Cutler is performing at an elite level, Brandon Marshall continues to be one of the league's top receivers, and Matt Forte is playing like Matt Forte again.
To think, Forte's average draft position is 20.7, per ESPN.
Through two games, Forte has amassed 252 yards of total offense, rushed for one touchdown and caught 14 passes. That gives him 28 points in standard leagues and 42 in point-per-reception leagues.
The numbers don't lie: Forte is back.
The former Tulane star has long been praised for his versatility, as he can run between the tackles, break out for a big run or catch multiple passes on a consistent basis. During the 2012 regular season, however, Forte caught a career-low 44 passes and saw his fantasy football value decrease.
That's right, 44 receptions as a running back hurt Forte's value.
In 2013, there isn't any way around the fact that Forte has returned to the ranks of the elite. Just as his numbers display, he's still a top-five running back and should be viewed that way in every game Chicago plays.
Barring an injury, you need Forte in your starting lineup.
Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
PPR League Points: 21
Standard League Points: 14
2013 Season Statistics: 2 GP; 31 ATT, 105 YDS; 7 REC, 51 YDS
Trent Richardson is one of the many young running backs who was placed above the likes of Forte and LeSean McCoy prior to the 2013 NFL regular season. Despite having just one year of experience, Richardson's average draft position remains 11.4, per ESPN.
His lackluster play through two games is concerning, but there's a key factor that can't be ignored: Richardson finally has a passing game to break down the opposing defense.
Now a member of the Indianapolis Colts, expect Richardson to live up to his potential.
The San Francisco 49ers are looming, which makes Richardson a dangerous start come Week 3. Beyond that point, however, Richardson should jell nicely with Andrew Luck and rack up a significant amount of goal-line carries and checkdown receptions.
Keep in mind, the 22-year-old did go off for 11 rushing touchdowns and 51 receptions as a rookie.
Richardson's rise may not be as immediate as the others on this list, but he's a player whom everyone should keep an eye on. If he reaches his expectations, he'll be a point-per-reception league star and a consistent option in standard leagues.
It comes down to patience, but the upside remains.