2010 Fantasy Football Week 3 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: The Running Backs

Dave StringerCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2010

Can Portis get it going this week?
Can Portis get it going this week?Larry French/Getty Images

Week 2 of the regular season is behind us and trends are starting to develop across the league.

Some preseason predictions are already looking sour, some running backs have come out of nowhere to surprise, and there are plenty of backs who are exactly what most of us thought they were.   

We’re not going to state the obvious here; rather, the focus is on the mid-tier options as well as the tough matchups for some of the more talented running backs in the league.  

Start ‘Em

RB Clinton Portis, Redskins at Rams

Portis has had a slow start to the season, with just 96 yards on 31 carries in games against Dallas and Houston. His fantasy stats look respectable, courtesy of a pair of touchdown runs during this week’s loss to the Texans.

The Redskins released Larry Johnson this week, leaving undrafted rookie free agent Keiland Williams as the top backup for the team’s game in St. Louis.

If Portis can’t get it going against a Rams defence that has given up 285 yards to a pair of teams that were each missing a key component of their running game (Arizona – Chris Wells, Oakland – Michael Bush), then he truly is washed up.

Must Read: Week 3 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Advice


RB Darren McFadden, Raiders at Cardinals

He was here last week, courtesy of a soft matchup against the Rams, which he exploited for 145 yards on the ground. After two games, he has 240 rushing yards with a nifty 5.0 yards per carry average to go along with eight receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown.

This week, he gets a Cardinals rushing defence that was steamrolled by Falcons backup running back Jason Snelling. The Cardinals barely beat the Rams, who the Raiders just defeated 16-14.

That means the Raiders should be able to keep it close, which should translate into plenty of touches for McFadden.

Michael Bush is expected back for this one but it’s well known that McFadden is an Al Davis favourite and the Raiders will almost certainly give him the majority of the touches, since they finally have their prized 2008 first round pick putting up major production.

RB Knowshon Moreno, Broncos vs. Colts

Moreno has been pretty average to start the season but has put up double digit fantasy production in games against Jacksonville and Seattle. He has average just 2.8 yards per carry with 111 yards on the ground, 71 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Denver gets the Colts at home this week and while that sounds like a mismatch, the Broncos are always a tough team to play in Denver. That bodes well for Moreno, as does the Colts 32nd ranking in run defence, where they have given up 377 yards on the ground in two games.

RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals vs. Raiders

Going on a limb on this one a little bit, since Wells hasn’t even been cleared to play.

However, it does look like he will be a go against a Raiders run defence that has struggled for years and is ranked 28th after two weeks this year.

Tim Hightower’s fantasy production looks good with 218 total yards and a pair of touchdowns over two games; however, he hasn’t played well, rushing for just 54 yards against a weak Rams run defence while losing two fumbles in that game. Of his 115 rushing yards this week against the Falcons, 80 came on one touchdown run.

The Cardinals are struggling in the passing game and Wells is clearly their best running back. Look for him to get it going in his first came back this week.


Sit ‘Em

RB Brandon Jackson, Packers at Chicago

You’ve read that I’m not a fan of Jackson’s and he was a disappointment last week in his first start against Buffalo, with just 29 yards and a touchdown on ten 11 carries.

Head coach Mike McCarthy split the workload, with John Kuhn getting nine carries and Dmitri Nance getting two and then stated this week that it would be a committee approach going forward.

I guess that’s because Jackson is so valuable as a receiver on third downs. Or, more likely, it’s because he’s useless as a runner.

The Packers travel to Chicago on Monday night and, rest assured, Jackson will disappoint against a Bears defence that has given up 56 yards on the ground during the first two weeks of the season.

RB Cadillac Williams, Bucs at Steelers

This one’s a no-brainer. Cadillac has been horrible so far this year, averaging a measly 2.6 yards per carry despite facing the Browns and Panthers, neither of which were expected to feature solid run defences in 2010.

Williams gets the Steelers this week in a home matchup and there’s pretty much no hope of him getting it going against them. Pittsburgh has allowed just 104 yards rushing and no touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season, despite having to face Michael Turner of the Falcons and the Titans’ Chris Johnson.

If you have Caddy, don’t take him out for a spin this week.

RB Thomas Jones and RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs vs. 49ers

Based on how the team has split the carries over the first two weeks of the season, it appears that head coach Todd Haley has done the unthinkable and made Jones the team’s clear cut top back. Jones has 33 rushing attempts in 2010 compared to 22 for Charles.

In Week 3, the Chiefs face a tough 49ers run defence in a home game. Despite playing from behind for much of their Week 1 loss to Seattle and then facing the Saints solid rushing attack last week, they have given up just 63.5 yards per game on the ground.

With the Chiefs passing attack struggling badly (ranked 30th with 117 yards per game), look for San Francisco to play eight men in the box on a regular basis, forcing the Chiefs to pass.

RB DeAngelo Williams and RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers vs. Bengals

As a general rule and barring unforeseen catastrophic fantasy events, I usually like to wait three or four weeks before changing my preseason predictions. That being said, I’m going to jump the gun on the Panthers rushing attack.

Williams and Stewart struggled in Week 1 against the Giants in a road game and that can be forgiven.

However, not getting at done at home against a suspect Bucs run defence in Week 2 was tellingit told me just how much the offensive line has declined over the past couple of years and how little opposing defensive coordinators thought of Matt Moore at quarterback.

This week, rookie Jimmy Clausen steps in for Moore but expecting him to solve the Panthers passing woes is unrealistic.


For more detailed projections, go to FFToday's 2010 Week 3 running back projections and rankings


Dave Stringer is a staff writer at FFToday.com, home of the popular Cheatsheet Compiler & Draft Buddy custom cheatsheet and draft tracking software.


    Barkley Is Spiraling in QB-Obsessed Draft

    NFL logo

    Barkley Is Spiraling in QB-Obsessed Draft

    Mike Tanier
    via Bleacher Report

    NFL Changing Controversial Catch Rule

    NFL logo

    NFL Changing Controversial Catch Rule

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Colts Sign TE Ebron to 2-Yr Deal

    NFL logo

    Colts Sign TE Ebron to 2-Yr Deal

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Best Landing Spots for Top QBs After Early FA Moves

    NFL logo

    Best Landing Spots for Top QBs After Early FA Moves

    Kristopher Knox
    via Bleacher Report