Fantasy Football Week 3 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Eric StashinSenior Writer ISeptember 21, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs against Fili Moala #95 of the Indianapolis Colts during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The injury to Jamaal Charles has definitely sent sweeping changes over our weekly rankings, but that situation is not the only one causing fantasy owners headaches. 

After big performances in Week 2, have Roy Helu and Daniel Thomas entrenched themselves as viable options?  Are Arian Foster and Steven Jackson healthy? 

Let’s take a look at how everything stacks up:

  1. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – at St. Louis
  2. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. Denver
  3. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Detroit
  4. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – vs. New York Jets
  5. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Indianapolis
  6. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at Tampa Bay
  7. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New York Giants
  8. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at New Orleans
  9. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Carolina
  10. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
  11. Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns – vs. Miami
  12. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Cincinnati
  13. Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions – at Minnesota
  14. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
  15. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – vs. New England
  16. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – at Seattle
  17. LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Atlanta
  18. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. San Francisco
  19. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Baltimore
  20. Tim Hightower – Washington Redskins – at Dallas
  21. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – at Oakland
  22. Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Washington
  23. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – at Chicago
  24. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos – at Tennessee
  25. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Kansas City
  26. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers – vs. Kansas City
  27. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
  28. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins – at Cleveland
  29. Thomas Jones – Kansas City Chiefs – at San Diego
  30. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
  31. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – vs. Jacksonville
  32. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. Houston
  33. Danny Woodhead – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
  34. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – at New Orleans
  35. Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Pittsburgh
  36. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Arizona
  37. Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers – at Chicago
  38. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. Houston
  39. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – at Cleveland
  40. Dexter McCluster – Kansas City Chiefs – at San Diego


  • Chris Johnson has a favorable match-up against the Denver Broncos and, in prior seasons he would probably be the top option for the coming week.  However, with just 77 yards and 0 TD in his first two games, it’s impossible to put him up there.  He’s close, however, even with the struggles.
  • Perhaps the impending demise of Michael Turner was a little overblown?  He has 214 yards and 1 TD on the ground over the first two games, not to mention four receptions for 72 yards.  Taking on a Tampa Bay defense that has been torched for 156.0 yards/game on the ground over the first two weeks, he’s a must-own option for sure.
  • Is Arian Foster healthy or not?  He didn’t look it in Week 2, rushing the ball 10 times for 33 yards.  Are you ready to write him off, however?  If he’s starting, you have to consider him a viable option.  We’re going to rank him assuming he’s playing at full strength, but be sure to monitor the news and see what happens.  If he’s still banged up, Ben Tate looks that much better.
  • Can Darren McFadden run roughshod through the Jets defense?  He has 222 yards over the first two weeks, and I just can’t bet against him at this point.
  • The fact that Matt Forte can produce on the ground (117 yards) and through the air (207 yards and 1 TD) is going to make him a good option regardless of the match-up. 
  • How impressive has Fred Jackson been over the first two weeks of the season?  He’s already amassed 229 yards and 2 TD.  While the Bills-Patriots game could break down into a shootout, the Bills could try and run the ball to keep it out of the hands of Tom Brady.  With the way he’s played, he’s a borderline RB1, but I’d consider him more of a RB2, due to the risk of them needing to air it out.
  • Tim Hightower has been great, but Roy Helu looked tremendous in Week 2 (10 carries for 74 yards) and could easily eat into Hightower’s carries.  While he’s picked up 20+ carries each of the first two weeks, it’s possible that the number starts to fall.  He can’t be considered more than a RB2.
  • Yes, Ryan Grant is going to continue to be a factor in the Packers offense.  However, James Starks is clearly the better option.  He rushed for 85 yards on 9 carries, while adding 30 yards and 3 receptions in Week 2 (Grant had a total over 39 yards on 6 carries and 3 receptions).  Starks hasn’t been getting enough carries to be a RB2, but he’s a lock as a FLEX.
  • If Steven Jackson is healthy, he’s a solid RB2 option this week (even with a tough match-up against the Ravens).  Monitor the news and make sure before committing to him, however.
  • The Raiders have not been able to stop the run this season, allowing 255 yards over the first two games.  Granted, the Jets will be without their starting center, but if Shonn Greene is going to re-establish himself as a viable fantasy running back, this is the week he’s got to do it.  Consider him a RB2 for now.
  • Ryan Mathews has gotten 12 carries in each of the first two games (109 yards and 1 TD), but also has added 10 receptions for 135 yards.  That definitely makes him a viable option, though he and Tolbert continue to split touches (21 carries for 45 yards and 1 TD + 17 receptions for 131 yards and 2 TD).  Consider them both more of FLEX options.
  • Has Daniel Thomas already taken over as the main RB for Miami?  He had 18 carries for 107 yards in Week 2 while Reggie Bush got just 7 touches (and has only rushed for 56 yards on 17 carries in two games).  While Bush will remain a viable option due to his ability in the passing game, Thomas appears to be the better fantasy option at this point.  However, that could quickly change.
  • Without Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs will likely utilize Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster.  Jones figures to be the better overall option, with McCluster potentially viable in PPR formats.  However, neither offers the same upside as Charles and until we see how things are going to sort out, I would consider them just FLEX options.

Make sure to check out the rest of Rotoprofessor's Week 3 information: