Week 3 Top 25 Fantasy RB Rankings: Sophomore RBs Are on the Rise

Jeremy Alpert@@pyroman1acSenior Analyst IISeptember 22, 2011

Week 3 RB Player Rankings

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25. DeAngelo Williams (vs Jax)

 DeAngelo has been a major disappointment for both fantasy owners and Panthers fans alike this season, but he’s got to come alive at some point, right? He still has the talent to be a top back in this league, so my guess is that it’s just a matter of time.

It doesn’t help, of course, that teams are putting eight in the box against rookie QB Cam Newton, but that should soften up soon enough. The Jaguars front seven have actually been really tight so far this year after ending up in the bottom third of the league in 2010, so it might not happen this week.

24. Willis McGahee (@ Ten)

 It seems that even if Knowshon Moreno comes back to play this weekend (it’s looking like he will), McGahee will still handle the bulk of the workload against the Titans. Not that I see him doing too much with it, seeing how his YPC continues to drop each year and how the Titans have held ball carriers to just 3.3 yards per carry and one rushing TD on the season.

23. Tim Hightower (@ Dal)

 Dallas has been crushing opponents trying to run against them, holding teams to just 59.5 yards and one rushing TD on the ground through the first two weeks of action. Hightower has been a horse so far carrying the ball 45 times in two games (second most in the league — Ben Tate has 47), but I can’t see him getting much more than 15 totes in this one after the coaching staff sees him getting stuffed every other time he touches the ball.

22. Fred Jackson (vs NE)

 Freddy has been outstanding this season, much better than anyone outside of Buffalo anticipated. He’s currently fifth in the league in fantasy points (standard scoring) and has the most rushing yards in the entire league with 229.

Still, I’m not expecting much against the Patriots this weekend as his touches will likely be limited due to situational playing time. If Buffalo goes into passing mode, which they will likely have to, C.J. Spiller will see a fair amount of time in the backfield.

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 18:  Jahvid Best #44 of the Detroit Lions tries to run past Sabby Piscitelli #42 of the Kansas City Chiefs during a NFL game at Ford Field on September 18, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  The Lions won 48-3  (Photo by Dave Reginek/Gett
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

21. Shonn Greene (@ Oak)

 Alright, this is the last straw for Mr. Greene.  Either he puts up a real nice game against a Raiders rush defense that has allowed an unfathomable 6.7 YPC this season, or I’m officially calling the kid a bust. Take your chances with him as your RB2 one last time and hope for the best.

20. Mike Tolbert (vs KC)

 Tolbert is a fine back in this offense, that’s for sure, but the Chargers may not need him so much in this one.  Ryan Mathews seems to be turning the corner in his play as of late and with Tolbert still nursing a bit of a knee injury (along with a slight case of fumble-itis), he may not get much of a workload.

That said, he is the goal-line/short-yardage back, so against a Chiefs defense that has surrendered three rushing TDs and 126 yards a game thus far, he still has low-end RB2 value.

19. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (@ Buf)

 It’s not often the Law Firm sees more than just his normal goal-line/short-yardage work in a game, especially with the Patriots passing offense running so smoothly. However, last season Green-Ellis got 35 carries in his two games against the Bills with which he rattled off 202 yards and a touchdown.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Running back Ben Tate #44 of the Houston Texans runs against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

You never know what Emperor Belichick has up his sleeve, and with the Bills seeing what Brady is doing to opposing defenses this year, they’ll likely play the pass a bit more than normal, a strategy which could pay into BJGE’s hands.

Even if New England does end up passing all over the place, I can still almost guarantee a touchdown out of BenJarvus this Sunday.

18. James Starks (@ Chi)

 Starks is the man in this offense, and everyone knows it. I guarantee you even Ryan Grant knows it. The question is, how soon will it be before the Packers give him the ball 20 times and let him do his stuff?  Probably not this weekend, but he DID get 22 carries against the Bears last year in the playoffs which he turned into 74 yards and a TD.

Grant has simply gotten too slow to be effective against this speedy Chicago D, so I can see Starks taking on a larger role this weekend and possibly put up some nice fantasy points with the well-earned playing time.

17. Ahmad Bradshaw (@ Phi)

DENVER - JANUARY 02:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers steps into the endzone as he rushes for a 31 yard touchdown on fourth down and one yard to go in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on J
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 The Eagles can be beat on the ground as they’ve surrendered the third most rushing yards per game this season (146.0) on a whopping 5.3 YPC.

Last year, Bradshaw was the one the Giants gave the ball to against Philly after trying Jacobs a bit with no success. They’ll need Bradshaw’s speed out there again this Sunday, though I’m tempering my expectations a bit with the possibility this game turns into a slugfest.

16. Jahvid Best (@ Min)

Best is finding ways to make a difference in this offense while Stafford is lighting up the fantasy world, so keep playing him until he shows differently. It’s tough to judge anything on last year’s games seeing that Best was fighting turf toe all season and Stafford wasn’t even playing, so I’ll have to go on what I know.

What I know is that Jahvid has jaw-dropping speed and quickness, traits that can go a long way playing indoors. I’m betting on the Vikings over-pursuing the QB once or twice in this game and Matty dropping it off to Best for a couple of long gainers. Watch for it.

15. Frank Gore (@ Cin)

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders reaches over the goal line to score Oakland's second touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick S
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

 Cincinnati is in the middle of the pack against the run yet again this year, so Gore should be able to get it going on this weekend. With Braylon Edwards out, Frank the Tank might see an increased workload both in carries and catches out of the backfield, so he’ll at least have a shot to improve on his current mediocre numbers.

That said, Cinci has no reason not to stack the box against him, so temper your expectations to somewhere in the mid-RB2 range.

14. LeGarrette Blount (vs Atl)

 Blount finally got his game going in the second half of last week's game after fantasy owners were beginning to crap their pants through the Bucs' first six quarters of the season. He’s definitely a beast once you get him rolling, and I expect Tampa to do just that again this Sunday against the Falcons.

In the game at home against them last year, Blount had 103 yards on 20 carries with a TD, numbers that wouldn’t shock me to see again this weekend.

13. Ben Tate (@ NO)

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs against William Moore #25 of the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Falcons 30-12. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 It looks as if the Texans are going to play it safe and hold Arian Foster out again this week, so those of you with Ben Tate on your squad, get him in there as a RB2 this Sunday.

The Saints have been good against the run so far, but it looks as if Tate isn’t just a workhorse back — he can actually catch the ball out of the backfield as well. I mention this because it will serve as a nice plus on Sunday considering that New Orleans has given up the third-most receiving yards to running backs this season.

High-scoring games mean high scoring in fantasy. That’s what I expect in this one.

12. Peyton Hillis (vs Mia)

 Hillis hasn’t been overwhelmingly awesome by any means just yet, but he still carries a load and ranks in the Top 10 in fantasy points thus far. Miami held the big guy down pretty well last year, but that game was toward the end of the season when Peyton was tiring out.

That’s not the case this year as I expect Hillis to get another 25-30 touches in this one which will mean solid fantasy production yet again.

11. Beanie Wells (@ Sea)

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11:  Running back Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens dives for the endzone against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the season opener at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Ima
Rob Carr/Getty Images

 The Seahawks' defense isn’t as bad as it looks, but that shouldn’t stop Beanie from getting another opportunity to shine. Seattle has allowed just a 3.1 YPC through two weeks of the season, but they’ve also allowed three rushing TDs as well. The youngster looks determined to put last year’s debacle behind him, and I’m thinking the Cardinals give him at least the first half of the game to do it.

10. Ryan Mathews (vs KC)

 Being just a sophomore, Mathews doesn’t have an extensive sample size of games to look at just yet, but he has faced Kansas City twice and done well against them both times. San Diego should be able to go up early in this one and win the game with ease, so the likely scenario will be for the coaching staff to get the youngster a little more game-experience on Sunday while they have the chance and let him show them what he can do.

Expect high-end RB2 numbers with nice upside.

9. Darren McFadden (vs NYJ)

 The Jets are once again pretty stingy against the run this season, but McFadden won’t care. He’s on a mission to show the world he’s one of the top three RBs in the league and nobody is going to stop him.

Right now McFadden is second in the NFL in rushing yards with 222 and third in fantasy points with 21.0 per game.  If the Jets try to stop the run, he’ll simply get his yards through the air and vice versa.

Don’t worry about Run DMC this weekend.

8. Chris Johnson (vs Den)

 CJ2K has been an extreme disappointment for fantasy owners so far this season, but I believe that changes this Sunday. Denver’s rush D hasn’t been able to stop anybody since 2006, and with the Titans passing offense suddenly becoming a formidable force, the Broncos can’t just put eight in the box against him.

If Johnson is going to bust out at all this year, Sunday will be the day he’ll do it.

7. Matt Forte (vs GB)

 Matt Forte is currently second in the league in total yards from scrimmage with 324 yards (Steve Smith in Carolina has 334) and if he keeps up this pace, he’ll break Chris Johnson’s record of 2,509 by 83 yards. Pretty outstanding stuff. Actually, Matt is also ninth in the league in receiving yards at this point with 207. Also pretty amazing.

The Packers had bottled Matty up pretty well over his career up until the last game of the 2010 season and then in the playoffs where Forte averaged 155.5 total yards during those two games.  The Bears will look to Forte once again this Sunday in an effort to keep the ball away from the Packers offense, so I expect some good total yardage once again from him.

6. Michael Turner (@ TB)

 Michael “not so much a burner anymore” Turner started off the season with two straight 100-yard games and should be able to continue the streak this Sunday. Tampa was the fifth-worst defense last season allowing 131.7 yards/game (on a second worst 4.7 YPC) and hasn’t gotten any better allowing the second most yards/game (156.0) so far in 2011.

The Centaur put up 97.5 rushing yards/game and three TDs in the two games he faced the Bucs last season, so I feel confident some RB1 numbers will be coming again this weekend.

5. Rashard Mendenhall (@ Ind)

 The Colts' rush D has been pretty bad thus far allowing the most rushing TDs (four) and the fourth-most rushing yards per game (136.5).  Pittsburgh will certainly take advantage of this and get the ball in Mendenhall’s hands at least 20-25 times this Sunday.

If you’re hoping for a cherry on top, look no further as Mendenhall has scored a touchdown in every indoor game he’s ever played in, so I expect at least one of those as well.

4. LeSean McCoy (vs NYG)

 This isn’t the greatest matchup for McCoy due to the Giants (sometimes) stifling front seven, but there are still some positives for fantasy owners to take into this week.

First of all, in two games against New York last season, McCoy averaged 87.5 yards rushing (108.5 total yards) on 7.3 yards per carry.  Second, LeSean seems to be in a nice groove so far this season putting up the most fantasy points for running backs through two weeks of action.

If Vick is slowed at all by that (very) minor concussion he suffered last week, the Eagles may lean on McCoy just a little bit more in this one.

3. Ray Rice (@ StL)

 The Rams have allowed the most rushing yards in the league thus far in 2011, though the numbers are slightly inflated due to a Week 1 matchup with Michael Vick and the Eagles.

Rice has been a beast for fantasy owners through the first couple weeks of the year and seeing that he plays really well indoors (averages 148 total yards and one TD in games he has started), there’s no reason to believe the onslaught won’t continue.

2. Maurice Jones-Drew (@ Car)

 With Coach Jack Del Rio opting to go with rookie QB Blaine Gabbert this week, you can almost guarantee the Jaguars will have at least 35 carries by the end of the game, with MJD snagging around 25 of them. If that is the case, then I expect a decimated Carolina front seven who already allow a 4.8 YPC on the year to give up at least 125 yards and likely a TD or so to the Wrecking Ball this Sunday. Book it.

1. Adrian Peterson (vs Det)

 Good lord! In eight career games versus the Lions (tied for his most against any team), Purple Jesus has put up seven TDs while averaging 101.8 yards per game on 5.4 yards/carry. For PPR leaguers, he also has the most receptions in his career against them with 20.

Seeing that he already dominates at home putting up 30 TDs in 31 games along with 106.7 yards/game on 5.1 yards/carry, AP28 is pretty much a no-brainer here.

Besides that, I expect the Vikings to run quite a bit anyway in order to keep the ball out of Matty Stafford’s hands.

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