Fantasy Football Rankings Week 3: Running Backs

Kevin Hanson@EDSFootballAnalyst IIISeptember 23, 2011

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: C.J. Spiller #28 of the Buffalo Bills runs against the Detroit Lions at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Through two games, there are three players that have rushed for 100-plus yards in both games: Buffalo's Fred Jackson, Houston's Ben Tate and Atlanta's Michael Turner.

During the preseason, it seemed as though the Bills really wanted to make C.J. Spiller the starter. Instead they let production get in the way and stuck with with Jackson, who currently leads the NFL in rushing. In fact, reports indicate that the Bills will use Spiller more as a receiver.

Tate, who has yet to start a game, leads the NFL in rushing attempts (47) and will get the first start of his young career this weekend against the Saints.

On the other hand, Turner is and has been the clear starter in Atlanta, but others have talked about a decline in his skills.

Take our poll on which of the three will extend their 100-yard game streak.

Here are our top 40 fantasy running backs for Week 3:

1. Ray Rice, Ravens (at STL): Only Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy has scored more fantasy points than Rice, while the Rams have allowed a league-high 177.5 rushing yards per game. Granted, the Rams faced the league's best rushing quarterback in Michael Vick, but they have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs as well.

2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (vs DET): In eight games against the Lions, Peterson has rushed for 100-plus yards in five games. In two of the other three games, he has 100-plus yards from scrimmage. He has eight touchdowns against the Lions as well. Regardless of matchups, however, Peterson is a must-start every week.

3. LeSean McCoy, Eagles (vs NYG): Surprisingly, McCoy has only 36 receiving yards through two games. That said, he has scored four touchdowns and gained more fantasy points than any other running back through two weeks.

4. Michael Turner, Falcons (at TB): While Turner has back-to-back 100-yard games, it's perhaps more surprising that he already has four receptions for 72 yards. (His career high in receiving yards is 85, last year's total.)

5. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers (at IND): Yet to have a big game this season, Mendenhall could be poised for a monster game in Week 3. The Steelers face the Colts, who have allowed a league-high four rushing touchdowns.

[FYI: Mendenhall is one of the two running backs in this week's free fantasy football contest.]

6. Matt Forte, Bears (vs GB): No running back has more yards from scrimmage than Forte, who has 117 rushing and 207 receiving yards.

7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (at CAR): Transitioning to a rookie quarterback probably means a heavy dose of Pocket Hercules. Then again, that's what I expected for the rookie quarterback MJD is facing.

8. Darren McFadden, Raiders (vs NYJ): McFadden has 222 rushing yards, which is second in the NFL behind Buffalo's Fred Jackson (229). This week, however, McFadden will have his toughest matchup to date.

9. Chris Johnson, Titans (vs DEN): I'm not surprised by a slow start by Johnson, but I am surprised that he started this slowly. Johnson has 33 carries for 77 rushing yards (2.3 yards per carry) and has a long run of nine yards. Hopefully a matchup against the Broncos, who allowed a league-high 26 rushing touchdowns in 2010, will help him get going.

10. Peyton Hillis, Browns (vs MIA): Hillis ranks third in rushing attempts (44) and is tied for fifth in receptions (10). Last year, he wore down and there could be concern later in the year if he continues to get this much work.

11. Fred Jackson, Bills (vs NE): Jackson leads the NFL in rushing (229 yards) through two games and the Bills lead the NFL in scoring offense. As good as the Patriots are, they have given up the second-most yards through two games.

12. Ben Tate, Texans (at NO): Tate, who will likely make his first start in Week 3, has back-to-back 100-yard games in the first two games of his NFL career. With the team's other backs dealing with injuries, however, Tate has received lots of touches and leads the NFL in rushing attempts (47).

13. Frank Gore, 49ers (at CIN): Gore is averaging only 2.5 yards per carry and only 71 yards from scrimmage through the team's first two games.

14. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (at PHI): The Eagles have allowed a league-high 301 rushing yards to running backs. Not only do I expect Bradshaw to have a big game, I expect Brandon Jacobs to be worthy of starting as a flex this week.

15. Beanie Wells, Cardinals (at SEA): Wells, who is off to a solid start (two games with 90-plus rushing yards and a score), suffered a hamstring injury that limited him at practice on Thursday. Depending on his level of participation at Friday's practice, we may move Wells down from here.

16. Jahvid Best, Lions (at MIN): In both games this season, Best has exceeded 100 yards from scrimmage. Although he's only averaging 3.5 yards per attempt, he has ten receptions for 108 yards as well.

17. LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers (vs ATL): A worry with Blount is that the Bucs fall behind and need to pass, which means we would see much more Earnest Graham than Blount. After all, no team has run the ball less than Tampa (17.5 attempts per game).

18. Mike Tolbert, Chargers (vs KC): Tolbert has missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday although he expects to play on Sunday. Considering the Chiefs have allowed a league-high 89 points, Tolbert, who leads the NFL in receptions (17), may get quite a few goal-line carries.

19. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots (at BUF): The Law Firm has rushed for a touchdown in each of the Patriots first two games. Only the Colts have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Bills, one of six teams to allow at least 5.0 yards per carry. That sounds like a match to me.

20. Ryan Mathews, Chargers (vs KC): Depending on Tolbert's status, Mathews could move up quite a bit in our rankings. That said, I expect the Chargers to rack up lots of yards and points, which means there is more than enough to go around for two running backs.

The rest of our top 40 running backs for Week 3:

21. Tim Hightower, Redskins (at DAL)
22. Brandon Jacobs, Giants (at PHI)
23. Shonn Greene, Jets (at OAK)
24. Cedric Benson, Bengals (vs SF)
25. Steven Jackson, Rams (vs BAL)
26. James Starks, Packers (at CHI)
27. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (vs JAC)
28. Mark Ingram, Saints (vs HOU)
29. Felix Jones, Cowboys (vs WAS)
30. Arian Foster, Texans (at NO)
31. Willis McGahee, Broncos (at TEN)
32. Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (at CLE)
33. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (vs JAC)
34. Joseph Addai, Colts (vs PIT)
35. Pierre Thomas, Saints (vs HOU)
36. Danny Woodhead, Patriots (at BUF)
37. Ryan Grant, Packers (at CHI)
38. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (vs ARI)
39. LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets (at OAK)
40. Roy Helu, Redskins (at DAL)

For more Week 3 rankings, click here to for rankings on other positions.

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If you have specific lineup questions, need a second opinion on a trade proposal, etc., feel free to post your question in our free fantasy football forum.

Good luck in your Week 3 matchup(s)!


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