Week 3 Rankings (2017): Top 40 Running Backs: Hyde Joins Top 10 & More

by Ray Kuhn

While there weren’t any major injures this week, it doesn’t mean we were without drama and disappointment. For that we are squarely looking at Ezekial Elliot and Le’Veon Bell, but they aren’t the only culprits. Let’s take a look at how your options rank for this week:

  1. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Chicago
  2. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – at Detroit
  3. Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins – at New York Jets
  4. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – at LA Chargers
  5. Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Packers – vs. Cincinnati
  6. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at Arizona
  7. Todd Gurley – LA Rams – at San Francisco
  8. Melvin Gordon – LA Chargers – vs. Kansas City
  9. CJ Anderson – Carolina Panthers – at Buffalo
  10. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – vs. LA Rams
  11. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Tampa Bay
  12. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – at Washington
  13. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. Denver
  14. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. New Orleans
  15. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Baltimore
  16. Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – at Indianapolis
  17. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Pittsburgh
  18. James White – New England Patriots – vs. Houston
  19. Jacquizz Rodgers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Minnesota
  20. DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – vs. Seattle
  21. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – vs. Oakland
  22. Mike Gillislee – New England Patriots – vs. Houston
  23. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – vs. Atlanta
  24. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at New England
  25. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – at Indianapolis
  26. Buck Allen – Baltimore Ravens – at Jacksonville
  27. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – at Tennessee
  28. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Carolina
  29. Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New York Giants
  30. Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions – vs. Atlanta
  31. Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cleveland
  32. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Green Bay
  33. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. Pittsburgh
  34. Terrence West – Baltimore Ravens – at Jacksonville
  35. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – at Detroit
  36. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Seattle
  37. Shane Vereen – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
  38. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Carolina
  39. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. Miami
  40. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – vs. New Orleans


  • Just because Jacquizz Rodgers is only starting on a temporary basis for Tampa Bay, at least for now, it doesn’t mean we should overlook him. The fact that he wasn’t targeted in the passing game last week, and was replaced by Charles Sims in third down situations, also isn’t a deal breaker. In fact that shouldn’t have come as a surprise, and that is how most backfields work. Rodgers carried the ball 19 times, mostly in the first half since the Buccaneers jumped out to a large lead, and gained 67 yards while also scoring a touchdown. Previously when given a chance to carry the load when Doug Martin was sidelined Rodgers has had success, and this season appears to be no different. If he continues to do well in the next two weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a role (or even retain the starting job) when Martin returns. At very least you get two more weeks of a starting running back.
  • I know we discussed this last week, but the Arizona running back situation does warrant some further discussion. After David Johnson’s injury, Kerwynn Williams immediately shot to the top of waiver priority lists, but that will likely prove to be short lived. Williams carried the ball nine times for 22 yards on Sunday, and while he will still have a role it just won’t have any fantasy significance. Chris Johnson lead the Cardinals’ backfield with 11 carries, and in gaining 44 yards he was clearly Arizona’s best option. That trend will likely continue, but I would keep my expectations to a minimum because Arizona’s offense just doesn’t appear to be very good.
  • Through two games it has become obvious that Cleveland has one of the worst offenses in the league. That doesn’t mean they are completely without fantasy value. Corey Coleman made his presence felt in Week 1, but with a broken hand sending him to the sidelines someone does need to pick up the slack in the Browns’ passing game. I wouldn’t classify Kenny Britt as an option, and the replacement for Coleman doesn’t have to be a wide receiver. This is an option that has more value in a PPR format, but Duke Johnson is someone who warrants a closer look. To start the season the Browns didn’t even treat Johnson as a running back, as he spent the majority of his time lined up as a wide receiver. Last week against Baltimore he carried the ball four times for 21 times, while also making a highlight reel catch. Through two games he has five receptions on 11 targets for 79 yards, and I would expect to see his utilization increase to pick up the slack.
  • Another offense that leaves a lot to be desired is San Francisco. However that doesn’t mean Carlos Hyde should be ignored. With the 49ers trailing all day in Week 1 Hyde only got nine carries, but he did gain 45 yards. What really stood out to me is that he caught all six of his targets for 32 yards. This past week Hyde was once again targeted six times, although this time he caught three passes 19 yards. It was on the ground where he made his true impact gaining 124 yards on 15 carries. That included runs of 27 and 61 yards as he has shown explosiveness as the centerpiece of San Francisco’s offense. We should also note that while they don’t appear to be as strong as other years, this did come in Seattle. This week Hyde gets to face the Rams after they allowed 229 rushing yards to the Redskins.
  • It is crazy to think that Le’Veon Bell was a disappointment last week as he gained 87 yards, but he has yet to find the end zone. After easing him back into action in Week 1, Bell carried the ball 22 times last week while also catching four passes for four yards. I would venture that he is still not fully in shape as he is still missing that big play burst, his longest run went for 11 yards last week, but he also had to face off against Minnesota’s stout defense. Bell catches a break this week against the Bears and I would look for him to score his first touchdown of the season while also breaking at least one big play. We have to remember that Bell did not have a training camp, and for all intents and purposes he is healthy.
  • While Todd Gurley was still being selected in the first two or three rounds of drafts this summer, he didn’t come with a great deal of buzz. However it is clear that he is the focal point of the Rams’ offense and he is also benefiting from being targeted in the passing game. After rushing for 40 yards in Week 1, Gurley followed that up with 88 yards on 16 carries last week for an effort that was clearly more efficient. His value was preserved by the five catches for 56 yards he had in Week 1, and also by the fact that he found the end zone. Los Angeles still made Gurley a part of their passing game last week as he was targeted four times, and caught three passes for 48 yards. He is in one of the few situations where he is the clear running back in his backfield, and I would treat him as such.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 3 rankings:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Week 3 Rankings (2017): Top 20 Tight Ends: A Surprising #1 & More
Week 3 Rankings (2017): Top 25 Quarterbacks: Surprising Top 10 Options & More


  1. Chris says:

    Hi Prof, would you drop Bilal Powell for Foreman or Alex Collins as a deep league stash?


  2. Mike says:

    Mixon or Coleman ROS??

  3. Smidge says:

    12 team standard
    I have Lynch as my #1
    J.Stew C.Thompson as #2′s
    and Mixon, Sproles and Kamara on waivers….
    should I drop one for another?

  4. Patriots says:

    Good Morning Professor,

    12 team standard TE question. Currently have Eifert & Jack Doyle. But thinking about dumping eifert (back and knee issues)for Ben Watson, is that a. Worthwhile move? I’m really not feeling he’ll contribute . They held him out of the preseason to preserve him and hear we are going into week 3 with the same injury issues. What’s your thoughts? Thank You

  5. Patriots says:

    Good Morning Professor,

    TE question. 12 team standard . Currently have Eifert & Jack Doyle. But thinking about dumping eifert (back and knee issues)for Ben Watson, is that a. Worthwhile move? I’m really not feeling he’ll contribute . They held him out of the preseason to preserve him and hear we are going into week 3 with the same injury issues. What’s your thoughts? Thank You

  6. Andy says:

    Hi Prof,
    I lost DJ and Murray got hurt
    QB: Matthew Stafford
    WR: Keen Allen, Golden Tate
    RB: Christian McCaffrey, Mike Gillislee
    TE: Zach Ertz
    Flex: Davante Adam
    BK: Drew, Doug Baldwin, DeMarco Murray
    Def: Arirona
    Will you change my line up to get better ?
    PPR 8 teams, should I drop CMC pick up Buck Allen or Jacquizz Rodgers ?
    CMC or Mike Gillislee to drop ?

  7. Matt says:

    12 man ppr, lost Olsen, grabbed Miller but cook is on waiver, what should I do and start this week.

  8. Joel Macke says:

    Abdullah or Chris Carson? I learn Abdullah due to shoot out game potential

  9. Cara Stewart says:

    Waiting on your WR rankings but wondering about flex position.
    Plan on starting Hunt and Gordon at RB for flex Im not sure to play McCoy or Mcaffrey or Henry??
    Also have to pick between Diggs and Hopkins for 2nd WR and possible flex??
    Can you help??

  10. Ben says:

    Hi Prof! who should I start for flex Chris Johnson, Tyler Lockette, Kenny Stills, Markus Wheaton? thnx.

  11. Sheldon Williamson says:

    Hi, Prof. Need help to fill my FLEX position. Alvin Kamara, Jalen Richard, or Rashard Higgins? Thanks.

  12. Chris says:

    Hey Roto,

    Need a Rb2 and Flex, standard league
    McCaffrey, Benjamin, Carson, Murray(hate the play with injury issue), West, M Bryant


  13. david says:

    hey Prof, will Rob kelley keep his starting job? do you think i should pick up chris johnson and drop kelley?

    who is a better pick up for season long? Jermaine Kearse or Allen Hurns or Sanu and which order?

    thank you

  14. david says:

    is Orleans Darkwa a good pick up? could he have potentialy mor value than rob kelley or chris johnson?

  15. Ben says:

    Do I drop Rawls or Terrance west for either Buck Allen or Derrick Henry?

  16. Joe says:

    Standard scoring. 10 man league. Need help.

    Which 2 RB? Allen vs Jacksonville, Ajayi @ NYJ, Hunt @ LAC, Cohen vs Pitt, Carson @ Tenn or Henry vs Seattle.

    Right now I have Hunt and Ajayi as MUST STARTS RB’s.

    I need flex from the rest of my RB’s or WR Landry.

    A lot of great choices. Right now I have Allen as flex but just heard West is practicing today. But is Henry must start if Murray ruled OUT?

    Help I have a lot of cooks in the kitchen this week need your advice, please. LOL > Thank you

    • Joe says:

      Also Allen starts at 930am and Henry is a 4pm start. So will not know inactive list before Allen’s game for flex spot. Unless we hear that Murray is OUT before Sunday. UGH>

    • It really comes down to the news. If West is out, I’m def. going Allen. If West is playing, I’d fall back on Henry (assuming McCoy out) and Cohen next choice

      • Joe says:

        Thank you. Cohen starts at 1pm Henry 4 and Allen 930. I will see what the word is on West and Murray.

        IF we hear news today or Saturday that West, Murray and Howard are starting…then what is your advice? Cohen? Or go with Landry?

  17. Gary says:

    Struggling at the flex position with Cohen, James White, or JJ Nelson. Full point PPR I have penciled in Cohen. I actually had White as most likely third choice but reading your rankings maybe White should be my first choice.

  18. Bobby says:

    Hey Prof,

    Thanks for all the info! you’re the best.
    For a flex spot, would you rec Rob Kelley or JJ Nelson?

    Thanks a lot!

  19. Too Tall says:

    Hi Professor,

    Chris Johnson Arizona is available. I have T. Rawls on my bench. Would you make the swap? Or do you think Rawls has long term potential? Thanks.

  20. Haggy says:

    Prof…Thinking Derrick Henry may start this week. If he does which 3 do I play…RB,RB,Flex…D.Freeman, E.Elliott, C.J.Anderson or Henry. Which 3 should I lock in.

  21. haggy says:

    I have CJ Anderson and J.Charles. Booker is on the wire. Should I drop Charles for Booker or not. Or leave it alone, to handcuff CJ.

    • I think if Anderson went down they’d split the workload, so I wouldn’t go nuts. As for the three to play it’s hard to sit Elliot and Freeman. That leaves the choice between Henry or Anderson, if McCoy is completely out I could see going Henry but it’s still a tough matchup (despite what Hyde did last week) so I’d lean Anderson

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