Week 3 Rankings (2018): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

Another week and more questions… Of course we have elite options, but there are also tough decisions to made. Let’s not waste any time and jump right into our rankings as we try to decipher who can be trusted and who carries far too much risk to depend on:

  1. Todd Gurley – LA Rams – vs. LA Chargers
  2. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Atlanta
  3. Saquon Barkley – New York Giants – at Houston
  4. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at Seattle
  5. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. San Francisco
  6. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. Cincinnati
  7. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Buffalo
  8. James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Tampa Bay
  9. Melvin Gordon – LA Chargers – at LA Rams
  10. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. New Orleans
  11. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Chicago
  12. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – at Arizona
  13. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Tennessee
  14. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. NY Giants
  15. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. Oakland
  16. Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – at Carolina
  17. Matt Brieda – San Francisco 49ers – at Kansas City
  18. Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – at Jacksonville
  19. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – vs. Green Bay
  20. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – at Minnesota
  21. Carlos Hyde – Cleveland Browns – vs. NY Jets
  22. James White – New England Patriots – at Detroit
  23. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Denver
  24. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – at Miami
  25. Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – vs. Green Bay
  26. Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Indianapolis
  27. Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – at Baltimore
  28. Bilal Powell – NY Jets – at Cleveland
  29. Corey Clement – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Indianapolis
  30. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots -  at Detroit
  31. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – at Baltimore
  32. Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – at Washington
  33. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Pittsburgh
  34. Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – vs. New England
  35. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at Washington
  36. Isaiah Crowell – New York Jets – at Cleveland
  37. Sony Michel – New England Patriots – at Detroit
  38. Austin Ekeler – LA Chargers – at LA Rams
  39. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – at Arizona
  40. T.J. Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Tennessee

Notes:

  • Game flow didn’t exactly work in Saquon Barkley’s favor in Week 2, but he still was a valuable fantasy commodity. After catching just two passes for 22 yards last week, the rookie running back was targeted all night by Eli Manning. From the onset the Giants were trailing, and Barkley was ultimately targeted 16 times which led to 14 receptions for 80 yards. There wasn’t much in the way of explosiveness and PPR leagues certainly saved his value. As far as the ground game went, hey carried the ball just 11 times for 29 yards on the heels of his 106 yard debut last week. The fact that the Giants’ offensive line leaves a lot to be desired will hinder Barkley’s value as a rusher, although he’s proven he has big play capabilities. and the Giants won’t hesitate to target him in the passing game.
  • Is it time to give up on David Johnson? One thing is certain, the Cardinals offense is just not very good. Through two weeks nothing is really going right and I’m not sure making a few adjustments will truly correct things. It is possible that’s all we need for Johnson to regain some fantasy value so it’s too soon to give up on Johnson and sell at the bottom of his value. So far there hasn’t been much room for him to run (85 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries) as the Cardinals have used him strictly as a between the tackles runner and his role in the receiving game (six catches for 33 yards) is just as a dump off option. Following Week 2 Steve Wilks did mention the fact that Johnson will now be used as a receiver out of the slot more often. That will help with both his value as well as the Cardinals’ offense. Let’s give it a week or two to work, as any chance that Arizona has at winning a game comes down to Johnson.
  • Until Marlon Mack or Jordan Wilkins take control of the backfield the most prudent situation is to avoid it. After missing Week 1 with a hamstring injury, Mack returned to action last week and the Colts wasted no time trying to get him involved. He touched the ball nine times in the first half, but he failed to do much with his opportunity as in total he gained just 34 yards on 10 carries while catching one pass for another two yards. Wilkins then took control of the backfield in the second half as he carried the ball 10 times for 61 yards as the Colts nursed their victory. This came on the heels of Wilkins averaging just 2.9 yards per carry in Week 1, and we likely will see a similar timeshare next week. For now Wilkins might have a slight edge based on his most recent performance, but you can’t put too much stock in it.
  • For the second straight week Ronald Jones was inactive and Peyton Barber did even less. Despite the Buccaneers’ explosive offense to start the season, Barber has failed to take advantage. He was facing a tough Eagles’ run defense, but Barber gained just 22 yards on 16 carries while catching his first pass of the season for another seven yards. Through two weeks he has yet to score a touchdown and on 35 carries he is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. It will be interesting to see when Tampa Bay decides to activate Jones, and while I wouldn’t expect him to step right into fantasy lineups it is worth keeping an eye on. Regardless, it’s difficult to trust Barber.
  • This has been a common theme for me, and trying to predict/get a read on New England’s backfield has proven to be quite difficult. However, that doesn’t mean we get to ignore it and not try to draw some useful conclusions. It is clear that Jacksonville possesses what is likely the best defense in the league and that was evident against the Patriots this past week. In general, the running game has gotten off to a slow start for New England, and they have yet to score a rushing touchdown this season. For Week 3 things should get a lot easier as they face the Lions and their less resistant run defense. Rex Burkhead was on the field for 15 snaps after opening the game as the starting running back, but as New England fell behind early his role became minimized pretty quickly. Ultimately he carried the ball six times for 22 yards which brought his season total to 86 yards on 24 carries. This week also saw the debut of Sony Michel, and the rookie saw 13 snaps while carrying the ball 10 times for 34 yards while being targeted twice for one reception and another seven yards. It’s hard to accurately evaluate Michel as he both was making his NFL debut and had to deal with the Jaguars’ defensive line, but overall he did look good. In time he will become the most valuable Patriots’ running back, but James White will continue to have a role that makes him fantasy relevant. In 34 snaps White carried the ball four times for 11 yards but he was a clear PPR factor as he caught seven of his eight targets for 73 yards.
  • Jamaal Williams had his chance, but after two weeks it doesn’t appear that he took advantage of it. He carried the ball 16 times on Sunday, albeit against a tough Minnesota defense, for just 56 yards and is averaging just 3.4  yards per carry on 31 carries while catching three passes for 12 yards. None of this will ultimately prove to be enough to hold off Aaron Jones, who returns this week fresh off his two game suspension. The other running back in Green Bay’s backfield, Ty Montgomery, has just 10 touches (seven carries for 38 yards and three catches for 30 yards), and at this point he isn’t a fantasy relevant option. While Williams will still have a role, and I wouldn’t drop him just yet unless you are in a roster crunch, Jones is going to be the running back to own. Last season he had two games in which he eclipsed 100 yards while average 5.5 yards per carry on 81 carries and scoring two touchdowns.

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

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 3 Rankings (2018): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 3 Rankings (2018): Top 25 Quarterbacks

47 comments

  1. NK says:

    10 team standard league. Is it time to cut hair on Carson and Penny? I get Ingram back next week and also still have Mixon Kamara and Shady.

    Also, should I be trying to trade Shady and if so, what calibre RB/WR. Would you try to get back for him?

    • Trading McCoy all depends on the return, but I wouldn’t sell low (which is probably what you’d have to do).

      As for the Seattle tandem, it all depends on if you absolutely need the spot. I’d expect Penny to ultimately emerge and would keep him stashed, even in shallower formats

  2. Inglorious Bastards says:

    Hello Professor ,

    Half point PPR…need one RB2 and a Flex out of these players: Chris Thompson, Matt Breida, or Emmanuel Sanders…

    Also, your thoughts on Sony Michel’s usage and performance on the Patriots’ messy backfield. Thank you…

  3. Chris Zeller says:

    would you start Michel over Lamar Miller or Enunwa this week? He’s facing Detroit and could go off.

  4. Inglorious Bastards says:

    Full Point PPR:

    One out of these three please: Carlos Hyde, Sony Michel, Phillip Lindsay. Thank you

  5. Krysta says:

    I have my RB1&2 set at Adrian Peterson and Carlos Hyde as Devonta Freeman is out (the pick before me took Tevin Coleman as I was about to handcuff him) . I have Jordan Wilkins and CJ Anderson on my bench. Ito Smith, Buck Allen, Chris Ivory seem to be the only noteworthy free agent options. Cut bait on Wilkins and or Anderson for someone else or stash and see?

  6. Romo says:

    Hey roto! I was just offered a trade to trade away Howard for Johnson. Is it worth it?

  7. Chucky says:

    Need one RB Week 3 PPR: Bilal, Morris or Ajayi?

  8. First question of the year, sir! I’m worried about my Forx in a standard league! My options are
    Jay Ajayi -hurt
    Carlos Hyde- currently starting tonight for me
    Kennan Cole
    Larry Fitzgerald
    Randell Cobb
    Adrain Peterson…
    Would you roll with Hyde tonight? Thanks for your always amazing advice sir! Love this website!

  9. Bob says:

    Please rank these RB’s who might get the start this week? Need flex help. Murray ( if Cook is ruled out vs Buffalo or Bernard (who is playing for sure) @ Carolina.

    The guy I’m going against has Cook but Murray is available. Or I can just pick up Murray and “block” him but I dont want to upset the FF G-ds. LOL. Or get Murray and play him vs Bernard or Breida (who I have on my team) in flex spot?

    Thank you.

  10. Smidge says:

    With Mixon out is Gio worth a play this week over Lindsay?

  11. Terri says:

    I need 2 from these RB’s Standard scoring:

    Murray (if Cook is inactive)vs Buffalo. Thinking Murray could be
    RB1 if Cook is out vs the Bills who are terrible.

    Bernard @ Carolina. He will get all carries and see some looks out of the backfield, nice matchup.

    Breida @ KC. Gets looks out of the backfield and KC is weak in defending this.

    My other RB is McCaffrey and he a no brainer start.

    Thank you!

  12. amccarty says:

    Concerned David Johnson owner. Should I start L Murray or D Johnson week 3?

  13. Sheldon says:

    Hi, Prof. Latavius Murray is available on waivers in my league. How much would you bid for him? I’ve put down a FAAB bid of $17 out of a maximum of $100. Is it worth putting down more? What do you think? Thanks.

  14. Pablo E says:

    With Dalvin Cook ruled out for Sunday would you play Lat Murray, against a crappy Buffalo team, or Devin Funchess in the flex? 12 team standard league. Thanks for the insight

  15. Ted says:

    I’m in a ten team league with two flex spots and a half ppr. I like having two RBs in my two flex spots one is going to be Lamar Milller and the other I can put Breida or Clement. With the news of Ajayi and Sproles out this Sunday would you bump Clement ahead of Breida, I’m leaning that way. I also have Funchess, Goodwin, Golladay, Dion Lewis and Jamal Williams available on my bench.

    Thanks
    Ted

  16. John Kircher says:

    Pick 3 RB please: Conner, Howard, Miller, Murray, Drake

    Pick 1 WR please: Arob, Cooper, Hogan

    Thanks!

  17. Andy says:

    TY Hilton, Chris Thompson, Matt Breida,
    Need to start 2 in Flex 1 PPR, who will you start ? Thanks .

  18. OtisP says:

    I am in a full point PPR league (non-keeper). Should I consider offering up Tevin Colemnen for a RB2-2 type player such as Alex Collins, Derrick Henry, or Dion Lewis? I also have Lamar Miller, James Conner, and Kareem Hunt at RB and concerned about Coleman’s value after Freeman returns. Or do you see Coleman retaining reasonable value even with Freeman?

  19. Billy says:

    Hi, I’m torn in who to start in my flex spot in a 1/2 point PPR league. I have Alfred Morris or Jared Cook. I also have Josh Gordon but I’m not considering him since he just joined the Patriots.

  20. Billy says:

    Thank you for your help, I hope I catch you in time before the start of week 3 but do you prefer Adrien Peterson or Marshawn Lynch in a 1 point PPR league.

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