Week 3 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

There are multiple injury questions facing fantasy owners as we head into Week 3, like Ryan Mathews, Steven Jackson and Ahmad Bradshaw.  Throw in the struggles of Darren McFadden, the matchup for Adrian Peterson and the emergence of C.J. Spiller and there are a lot of tough decisions to be made.  Let’s take a look at how our rankings currently look for the coming week:

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at Denver
  2. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills – at Cleveland
  3. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – at Arizona
  4. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – vs. New England
  5. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Green Bay
  6. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Buffalo
  7. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – vs. New York Jets
  8. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Dallas
  9. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Tampa Bay
  10. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Indianapolis
  11. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – vs. Pittsburgh
  12. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Atlanta
  13. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – vs. Cincinnati
  14. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Minnesota
  15. Michael Bush – Chicago Bears – vs. St. Louis
  16. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – vs. San Francisco
  17. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – at Chicago
  18. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – at New Orleans
  19. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals – at Washington
  20. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – at Baltimore
  21. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – vs. Kansas City
  22. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. Detroit
  23. Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Jacksonville
  24. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos – vs. Houston
  25. Kevin Smith – Detroit Lions – at Tennessee
  26. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – vs. New York Giants
  27. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at San Diego
  28. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. Kansas City
  29. Peyton Hillis – Kansas City Chiefs – at New Orleans
  30. Andre Brown – New York Giants – at Carolina
  31. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – at Miami
  32. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – at Denver
  33. Cedric Benson – Green Bay Packers – at Seattle
  34. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – vs. New York Giants
  35. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Philadelphia
  36. Mikel LeShoure – Detroit Lions – at Tennessee
  37. Jonathan Dwyer – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Oakland
  38. Kendall Hunter – San Francisco 49ers – at Minnesota
  39. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – at Miami
  40. Ryan Williams – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Philadelphia


  • Does anyone still believe that C.J. Spiller’s Week 1 outburst was due to a blowout and the Jets backing off?  He was the centerpiece of the Bills offense this past week, with 123 yards on the ground, 47 through the air and scoring 2 TD.  Taking on the Browns, Spiller definitely should be considered not only a RB1, but one of the best options in the league.
  • Adrian Peterson looks healthy and back to being one of the top running backs in the league.  Of course he draws the San Francisco 49ers this week, the staunchest rushing defense in the league.  He needs to be active, but I would consider him more of a RB2.  There’s just too much risk in the matchup to consider him more than that.
  • All indications point to Ryan Mathews being active for the Chargers in Week 3.  Fantasy owners have been waiting patiently, but they should find that it was well worth it.  He draws an Atlanta defense that allowed 152.0 rushing yards in the opening week of the season.  Mathews should easily step right in and shoulder the load, meaning he’s a borderline RB1/RB2 this week (only as he brushes off the rust).  Once up to speed, he’s going to be a RB1 in most formats on a weekly basis.
  •  Yes, Jamal Charles is sharing carries with Peyton Hillis, but I would expect there to be more than enough touches to go around in Week 3 against a Saints defense that has allowed 186.0 rushing yards/game over the first two weeks, as well as 5 rushing TD.  Charles has more talent, but he remains more of a RB2 after he got limited touches in Week 2.
  • Reggie Bush is a one-man show for the Miami Dolphins and, while the Jets defense is supposed to be one of the better units in the league, they have allowed 130.5 rushing yards per game over the first two weeks.  Look for Bush, who had 197 total yards in Week 2, to continue to be a dual threat and leaned on heavily by Miami.
  • Sure, Darren McFadden has gotten off to a slow start, but does anyone not believe that he is going to get things turned around?  You don’t want to lose hope because, when you do, that’s when he’s going to light things up while on your bench.
  • Does anyone not expect Michael Bush to step right in for Matt Forte and flourish for the Bears?  He should be a good play in all formats, though that isn’t really news…
  • There are a lot of injuries fantasy owners are going to have to monitor, like Ahmad Bradshaw, Shonn Greene and Steven Jackson.  For now we will leave them all on the rankings (well, except for Bradshaw), but be ready to move to the next option if we get bad news.  The most concerning is probably Bradshaw, with a game coming up on Thursday.  Fantasy owners should definitely be planning on not having him available to them.
  • Both Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles are going to have value this week, especially against the Kansas City Chiefs.  With Thomas running the ball and Sproles catching it, there should be enough touches to go around.  They should both be considered RB2/FLEX options.
  • As DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart continue to share carries, neither can be trusted as more than a low-end RB2/more of a FLEX option.  Hopefully one emerges, but until they do there’s a lot of risk.
  • Will Kevin Smith or Mikel Leshoure get the bulk of the carries for the Lions?  There’s too much risk to trust either at this point.
  • I know Cedric Benson looked good in Week 2, but the Seahawks defense has been solid against the run thus far this season.  It’s hard to put too much faith into him and I wouldn’t consider him more than a FLEX option.

Make sure to check out the rest of our Week 3 rankings:

Week 3 Rankings: Top 15 Defenses
Week 3 Rankings: Top 25 Tight Ends


  1. Randy says:

    Would you drop Kevin Smith for Ahmad Bradshaw? AB was dropped and I wouldnt need him to play this week…

    • I would much rather try tof trade Smith, but I do think Bradshaw holds more upside potential for the remainder of the season (barring news on his injury).

      Smith has value, but we really need to see how the tea plans on using Leshoure going forward. Will it be a time share? Will one emerge? It’s a tough call…

      I would probably go Bradshaw, but like I said, any chance of tradingSmith instead?

  2. Matt says:

    I’m in a tough spot. My top 3 backs are hurt. There’s nothing to pick up either. I got David Wilson in case Bradshaw got hurt. Not necessarily the case now. My best options are Kendall Hunter and David Wilson. Which should I start?

  3. Mike W says:

    I just got proposed this trade and I need a RB slot filled this week after forte went out.

    i’d be getting Jamaal charles and brandon pettigrew for vernon davis and greg little. should i do it?

  4. Matt – That’s real tough. I’d probably go Hunter, but you are in bad, bad shape.

    Mike W – Who are your WR again?

  5. Mike W says:

    Nevermind about that above trade… I don’t want to do it anymore. In another league of mine, I just got offered Desean jackson and calvin johnson for darren mcfadden and frank gore. should i do that?

    in that league my RBs are doug martin and those 2 and I just picked up andre brown. i need 2 rbs starting and one flex. my wr’s are steve smith, britt, hartline, gibson.

  6. Mike W says:

    I need another RB. I can potentially grab Marshawn Lynch from this other guy. Should I offer him straight up Vincent Jackson for Lynch? Or how about Jennings for Lynch? The other guy needs a WR so he just may go for it striahgt up..

    • Mike W says:

      Alright the other guy said to throw in another guy and he’d do it. So Vincent Jackson and either Mike Williams/Bernard Scott/Laurent Robinson for Marshawn Lynch and Jonathan Stewart (or i can just say danny woodhead or someone like that as just a throw in)

      What do you think?

  7. Rob says:

    Whats your stance on CJ2K?

    Honestly I’d like to trade him if possible but with his current value being so low I don’t know who I could get. So what do you think is a realistic trade for him? I’m fairly deep at RB right now with Steven Jackson, Reggie Bush and CJ Spiller (we start 3 flex spots) so i’d be willing to let him go for a solid WR or TE.. what do you think? thanks

  8. Mike W says:

    Shaun Draughn is currently on my waivers. I have Bernard Scott on my bench right now. Should I get rid of Bernard Scott and grab Draughn?

  9. kindra says:

    Having trouble choosing my flex and between my rb;s with all the injuries.
    I need to choose 2 Rb 2 Wr and one flex

    S. green

    D. Moore
    Cruz (Starting)
    B. Hartline
    B. lafell
    B. Gibson

  10. Mike W – I wouldn’t trade Jennings for Lynch. I could see packaging V. Jackson & someone like Laurent Robinson. I’d do that in a heartbeat, especially given your need for a RB.

    As for Draughn, not sure either have much value but it couldn’t hurt.

    Rob – I understand your frustration, but whatever you do you will be selling low on him. At this point I think your best bet is to sit tight and hope he can turn things around.

    kindra – I’d go:
    RB – Charles (if playing) & McGahee
    WR – Cruz, & Jennings
    FLEX – Turner or LaFell (depends on your risk tolerance; I generally go RB, but LaFell against the NYG is tempting though I would lean Turner)

  11. Luke says:

    I’m in a tough spot this week, I need to pretty much pick between Adrian Peterson and Kevin Smith. Adrian Peterson would be my first choice except for the fact he’s up against the 49ers. Kevin Smith could be great this week but i just don’t know how much of the carries he will get. Thoughts?

  12. Brandon says:

    I just want your thoughts on Jacquizz Rodgers for the remainder of the season. Turned is struggling bad and now has the off field DUI issues. Is it finally time to move on and implement Rodgers into that offense more and if so do you see him being a valuable FLEX in. 1 pt per reception league?

    • Could they make a change? It wouldn’t surprise me and yes, if Rodgers starts to get the bulk of the looks he will be a FLEX option. He’s worth stashing if you have the room, just in case, but I wouldn’t expect results for a few weeks yet.

  13. Rob says:

    @ Rotoprofessor
    Then let me ask you this. I have Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell on my bench right now… Do you sit CJ2K and move Steven Jackson to the RB spot then start Amendola? Or do you sit both CJ2k and Steven Jackson for Amendola and LaFell.

    • It depends on the news with Jackson, honestly. I would probably go with Amendola for sure, and would like to go with Jackson as well.

      Of course, with LaFell going tonight that puts you in a little bit of a hole if Jackson sits (unless you have another option sitting on your bench)

      • Rob says:

        Not really. My line up is as such:

        QB – Eli Manning
        RB – Chris Johnson
        WR – Malcom Floyd
        FLX – Reggie Bush
        FLX – Steven Jackson
        FLX – CJ Spiller

        Bench – Amendola
        Bench – LaFell
        Bench – Greg Little
        Bench – Kendel Wright

        This is a 16 team league so there isn’t much on the wire. I’m in a time crunch. I think i’m going to take CJ2k out and start Lafell for now.

  14. Shane says:

    Hey!! You’re my go to guy lately for advice as you always seem to reply and give good feedback. I have a couple of trade scenarios that my league members are trying to do with me. My rb’s are Charles, DMC, and McCoy and my QB’s are ELi and Peyton. This kid wants to trade me Brady and Steven Jackson for Peyton and Charles. Should I do that?? Another guy will trade me Chris Johnson for Charles.

    Charles schedule at the end of the year is very easy and I feel like he is going to start turning his game around soon. I value you him pretty highly. I would jump on the Brady trade in a heartbeat but is he really going to outperform Eli by that much this season?? I have doubts about steven jackson as well. Advice pleaseee?? Thank you!

  15. jason says:

    Donald brown..Mikel leshoure..titus young..alshon jefferey..or jamaal Charles?

  16. Shane – I agree with you that I have my doubts about Jackson and with Eli in place, I don’t think you need to make the upgrade to Brady. Eli showed last night that he has to be considered among that top group of QB.

    Right now, I definitely wouldn’t to the Johnson for Charles trade either.

    jason – Definitely Charles for me, as along as he is healthy.

  17. Ted says:

    I have to choose two of these three RBs for week 3: Ryan Mathews, Trent Richardson and Alfred Morris. I would think Alfred Morris should sit, but the Bengals have allowed a lot of fantasy points to RBs so far. CJ Spiller is my RB1. What would you do?

  18. Rob says:

    I have M. Bush, BGE, Doug Martin, and Ryan Mathews. I’m pretty sure starting Bush is a must so which of the remaining three would be best in my RB2 slot. I’m a bit iffy on Mathews until he can prove himself in a game and Martin and BGE both have decent matchups this week. Ideas?

  19. Ted – I think Richardson is the must start from the group. I am actually faced with the same Mathews/Morris decision in one league. I would monitor the news, just in case, but Mathews is the far more explosive player. He is a little risky, but if it doesn’t sound like he is going to have limitations that’s the way I would go. Remember, Morris could easily lose goal line touches to rG3.

    Rob – I would go Martin. iLife the matchup and, while Mathews is alluring you have the depth that the risk isn’t necessary. Martin is quickly emerging as a Top 10 back, so it’s hard to argue.

    I would actually consider Mathews over Bush, though that depends on your risk tolerance. Wit Forte out, Bus should be in line for a good day.

  20. Ted says:

    Hey in a follow up question, considering my depth at RB (I also have J. Stewart on my bench.) Am I crazy to offer A. Morris and A. Gates for Gronk, or A. Morris and A. Johnson for Megatron?

    • Ted says:

      BTW thanks for reassessing my gut feeling about Mathews.

    • I don’t think it’s crazy at all. You have Spiller/Richardson/Mathews who should be your Top 3 most weeks. Stewart is a nice fill-in (when healthy).

      Obviously, having the extra option is always nice, but Morris plays for the Redskins… That alone makes him untrustworthy, because we never really know what Mike Shanahan is going to do.

  21. Mike W says:

    OK I need to start a backup RB since Forte is out this week. The following is the best available in my league right now….

    Shaun Draughn or Daryl Richardson

  22. Steve says:

    Really bouncing back and forth between McGahee, K Smith, Morris, Sproles and Stewart…I need 3.

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