Week 3 Rankings (2013): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

It is only Tuesday and fantasy owners are flush with questions regarding the running back position. Unfortunately the answers, in a lot of cases, might not been known until the weekend so must make sure that you have contingency plans in place. Whether it be handcuffing Ray Rice with Bernard Pierce or adding Maurice Jones-Drew’s backup (Justin Forsett), you must be prepared.

It is very likely that these rankings could look completely ridiculous by the end of the week, but with that being said, let’s take a look at my Week 3 rankings. Let the discussion commence.

  1. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Cleveland
  2. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Kansas City
  3. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – at Philadelphia
  4. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at Pittsburgh
  5. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Jacksonville
  6. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at Baltimore
  7. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at New England
  8. CJ Spiller – Buffalo Bills – at New York Jets
  9. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – vs. Detroit
  10. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns – at Minnesota
  11. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. San Diego
  12. Reggie Bush – Detroit Lions – at Washington
  13. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – vs. Arizona
  14. Steven Jackson – Atlanta Falcons – at Miami
  15. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. St. Louis
  16. Daryl Richardson – St. Louis Rams – at Dallas
  17. D’Angelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – vs. New York Giants
  18. Lamar Miller – Miami Dolphins – vs. Atlanta
  19. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Indianapolis
  20. Bernard Pierce – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Houston
  21. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – vs. Tampa Bay
  22. Rashard Mendenhall – Arizona Cardinals – at New Orleans
  23. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos – vs. Oakland
  24. Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Green Bay
  25. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – at Denver
  26. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – at Tennessee
  27. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – at Cincinnati
  28. David Wilson – New York Giants – at Carolina
  29. Maurice Jones-Drew (Justin Forsett) – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Seattle
  30. Ahmad Bradshaw – Indianapolis Colts – at San Francisco
  31. Joique Bell – Detroit Lions – at Washington
  32. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. Buffalo
  33. Montee Ball – Denver Broncos – vs. Oakland
  34. Jacquizz Rodgers – Atlanta Falcons – at Miami
  35. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – at New York Jets
  36. Felix Jones – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Chicago
  37. Da’Rel Scott – New York Giants – at Carolina
  38. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – at Baltimore
  39. Danny Woodhead – San Diego Chargers – at Tennessee
  40. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Green Bay

Thoughts:

  • Of all the running backs that have question marks attached to them for this week, Maurice Jones-Drew might be the one I have the most concern about. Even if he were healthy, I still think I would be looking for other options as the Seahawks will not be an easy opponent. They held Frank Gore to just 16 yards this week, and San Francisco’s offense is just a few notches better than Jacksonville’s. Then factor in that Jones-Drew left this week’s game early with a tendon issue in his left ankle and there is real cause for concern. At this point it is too early to determine whether or not he will play, but my guess is that he will not. Justin Forsett is his backup, and can be expected to receive the majority of the carries should Jones-Drew be rested this week. Even if Jones-Drew does play, he likely will not be at full strength or receive a full day’s work. To me, Jones-Drew and Forsett are interchangeable in the rankings.
  • Ray Rice is another running back who the prospects of playing this week do not look too promising. Already the word out of Baltimore is that he will not practice all week. Head coach John Harbaugh said that Rice can play without practicing, but I don’t think it is possible. The Ravens have Bernard Pierce who should be able to very easily fill Rice’s cleats for a week and allow the running back to rest. I feel like we will know Rice’s status before that of Jones-Drew, and I am operating under the assumption that he will not play.  Therefore he is not included him on my preliminary rankings.
  • The injuries for starting running backs do not stop there. So far Steven Jackson has looked rejuvenated this season in Atlanta. Sunday he caught an eight yard touchdown pass and was then forced to leave with a thigh injury. At this point I have not seen an update, so I am going to assume that he is good to go for this week. He is a workhorse, and so far this season he appears to be a vital part of the Falcons offense.
  • After two games, it does not look like Reggie Bush can stay healthy to receive the majority of the touches. Last week it was a thumb and a groin that he was able to overcome, and this week it was a knee issue. The running back apparently banged it on a helmet and had to leave Sunday’s game against Arizona early. Prior to the injury Bush was not impressive, rushing nine times for just 25 yards and catching three passes for 44 yards. Aside from some pain, there does not appear to be a lingering issue for Bush and his knee, but you have to think Detroit will try to limit his workload some with Joique Bell being the beneficiary. There is nothing wrong with counting on Bush, just make sure you have a backup plan if somethingchanges.
  • This could have been a dominant game for rookie running back Eddie Lacy against Washington this week. Instead he was forced out the game in the first quarter with a concussion and James Starks took off running. Lacy will likely be out at least for this week, which will give Starks an opportunity to follow up on his 132 yards and a touchdown. Cincinnati poses a tough defense, but it’s not like Green Bay’s offense is without firepower. Starks could be a nice FLEX play.
  • With Vick Ballard done for the year, the Colts’ backfield belongs to Ahmad Bradshaw. It was not a great starting debut, but the Dolphins do have a tough run defense and the Colts’ offensive line did not do him many favors. He carried the ball 16 times for 65 yards while catching 3 passes for another 19 yards. What saved Bradshaw’s value is that he found the end zone. This week brings another tough matchup in San Francisco. At this point, Bradshaw should be starting depending on matchups and your other options, until he proves otherwise.
  • This is a make or break season for Ryan Mathews and so far the results have not been terrible. It is possible he dropped in a lot of drafts as many owners have been burned by him over the last seasons. While he may get the majority of the carries, he is not going to get the majority of the playing time. Ronnie Brown will continue to eat into Mathews’ time and Danny Woodhead will likely see his role in the offense increase. The good news is that Mathews fumbled on Sunday, but the Chargers did not completely lose faith in him as he carried the ball 16 times for 73 yards. The problem, though, is that he does not see the field on third downs and the fact that he seems to just be a role player. From here he looks like a FLEX option whose value will be determined on whether he can find the end zone each week.
  • Hopefully you did not give up on Lamar Miller after one week, as he gained 69 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown. He simply just looked like a completely different running back than the week prior. Miller was running with the burst and explosiveness that had people predicting big things for him this offseason. Keep him in your lineup each week as he looks to keep on improving.
  • If you thought Ben Tate would be a weekly starter for you, even with Arian Foster healthy, you might not be in luck. While there is going to be a timeshare at running back to keep Foster fresh, he is still clearly the starter and should be treated as such. Tate carried the ball nine times for 93 yards, including a 60 yard run, and he also added three catches for eight yards. I can’t see Tate getting more work than that, so going forward that limits his value to deeper leagues.

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

Week 3 Rankings (2013): Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 3 Rankings (2013): Top 25 Quarterbacks

74 comments

  1. Nemo says:

    Hi guys,
    I just had a guy drop Deangelo Williams, do I drop BenJarvis or Pierce and pick him up?

  2. Phil Yamartino says:

    Hey Guys,
    I had the unfortunate luck to have both Eddie Lacy and Steven Jackson go down. I’m in a standard league, and can get Tate or Sparks, and I’m using Sproles as my 2nd RB behind Spiller. What’s my best move?

  3. Phil Yamartino says:

    and by Sparks I mean Starks

  4. Ben says:

    cant seem to see why d-will is ranked alot more than tate, they seem to produce the same so far..

  5. clint says:

    have fred jackson in the flex against nyj but theyve been pretty good against the run. could also plug in chris ivory vs buffalo terrible run def. who do i go with??

  6. Cody says:

    Try and incorporate Josh Gordan in the midst of your Top 50 WR’s. He’s returning this week and I feel he’s itching for a break-out game. LMK what you think?

  7. Keegan says:

    Lamar Miller, Daryl Richardson, or Joique Bell at the flex?

  8. Paul says:

    I can’t decide on playing either Joique Bell or Antonio Brown as my FLEX. Your opinion, Sir?

  9. Keegan – I think it depends if Reggie Bush is playing or not. If he’s out, I’d go Bell. If he’s in, I’d definitely go Miller.

    Paul – Bell’s value is going to be tied to if Reggie Bush is playing or not. That said, Brown is hardly a trustworthy option and Bell’s matchup is favorable. I’d probably lean there, but it’s a tossup

  10. KD says:

    Who do you like best for this week and rest of season in a PPR league, MJD, D. Wilson, or B. Pierce?

    • Health is the big issue at play here. If healthy, it’s MJD, Wilson, Pierce for the season, no questions.

      For this week, however, it’s Pierce (if Rice is out), Wilson, MJD. If Rice is playing, Wilson is the top option by default (though not a promising one(

      • KD says:

        Not only do the Jags look worse than I thought they would, but MJD does not look good and that line looks bad.
        I’m leaning towards dropping MJD for Wilson. Part of it is that this league has a short bench (5) and I’m already sitting on Amendola and Gronk.

        • That does make it difficult, I’d agree. I still would say MJD has the most value at the end of the year, assuming he plays (of course that’s a big if right now).

          Obviously, if you’ve hit a roster crunch, though, and need a RB there’s not much you can do.

          • KD says:

            Thanks for you answers.

            I have to figure it out, I’m ok for this week, but at this point, it’s hard to see being able to play MJD again (had him at flex), aside from injuries.
            I figure that they’re both rolls of the dice, but Wilson is on the better team?

  11. Corey says:

    Standard league. Do I give Sproles the chance to open up against Arizona or start Bilal Powell against Buffalo? If it were PPR I wouldn’t even be asking. And I have Jimmy Graham so it’s not like I’ll be missing out on opportunities against the Cards.

  12. shawn says:

    who should I go with:
    Lamar Miller Darren McFadden Knowshown Moreno

    I need the top 2

  13. Cara says:

    Hi!
    McCoy my number one RB. Trouble deciding to have my number two be Bush or Moreno? Worried with Bush’s injury. Thoughts?? I can also throw one in as flex which would have me benching Daryl Richardson and Jordan Cameron.
    Thanks!

  14. Corey – Problem is it’s impossible to trust Powell. If it was a different option I’d consider it, but given your alternative it’s got to be Sproles.

    shawn – For me, McFadden is the must use of the three. The other one is kind of a tossup because of the situations. Miller has the higher upside, so I’d lean in that direction (especially since Denver can easily go pass happy).

    Cara – If Bush is healthy he’s obviously the must use option. As for the FLEX, I like Moreno over both of your other options so that’s that. It all depends on the news on Bush at this point, though.

    • Corey says:

      I also have Mendenhall and Daryl Richardson. You can see where I’m struggling to find some depth. I know Lynch will get it done for me at RB1. Need to find some footing in that second spot. I do like the touches and overall yards Sproles gets. This week he could particularly open up since Arizona was getting burned by the Lions short passes but, again, I could be on the receiving end of that with owning Graham.

  15. l says:

    Once again my RB2 slot feels like a giant toss-up.

    Do I go with Lamar Miller, Joique Bell, or David Wilson?

    I’m leaning toward going with Joique Bell, but there’s also the possibility to pick-up Knowshon Moreno from waivers; though, if I did choosing who to drop for him is another issue all together.

    QBs – T.Romo & P.Rivers (dropped T.Pryor for P.Rivers this week)
    RBs – D.Martin, L.Miller, D.Wilson, & J.Bell (dropped S.Vereen for J.Bell after 1st week)
    WRs – Julio Jones, V.Jackson, J.Gordon, C.Shorts, D.Hopkins (dropped G.Tate for D.Hopkins this week)
    TEs – J.Cook & C.Clay
    DEF – Bills (weekly rotation)
    K – Lion’s kicker (weekly rotation)

  16. Corey – Believe it or not I actually like Mendenhall this week. If you are against Sproles (and it’s actually really close for me), that’s where I’d go. He’s a very usable RB2.

    L- Moreno may be the best option, though who knows now with Clady out. If Bush is out, Bell is the easy choice, if he plays, I may lean towards Miller, but only slightly,

  17. Steve says:

    Need your thoughts on a trade! Someone proposed this trade to me: I send Murray and receive Fitzgerald. My RB’s are: Foster, C. Johnson, Murray, L. Miller, and Ben Tate. My WR’s are: Julio Jones, A. Brown, Stevie Johnson, and Jennings.

    Is it worth it, or should I decline?

  18. Long says:

    FLEX: Golden Tate, TY Hilton or James Starks??? Have been going with Tate but it’s been slating me.

  19. Lionel says:

    Who do I start at RB this week? I have Trent Richardson, Demarco Murray, Ben Tate, James Starks and Bernard Pierce. I hate Murray as my No 2 and I’ve been stockpiling RBs to take his place.

  20. Steve – My first thought is make the deal, but is there a FLEX? How many WR do you start?

    Long – This week Starks may e the best option, but I would definitely use Hilton over Tate at this point. It’s close, but I may go Hilton anyways.

    Lionel – Unfortunately Murray still provides the most upside for you there. Maybe you want to try and trade him for another option?

  21. Ryan says:

    12 man SSL… So I lost S Jax and Lacy and my only real starting back left is D Martin I managed to make a trade for DMC/Gore/Stevie for Martin/DJax/Lacy but won’t process till after weekend thanks to Thursdays game… My options at RB 2 and Flex this week are the following: Mark Ingram, Turbin, D. Scott, Vincent Brown, M. Austin, A. Dobson, and C. Clay…. I was leaning toward Turbin for hopes he may get garbage time in a blowout and V.Brown at flex with added attention to Royal… Thoughts? Sorry for the long winded post just trying to salvage a rough blow to my team… Thanks for any feedback!

    • Yea, your in trouble this week (and I’m not sure I would’ve made that trade).

      That said, Ingram/Turbin is a real toss-up. Ingram has the higher upside, though, and should be guaranteed more touches. Will Turbin play? OF course, but what if Seattle doesn’t actually run up a big lead?

      As for the FLEX, I’d go Miles Austin

  22. Daniel says:

    PPR scoring. Jordan Cameron or Josh Cook?

    Also, Flex Option – Mike Wallace or Chris Johnson?

  23. Dustin says:

    PPR, Jacquizz Rodgers or Stevan Ridley?

    You guys do a great job here. I stumbled onto this site over the summer, and have been floored by the timely help and excellent advice.

    • Thanks Dustin!

      I actually just did a post on Rodgers and I wouldn’t be too sold on him having a “huge” week. In PPR leagues it is a bit higher, but I’d lean towards Ridley still

  24. irish4623 says:

    Simple question, bernard pierce or steven ridley for week 3? Its one or the other and i keep going back and forth

  25. Captain Berry says:

    I wanted to know should I drop Stevan Ridley or Chris Ivory or Ryan Mathews and pick up Willis Maghee (just signed with Browns) My RBs are stuggling. I have Jamaal Charles Brandon Pierce and Golden Tate too.

  26. Corey says:

    How are we feeling about Mendenhall now with the toe injury?

  27. Gamer says:

    Non-PPR; need an RB2 and two flex from this list (so pick 3)
    - Trent Richardson
    - Darren Sproles
    - Joique Bell
    - Lamar Miller
    - Ben Tate
    - TY Hilton
    - Julian Edelman
    - Josh Gordon

    (yes this is 10 team) at the moment I have Sproles, Bell and Hilton in there. Was leaning towards giving Richardson the week off, assuming Bush is limited, and picked Hilton over Edelman and Miller. Thoughts?

  28. Alan says:

    I have Marshawn Lynch and Christ Johnson as RB1 and RB2. Who should i start for my flex: CJ Spiller, Giovani Bernard or David Wilson? CJ Spiller did not get hot yet and David is in trouble with Coach so I am thinking Giovani Bernard but will CJ Spiller get in trouble with Jet Def? Thanks.

  29. Gamer – I agree that sitting Richardson probably makes sense. PRoblem is it looks like Bush is going to play and Hilton appears banged up a bit as well (though he’s expected to play). Edelman would be the safer option, but Miller the riskier, but bigger reward option.

    Alan – Bernard is coming off a big day, but he’s still in a timeshare. I would still go with Spiller, who is by far the back with the highest upside. Unless he’s injured, it’s tough to justify having him on your bench.

    • Gamer says:

      So given the current health statuses, you would lean towards Sproles, Edelman and Miller as the three? I’ve got a good start from Charles this week, and have Marshal and Andre Johnson going, so I have some room to play for some upside. I’ve got a deep team , but am actually 0-2; need to start the win streak :)

  30. kindra says:

    having a hard time deciding who to play any help is appreciated.

    RB: L. Miller T. Richardson G. Bernard B. Powell Have Ingrham and Rainey but no intention of playing them

    WR: D. Bryant S. Smith T. Smith E. Royal V. Jackson

  31. Gamer – monitor the news on Bush, if he’s out Bell is must use.

    Kindra – How many of each do you need?

  32. George says:

    Suggestions on who I shoul start this week….
    Running back – D. Sproles, J. Bell, C. Ogbonnaya?

    I do have K.Moreno and will be starting him.

    Who shoul I start at tight end- t. Gonzalez or a. Gates? Suggestions??? Thanks in advance

  33. George says:

    I’m 0-2 and any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Starters Bench
    D. Brees. A. Gates
    D. Sproles. D. Hopkins
    K. Moreno. D. Woodhead
    D. Bryant. J. Bell
    D. Jackson. C. Ogbonnaya
    J. Jones D. Baldwin
    T. Gonzalez

    What changes should I make. Thank you guys in advance.

  34. Chris says:

    With Rice likely out who should I start…need a rb and a flex out of these…Pierce, Daryl Richardson, torrey smith, and willis Mcgahee

  35. John L. says:

    Hey guys! 2qb, 2 flex, 12 team. What do you guys think about the 2nd flex? J. Gordan, C. Shorts, B. Powell, W. Mcgahee? Thanks!

  36. kindra says:

    two rb two wr and a flex

  37. will says:

    I have Montee Ball, Ivory, Wilson, Mcgahee as choices for rb #2 in a league without a flex (3rd wr). I keep going back and forth and don’t know who to play, but with my opponents J. Charles preformance I will lose if I pick wrong. Who would you play?

  38. John L – Wow, that’s a tough call. It’s hard to that the RB, given the uncertainty in their situations. Jacksonville in Seattle is almost an automatic sit. That means Gordon, by default, for me.

    Kindra – Depends in the risk you want to take with Richardson. I think Bernard and Miller (though Richardson over Miller is the option). With Bryant, V. Jackson and S. Smith in the lineup

    will – Wilson, probably, since he has the highest upside still. The second choice would be Ivory, honestly, but none of the four are that attractive honestly

    • will says:

      Thank you! You are awesome! I know I’m in a bind with the rb’s, just hoping one will step forward enough that they are usable moving forward or I can trade or something. The only thing that really scares me about Wilson is the Panthers Def.

  39. steven says:

    If bush out do i start daryl richardson or lamar miller

  40. Chris says:

    Flex position…edelman or d Richardson
    thanks

  41. James H says:

    Should I take the traid offer for Moreno Denver (RB) and give up Sproles Saints (RB)?

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