Week 3 Rankings (2014): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

After another week of football the running back landscape might have gotten even murkier and confusing. There are injuries, suspensions, time shares and poor performances to be aware of. Let’s take a stab at maneuvering through all the questions and determine how they rank heading into Week 3:

  1. Giovanni Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Tennessee
  2. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – at St. Louis
  3. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at New York Giants
  4. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
  5. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Carolina
  6. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at NY Jets
  7. Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers – at Detroit
  8. Montee Ball – Denver Broncos – at Seattle
  9. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Denver
  10. Rashad Jennings – New York Giants – vs. Houston
  11. Knile Davis – Kansas City Chiefs – at Miami
  12. Andre Ellington – Arizona Cardinals – vs. San Francisco
  13. Zac Stacy – St. Louis Rams – vs. Dallas
  14. Joique Bell – Detroit Lions – vs. Green Bay
  15. Shane Vereen – New England Patriots – vs. Oakland
  16. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – at Philadelphia
  17. Terrence West – Cleveland Browns – vs. Baltimore
  18. Pierre Thomas  – New Orleans Saints – vs. Minnesota
  19. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Arizona
  20. Reggie Bush – Detroit Lions – vs. Green Bay
  21. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – vs. Oakland
  22. Chris Johnson – New York Jets – vs. Chicago
  23. Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
  24. Toby Gerhart – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Indianapolis
  25. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Atlanta
  26. Matt Asiata – Minnesota Vikings – at New Orleans
  27. Donald Brown – San Diego Chargers – at Buffalo
  28. Lamar Miller – Miami Dolphins – vs. Kansas City
  29. Ahmad Bradshaw – Indianapolis Colts – at Jacksonville
  30. CJ Spiller – Buffalo Bills – vs. San Diego
  31. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – vs. San Diego
  32. Steven Jackson – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Tampa Bay
  33. Danny Woodhead – San Diego Chargers – at Buffalo
  34. Bernard Pierce – Baltimore Ravens – at Cleveland
  35. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – at New England
  36. Trent Richardson – Indianapolis Colts – at Jacksonville
  37. Khiry Robinson – New Orleans Saints – vs. Minnesota
  38. Justin Forsett – Baltimore Ravens – at Cleveland
  39. Shonn Greene – Tennessee Titans – at Cincinnati
  40. D’Angelo Willams – Carolina Panthers – vs. Pittsburgh

 

Thoughts:

  • After two games, and we know that is not nearly enough to develop a sample size, Darren Sproles has been the best running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. I know how crazy that sounds, but based purely on production from a fantasy standpoint it is true. LeSean McCoy is getting the edge as far as the workload is concerned, 51 touches to 26, but trails in yards, 263 to 217. This does not mean you should be starting or ranking Sproles over McCoy. Not at all. There is enough production to go around for both running backs, and McCoy is still the best option by far. I would not overreact to anything here, especially because Sproles only has one more catch, 11 compared to 10. For me, the bigger takeaway is that maybe Sproles should have more value than we previously thought.
  • Although it has not been said with 100% certainty, it appears that Jamaal Charles will be out of action at least for this week with a sprained ankle. If by chance he does play, I would rank him more as a lower end RB2 based on concerns that he would be able to handle a full workload. Charles’ replacement, Knile Davis, is in one of the more unique situations where if Charles is out of action he is immediately worthy of sliding into most starting lineups. Andy Reid has said that the Chiefs offense will not change with Davis in the backfield. After replacing Charles last week against the Broncos, Davis had 79 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns while also catching six passes for 26 yards on nine targets. He certainly should be the number one target on your waiver wire and will likely be a great low cost value option in daily formats.
  • For those of you that followed the Zero RB theory this draft season, Toby Gerhart was a running back you very possibly could have ended up with. Gerhart was more attractive than other options with similar ADP’s just based on the fact that he would be carrying the workload and would be guaranteed 20-30 touches a game. So far that has not worked out. This past week he gained only eight yards on seven carries while catching two passes for another nine yards. On the season he has 50 yards on 25 carries and has yet to find the end zone. However, it is still only two games; I would expect Gerhart to turn it around. A lot of their struggles have been pinned on the now departed right tackle, and eventually Blake Bortles will likely replace Chad Henne under center. If you have another option for this week I would go in that direction, but don’t give up hope just yet.
  • Do not be concerned about Marshawn Lynch. Yes, Lynch is battling some back problems and only had 10 touches this past week, six carries and four receptions, but there is still no need to overreact. He looked dominating against the Packers to start the season, so I would not read too much into his performance last week. Seattle was trailing most of the game, although it was interesting that they abandoned the run so quickly. Additionally, there does not appear to be any true cause for concern with Lynch’s back and Pete Carroll looks ready to get Lynch more involved this week. Should you feel the need to handcuff Lynch to be on the safe side, Robert Turbin is the one to own in the short term.
  • Lamar Miller started the season as the Dolphins’ number one running back, but Knowshon Moreno was the better performer. Miller didn’t have a bad start to the season, but his playing time was in doubt with Moreno taking the reins prior to injuring his elbow. The problem, though, is that Moreno is the better running back. Miller had 16 touches last week, but only gained 53 yards. I think at least for one week Miami is going to feature Miller and if you are trying to fill in for holes created by injuries, Miller is worth a start, but other than that he is just an unremarkable option.
  • After two weeks there still has not been a clear winner in the Buffalo backfield battle. Last week both CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson had 12 carries each, but Spiller’s value came from his kick return for a touchdown (at least in leagues that count them). Spiller gained 69 yards on those 12 carries, but the majority came on one 47 yard run. You would expect to see Spiller be more productive in the passing game, but he only had one catch after three receptions in Week 1. Again, you are likely in a situation where Spiller needs to be in your starting lineup regardless, but it looks like we are in a situation where both Spiller and Jackson have some value.

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

 

Week 3 Rankings (2014): Top 15 Kickers
Week 3 Rankings (2014): Top 50 Wide Receivers

58 comments

  1. Corey says:

    Been offered Sanders for F-Jax. That would leave me with Bush, J Bell, Sproles, Gerhart, and Ivory at RB. With Welker coming back, would Sanders give me a better WR2 than Decker, Hopkins, or Torrey Smith? And would I be leaving myself too thin at RB? As always, thanks for the advice.

  2. Steve L says:

    So, Asiata in for Spiller? Saints are a generous D and Spiller probably won’t keep returning kick offs for TDs.

  3. Andy says:

    How can you rank Bernard at No. 1 and not include Hill?

    • Andy says:

      If bernard is the no. 1 overall back this week that inherently means that Cincy is going to be running a good bit, which means Hill we be involved heavily as well.

  4. Corey – I’d do it. Sanders is a more trustworthy option than the others you have (especially with Decker hurt). You have the RB depth and Jackson isn’t a trustworthy option himself.

    Steve L – It wouldn’t surprise me if Spiller outproduced Asiata, but it’s close. Asiata should get the bulk of the opportunities and has a favorable matchup. I’d lean that way.

    • Corey says:

      Thank you.

      Last question. Do you think AP plays again and, if so, would you trade Gerhart for him now? Owner in one of my leagues is having a firesale on him and nobody is biting. Two weeks of Gerhart losing games for me is enough for me to have soured.

      • AP is a wild card at this point. From what I’ve heard through interviews, etc. he isn’t expected to play until his legal issues are cleared up. At this point the tentative court date isn’t until 2015, though we all know those things cane move.

        For now he needs to be stashed, but I woudn’t give up a lot in redraft formats.

  5. L says:

    Was thinking about offering the AP owner in my league a trade; what do you think of this offer?

    MJD & J.Stewart

    for

    AP & J.Boykin

    Clearly a low-ball offer, but if AP doesn’t return this season he’s at least gaining some possible serviceable plug-ins in return.

    • L says:

      Another trade question.

      Who should I target if I were to ponder trading B.Pierce?

      A.Bradshaw?
      Z.Stacy?
      E.Ellington?
      CJ.Spiller?
      J.Bell?
      C.Ivory?
      R.Bush?
      J.Charles?
      A.Peterson?
      S.Vereen?

  6. Tyler Johnson says:

    Struggling to decide who to start this week. Cordarrelle Patterson, Julian Edelman, Joique Bell, Terrance West, or Jeremy Hill (pick 2). My gut says Cordarelle and Edelman but I almost want to start Joique over Patterson.

  7. Nate says:

    i am in a 10 team PPR league. thinking about offering this trade:

    give: brady, e sanders, davis/asiata
    get: brees, wheaton/decker/maclin

    the dude has peterson and charles–his starting rbs right now are vereen and rainey. my other rbs are lacy and spiller. who is better for me to keep going forward–davis or asiata? also, should i just ask for wheaton, or could i pry decker or maclin off of him?

    thanks!

  8. Keegan says:

    I need a flex between Joique Bell, Toby Gerhart, Knile Davis, and Keenan Allen. I would normally go Allen, but in this league every time someone runs the ball or catches a pass it is a point,, so I feel better with a RB

  9. L – Sure why not make the offer, it doesn’t hurt. As for Pierce, you might as well shoot high, though I don’t think someone is going to give up too much for him (Charles/Ellington are pipe dreams, even though they are banged up). You could try Bell/Vereen class if you want, Stacy is a risk but could be realistic.

    Tyler Johnson – I would sit Edelman if you were going to sit someone because I could envision the Patriots going run heavy once again.

    Nate – You might as well try to get Decker/Maclin, then you can always backtrack. Long-term Asiata could be the better option, because he seems to have a job longer, but Davis is much better short-term.

    Keegan – I’d go Davis of that group, assuming Charles is out (which hasn’t been confirmed yet, but seems obvious)

  10. Smidge says:

    Non PPR.. I left West and Bradshaw on the bench last week in favor of Reggie Bush…(McCoy is my RB1)Bush has been a dud.. I know Green Bay is bad against the run… what do you think keep him rolling or not? If not who do you like West or Bradshaw.

  11. Andrew H says:

    Hey roto been offered montee ball and michael Floyd for Jamal Charles and Kendal wright in a ppr league. I have no rb debth and missed out on knile davis. I have leveon bell , Trent , Jeremy hill and jonathan Stewart. Should I do this seeing that I prob could use ball this week thx

  12. Penny says:

    Week 3 I have Ridley as my running back after Joique Bell. I benched Vereen. My wide receivers are Julio Jones and Andre Johnson. My flex is V. Jackson. Would Shane Vereen be a better flex? So confused. Thanks for your comments.

  13. brady says:

    If Jordan reed doesn’t play this week, could I consider dropping Bishop Sankey to grab a replacement tight end? It’s hard to tell when he is going to produce. My other options to drop would be Bernard Pierce, Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris Ivory, Cecil Shorts, Dwayne Bowe, or Reed himself. Thoughts?

  14. Andy says:

    Everyone always tell me start your stud, but I saw my Megatron only got 8 with Carolina, and Matt Forte only got 3.0 with 49ers last week.
    Now i am so confuse who to start for my RB:
    RB: Giovani Bernard, Ahmad Bradshaw
    and sit Terrance West and Matt Forte vs #1 Jet ?
    what do you think?
    My WRs: Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Randle Cobb
    My Flex: Vincent Jackson.
    Thanks

  15. Smidge – I would definitely stick with Bush based on the matchup and the performance he had against them at home last season. Bradshaw would probably be my second choice.

    Andrew H – who are your WR, because Floyd could represent a huge upgrade there as well? It’s a tough call, giving up on Charles due to the injury, but you also don’t want to let your season get away from you. Part of me would lean towards making it, though it depends on your WR.

    Penny – Tough to rely on both New England RB, but the matchup does justify it. The again, it’s not like Jackson is a bad option himself. I’d probably leave it the way you have it, though all should be productive (I’ve always been lower on Vereen than the masses, though)

    Brady – no chance you get that trade, but why not. As for who to drop. I’m not big on Ivory and think Sankey has much more long-term appeal. Bowe/Shorts could also be expendable, based on your WR situation.

    Andy – Can’t sit Forte, even against the Jets. Part of Forte’s problem last week was that they abandoned the run because they fell behind, there’s little chance of that happening against the Jets. I’d have him in there without a second thought, because more times than not he’s going to produce.

    • Andrew H says:

      I have Randall Cobb, Pierre garçon , Cecil shorts and Kendall wright. I feel like I could use a upgrade

      • Yea, I would agree with that. As long as it’s not a keeper league, where giving up Charles will have a lasting impact, I’d make the move. Just keep in mind that word is Charles’ injury isn’t that serious, and could ultimately only miss one or two weeks. That does make moving him that much riskier,

  16. Joey says:

    Asiata or Mark Ingram for rest of season?

  17. Bob says:

    With Bradshaw out performing T Richardson and Indy taking on Jacsonville which has been run all over this season, why do you rank Donald Brown against a stout Bills D (which he hasn’t seen much success with in the past) over Bradshaw? I currently have both and can start one. I normally go with your rankings but this made me curious.

    Thanks again

  18. Bob says:

    Would you drop Steven Jackson to pick up the injured Ben Tate in anticipation of week 5? Or play the waiting game and see if S. Jackson increases his performance / no one picks up Tate?

    Thanks again

  19. romo says:

    hello! stevan ridely, doug martin (bobby rainey). i can also achieve matt asiata. i need one. my other starter is reggie bush.

  20. Steve says:

    Who would you start at the flex position this week..Pierre Garçon or Steven Ridley?

  21. Bob – I,m guessing Ray did it that way due to Bradhaaw not necessarily being “the man”. I agree with you, though. I’d lean Byadshaw.

    Bob – who are your other backs? At this point it appears Tate will regain his job while Jackson is a lock to lose it, so if you don’t need Jackson I’d consider if.

    romo – I’d go Ridley, since New England should go run heavy again this week and Martin is a risk. In the second league, no way you sit Forte. I’d use him and either Jennings or Bradshaw, depending on which one you are more comfortable with.

    Steve – Ridley

    • Bob says:

      Thanks for the quick reply as always Professor, really appreciate your responsiveness and insight.

      Update:

      My starting backs for this week are Alfred Morris, Rashad Jennings, and Ahmad Bradshaw.

      My benched backs are Ryan Matthews, Donald Brown, Steven Jackson, and Ben Tate.

      Someone just dropped Carson Palmer and my QBs are Romo and Dalton. Is it worth it to drop one of my backs for Palmer? I was thinking either Tate or Jackson.

  22. StanCal says:

    Hello again Professor. As always, we all really appreciate your insight and hard work.

    I waited til the 10th and 11th to pick up Romo and Olsen at the qb and te spots. Seemed like great value, plus I loaded up depth at rb and wr. Olsen has predictably been a steal, but while I really don’t want to write off the potential of the decently powerful offensive lineup/O-line on paper that dallas has, Tony looks less like he’s just rusty and more like he is legitimately not well yet. The rest of the league all has backup qb’s, to the point where I’m left picking between the likes of tannehill, locker, and alex smith. Rough. Here’s what I’m working with:
    qb: Romo, Locker (tried streaming for a week, to no avail)
    rb: lacy, bernard, gore, spiller, hyde
    wr: bryant, Allen, colston, Floyd, cooks, benjamin
    te: olsen
    DST: texans (streaming)
    k: bryant
    I’m thinking about moving one or two of my positional players to bring in a Phillip Rivers-type player. I don’t want to completely discount romo in case he gets his act figured out, but at this point in the season I need a serviceable solution that can produce right now. What are your thoughts about giving up people in the spiller, floyd, colston, cooks-type range? ESPN standard non ppr 10 teams

  23. StanCal says:

    correction: bailey and not bryant at the kicker spot. Also, just for reference, the backup qb’s in play are of the dalton, rivers, big ben variety. Cheers and thanks for the input!

    • I appreciate the kind words and really appreciate everyone’s support. I couldn’t do this without you!

      As for the deal, Cooks would be the guy on my list I’d definitely shot ASAP. There could be someone in your league willing to overpay and he could lose looks to Kenny Stills. Like you said, though, I wouldn’t give up on Romo and I also happen to be a fan of Tannehill and his upside for this season

      • StanCal says:

        Thanks! I was leaning cooks as well. I Kobe his upside, but I feel like Colstons showing last week was an aberration and he will emerge as the top receiving option this side of Jimmy Graham. And as at most a 3rd or 4th option (even in a Brees offense), I don’t think Cooks will get enough touches and would be a good sell high candidate now. Any preference long-term between Dalton, Rivers, and that roughly 3rd tier of quarterbacks?

  24. shivy says:

    start jonathan stewart or chris ivory this week?

  25. Dale H says:

    Terrence west. Niles davis,andre ellington,brandon cooks, khiry robinson, dematco murry. Who is my two starting running backs and who is flex week 3.

  26. Billy T says:

    Hey professor, maybe you can help my dilemma. I’m in a PPR league so every pass completion counts for one point. I need to fill 2 more slots and I’m confused on who to sit between 3 players 1. Alfred Morris vs the Eagles 2.Darren Sproles vs Redskins or 3. Wes Welker vs Seahawks? The slots can be filled by RB or WR. I’m leaning towards Sproles and Welker since it’s PPR league and Morris doesn’t get many balls thrown his way, but on the other hand I feel Morris may be to good to sit. Should I sit Welker instead cause he may be rusty, or do you think Sproles won’t perform to the level of his first 2 games. Your input will be greatly appreciated.

  27. Dale H – If Charles is out RB – Murray & Davis and FLEX – Ellington if is Charles is playing RB are Murray & Ellington and FLEX is Robinson

    Billy T – Welker is an easy sit this week for me, especially against Seattle and with the other options they have.

  28. Rob T says:

    Quandry for RB2. Have Charles/Davis – would love if Charles rests for the week and Davis gets the start – I’d definitely start him. But if Charles has a chance of playing, would you go with Charles/Davis/Gerhart/Asiata/Pierce to go with Murry this week at RB? Thanks in advance for the time!

  29. Matt B says:

    RB2: Knile davis or spiller?
    Flex: ivory, terrance west, or garcon
    thanks again for the advice!

  30. romo says:

    hey roto. i have knile davis and leaven bell as my starters. j charles got some reps in so I’m uncertain if i should be worried about knile davis. sucks cuz they have a 1:30 game! my other rb is bernard pierce. i can also pick up zac stacy and lamar miller. should i pick em up or keep as it?

  31. Nelson says:

    Who would you start as my Wr3/Te? 1/4 ppr. Bowe, Wheaton, M Lee, D Adams.

  32. Rob T – I’d monitor the news to see what they are saying about Charles. Chances are Davis is going to be the play, because you have to thing Charles will be limited at best.

    Matt B – If Charles is out it’s Davis all the way. If it looks like Charles is going to play I’d go Spiller. As for the FLEX, if you use Davis I’d go with Spiller there. Otherwise it’s Garcon because West has a tough draw.

    romo – I’d grab Stacy and monitor the news on Charles.

    Nelson – I want to say Adams, given his QB. They all have tough draws/limited upside, though

  33. Steve says:

    Do I start Kniles or go with the sure thing and have Reggie Wayne at the flex? I have no other WR/RB in 4pm games to insert in case KC starts Jamaal. Thanks for the advice.

    • It’s a very tough call, but I’d probably play it safe and go Wayne. While Davis is going to play a role, regardless if Charles plays or not, you have a very good safe alternative.

      Part of it may depend on the rest of my roster, where if I felt I could afford the risk (Davis does have the higher upside).

  34. J says:

    Professor, waddup!

    Need some feedback on my team, working in a 12 team, non-ppr league. QB, WR, WR, RB, RB, TE, K, DEF

    QB- Luck, Newton
    WR-Cobb, Maclin, Gordon, Quick
    RB- Murray, Ball, J Bell, D Brown
    TE-Pitta, Cameron

    Couple things,

    Do I start ball? Should I try and make a power move with my backup QB, TE and Gordon?

    Thanks!

    • J says:

      And by power move I mean trade. Thanks.

    • I’d probably still run Ball out there, but if you are nervous Bell is a good fallback option. He has a favorable matchup, but could lose touches to Reggie Bush this week as they look to get him more involved.

      As for a trade, it never hurts to shop around. You could use a more immediate improvement at the back of your WR corps and RB depth is always useful for weeks like this.

  35. Steve Wong says:

    Thanks, Professor. These are my starters this wk:

    Kaepernick at QB
    Morris, Bush at RB
    Dez, Jordy, Andre at WR
    Kniles or Wayne at Flex
    Gates, Gostkowsi, and Saints

    Bench includes injured Ingram and Tate and suspended Gordon.

    • Ray Kuhn says:

      For obvious reasons, you are in good shape with your receivers, and Wayne might be the safer choice in flex depending on what we hear about Charles/Davis between now and 1pm

      Ray

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *