Welcome to my running back rankings for Week 3 fantasy football.
Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara take over the top two spots with Christian McCaffrey (ankle) out for weeks and Saquon Barkley (ACL) out for the year. Jonathan Taylor comes in at No. 3, to the delight of his drafters. James Conner returns to the thick of the RB1 group after silencing his doubters in Week 2. Jerick McKinnon and Mike Davis come in as mid-range RB2s as their team’s respective starters for the time being. Jacksonville Jaguars’ running back James Robinson has established himself as a reliable RB2 with outstanding upside as he walks into a Florida showdown against the hapless Miami Dolphins’ defense. Rookie backs Joshua Kelley and Antonio Gibson find themselves in RB2 territory. The latter is primed to establish his presence in the NFL, while the former has already done so. D’Andre Swift has earned rights to flex consideration.
Week 3’s Tiered Running Back Rankings
|High Floor/High Ceiling RB1s
|High Floor/High Ceiling RB1s
|It's tough to overstate how bad Seattle's defensive line is.
|Target uptick with Michael Thomas out.
|Sterling matchup gives Taylor overall RB1 potential.
|There is no running back committee in Philadelphia. It's all Sanders.
|Henry's weekly workload should finally yield high-end RB1 results this week.
|Battle of the Backs in Tennessee.
|The ankle injury was a non-issue in Week 2 and now the bellcow gets Houston's paltry front-seven.
|Detroit's hapless front-seven doesn't stand a chance.
|Not an easy defense to run on but this game has high-end shootout potential.
|Tough matchup but the dual threat usage should help negate it.
|WAS D-Line is stout but Cleveland should be able to score early and keep Chubb in RB1 territory.
|The Panthers are fantasy's most friendly defense.
|High Floor/High Ceiling RB2s
|Carson's passing game usage has been consistent for two weeks now.
|Mixon's passing game usage last week was promising.
|Brutal matchup but should see 20 or so carries, assuming his shoulder issue doesn't cause problems. As foretold in the Team Previews and rankings of Weeks 1 and 2, his passing game usage is slipping. Hat tip to Dwain McFarland on the usage data, sourced below.
|It's all systems go for SF's current lead back. Great matchup.
|Robinson has a great matchup on his hands with plenty of volume to boot.
|Chicago's defense is largely a pushover but Gurley's usage is not secure.
|Volume keeps Gordon afloat against the vaunted Bucs' D.
|Davis posted a perfect 8/8 receiving line (h/t Adam Levitan, sourced below) after CMC exited last week's game. He should see the overwhelming majority of touches for the duration of McCaffrey's injury absence. Tough matchup though.
|Points-a-plenty in this one. KC's run defense can't stop anything and Ingram has maintained lead back duties, if narrowly, through the first two weeks.
|Kelley's No. 2 status on the depth chart hurts his ceiling. Both he and Ekeler have 35 carries on the season though and Kelley's got the team's lone RB rushing touchdown thus far. Against Carolina, Kelley is a rock solid option with 18 or so touches expected.
|Atlanta's defense puts Montgomery's ceiling firmly in RB2 territory. The Bears' offense is his biggest hindrance.
|Per Rotoworld's Hayden Winks, Antonio Gibson saw a massive increase in usage between Weeks 1 and 2. Cleveland's unimposing run defense is the perfect time to showcase his fantasy potential. Gibson announces his presence in Week 3.
|High Floor/Capped Ceiling RB3s
|Cam Akers may not play (ribs) and while Malcolm Brown is expected to be available, he had surgery to fix a broken pinky finger on Monday. Buffalo's defense is dangerous but Myles Gaskin was able to produce a PPR-floor last week. With Henderson being the only back likely to see real passing game work, he's a decent back-end RB2.
|Fournette just might be the team's No. 1 RB. His passing game usage was solid in Week 2.
|Gaskin's has rocked a 63-65% snap share over the first two weeks of the season. He's Miami's No. 1 RB and he's got a delicious matchup against Jacksonville's hapless defense on tap this week.
|The Ravens backs should run wild against KC.
|Jeff Wilson Jr.
|Wilson Jr. has proven to be a talented rusher near the goal line under Shanahan's watch. Expect him to find paydirt as the Niners try not to overload McKinnon, whose ACL-reconstruction recovery took far longer than normal.
|Hunt's pass catching ability will be needed to neutralize Washington's pass rush.
|Brutal matchup but volume keeps him in the RB2 conversation. Buy-low on him this week, if you're a believer. Minnesota and Jacksonvile in Weeks 4 and 5 should be fruitful.
|Shaky Floor/Capped Ceiling RB3s
|Theoretically Gallman should lead the backfield in touches. It's a risky backfield to bet on with the acquisition of Devonta Freeman though.
|Swift's passing game usage should come into play against the Cards' high-flying offense.
|Singletary offers little upside but it's a decent matchup.
|Jones should see 30-40% of the backfield touches.
|Brown should see 10 or so carries in this one.
|The transfer of power has taken longer than expected.
|Vegas' offense should push the Pats to throw.
|Lewis should own rights to the Giants' passing game usage in this one.
|Arizona's defense doesn't offer much. Peterson could grind his way to a touchdown on 12 or so carries.
|Scott's change-of-pace role could be fruitful with such a good matchup.
|The Colts established Wilkins as the No. 2 back when the team is winning.
|Breida's 10 or so touches might be enough for low-end flex value against such a bad defense.
|Shootout potential that could lead to Pollard targets.
|Mattison should provide a change of pace in this clock-killing matchup.
|These teams should trade blows and Edmonds might get some work because of it.
|It's possible Hines gets work early but don't count on it. Indy should jump out to an early lead and control the clock with Jonathan Taylor and Jordan Wilkins.
|Gettleman is likely to mandate that the team force their newly signed, washed up running back into the offense. Expect Freeman to be the No. 1 back next week.
Sourced links: Dwain McFarland on Josh Jacobs’ passing game usage, Todd Gurley’s snap share, Adam Levitan on Mike Davis’ 8/8 receiving line, Myles Gaskins’ PPR production against the Buffalo Bills, Hayden Winks on Antonio Gibson’s upward trending usage, Malcolm Brown’s Monday pinky finger surgery, and Leonard Fournette’s passing game usage.