Fantasy Football 2012 Week 3 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Eric StashinSenior Writer ISeptember 19, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 09:   C.J. Spiller #28 of the Buffalo Bills runs against the New York Jets during their season opener at MetLife Stadium on September 9, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

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 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 two 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 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, Jamaal 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:

 Top 25 Quarterbacks
Top 25 Tight Ends


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