Sep 18, 2013

Week 3 Shuffle: Running Back

Listed are the Top 60 RBs for the upcoming week.  Rankings are based on the projected mean performance without any specific team context on who you should start.  Sometimes you need to start the lower of two players due to upside or a high floor, so things are fluid.  As always, players can move up or down as we approach kickoff.  So please indulge yourself & dissect our list from top to bottom.  Let's Go!

Tier 1:
1. Jamaal Charles @PHI
2. Marshawn Lynch vs JAC
3. Alfred Morris vs DET
4. Doug Martin @NE
5. LeSean McCoy vs KC
6. Adrian Peterson vs CLE
7. Darren McFadden @DEN
8. Matt Forte @PIT
9. Knowshon Moreno vs OAK
10. Joique Bell @WAS
11. Darren Sproles vs ARI
12. Bernard Pierce vs HOU

 - Joique Bell and Bernard Pierce are both making their first appearance in must-start RB territory.  Their presence alone as stand-ins for their weekly starters should tell you this is a brutal week for running backs.  Adrian Peterson finds himself "sliding" down the rankings to number #6 against a very underrated Cleveland front seven.  Excluding his first carry of the year that went for 77 yards against Detroit AD has looked far more average then the fantasy world wants to admit.  Maybe it's just a blip on the radar but another poor showing this week might cause me to consider selling high.  Moreno finds himself in the top 10 after solidifying his starting job last week.  That cushy run defense against Oakland should net owners at least 60 yards and a score.  McFadden & Sproles have given their owners a strong ROI to start the year and barring injury should keep the nice returns going this week.

Tier 2:
13. Arian Foster @BAL
14. Chris Johnson vs SD
15. Lamar Miller vs ATL
16. C.J. Spiller @NYJ
17. DeAngelo Williams vs NYG
18. DeMarco Murray vs STL
19. Stevan Ridley vs TB
20. Frank Gore vs IND
21. Ryan Mathews @TEN
22. James Starks @CIN
23. Rashad Mendenhall @NO
24. David Wilson @CAR

- The second tier running backs are filled with countless questions this week.  Will Stevan Ridley and David Wilson finally rebound from their awful starts to the year?  Which DeMarco Murray will we see?  Did I really draft C.J. Spiller in the first round?  Is Ben Tate going to slowly take the starting job from Arian?  Really, I'm starting James Starks?  Mendenhall, Miller & DeAngelo all have intriguing matchups, but none of them have a guarantee to get the lions share of the carries this week.  This is essentially a list of RBs owners will be starting this week wishing they had a better option.

Tier 3:
25. Giovani Bernard vs GB
26. Bilal Powell vs BUF
27. Reggie Bush @WAS
28. Daryl Richardson @DAL
29. BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs GB
30. Trent Richardson @SF
31. Fred Jackson @NYJ
32. Maurice Jones-Drew @SEA
33. Chris Ivory vs BUF
34. Pierre Thomas vs ARI
35. Ben Tate @BAL
36. Willis McGahee @MIN

- Typical fantasy rules say "If you don't start a RB at Flex you are an idiot".  This year & especially this week, there are far too many reasons to go against this old school way of thinking.  No one here is a safe bet to do anything of note.  The Cincinnati backs still haven't figured out who the leading man is.  Bush & MJD are both game time decisions and could easily put up a DNP-CD.  Trent Richardson is entering a new playbook on a short week against a top tier defense.  Powell & Ivory play for the Jets.  Willis McGahee has been in street clothes for the first two weeks begging a team to take a chance on him, but you shouldn't.  Lots of ugly questions with extremely low floors available here, it's really hard to strongly endorse anyone.

Tier 4:
37. Jacquizz Rodgers @MIA
38. Andre Ellington @NO
39. Robert Turbin vs JAC
40. Jason Snelling @MIA
41. Daniel Thomas vs ATL
42. Montee Ball vs OAK
43. Ahmad Bradshaw @SF
44. Felix Jones vs CHI
45. Chris Ogbonnaya @MIN
46. Mark Ingram vs ARI
47. Bobby Rainey @MIN
48. Brandon Jacobs @CAR

- Most experts believe Jacquizz will be getting the majority of touches against Miami this week, but I have a strong feeling Jason Snelling is going to split evenly with Rodgers.  Ellington has the best upside if Mendenhall is listed as OUT, but everything here is pretty gross.  Ball & Turbin could see some late game carries in garbage time.  Felix Jones is the "starter" in Pittsburgh, but that situation might be the ugliest in the league.  Ogbonnaya & Rainey project to split evenly with McGahee, so they'll touch the ball.  Ingram is questionable and it seems like hasn't had over 50 yards in a single game for his career.  Hopefully you have better options then starting any of these guys in Week 3.

Tier 5:
49. Jordan Todman @SEA
50. Kendall Hunter vs IND
51. Justin Forsett @SEA
52. Isaac Redman vs CHI
53. Brandon Boldin vs TB
54. Da'Rel Scott @CAR
55. Danny Woodhead @TEN
56. Bryce Brown vs KC
57. Mike Tolbert vs NYG
58. LeGarrette Blount vs TB
59. Alfonso Smith @NO
60. Isaiah Pead @DAL

- No one listed here should get a start, but if you happened to draft Ray Rice, Steven Jackson & Eddie Lacy this section is made just for you.  We got a Thursday night preview of what this list looks like with Bryce Brown getting 3 touches for 7 yards.  Everyone here should get their 2+ touches, but if you are seriously considering starting one of these backs, you are in trouble.  That is, you should be in "time to tank for next year" mode.  You are the Cleveland Browns.

Check out all our Week 2 Rankings: QB RB WR TE LB DL DB K D/ST

As always, read & discuss.  You can reach me on Twitter @ClevRocks_James or comment your (dis)agreements below.

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