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Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 3 running backs

Only three running backs have been among the top ten NFL fantasy scorers in Week 1 and Week 2. Who will rise and fall in Week 3?


CJ Anderson and Todd Gurley were regular fixtures on the weekly NFL fantasy leaderboard in 2015. After relatively quiet seasons last year, the pair took the top two spots in Week 2 with a combined 51 points. Both are must-starts in Week 3. Here are a few more running backs I think you should start or sit in this week. 

Start This Guy: Jonathan Stewart, Carolina (vs New Orleans)

Carolina wants to avoid a shooting match against New Orleans this week. Their new short passing game will be supplemented by a serious dose of Jonathan Stewart runs, along with a smattering of Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey might outgain Stewart, but the veteran gets the goal line calls. That will put him in the top ten NFL fantasy leaderboard for the second time in 2017. 

Sit This Guy: Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville (vs Baltimore (In London))

It’s hard to tell you to sit a guy with Fournette’s skill set destined to touch the ball 20-25 times. But if there is one team that can rein in the Jaguars’ biggest offensive threat, it is the Baltimore Ravens. Tennessee held him to 61 total yards in Week 2, but a touchdown made him the RB14 for the week. Fournette is in store for the same kind of game this week, without the score. If you have a good streaming option on the bench, play him. 

Start This Guy: Duke Johnson Jr, Cleveland (at Indianapolis) 

Head coach Hue Jackson is under the gun from fans and pundits about his play calling in the first two weeks. He wrote off Kenny Britt based on one dropped pass and shut down the running game two weeks in a row because of first-half struggles. Meanwhile, Duke Johnson is plugging along. He provided a highlight reel catch last week and a 16-yard run. This week, whether the team is passing or sticking with the run, Duke Johnson is the running back who counts… and scores. He is a must-start, especially in PPR leagues with 90 total yards and a touchdown.

Sit This Guy: Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay (at Minnesota)

Rodgers took 19 carries and made 67 yards out of them. A touchdown made him the RB13 for Week 2. Once the game got out of hand, Peyton Barber took a good share of the work, so it’s possible he could have gained more in a tight game. This week’s game is not likely to get out of hand. Minnesota’s defense held Mark Ingram and Le’Veon Bell to 16 fantasy points combined over the first two weeks. Motivated to keep the game within reach of a wounded starting quarterback or his backup, the Vikings will bottle up Rodgers in Week 3.

Start This Guy: Chris Johnson, Arizona (vs Dallas)

Dallas was served a serious wakeup call in Denver this past week, and the young Cowboys did not handle it well. Arizona did not play the Denver Broncos, but their late-game comeback did more than boost their confidence a bit. It provided insight as to who the best players are to continue forward. Chris Johnson won the starting running back nod for Week 3. With the help of field-stretching wide receivers, he will be the main weapon in an effort to keep the Dallas offense off the field. The rust came off last week. This week, he is good for 80 yards and a touchdown. 

Sit This Guy: Javorius Allen, Baltimore (at Jacksonville in London) 

Jacksonville’s defense was practically a wall for the first six quarters of the season. They imploded after a big punt return, allowing a 17-yard touchdown run that opened the floodgates for Tennessee. Meanwhile, Allen had a nice day against Cleveland. In Week 3, Jacksonville’s defense will be out to prove last week’s second half was an anomaly. Baltimore’s offense is predictable and the Jaguars will be all over Allen. The travel scenario might play a role, too. Jacksonville has this London operation down pat, while Baltimore does not.

Five guys we shouldn’t have to mention

Todd Gurley will have his way with the San Francisco 49ers. CJ Anderson has a tough opponent but will wear down the Bills defense eventually. Jay Ajayi will run all over the Jets and Ty Montgomery will do the same to Cincinnati. Devonta Freeman will keep things rolling against the Detroit Lions as well.

Week 3 flash-in-the-pan prediction

New England’s Dion Lewis becomes the running back of the week for the Patriots scoring on a 20+ yard run and a 20+ yard pass in the Patriots’ big victory. 

Full disclosure about Week 2

Last week, my recommendations were a 50/50 proposition. I started CJ Anderson (RB1) and Devonta Freeman (RB6). But I also thought Thomas Rawls would have a big game. I correctly sat the Detroit runners (RB26 and 49), but also sat Jacquizz Rodgers (RB13) and Carlos Hyde (RB10).

Check back next week to see if I do better in Week 3. 

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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 3 running backs

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