Fantasy Football RB Rankings Week 3: Who to start, best sleepers at running back


Last week provided thrilling victories, agonizing defeats, and a day-long rollercoaster at the running back position. Many fantasy football owners were riding high by the end of the weekend, while plenty others found themselves licking their wounds. Our Week 3 fantasy RB rankings for standard leagues will pick up the pieces, reset the table, and help you decide who’s gonna eat and who’s gonna be left sifting through scraps.

One guy who ate well: D’Andre Swift in the Eagles’ home opener. What a difference a week makes! In Week 1, Swift touched the ball twice and netted three total yards. In Week 2, he turned 31 touches into 181 yards and a TD. That made him one of the top backs of the week, even better than modern RB GOAT Christian McCaffrey and rookie Falcons star Bijan Robinson. 

That’s just some of the highlights, but there were plenty of lowlights, including Saquon Barkley (ankle) limping off the field at the end of the Giants’ triumphant comeback over the Cardinals. Detroit’s David Montgomery didn’t even limp off — he got carted to the locker room with a quad injury. And Cam Akers seems to have finally fallen out of favor in L.A. after being announced a healthy scratch ahead of the Rams-Niners tilt. We’ll discuss who the “next man up” will be for the G-Men, Lions, and Rams. 

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Let’s get right to it. Here are our RB rankings for Week 3 of the 2023 NFL season, including write-ups about the cream of the crop, potential sleepers and flops, and injuries of note to consider with add/drops. Good luck, have fun, check back often, and enjoy the ride!

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Who are the best fantasy RBs Week 3?

Austin Ekeler (@ Vikings) and Christian McCaffrey (vs. Giants) are the best of the best in PPR and standard — they are cheat codes, especially against these lame-duck defenses. Monitor Ekeler’s ankle throughout the week, but reports suggested he was nearly a go in Nashville last weekend, so he’s back to the top of our ranks. 

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Also appearing near the upper echelon, Falcons’ rookie Bijan Robinson (@ Lions) could wreak havoc on Motown this week. He looks more like a five-year vet as opposed to a fresh-faced 21-year-old. He’s right up there with the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard (@ Cardinals) and Jaguars’ Travis Etienne (vs. Texans), who also enjoy cake Week 3 matchups. On the other side of ATL’s matchup, Detroit’s Jahmyr Gibbs (vs. Falcons) should see a nice boost with David Montgomery hurt.

Some of the guys in the top 12 have less appealing matchups, like Josh Jacobs (vs. Steelers), Nick Chubb (vs. Titans), Derrick Henry (@ Browns), and Joe Mixon (vs. Rams). However, these guys command so much of their respective backfields — and have such well-established floors — that they remain among the best options going into Week 3. 

Who are the best fantasy RB sleepers, waiver pickups Week 3?

Jerome Ford (vs. Titans) is not only a must-roster player in the wake of Nick Chubb’s season-ending knee injury — but he’s probably a must-start, too. Ford demonstrated his solid vision and burst in his relief-effort performance on Monday night against a tough Steelers defense, so we’re not worried too much about Tennessee’s run D. Cleveland’s offensive line makes the lead dawg in the pound matchup-proof.

Last week we told you to target Ravens backs Justice Hill and Gus Edwards as sleepers in the wake of JK Dobbins’ season-ending Achilles’ tear. Now that Edwards (vs. Colts) just gashed Cincinnati for 62 yards and a TD on just 10 totes, he creeps into our top 25 in standard leagues. If he’s somehow still available in your league, you might want to unload 50 percent of your FAAB or use a high waiver priority on the Gus Bus. 

Speaking of Cincy, the Rams’ Kyren Williams (@ Bengals) has been awesome through two weeks and appears to be “the guy” in L.A. He takes his NFL-leading four TDs into the rematch of Super Bowl LVI, and we have no reason to think Williams won’t continue to excel. The Bengals surrendered 163 total yards to RBs in Week 1 and 115 scrimmage yards and a TD to RBs in Week 2. KW has needed 15 or fewer carries to produce 52 ground yards and a score in two straight weeks, and Matthew Stafford even found him for six catches, 48 yards, and a TD against the 49ers.

He’s not a sleeper per se, but the Texans’ Dameon Pierce (@ Jaguars) could be a good buy-low bounce-back candidate this week in Jacksonville. Houston’s offensive line has been very banged up, making things difficult for Pierce against Baltimore and Indy. If DeMeco Ryans’ line can get healthy by the weekend, look out — the Jags let Isiah Pacheco tally 70 yards on just 12 carries on Sunday. 

Regarding the Giants, we wouldn’t be nearly as excited about any of Saquon Barkley’s potential replacements after his ankle injury. The Giants face the 49ers in San Francisco on Thursday — so no matter what happens between now and then, we’ll be weary of starting a New York back. 

Who are the biggest potential fantasy RB busts Week 3?

Things haven’t started swimmingly for the Jets’ Breece Hall (vs. Patriots). Aaron Rodgers’ injury stung, but the offensive line’s underwhelming run-blocking hasn’t helped. Now Gang Green has a date with New England, an early-season matchup Bill Belichick always seems to have circled on his calendar in big green Sharpie ink. 

We knocked the Buccaneers’ Rachaad White (vs. Eagles) way down despite his 100-yard, one-TD effort against Chicago in Week 2. Philadelphia’s d-line is a much different animal than the Bears. We have similar reservations when it comes to Arizona’s James Conner (vs. Cowboys), who has been surprisingly efficient so far this season but draws perennial DPOY candidate Micah Parsons and the Cowboys this weekend. 

What are the biggest RB injuries Week 3?

UPDATE (9/19): Nick Chubb’s devastating knee injury on Monday Night Football obviously headlines this list, with the Browns’ veteran out for at least the rest of the season. As we mentioned in the sleepers section, Jerome Ford should be a priority add wherever he’s available. 

As we mentioned in the beginning, we’ll have to keep our eye on Saquon Barkley (ankle) and David Montgomery (quad) throughout the week. Saquon was noticeably distraught after limping off the field, clearly worried that he’ll miss time in his “bet-on-yourself” campaign (he signed a one-year deal in hopes of landing a big contract following the season). 

Montgomery (quad) also doesn’t seem like a promising situation. The Lions veteran needed a cart to go back to the locker room following the injury, which was initially disclosed as a thigh. He later surmised that he could need “a couple weeks” to heal. We thought it was pumpkin spice season, but as it turns out, it might be Jahmyr Gibbs SZN. 

We’ll also have to watch Austin Ekeler (ankle), Kenneth Gainwell (ribs), and Aaron Jones (hamstring) after they missed last week. We tentatively expect all to play, but their presences will obviously have a big effect handcuffs Joshua Kelley (@ Vikings), D’Andre Swift (@ Buccaneers), and AJ Dillon (vs. Saints). 

We’ll continue to update our standard RB rankings throughout the week, so check back for updates.

Fantasy RB Rankings Week 3: Who to start, sit at running back

Rankings based on standard, non-PPR scoring

Rank    Player
1    Austin Ekeler, Chargers @ Vikings
2    Christian McCaffrey, 49ers vs. Giants
3    Bijan Robinson, Falcons @ Lions
4    Travis Etienne, Jaguars vs. Texans
5    Tony Pollard, Cowboys @ Cardinals
6    Josh Jacobs, Raiders vs. Steelers
7    Kenneth Walker III, Seahawks vs. Panthers
8    Joe Mixon, Bengals vs. Rams
9    Derrick Henry, Titans @ Browns
10    Aaron Jones, Packers vs. Saints
11    Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots @ Jets
12    Isiah Pacheco, Chiefs vs. Bears
13    Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions vs. Falcons
14    James Cook, Bills @ Commanders
15    Miles Sanders, Panthers @ Seahawks
16    Jerome Ford, Browns vs. Titans
17    Najee Harris, Steelers @ Raiders
18    Javonte Williams, Broncos @ Dolphins
19    Kyren Williams, Rams @ Bengals
20    Dameon Pierce, Texans @ Jaguars
21    Gus Edwards, Ravens vs. Colts
22    Breece Hall, Jets vs. Patriots
23    Khalil Herbert, Bears @ Chiefs
24    Alexander Mattison, Vikings vs. Chargers
25    Jamaal Williams, Saints @ Packers
26    D’Andre Swift, Eagles @ Buccaneers
27    James Conner, Cardinals vs. Cowboys
28    Tyler Allgeier, Falcons @ Lions
29    Rachaad White, Buccaneers vs. Eagles
30    Zack Moss, Colts @ Ravens
31    Ezekiel Elliott, Patriots @ Jets
32    Brian Robinson Jr., Commanders vs. Bills
33    Raheem Mostert, Dolphins vs. Broncos
34    Roschon Johnson, Bears @ Chiefs
35    Chuba Hubbard, Panthers @ Seahawks
36    Dalvin Cook, Jets vs. Patriots
37    Samaje Perine, Broncos @ Dolphins
38    Justice Hill, Ravens vs. Colts 
39    Joshua Kelley, Chargers @ Vikings
40    Latavius Murray, Bills @ Commanders
41    Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles @ Buccaneers
42    Jerick McKinnon, Chiefs vs. Bears
43    AJ Dillon, Packers vs. Saints
44    Matt Breida, Giants @ 49ers
45    Zach Charbonnet, Seahawks vs. Panthers
46    Tank Bigsby, Jaguars vs. Texans
47    Elijah Mitchell, 49ers vs. Giants
48    Kendre Miller, Saints @ Packers
49    Deon Jackson, Colts @ Ravens
50    Michael Carter, Jets vs. Patriots
51    Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs vs. Bears
52    Jaylen Warren, Steelers @ Raiders
53    Antonio Gibson, Commanders vs. Bills
54    Tyjae Spears, Titans @ Browns
55    De’Von Achane, Dolphins vs. Broncos
56    Damien Harris, Bills @ Commanders 
57    Sean Tucker, Buccaneers vs. Eagles
58    Rashaad Penny, Eagles @ Buccaneers

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