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The Cutback: Running Back Start/Sit Week 3

Week 3 is here, and the DynastyNerds writers are back once again to provide you with your weekly starts and sits, and we’re here to talk running backs.

Welcome Back! Week 3 is here, and the DynastyNerds writers are back once again to provide you with your weekly starts and sits. We will be making our recommendations based on weekly consensus PPR rankings from FantasyPros. Here are the cast and the position groups they will be covering to help you win your week. Follow their socials, and be sure to check out their picks for this week as well.

A Quick Note: These are recommendations based on matchups, previous performance and other contributing factors. These are not law. Any questions? The DMs are always open.

Week 2 Hit/Miss Recap


Kareem Hunt: Hit – RB6

David Montgomery: Hit – RB8

Mark Ingram: Hit – RB19


Melvin Gordon: Miss – RB18

Malcolm Brown: Hit – RB57

Adrian Peterson: Hit – RB61

I think going 5-of-6 his a pretty good week. Gordon outperformed my expectations en route to a top-24 week, and he’s played pretty well through two weeks. I’m still not sure if he’ll be able to maintain that throughout the year, but he’s giving you the value you were hoping for as things stand right now. 

I’ll say that Hunt and Montgomery outperformed by RB2 expectations that I had for them, but I’m not going to complain. They won me some money in DFS lineups, and it was great to see Hunt succeed alongside teammate Nick Chubb, who finished as RB4 on the week. Ingram is making me nervous about his long-term potential for the year, but I’ll live with RB2 performances if he can do that every week.


Jerick McKinnon, San Franciso 49ers

I feel as though I’m boosting up a San Fran running back every week recently, but it’s always for a good reason. This team loves to run the football, and they’re one of the league’s best teams at doing it. With all of the other injuries they’re dealing with, McKinnon seems like a lock to produce in fantasy leagues in Week 3.

First, let’s start with the matchup. The New York Giants have not been good at defending the run. Benny Snell went over the 100-yard mark, and Montgomery averaged 5.1 yards per carry against them. I think McKinnon is between those two in talent level, but his scheme is better than either of theirs. The 49ers are dealing with a ton of injuries, but none of them are to any of their offensive linemen. 

Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are expected to miss this game, and McKinnon will become the starter by default. Since he joined San Francisco, his only enemy has been health. Now that he’s on the field, there isn’t anything that can take touches from him. If you have McKinnon or can get a shot at him for this week, he can safely provide you with RB2 production with RB1 upside.

James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers

Normally, I’m not boosting up Conner. In season-long and dynasty formats, I’m always fading him for other options. In Week 3, I’m going to the well, and I think he’s got a great chance to finish high this week. Pittsburgh made it clear that, as long as he’s healthy, Conner will be the lead guy. He had 18 touches compared to just four for teammate Benny Snell Jr. Conner is healthy this week, and he’s getting my nod.

In his three seasons, Conner has shown that he doesn’t need a high volume of touches to be useful in fantasy. In the 18 games, he has gotten at least ten rushing attempts, he has averaged 21.72 points per game. That’s a 12 point up over the other seven games. As long as he doesn’t exit early, he’s going to get at least ten carries.

To top it all off, he has an outstanding matchup this week. The Houston Texans have been run through in back-to-back weeks, and that’s going to continue. Ben Roethlisberger has the passing ability to keep boxes light, which makes Conner’s life easier. Rather than running into eight-man boxes on every snap, he’s going to see light fronts, and this offensive line can give him room to work this week.

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s taken me two weeks, but I’m buying in. Undrafted rookie James Robinson has seized this starting job, and he’s playing extremely well. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry through two weeks, and he improved his receiving work from Week 1 to Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans. Against the Miami Dolphins, fire up the rookie to see what he can do.

Against Miami last week, the Buffalo Bills averaged 4.9 yards per carry, and they weren’t even contending with Josh Allen as heavily as he ran in Week 1. Allen only ran four times for 19 yards. Gardner Minshew isn’t the passing threat that Allen is, but, with Byron Jones out for the Dolphins, throwing will be much easier.

You likely picked up Robinson as an insurance running back, and that’s what you need right now. Starting running backs like Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley are out, and you need someone to put into your lineups. I doubt that Robinson will finish in the top 12 at his position this week, but I have a good bit of confidence that he finishes in the top 24 to be an RB2 for the week.


David Johnson, Houston Texans

In Week 1, Johnson turned in a solid performance, and he was actually RB10 in PPR for the week. In Week 2, he came back to Earth against the Baltimore Ravens, and I don’t see him bucking that trend in the near future. This offense looks flat and vanilla, and it’s going to get more difficult for him to move the ball productively against a Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense that has stymied a couple of solid running backs through the first two weeks of the season.

The primary concern that I have with Johnson is that his struggles in Week 2 compared to Week 1 have nothing to do with volume. He saw just one less touch, and he had 12.9 fewer points. Teammate Duke Johnson missed Week 2 with a leg injury, but there is a real possibility he returns for Week 3. If that were the case, he would directly cut into Johnson’s workload, which means fewer scoring opportunities.

With all of the injuries we’ve seen in the first two weeks of the season, there is a real possibility that you have no choice but to play him. Against the Steelers, I’d strongly advise against that. Seeing him finish outside the top 30 at the position wouldn’t stun me in the slightest this week. If he falls into the end zone, that will be your only saving grace, but don’t count on it.

Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons

Gurley started the season on a decent note with just over 13 PPR points in Week 1, but he stumbled in Week 2. He averaged only 2.90 yards per carry on 21 attempts against the Dallas Cowboys, and his matchup doesn’t get any easier in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears. The Bears held Dion Lewis to just 20 yards on ten carries following the injury to Saquon Barkley, and the Falcons’ front is dealing with a couple of injuries of their own.

Tackles Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary were both held out of practice on Wednesday, and that’s not good news for Gurley, who will be dealing with Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn in his lap regularly. Additionally, the Bears have the linebackers in Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan to hang with Gurley coming out of the backfield.

Gurley saw zero targets in Week 2 despite quarterback Matt Ryan throwing 36 passing attempts. The upside of Gurley in Atlanta was being the sole option in the backfield. He’s still the only option in the backfield, but he does not see enough of a workload to be fantasy viable in a bad matchup. If you can find a better option on your roster, you should put them in your lineup this week.

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As someone who grabbed Leonard Fournette as their RB2 or RB3 in many leagues, this is brutal to say. Considering he’s coming off of a week that saw him finish as the RB3 overall in PPR, you have to assume he’s going to become the lead guy, right? If you were listening to coach Bruce Arians in the days following the game, you would be mistaken because he made it clear that was not the case.

For his career, Fournette is averaging 4.0 yards per carry, and he has been the lead back since he was in elementary school playing peewee leagues. Meanwhile, Jones has a career average of 3.9, and he’s only averaging 3.7 yards per tote this season. However, Arians prefers his ability in pass protection, and he still has a better grasp on the offense than Fournette, who has only been in town for two weeks.

His workload from Week 1 increased by a total of 10 touches. That’s great, but you have to consider a couple of small things. 71 of his 103 rushing yards from Week 2 came on two carries. One of those went for a long touchdown to seal the game late. I love Fournette, and I still think he becomes the full starter by the end of the year. As things stand now, you can’t trust him in your lineups for now.

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