The Running Back picture in the NFL changed dramatically once again this week as players who had struggled the first two weeks stepped up and some of the leading backs from the first two weeks of the season went down due to injury. Make sure to check FantasyCPR tomorrow for the latest on C.J. Spiller, Reggie Bush, and Ahmad Bradshaw among our injury reports and check our positional rankings to see who you should start this coming weekend.
Before we get too focused on the upcoming week though, let’s take one more look back at the running backs who lit it up in week three and what you should expect from them going forward.
1. Jamaal Charles-Kansas City Chiefs
Charles owners were so ripped after his performance the first two weeks that they had Charles on the bench when the Chiefs visited New Orleans. Hopefully that wasn’t you. After rushing six times for a not-so-impressive three yards in Buffalo week two, Charles took 33 carries for 233 yards and a touchdown against New Orleans making him by far the top running back of the week. He added six catches for 55 yards for an amazing 288 total yards.
Charles looked like he’s all the way back and should be in line for plenty of touches with Peyton Hillis’ status unclear after leaving with an ankle injury. This week the Chiefs host their divisional-rival the Chargers and expect Charles to be in the top 10 in our rankings coming out tomorrow.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew-Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD has also had a rough first few weeks before a more predictable breakout against the Colts in Indy. Jones-Drew ran for 177 yards on 28 carries and scored a touchdown in the Jags late win as they picked up their first win of the season.
Going forward, the Jags should be back to the plan giving him the ball as much as possible after he worked his way back after his holdout. He’s by far the most potent offensive weapon the Jaguars have.
Expect another good game from MJD as the Bengals come to Jacksonville on Sunday.
3. Andre Brown-New York Giants
The only running back with multiple rushing touchdowns this week played all the way back on Thursday when Brown exploded onto the scene as the Giants rolled the Panthers 36-7. Brown took his 20 carries for a pair of scores and 113 yards while adding three catches for 17 more. Brown looks to be fantasy relevant moving forward regardless of what Ahmad Bradshaw’s status is. Brown could easily fill the platoon spot vacated by Brandon Jacobs when Bradshaw returns.
The Giants visit the Eagles in week four so check to see whether Bradshaw expects to be back or if the Giants will go with Brown full-time. If he’s the clear number one in New York he’ll be a high-end RB2 in my rankings this week.
4. Ray Rice-Baltimore Ravens
Rice hasn’t blown the doors off any of his first three games but has been solid throughout the young season. Sunday Night he ran for 101 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown and added 5 catches for 49 yards. He’s definitely a top option for Thursday Night when the Ravens host the Browns.
5. Mikel Leshoure-Detroit Lions
Leshoure should be owned in every league. If he’s not in yours, he needs to be your top priority. He was actually available in over 60% of ESPN leagues even early on Tuesday morning. He will be the Lions workhorse back as they showed on Sunday handing him the ball 26 times in his season debut. Leshoure ran for exactly 100 yards and scored a touchdown while adding four catches for 34 more yards.
Leshoure and the Lions host Minnesota in what should be another high-scoring game making him a great addition and a great play this coming week.
Honorable Mention: Darren McFadden-Oakland Raiders, Arian Foster-Houston Texans, Michael Turner-Atlanta Falcons