Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em NFL Week 3: Running Backs - Sports Illustrated

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 3: Running Backs

Week 3 start 'em and sit 'em recommendations for the running back position from senior fantasy football expert Michael Fabiano.

Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate weekly look at the NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team. Fantasy superstars such as Patrick Mahomes and Alvin Kamara will not be featured in this column. All player matchups are based on a PPR scoring system.

Be sure to check out my Week 3 PPR rankings before finalizing any lineup decisions or if your league has special scoring rules, sign up for SI Fantasy+ for customized rankings. Members also get access to myself and our team of high-stakes winners all week long to answer your specific fantasy questions.

Week 3 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

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Week 3 Start 'Em: Running Backs

Start of the Week

Kenyan Drake vs. Lions

While it’s been only two games, Drake isn’t ranked among the top 20 backs in PPR points. That's bad news for those who drafted him in Rounds 1 or 2. Here's the good news: He has a sweetheart matchup upcoming against the Lions. This unit has given up the third-most scrimmage touchdowns (21) and the third-most fantasy points (36.1 PPG) to opposing runners since last season. So while he hasn’t been great, I still love Drake this week.

Start ‘Em

David Montgomery at Falcons

Montgomery is a tough back to trust in fantasy leagues, but his arrow does seem to be pointing up. He was the centerpiece of the Bears offense last week, as he led the team in both rushing and receiving. He also saw more snaps (35) than Tarik Cohen (21). Against the Falcons, he's in the flex conversation. Atlanta allowed four total scores to running backs over the first two games.

Jerick McKinnon at Giants

McKinnon was a favorite DFS bargain of mine last week, and he made good with 77 yards on the ground and a touchdown against the Jets. He has another New York opponent next on the schedule, this time the Giants, at MetLife Stadium. The G-Men have allowed nice stat lines to Benny Snell Jr. and David Montgomery in their first two games, so McKinnon should find success with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman both injured.

Mike Davis at Chargers

Davis looks like the new starter in Carolina, as Christian McCaffrey will miss at least four weeks with an ankle sprain. This week’s matchup against the Chargers isn’t great on paper, but this is a volume start, folks. Last week when game script demanded the Panthers throw the ball, Davis had eight targets and eight catches in a loss to the Bucs. He’s shown some flashes in the past, too, so consider the veteran a viable flex play this week.

Joshua Kelley vs. Panthers

The Carolina defense is an absolute train wreck against the run. Want proof? Well, backs have averaged 46 points per game against them since the start of last season. 46! No other team has allowed more than 37. Enter Kelley, who has taken over the “Melvin Gordon role” in Los Angeles. Last week, he carried the football 23 times and had more touches than Austin Ekeler. The matchup and volume make Kelley a solid flex starter.

More Starts

  • James Conner vs. Texans
  • Chris Carson vs. Cowboys
  • Devin Singletary vs. Rams

DFS Bargains

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Week 3 Sit 'Em: Running Backs

Sit of the Week

Todd Gurley vs. Bears

Chances are you have to start Gurley this week, but you don’t have to like it. He’s averaging just 3.3 yards per rush thus far, and he hasn’t broken a single tackle in his first two games. Gurley also wasn’t used in the passing game last week, and both Brian Hill and Ito Smith were mixed into the backfield. At this point, Gurley almost needs to find the end zone to have any value. At best, he's a risk-reward, back-of-the-line No. 2 runner.

Sit ‘Em

Mark Ingram II vs. Chiefs

Ingram was listed as a Sit 'Em in this column last week, but he had a decent line (15.7 points). However, almost 60 percent of those points came on one run, and he was out-carried by Gus Edwards. The Ravens backfield is now a three-headed monster with Ingram, Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins in the mix, so all three have a poor floor weekly. The Chiefs haven't been great against backs, but Ingram's touch share makes him a gamble.

Ronald Jones at Broncos

Well, it took about a game and a half before Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians made the move from Jones to Leonard Fournette. Reports suggest Jones landed in the doghouse due to a botched handoff, but RoJo would never keep that job once the Bucs landed Fournette. The USC product will still see some touches, but nothing like he saw in Week 1 when he led the backfield with 19. At this point, Jones is a bench player in fantasy.

Malcolm Brown at Bills

Brown looked like the top back for the Rams after the opener, and he was on his way to being the main runner again before he injured his finger against the Eagles. At that point, Darrell Henderson came in and looked like an absolute star. He rushed for 6.8 yards per carry, caught two passes for 40 yards, and scored on a two-yard run. If Brown can go against a tough Bills run defense, a potential committee situation makes him a real risk.

Dion Lewis vs. 49ers

The loss of Saquon Barkley is back-breaking for fantasy fans, and using Lewis in his absence is no great shakes. While he did score a respectable 15.6 points in a loss to the Bears, Lewis averaged an awful two yards per rush. He'll also lose work to projected "starter" Wayne Gallman against a tough 49ers defense. Since last season, only the Patriots have given up fewer points to runners. Unless you're desperate, Lewis is a major fade for me.

More Sits

  • Sony Michel vs. Raiders
  • Nyheim Hines vs. Jets
  • Frank Gore at Colts

DFS Fades

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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the latest news and analysis!

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