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Week 3 Flex Rankings: Running Back Roulette

There are already several NFL backfields that look different than we imagined they would just two weeks ago. Unless of course, you predicted that Kyren Williams, Joshua Kelley, and Jerome Ford as Week 3 starters. Injuries and trades have caused quite a bit of commotion, and that is reflected in my Week 3 Flex rankings. I will discuss some of those backfield scenarios in the space below, as well as some issues that affect Flex-worthy wide receivers and tight ends. As always, these rankings are based on half-PPR scoring, so adjust as needed based on your league settings.

Running Back Notes

There is a lot to cover concerning the running back landscape. Let us begin on the injury front. Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending injury on Monday night in Cleveland’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns brought Kareem Hunt back into the fold, but I still expect Jerome Ford to be the team’s lead back going forward. Ford should benefit from having one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. However, it should be noted that Cleveland’s next three games are against the Titans, Ravens, and 49ers. Both Tennessee and Baltimore rank in the top 10 in defensive rush DVOA. And San Francisco is no picnic on that side of the ball either. I think Ford gets enough volume to make him a Week 3 fantasy starter, but this week’s matchup against the Titans is about as difficult as they come.

Joshua Kelley knows all too well how tough facing the Titans can be. Kelley filled in for the injured Austin Ekeler last week and mustered just 39 total yards against Tennessee. Ekeler is unlikely to play this week, meaning that Kelley will get a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of fantasy managers. I think he has an excellent chance of doing exactly that. The Chargers face a Minnesota Vikings that ranks 27th in defensive DVOA against the run, and 29th in total rushing yards allowed. I have Kelley ranked as an RB2 in 12-team leagues and a top 50 Flex player in Week 3. Technically I did include Ekeler in this week’s rankings just in case, but I am not expecting him to suit up.

Staying in that same game, this may be a make-or-break week for Alexander Mattison of the Vikings. Mattison has been underwhelming in Minnesota’s two losses. He has mustered just 83 total yards and has graded 47th among 51 qualified running backs per Pro Football Focus. This week, Minnesota acquired former Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers. Akers had a tumultuous time in Tinseltown and now seeks a fresh start with the Vikings. I still think Mattison is the Vikings running back you want in Week 3, as I do not expect Akers to have enough time to learn the offense and make a huge impact this week. However, neither Mattison nor Akers figures to get the amount of work going forward that we had projected for both of them before the season.

The Akers trade presumably leaves Kyren Williams as the Rams’ new RB1. I am a bit skeptical that this remains the case for the entire year. Williams hasn’t exactly dominated when given the opportunity. The second-year back has averaged 3.8 yards per carry so far in his career. To his credit, Williams has scored three rushing touchdowns already this year. But he has also had just one of his 64 career rushing attempts go for 10 yards. For now, though, it looks like he will be given the chance to carry the load going forward. That is good news for those who took a late flier on him in drafts or grabbed him off the waiver wire. Williams should get plenty of touches in Week 3, making him a borderline RB1 in 12-team leagues.

I have not even mentioned Saquon Barkley, David Montgomery, or Jamaal Williams yet. Barkley has already been ruled out for Thursday’s matchup in San Francisco, while neither Montgomery nor Williams is likely to play in Week 3. As was the case with Ekeler, I included Montgomery and Williams in my Week 3 Flex rankings as little more than a bookkeeping measure in case they somehow heal from their injuries faster than we expected. Matt Breida, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Tony Jones are the players most likely to benefit from these respective injuries. Of the three, Gibbs is the only one I would consider a must-start this week. I consider both Breida and Jones dicey Week 3 Flex plays, but you may be forced into playing them depending on how badly your roster has been bit by the injury bug.

Wide Receiver Notes

I discussed Puka Nacua last week, and his stock continues to rise as Matthew Stafford’s new go-to receiver in the absence of Cooper Kupp. But his teammate, Tutu Atwell, has also acquitted himself nicely. Atwell has turned 17 targets into 13 receptions and 196 receiving yards. He is a top-20 fantasy wideout through two weeks despite not yet having found the end zone. Atwell’s usage and production thus far have been very encouraging and have gone a bit under the radar. He ranks 10th in the NFL in air yards and his 13.41 aDOT (average depth of target) is in the ballpark of players like Tee Higgins and Mike Evans. Atwell should continue to thrive as long as Kupp is out, and could even have some staying power given his role in this offense. I have Atwell as a solid WR3 this week.

Another wideout who has balled out so far is Nico Collins of the Houston Texans. Collins is currently the WR7 overall in half-PPR scoring entering Week 3. While I do not think that is sustainable, I do believe Collins is here to stay as a fantasy-relevant player. The Houston Texans are letting rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud throw the ball a ton. Stroud has over 100 dropbacks through two games. Collins appears to be Stroud’s preferred deep threat, which carries plenty of value. Houston also figures to be playing from behind quite a bit, which could boost Collins’ opportunity share. I have Collins as a low-end WR2 this week when the Texans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. And I may not be high enough on him given how he has performed to this point.

Brandon Aiyuk is reportedly a game-time decision for Thursday’s game against the New York Giants. This is going to be a tricky situation for fantasy managers to navigate. The good news is we will know whether or not he is active before any games lock. However, if he is active, it is hard to say how much work he will get. The 49ers are a huge favorite in this game, and may not need to overdo it with Aiyuk. Part of me is hoping he does not play so that I do not need to decide if I should start him. I ranked Aiyuk right on the cusp of Flex consideration. There are safer options in his range, but there are precious few who carry his upside.

Tight End Notes

So far this year, five tight ends have caught at least five passes in both games. Two are T.J. Hockenson and Evan Engram, who were highly touted coming into the year. The others? Zach Ertz, Hunter Henry, and Sam LaPorta. While Hockenson and Engram are considered every-week starters, we may not feel the same about the other three players on this list. But I am going to continue to ride these players while they are being featured in their respective offenses. To be clear, I am not suggesting you start any of them in your Flex spot, or over an elite player like Mark Andrews. However, if you are streaming tight ends, I would continue to play LaPorta, Ertz, and Henry for the time being. And yes, that is how I currently have them ranked for Week 3.

Week 3 Flex Rankings

Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | Half-PPR by Position | Flex Rankings | Positional Ranks w/ K & DST | Dynasty | Superflex Dynasty

1Justin JeffersonWR1MINLAC
2Tyreek HillWR2MIADEN
3Christian McCaffreyRB1SFNYG
4Tony PollardRB2DAL@ARI
5Josh JacobsRB3LVPIT
7Keenan AllenWR3LAC@MIN
8Bijan RobinsonRB5ATL@DET
9CeeDee LambWR4DAL@ARI
10Deebo SamuelWR5SFNYG
11Travis EtienneRB6JACHOU
12Kenneth Walker IIIRB7SEACAR
13Derrick HenryRB8TEN@CLE
14Travis KelceTE1KCCHI
15Davante AdamsWR6LVPIT
16Stefon DiggsWR7BUF@WAS
17Amon-Ra St. BrownWR8DETATL
18Ja’Marr ChaseWR9CINLAR
19Raheem MostertRB9MIADEN
20Rhamondre StevensonRB10NE@NYJ
21Puka NacuaWR10LAR@CIN
22A.J. BrownWR11PHI@TB
23Calvin RidleyWR12JACHOU
24Kyren WilliamsRB11LAR@CIN
25Jahmyr GibbsRB12DETATL
26Mike WilliamsWR13LAC@MIN
27Miles SandersRB13CAR@SEA
28James ConnerRB14ARIDAL
29Rachaad WhiteRB15TBPHI
30Zack MossRB16IND@BAL
31Chris OlaveWR14NO@GB
32Brian RobinsonRB17WASBUF
33James CookRB18BUF@WAS
34Najee HarrisRB19PIT@LV
35DeVonta SmithWR15PHI@TB
36Jaylen WaddleWR16MIADEN
37Javonte WilliamsRB20DEN@MIA
38Tee HigginsWR17CINLAR
39Alexander MattisonRB21MINLAC
40DK MetcalfWR18SEACAR
41Isiah PachecoRB22KCCHI
42George PickensWR19PIT@LV
43Joshua KelleyRB23LAC@MIN
44Mike EvansWR20TBPHI
45D’Andre SwiftRB24PHI@TB
46Tyler LockettWR21SEACAR
47Dameon PierceRB25HOU@JAC
48Jerome FordRB26CLETEN
49Garrett WilsonWR22NYJNE
50T.J. HockensonTE2MINLAC
51Nico CollinsWR23HOU@JAC
52Michael Pittman Jr.WR24IND@BAL
53A.J. DillonRB27GBNO
54Amari CooperWR25CLETEN
55Christian KirkWR26JACHOU
56Mark AndrewsTE3BALIND
57Tutu AtwellWR27LAR@CIN
58Chris GodwinWR28TBPHI
59Zay FlowersWR29BALIND
60Jerry JeudyWR30DEN@MIA
61George KittleTE4SFNYG
62Breece HallRB28NYJNE
63Aaron JonesRB29GBNO
64D.J. MooreWR31CHI@KC
65DeAndre HopkinsWR32TEN@CLE
66Gus EdwardsRB30BALIND
67Jordan AddisonWR33MINLAC
68Michael ThomasWR34NO@GB
69Khalil HerbertRB31CHI@KC
70Drake LondonWR35ATL@DET
71Tyler AllgeierRB32ATL@DET
72Terry McLaurinWR36WASBUF
73Darren WallerTE5NYG@SF
74Courtland SuttonWR37DEN@MIA
75Marquise BrownWR38ARIDAL
76Jaylen WarrenRB33PIT@LV
77Gabe DavisWR39BUF@WAS
78Brandon AiyukWR40SFNYG
79Jakobi MeyersWR41LVPIT
80Evan EngramTE6JACHOU
81Jahan DotsonWR42WASBUF
82Christian WatsonWR43GBNO
83Josh ReynoldsWR44DETATL
84Dallas GoedertTE7PHI@TB
85Rashid ShaheedWR45NO@GB
86Dalvin CookRB34NYJNE
87Zay JonesWR46JACHOU
88Elijah MooreWR47CLETEN
89Samaje PerineRB35DEN@MIA
90Matt BreidaRB36NYG@SF
91Sam LaPortaTE8DETATL
92K.J. OsbornWR48MINLAC
93Kyle PittsTE9ATL@DET
94Tony Jones Jr.RB37NO@GB
95Brandin CooksWR49DAL@ARI
96Zach ErtzTE10ARIDAL
97Justice HillRB38BALIND
98Adam ThielenWR50CAR@SEA
99Robert WoodsWR51HOU@JAC
100Jayden ReedWR52GBNO
101Kendrick BourneWR53NE@NYJ
102Tank DellWR54HOU@JAC
103David NjokuTE11CLETEN
104Hunter HenryTE12NE@NYJ
105Tyler BoydWR55CINLAR
106Tyler HigbeeTE13LAR@CIN
107Jaxon Smith-NjigbaWR56SEACAR
108Pat FreiermuthTE14PIT@LV
109DeVante ParkerWR57NE@NYJ
110Treylon BurksWR58TEN@CLE
111Kenneth GainwellRB39PHI@TB
112Craig ReynoldsRB40DETATL
113Van JeffersonWR59LAR@CIN
114Romeo DoubsWR60GBNO
115Dalton SchultzTE15HOU@JAC
116Jake FergusonTE16DAL@ARI
117Chuba HubbardRB41CAR@SEA
118Kadarius ToneyWR61KCCHI
119Darius SlaytonWR62NYG@SF
120Skyy MooreWR63KCCHI
121Jonathan MingoWR64CAR@SEA
122Marquez Valdes-ScantlingWR65KCCHI
123Allen Robinson IIWR66PIT@LV
124Dalton KincaidTE17BUF@WAS
125Cole KmetTE18CHI@KC
126Curtis SamuelWR67WASBUF
127Allen LazardWR68NYJNE
128Chigoziem OkonkwoTE19TEN@CLE
129Roschon JohnsonRB42CHI@KC
130Austin EkelerRB43LAC@MIN
131Luke MusgraveTE20GBNO
132Ezekiel ElliottRB44NE@NYJ
133Juwan JohnsonTE21NO@GB
134Dawson KnoxTE22BUF@WAS
135Juju Smith-SchusterWR69NE@NYJ
136Darnell MooneyWR70CHI@KC
137Michael GallupWR71DAL@ARI
138Odell Beckham Jr.WR72BALIND
139Josh DownsWR73IND@BAL
140Hayden HurstTE23CAR@SEA
141Jerick McKinnonRB45KCCHI
142Kendre MillerRB46NO@GB
143Isaiah HodginsWR74NYG@SF
144Donovan Peoples-JonesWR75CLETEN
145Mack HollinsWR76ATL@DET
146Gerald EverettTE24LAC@MIN
147Cade OttonTE25TBPHI
148Tyjae SpearsRB47TEN@CLE
149D.J. CharkWR77CAR@SEA
150Calvin Austin IIIWR78PIT@LV
151Antonio GibsonRB48WASBUF
152Rashod BatemanWR79BALIND
153Rondale MooreWR80ARIDAL
154Alec PierceWR81IND@BAL
155Irv Smith Jr.TE26CINLAR
156Josh PalmerWR82LAC@MIN
157Zach CharbonnetRB49SEACAR
158Taysom HillTE27NO@GB
159Kylen GransonTE28IND@BAL
160Adam TrautmanTE29DEN@MIA
161Braxton BerriosWR83MIADEN
162Elijah MitchellRB50SFNYG
163Gary BrightwellRB51NYG@SF
164Nick Westbrook-IkhineWR84TEN@CLE
165Parris CampbellWR85NYG@SF
166Tank BigsbyRB52JACHOU
167Kareem HuntRB53CLETEN
168Durham SmytheTE30MIADEN
169Chase ClaypoolWR86CHI@KC
170Devin SingletaryRB54HOU@JAC
171Clyde Edwards-HelaireRB55KCCHI
172Sean TuckerRB56TBPHI
173Mike GesickiTE31NE@NYJ
174Michael WilsonWR87ARIDAL
175Justin WatsonWR88KCCHI
176Tyler ConklinTE32NYJNE
177Latavius MurrayRB57BUF@WAS
178Noah FantTE33SEACAR
179Ty ChandlerRB58MINLAC
180Rashee RiceWR89KCCHI
181Jauan JenningsWR90SFNYG
182Hunter RenfrowWR91LVPIT
183Trey PalmerWR92TBPHI
184Logan ThomasTE34WASBUF
185Marvin JonesWR93DETATL
186Damien HarrisRB59BUF@WAS
187Marvin MimsWR94DEN@MIA
188Kalif RaymondWR95DETATL
189Rico DowdleRB60DAL@ARI
190Donald ParhamTE35LAC@MIN
191Jamaal WilliamsRB61NO@GB
192Terrace Marshall Jr.WR96CAR@SEA
193Austin HooperTE36LVPIT
194Devon AchaneRB62MIADEN
195Jonnu SmithTE37ATL@DET
196Brandon JohnsonWR97DEN@MIA
197Quentin JohnstonWR98LAC@MIN
198Deuce VaughnRB63DAL@ARI
199River CracraftWR99MIADEN
200Noah GrayTE38KCCHI
201Nelson AgholorWR100BALIND
202Randall CobbWR101NYJNE
203Zamir WhiteRB64LVPIT
204Cam AkersRB65MINLAC
205Michael CarterRB66NYJNE
206Will DisslyTE39SEACAR
207Trey McBrideTE40ARIDAL
208Ronnie RiversRB67LAR@CIN
209Josh OliverTE41MINLAC
210Deonte HartyWR102BUF@WAS
211Isaiah SpillerRB68LAC@MIN
212Laviska Shenault Jr.WR103CAR@SEA
213Colby ParkinsonTE42SEACAR
214Jalin HyattWR104NYG@SF
215David MontgomeryRB69DETATL
216Richie JamesWR105KCCHI
217Isaiah LikelyTE43BALIND
218Quez WatkinsWR106PHI@TB
219Michael MayerTE44LVPIT
220Dontayvion WicksWR107GBNO
221Chris MooreWR108TEN@CLE
222Olamide ZaccheausWR109PHI@TB
223Trayveon WilliamsRB70CINLAR
224Demario DouglasWR110NE@NYJ
225Melvin Gordon IIIRB71BALIND
226Jalen TolbertWR111DAL@ARI
227Foster MoreauTE45NO@GB
228Keaontay IngramRB72ARIDAL
229Salvon AhmedRB73MIADEN
230John BatesTE46WASBUF
231Alec IngoldRB74MIADEN
232Jamal AgnewWR112JACHOU
233Kyle JuszczykRB75SFNYG
234Mo Alie-CoxTE47IND@BAL
235Harrison BryantTE48CLETEN
236Cordarrelle PattersonRB76ATL@DET
237Kavontae TurpinWR113DAL@ARI
238Ben SkowronekWR114LAR@CIN
239Elijah DotsonRB77LAC@MIN
240Deven ThompkinsWR115TBPHI
241Trent SherfieldWR116BUF@WAS
242Erik EzukanmaWR117MIADEN
243Jordan AkinsTE49CLETEN
244Samori ToureWR118GBNO
245Lil’Jordan HumphreyWR119DEN@MIA
246John Metchie IIIWR120HOU@JAC
247Rashaad PennyRB78PHI@TB
248Dyami BrownWR121WASBUF
249Brock WrightTE50DETATL
250Daniel BellingerTE51NYG@SF
251Eric GrayRB79NYG@SF
252Mecole HardmanWR122NYJNE
253Chris EvansRB80CINLAR
254Deon JacksonRB81IND@BAL
255Zonovan KnightRB82DETATL
256Cole TurnerTE52WASBUF
258Will MalloryTE53IND@BAL
259C.J. UzomahTE54NYJNE
260Khalil ShakirWR123BUF@WAS
261Pierre StrongRB84CLETEN
262Boston ScottRB85PHI@TB
263Josiah DeguaraTE55GBNO
264Peyton HendershotTE56DAL@ARI
265Robert Tonyan Jr.TE57CHI@KC
266Brycen HopkinsTE58LAR@CIN
267Kayshon BoutteWR124NE@NYJ
268Devin DuvernayWR125BALIND
269Sterling ShepardWR126NYG@SF
270Connor HeywardTE59PIT@LV
271Luke SchoonmakerTE60DAL@ARI
272Ronnie BellWR127SFNYG
273DeeJay DallasRB86SEACAR
274Wan’Dale RobinsonWR128NYG@SF
275Zach PascalWR129ARIDAL
276Brevin JordanTE61HOU@JAC
277Ameer AbdullahRB87LVPIT
278Ko KieftTE62TBPHI
279Kristian WilkersonWR130LVPIT
280Xavier HutchinsonWR131HOU@JAC
281David BellWR132CLETEN
282Emari DemercadoRB88ARIDAL
283Zach EvansRB89LAR@CIN
284Jaleel McLaughlinRB90DEN@MIA
285Chris ManhertzTE63DEN@MIA
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