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McCaffrey, Henry, Ekeler lead Week 3 fantasy football running back rankings

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is my top fantasy football option for Week 3. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is my top fantasy football option for Week 3. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara and Aaron Jones top my Week 3 fantasy football running back rankings for 2021.

Chris Carson, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Jonathan Taylor and Ty'Son Williams round out my top 10 options for Week 3.

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Latavius Murray, Javonte Williams and Tony Pollard are among the other running backs to consider for your Week 3 lineup.

Plenty of other running backs with great matchups this week are available aside from the elite names. Try to find a player who will get a lot of carries, targets in the passing game or goal line work and has a good Week 3 matchup.

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TOP SHELF

Christian McCaffrey was the first play selected in most fantasy football drafts this off-season. Through two weeks, he trails only Derrick Henry in fantasy points for running backs.

The Carolina Panthers star eclipsed 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first two starts in 2021. This week, the Panthers face a Houston Texans squad allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs.

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The Texans also allowed the most rushing yards and second-most fantasy points to the position in 2020.

I expect McCaffrey to gain at least 160 yards from scrimmage and to score Thursday in Houston. He is my top running back for Week 3.

Henry, the most-productive fantasy football running back so far, erupted for 237 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in a Week 3 win over the Seattle Seahawks. This week, his Tennessee Titans face the Indianapolis Colts.

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The Colts defense isn't struggling to defend the run this season, but allowed 281 rushing yards and three scores in two games against Henry in 2020. Look for the Titans to lean on their workhorse again in this AFC South matchup.

Henry is my No. 2 running back for Week 3. I expect him to gain at least 150 yards on the ground and score twice.

SNEAKY PLAYS

Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers is 10th among running backs in fantasy points through two weeks. He scored in Week 1 and gained 115 yards from scrimmage in Week 2.

The Chargers appear to be increasing Ekeler's work as a pass catcher and he should be more productive in that area this week, when they battle the Kansas City Chiefs.

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The Chiefs allowed 251 rushing yards to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2 and have allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs in 2021.

Look for the Chargers to fall behind in this one and use Ekeler's pass catching ability to play catch-up. He should get close to 100 yards from scrimmage in this contest. He is my No. 3 running back for Week 3.

Latavius Murray is still behind Ty'Son Williams at running back on the Baltimore Ravens depth chart, but I expect him to log his most productive performance in Week 3.

The Ravens battle the Detroit Lions on Sunday in Detroit. The Lions are allowing the most fantasy points to running backs this season and just surrendered four total scores to Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones.

The Lions also allowed the most fantasy points to the position last year.

Look for the Ravens to feed both Williams and Murray. Murray should get several chances to score when the Ravens reach the red zone. He is my No. 19 option for Week 3.

LONGSHOTS

Take a look at Javonte Williams this week if you are desperate at the running back position. The Denver Broncos rookie is behind veteran Melvin Gordon on the depth chart, but should get plenty of run in Week 3 against the New York Jets.

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The Jets allowed three rushing touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season and should struggle to keep up in this matchup. Look for the Broncos to feed Williams a season-high in carries as they turn to a ball control strategy.

Williams out-gained Gordon on the ground, with 64 rushing yards in Week 2. He is my No. 23 option for Week 3, but should only be used as an RB2 or flex play if you are desperate at the position and in a league with at least 14 teams.

Tony Pollard is statistically the best running back on the Dallas Cowboys roster this season, despite his placement as a backup to starter Ezekiel Elliott.

I expect both Pollard and Elliott to be productive in Week 3, when the Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles allowed a rushing score in each of their first two games. Look for Elliott and Pollard to combine for at least 45 touches in this NFC East division matchup.

Pollard, the No. 16 fantasy football running back through two games, is my No. 28 option this week. He can be used as an RB2 or flex play in Week 3.

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Week 3 fantasy football running back rankings

1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers at HOU

2. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans vs. IND

3. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers at KC

4. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints at NE

5. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers at SF

6. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks at MIN

7. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. SEA

8. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys vs. PHI

9. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts at TEN

10. Ty'Son Williams, Baltimore Ravens at DET

11. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns vs. CHI

12. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles at DAL

13. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants vs. ATL

14. Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons at NYG

15. Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos vs. NYJ

16. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. CIN

17. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals at PIT

18. D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions vs. BAL

19. Latavius Murray, Baltimore Ravens at DET

20. Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers vs. GB

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21. Damien Harris, New England Patriots vs. NO

22. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears at CLE

23. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs. NYJ

24. Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals at JAX

25. James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. ARI

26. Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders vs. MIA

27. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs vs. LAC

28. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys vs. PHI

29. Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team at BUF

30. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at LAR

This week in the National Football League

The Kansas City Chiefs' Darrel Williams scores on a 2-yard touchdown past Baltimore Ravens Odafe Oweh in Baltimore on Sunday, where the Ravens won 36-35. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

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