Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (C) is a high-end RB2 or flex play this week. File Photo by Mike Goulding/UPI | License Photo
MIAMI, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Austin Ekeler is among my five running backs to avoid for Week 3 of the fantasy football season. Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor leads my Top 30 weekly rankings for the position.
Chase Edmonds, Rashaad Penny, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Michael Carter are among the other players I would try to keep out of my lineup.
Week 2 performance, opportunity, strength of Week 3 opponents and expected game script are among the factors I considered when determining the players to avoid. My full Top 30 rankings are below.
Ekeler is still my No. 14 option this week, but I would try to start someone else if you are in a smaller league and have better options. The Los Angeles Chargers star still possesses dual threat ability, which could provide fantasy football points even in tough matchups, but I don't like his Week 3 setup.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is a fantasy football RB2 this week. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
Ekeler received 14 carries in each of his two appearances so far this season. He also hauled in 13 total receptions in those games, but failed to find the end zone. Ekeler totaled 94 yards from scrimmage in Week 2, but I don't think he will reach that yardage total this week, when the Chargers battle the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars just held Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor to 54 rushing yards in Week 1. They also allowed just 58 rushing yards to Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson in Week 1.
Ekeler was probably a first-round pick in your league, which means it's unlikely you have a better option. But if you happen to roster two other options inside my Top 14, I would start them over the Chargers running back due to this matchup.
Ekeler is my No. 14 option.
Edmonds entered the season with the expectation of being the Miami Dolphins' top ball carrier. He started in Week 1 and totaled 16 touches for 65 yards against the New England Patriots. He totaled just six touches in Week 2, when he played behind Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert.
The split in touches between Edmonds and Mostert will likely be annoying all season, unless one of them gets injured. I would stay away from both players, unless you are in a league with 16 teams or more.
The Bills also allowed a total of 109 rushing yards and one score to running backs through two weeks. I expect the Dolphins to trail in this game, which also should limit the Dolphins' carries. Edmonds is my No. 24 options and retains value due to his pass catching ability, but I would look elsewhere from an RB2 or flex play.
running back Rashaad Penny (L) is a low-end RB2 or flex play for Week 3. File Photo by Derik Hamilton/UPI
Penny is my No. 26 option for Week 3. The Seattle Seahawks running back totaled 67 yards in Week 1, but logged just 15 yards on six carries in week 2.
This week, the Seahawks will host the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons 152 total rushing yards to Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints running backs through their first two games.
I expect Penny to struggle in this matchup. The Seahawks also will likely look to increase rookie Kenneth Walker III's workload moving forward, which should hurt Penny's production.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (30) is a low-end RB2 or flex play this week. File Photo by Matthew Healey/UPI
Jeff Wilson Jr.
Wilson was a great waiver-wire pickup in Week 2. He rewarded his stock owners with 103 yards from scrimmage on 20 touches in the 49ers' win over the Seahawks on Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif. He should continue to receive a decent workload, but I expect the 49ers to increase Deebo Samuel's touches and to work in running back Jordan Mason in Week 3.
The 49ers will face the Denver Broncos on Sunday in Denver. Allowed 131 rushing yards and no touchdowns to running backs through two weeks.
Wilson's tough matchup and the tempo of this game play into his No. 28 placement in my Week 3 rankings.
New York Jets running back Michael Carter (L) is outside the Top 30 of my weekly rankings. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Carter is another running back to avoid in Week 3. The New York Jets ball carrier is outside the Top 30 of my rankings due to a tough matchup and early struggles this season.
Carter totaled 100 yards from scrimmage in Week 1, but logged just 50 yards in Week 2. This week, the Jets will battle the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals allowed a total of 126 rushing yards to running backs through two weeks.
I expect this to be a get-right game for the Bengals, with quarterback Joe Burrow leading the offense to a high-scoring victory. That game tempo should lead to a high-volume passing game for the Jets and limit Carter's workload.
I would only use him as a flex this week if you are in a league with at least 14 teams.
Week 3 fantasy football running back rankings
1. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts vs. KC
2. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. DET
3. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers vs. NO
4. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans vs. LV
5. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals at NYJ
6. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. GB
7. Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders vs. PHI
8. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs. SF
9. D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions at MIN
10. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs. SF
11. James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars at LAC
12. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants vs. DAL
13. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers at TB
14. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers vs. JAX
15. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles at WAS
16. Clyde Edwards-Helarie, Kansas City Chiefs at IND
17. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys at NYG
18. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders at TEN
19. Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams at ARI
20. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers at TB
21. Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans at CHI
22. Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons at SEA
23. Eno Benjamin, Arizona Cardinals vs. LAR
24. Chase Edmonds, Miami Dolphins vs. BUF
25. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams at ARI
26. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks vs. ATL
27. Damien Harris, New England Patriots vs. BAL
28. Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers at DEN
29. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints at CAR
30. Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins vs. BUF
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Damarion Williams deflects a touchdown pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle during the second half of an NFL game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 18, 2022. Miami won 42-38
after scoring four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo