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Through the first two weeks of the NFL season Najee Harris and Elijah Mitchell are the only two rookies who rank inside the top 36 running backs in PPR scoring. Kenneth Gainwell is the third best rookie, at 40th overall. For those who drafted Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, and Trey Sermon it's been a tough start to the year. And it's not a bad time to try to capitalize on their pain.

Sermon's inability to get on the field have been well publicized. He was inactive in Week 1, and had to watch while fellow rookie Mitchell thrived after Raheem Mostert got hurt. In Week 2 Sermon was activated, but took a vicious (and illegal) hit that concussed him and kept him out the rest of the game.

But on Wednesday Kyle Shanahan indicated he expected Sermon to play in Week 3. With Mostert on the IR, Mitchell dealing with a shoulder injury, and JaMycal Hasty all but ruled out with a high ankle sprain, it's suddenly looking like Sermon could get his best chance yet in Week 3.

Williams' rookie struggles have been more traditional. He's stuck in a timeshare with Melvin Gordon, and Gordon has scored the only touchdown between the two of them and has five targets to Williams' two. This is how I always expected things to start in Denver, but I don't expect they'll stay that way all year. And while you had to spend a fifth- or sixth-round pick on Williams on Draft Day, he should be cheaper now.

I'm making efforts to target 0-2 teams with these rookie backs on their teams. I'm most willing to pay for Williams, but they're all relatively close in value for me. Carter would be my third choice, just because I think the Jets might be too bad for him to matter. Try turning someone like Devin Singletary, James White, or Nyheim Hines into one of these potential second half league-winners.

Now let's get to the rest of the Week 3 RB Preview:

Week 3 RB Preview
RB Preview
Who's Out

The following players are not being projected to play Week 3 at this time. Here's what it means:

Who's Out
Projections powered by Sportsline
SF San Francisco • #28
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs GB SF -4 O/U 47.5
OPP VS RB
5th
PROJ PTS
NA
RB RNK
NR
Right now we project Elijah Mitchell as a flex, but we don't really know who will play for the 49ers.
LAR L.A. Rams • #27
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TB LAR -1 O/U 54.5
OPP VS RB
8th
PROJ PTS
NA
RB RNK
NR
Sony Michel is a start in non-PPR and a flex in PPR.
RB Preview
Numbers to know
  • 87.5% -- Joe Mixon has accounted for nearly 90% of the Bengals rush attempts, the highest mark in the league.
  • 7.7 -- Tony Pollard is averaging 7.7 yards per carry through two weeks, nearly double Ezekiel Elliott's 3.9 YPC.
  • 14 -- Damien Harris has avoided 14 tackles per PFF, tied with second most in the league behind only Dalvin Cook.
  • 6 -- Derrick Henry saw a career-high six targets last week and has 10 through two games.
  • 16.3% -- Mike Davis has the third highest target share on the Falcons. That makes it hard to sit him in full PPR.
  • 12 -- Jonathan Taylor leads the NFL with 12 red-zone carries. The touchdowns will come.
  • 0 -- No running back besides Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel has touched the ball for the Rams this season.
  • 84% -- Saquon Barkley played 84% of the snaps on short rest in Week 2. He should be a full go against the Falcons this week.
RB Preview
Matchups that matter
Matchups that Matter
Projections powered by Sportsline
BAL Baltimore • #34
Age: 25 • Experience: 1 year
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ DET BAL -9 O/U 49.5
OPP VS RB
9th
PROJ PTS
12.3
RB RNK
26th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
142
REC
5
REYDS
45
TD
1
FPTS/G
14.9
NYG N.Y. Giants • #26
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs ATL NYG -3 O/U 48.5
OPP VS RB
22nd
PROJ PTS
14
RB RNK
20th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
83
REC
3
REYDS
13
TD
0
FPTS/G
6.3
TB Tampa Bay • #7
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ LAR LAR -1 O/U 54.5
OPP VS RB
15th
PROJ PTS
8.6
RB RNK
28th
LAR L.A. Rams • #25
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TB LAR -1 O/U 54.5
OPP VS RB
8th
PROJ PTS
5.5
RB RNK
25th
DAL Dallas • #21
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs PHI DAL -4 O/U 51.5
OPP VS RB
16th
PROJ PTS
12.6
RB RNK
16th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
104
REC
4
REYDS
32
TD
1
FPTS/G
11.8
RB Preview
Waiver Wire Targets
Week 3 Adds
ATL Atlanta • #84
Age: 30 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYG NYG -2.5 O/U 47.5
OPP VS RB
25th
RB RNK
35th
ROSTERED
61%
It is not a good week for running backs on the waiver wire, but Patterson has outplayed Mike Davis two weeks in a row and there's at least a chance he sees an increase in touches if that continues. Bonus, he's also eligible at wide receiver in most leagues.
PHI Philadelphia • #14
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ DAL DAL -4 O/U 52
OPP VS RB
15th
RB RNK
38th
ROSTERED
58%
YTD Stats
RUYDS
51
REC
4
REYDS
24
TD
1
FPTS/G
9.8
You could do worse as a desperation flex than a running back who has 15 carries and six targets in his first two games in the NFL, and gets the Cowboys in Week 3.
SF San Francisco • #34
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs GB SF -3.5 O/U 47.5
OPP VS RB
19th
RB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
It's speculation time on the 49ers backups. We don't think Trey Sermon or JaMycal Hasty will play this week and Elijah Mitchell is questionable. Johnson would be my favorite bet, but Trenton Cannon is also in play. Also, watch to see who they add, they're bringing in a lot of guys for workouts.
MIN Minnesota • #25
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs SEA SEA -1.5 O/U 55.5
OPP VS RB
32nd
RB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
60%
We expect Dalvin Cook to play in Week 3, but Mattison would vault to the top of this list if he can't.
Stashes
SF San Francisco • #30
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs GB SF -3.5 O/U 50
OPP VS RB
19th
RB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
10%
There's a week coming when Jeff Wilson leads this backfield again. With all these injuries, Wilson should be stashed whether you have an IR spot or not.
RB Preview
DFS Plays
Top Play
Projections powered by Sportsline
JAC Jacksonville • #25
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs ARI ARI -7.5 O/U 52
OPP VS RB
12th
PROJ PTS
13.5
RB RNK
21st
The Cardinals defense took a step back in Week 2 against Dalvin Cook and now it is traveling across the country for an East Coast game. Robinson has three catches in both games and the Carlos Hyde experiment looks like it only lasted one week. Plus, Robinson is dirt cheap.
Contrarian Play
Projections powered by Sportsline
CIN Cincinnati • #28
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ PIT PIT -4.5 O/U 44
OPP VS RB
4th
PROJ PTS
15
RB RNK
6th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
196
REC
5
REYDS
25
TD
1
FPTS/G
16.6
Mixon actually projects as my best value, but I am a little worried about the Steelers defense. Thankfully, I don't believe the Steelers offense is good enough to run away from the Bengals here, and the Bengals really want to run the ball when the game is close. Mixon is dominating touches in this offense and I expect a bounce back from a poor Week 2 performance.
RB Preview
Heath's Projections

So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 3 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that has out-performed experts big-time.