Fantasy Football Week 3 Running Back Preview: Rex Burkhead, LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore getting opportunities

No one wants to get excited about a running back on the wrong side of 30. But it might just be time to get excited about starting Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy

On Friday  Devin Singletary and Damien Williams were ruled out for Week 3, meaning Gore and McCoy would be left with the lion's share of the work in their respective backfields. 

Gore has the much better matchup -- a Cincinnati Bengals defense that just allowed the San Francisco 49ers to total more than 300 yards and score three touchdowns in Week 2. Get excited.

In Week 2, Gore saw 21 touches and turned them into 83 yards and a score. If he gets 21 touches against Cincinnati, he may just be a top 12 running back. For the time being I have him projected for 17 touches, with Yeldon taking most of the passing work and about a quarter of the team's rush attempts. Josh Allen is averaging 8.5 rush attempts himself, so that could cut into Gore's load a bit. 

McCoy's matchup against the Baltimore Ravens isn't favorable at all. But we don't really care about matchups with this Kansas City Chiefs offense, do we? 

McCoy has been dealing with a bad ankle this week, but he practiced both Thursday and Friday so it looks like he's ready to roll. I anticipate him seeing a similar role as Gore with Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams filling in the gaps. McCoy may not have the same success on the ground that Gore does, but he'll more than make up for that through the air. I also like McCoy's chances of scoring better.

Treat both of these backs as No. 2 options in non-PPR. I'd start them over Joe Mixon. In PPR, Gore falls into flex territory but he's still a fine option. McCoy remains a near must-start. Both Williams and Thompson should be added as speculative adds if they're available in your league.

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:

BUF Buffalo • #26
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
YTD Stats
RUYDS
57
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
1
FPTS/G
11
KC Kansas City • #26
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
RB Preview
Numbers to know
  • 20.5 -- Dalvin Cook's rush attempts per game. He has a legitimate shot to be the No. 1 back in Fantasy if he can stay healthy with this workload.
  • 4.8% -- Josh Jacobs' target rate through his first two games. That could make him tough to trust when the game script goes the wrong direction.
  • 3 -- Touches for Mike Davis in Week 2. If Davis disappears from the game plan, both David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen can be Fantasy starters.
  • 10 -- Broken tackles forced by Peyton Barber, tied with Cook for the most in the NFL. Barber had the hot hand in Week 2. Now can he solidify his grip on the starting role?
  • 6.5 -- Yards after contact per attempt for Justin Jackson this season. That's the highest mark in the league for any back with double-digit carries. It will be interesting to see if Jackson sees more work after Austin Ekeler's goal-line fumble. 
  • 16 -- Receptions for Le'Veon Bell, the most among running backs. Concerns over his workload can be put to bed. 
  • 52.9% -- Broken-tackle rate for Malcolm Brown, the best in the NFL so far this season. Todd Gurley is at 23.3%.
RB Preview
Matchups that matter
Matchups that Matter
WAS Washington • #26
Age: 34 • Experience: 12 yrs.
Week 3 Matchup
vs.
Chicago
I suggested Peterson last week as a contrarian DFS play and we got a little bit lucky that he fell into the end zone. Just don't go back to him in Week 3. We expected the Bears to be the best defense in the NFL and it has only allowed 3.0 yards per carry so far this season. Chris Thompson is a better play, but only in PPR.
RB Preview
Waiver Wire Targets
Week 3 Adds
LAC L.A. Chargers • #22
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Ownership
61%
Jackson has been very good on the few carries he's received, and there's reason to believe he could get more work in the red zone soon. He has flex appeal in Week 3 against the Texans and would instantly be a top-12 back if something happens to Austin Ekeler.
BUF Buffalo • #20
Age: 36 • Experience: 15 yrs.
Ownership
59%
The Cincinnati Bengals have given up more Fantasy points to running backs than any other team. He's old and he's slow, but if Gore"s going to get close to 20 touches against the Bengals he should be owned and started in more than half of leagues.
Stashes
MIN Minnesota • #25
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Ownership
52%
I don't have any new justification, but Mattison is going to remain at the top of this list because of his situation. He's the clear handcuff to a back who has yet to play 16 games in a season. He's also on a team that strives to be one of the more run-heavy teams in the league. He's also averaging 5.7 yards per carry and has a broken tackle rate (23.3%) similar to Cook.
BAL Baltimore • #43
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Ownership
41%
I thought this one was going to pay off last week when Mark Ingram went down on the sideline. Ingram was able to finish the game, but it should have been a good reminder that Hill is just one injury away from sharing this role with Gus Edwards and likely being the best back in Baltimore. He's one of the top-five handcuffs to own.
PIT Pittsburgh • #38
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Ownership
68%
Like Hill, an injury scare to James Conner reminded how close we are to starting Samuels. With Ben Roethlisberger out this situation isn't quite as good, but Samuels would still be near must-start. Conner and the Steelers say his knee is fine, but I'd like to see him play a full game before I fully buy into that.
RB Preview
DFS Plays
Top Plays
CAR Carolina • #22
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Week 3 Prices
FanDuel
$8,900
DraftKings
$8,700
This game in Arizona has underrated shootout appeal, and McCaffrey should succeed no matter what the game script is. The Cardinals play a fast pace and have very little defense, which is a dream matchup for a running back. He's my No. 1 running back in all formats this week.
MIN Minnesota • #33
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Week 3 Prices
FanDuel
$8,300
DraftKings
$7,800
I love the touches the Vikings are giving Cook and the way he's performing with those touches. In Week 3, the Raiders come to Minnesota and this game could get out of hand early. The Vikings only threw 10 passes in their Week 1 win over Atlanta. I would expect more in Week 3, but I'd also expect a very run-heavy game script. Cook is in play in both cash games and tournaments.
Contrarian Plays
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #26
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Week 3 Prices
FanDuel
$7,700
DraftKings
$7,000
You generally don't want your running back to be on a team that is an 18-point road underdog and has an implied team total of 14 points. OK, you never want that. But when that running back is also his team's best receiver, it's a little bit more palatable. Bell should be peppered with targets in this game against the Patriots and his ownership should be extremely low because of the game script. Mark him off your board in cash games, but I'll look his way in a few tournament lineups.
RB Preview
Heath's Projections

Non-PPR Rank

PPR Rank

RB

FPTs

PPR FPTs

1

1

Christian McCaffrey

21.75

27.43

2

2

Saquon Barkley

19.73

25.08

3

3

Dalvin Cook

18.25

21.37

5

4

Alvin Kamara

17.15

21.29

6

5

Austin Ekeler

16.45

21.10

9

6

Le'Veon Bell

15.06

21.01

4

7

Ezekiel Elliott

17.41

19.69

7

8

Chris Carson

16.26

19.64

8

9

Nick Chubb

16.09

18.59

12

10

Leonard Fournette

13.84

17.71

13

11

David Johnson

13.74

16.93

10

12

Derrick Henry

14.71

16.14

11

13

Todd Gurley

13.98

15.80

16

14

Rex Burkhead

11.83

15.37

17

15

James Conner

11.77

14.07

15

16

Aaron Jones

12.01

13.62

37

17

Chris Thompson

8.20

13.55

36

18

Tarik Cohen

8.26

13.40

22

19

David Montgomery

10.88

13.02

14

20

Sony Michel

12.67

12.89

20

21

Kerryon Johnson

11.16

12.69

19

22

Josh Jacobs

11.27

12.49

25

23

Joe Mixon

10.09

12.46

23

24

Lesean McCoy

10.48

12.44

So who should you sit and start this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 3 Fantasy football 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 out-performed experts big time last season.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Heath Cummings is a Senior Fantasy Writer that covers Daily Fantasy Sports of all types. Before coming to CBS Sports he was a staff writer for Footballguys and the host of The Fantasy Football Show on... Full Bio

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