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Elite Running Backs in Week 3 DFS: Dalvin Cook, Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler Regain Dominance

The Vikings, Colts, and Chargers stud running backs haven't played well but DFS players should use that to their advantage in Week 3.

Two games into the NFL season, the top five running backs drafted in most formats have exactly two impact games (Saquon Barkley – 33.40 fantasy points and Jonathan Taylor – 27.50 fantasy points). Last week, the running back position delivered only two scores (Nick Chubb – 32.30 and Aaron Jones – 32.00) of more than 20.00 fantasy points in PPR formats. Here are the current top five running backs based on fantasy football points:

· Nick Chubb

· Saquon Barkley

· D’Andre Swift

· Aaron Jones

· Clyde Edwards-Helaire

In comparison, here is where the other four top running backs drafted before the season sit in the rankings:

· Jonathan Taylor (7th)

· Christian McCaffrey (9th)

· Austin Ekeler (14th)

· Dalvin Cook (28th)

Hitting on the correct wide receivers has been the key to winning the daily games over the first two weeks. To execute this game plan, low-end running backs were on the top teams. Throughout the football season, different styles of teams will win. When the top-tier running backs come in, they need WR2s to produce impact results to reach the top of the daily market leaderboards.

Week 3 Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (DraftKings – $7,900/FanDuel – $8,300)

Cook is the top-tier running back who needs the most significant correction in his stats to reach his expected value. The Vikings had him on the field for 73.1 percent of their snaps over the first two weeks, but he has yet to score a touchdown while delivering 144 combined yards and seven catches. In 2021, Cook missed both games against the Lions. His replacement Alexander Mattison posted two impact showings (153 combined yards with one score and seven catches and 124 combined yards with one touchdown and three catches). Detroit’s defense struggled with running backs over the first two weeks (41/191/4 with 13 catches for 88 yards on 17 targets). Cook has a great matchup in Week 3, but he still needs his team to score via the run to produce enough fantasy points to fill his salary bucket.

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (DraftKings – $8,000/FanDuel – $8,700)

The Chargers struggled to run the ball over the first two weeks (49/149/0 – 3.0 yards per rush). Their running backs lead the NFL in catches (20) and targets (23) with 121 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, getting into space (6.0 yards per catch) has also been a problem in the receiving game. Ekeler was on the field for 63 percent of their plays in Week 2, leading to 94 yards and nine catches. He doesn’t have a touchdown in 2022. The Jaguars held running backs to 35 carries for 127 yards (3.6 ypc) over the first two weeks while facing Antonio Gibson and Jonathan Taylor. Jacksonville did show more risk defending receivers out of the backfield (15/138 – 9.2 yards per catch). Ekeler should have a high floor in this game, but he needs to follow through in chances to score over 30.00 fantasy points.

Related: Week 3 Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for RB/WR

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (DraftKings – $9,000/FanDuel – $9,400)

The data suggests Derek Henry is a better play in the daily space than Taylor, but there is something to be said for going against the grain. I have him ranked fifth at running back in Week 3 while understanding that Taylor has an explosive ceiling. His matchup against Kansas City will be the first of his career. The Colts rode him early and often in Week 1 (31/161/1 with four catches for 14 yards), but game flow vs. the Jaguars led to an empty showing (9/54 with one catch for nine yards). The Chiefs held running backs to 36 rushes for 128 yards and one touchdown (3.6 yards per carry) over the first two weeks. Both the Cardinals and Chargers feature their backs in the passing game (20/127/1 on 25 targets). I expect Taylor to play well, but he needs more than 35.00 fantasy points to post a winning score for his salary. I sense that he will be on the winning teams in Week 3.