The start of the 2023 season has been a bit surprising in fantasy football. When you look at the leaderboards for each position after Week 2, there are some names near the top we haven’t seen before and some familiar names missing.
This is no different with running backs, where we see Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams as RB2 overall (0.5 PPR) and Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs as RB33. Do we expect this to continue throughout the year? Will Williams continue to be near the top of the league in rushing? Will Jacobs be a Flex option instead of in a pure RB slot? Which of these backs should you start this week?
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Josh Jacobs’ Fantasy Outlook This Week
Jacobs and the Raiders have the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town on Sunday night. Jacobs, who has only been able to tally 46 yards on the ground thus far in 2023, needs to start being productive for the 1-1 Raiders to get back in the hunt.
While hearing the Steelers are coming to town usually sends shivers down the spine, this is not the Steel Curtain defense of old. While the Steelers have one of the best defensive players in the league in T.J. Watt, the team overall has surrendered a lot on the ground.
In Week 1, Christian McCaffrey totaled 152 yards rushing against the Steelers. But that’s CMC. He’s one of the best backs in the league. That happens.
Well, in Week 2, Nick Chubb had 64 yards on 10 carries before exiting the game with a knee injury. Chubb is still elite, so maybe this is expected again. But what we didn’t figure was backup Jerome Ford would then tally 106 yards on the ground the rest of the game.
Entering Week 3, the Steelers were dead last in the league in rushing yards surrendered. If there was ever a time for Jacobs to break out, it is this week.
Kyren Williams’ Fantasy Outlook This Week
Williams has been one of the biggest surprises of the young 2023 season. And with the Rams shipping off Cam Akers to the Minnesota Vikings this week, Williams is the lead back in L.A. with little competition.
Williams has totaled 104 yards on the ground and three touchdowns on the year. He is averaging 3.6 yards per attempt and 52 yards on the ground per game. Williams has also added another 50 receiving yards on six catches and a receiving touchdown.
On Monday Night Football this week, the Cincinnati Bengals welcome the Rams to town. And for Williams, this is a welcome sight. The Bengals were the second-worst defense in yards surrendered on the year entering Week 2.
With a matchup as good as this and a running back who has taken advantage of every opportunity this year, Williams is a must-start for every fantasy manager. I fully expect him to have another big game here in Week 3.
Which of These RBs Should You Start?
We have two talented running backs who both have great defensive matchups in Week 3. Both Williams (at Bengals) and Jacobs (vs. Steelers) are going to get plenty of opportunities to rack up all the yards they can in their games.
If I had to choose right now, I would go with the hot hand on the year thus far. Stretching out to the full 2023 season, I fully expect Jacobs to get back on track and be a top running back in the league. But if I have both players on my roster, I have to go with the guy who has been putting up big-time fantasy points at the start of the 2023 season.
Williams would be the start for me, but both of these players should be in your lineup. Unless you have an abundance of wealth on your roster at running back, neither of these players should be riding the bench this week.
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