Here are my top 40 running backs for Week 4 (standard-scoring leagues).
To clarify, this countdown doesn't lean on a particular stat. It's merely an educated best guess of which rushers will tally the best combination of total yards and touchdowns for the NFL's fourth weekend.
NOTE: For the time being, we'll keep Fred Jackson (knee), Willis McGahee (ribs), Reggie Bush (knee), Beanie Wells (toe), Peyton Hillis (ankle) and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) off this week's countdown.
Top 40 Backs For Week 4
1. Ray Rice vs. Cleveland
2. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Cincinnati
3. Arian Foster vs. Tennessee
4. LeSean McCoy vs. N.Y. Giants
5. Frank Gore @ N.Y. Jets
6. Michael Turner vs. Carolina
7. Jamaal Charles vs. San Diego
8. Adrian Peterson @ Detroit
9. Darren McFadden @ Denver
10. Alfred Morris @ Tampa Bay
11. Marshawn Lynch @ St. Louis
12. Stevan Ridley @ Buffalo
13. Michael Bush @ Dallas
14. Mikel Leshoure vs. Minnesota
15. DeMarco Murray vs. Chicago
16. Darren Sproles @ Green Bay
17. Andre Brown @ Philadelphia
18. Tashard Choice vs. New England
19. Trent Richardson @ Baltimore
20. Steven Jackson vs. Seattle
21. Cedric Benson vs. New Orleans
22. BenJarvus Green-Ellis @ Jacksonville
23. Ryan Mathews @ Kansas City
24. Daniel Thomas @ Arizona
25. Doug Martin vs. Washington
26. Chris Johnson @ Houston
27. Ryan Williams vs. Miami
28. DeAngelo Williams @ Atlanta
29. Knowshon Moreno vs. Oakland
30. Shonn Greene vs. San Francisco
31. Ben Tate vs. Tennessee
32. Jonathan Stewart @ Atlanta
33. Jacquizz Rodgers vs. Carolina
34. Jackie Battle @ Kansas City
35. Mark Ingram @ Green Bay
36. Toby Gerhart @ Detroit
37. Shaun Draughn vs. San Diego
38. Bilal Powell vs. San Francisco
39. Lamar Miller @ Arizona
40. Ronnie Hillman vs. Oakland
1. Ray Rice, one of fantasy football's most bankable commodities and an automatic start every week, punishes no AFC foe like the Browns. In 2011, Rice rolled for 349 total yards and two touchdowns against Cleveland, with averages of 175 yards and one touchdown. And from 2009 to 2011, Rice was a lock for 119 yards and 0.6 touchdowns against his division rival.
2. The Bengals may be exciting to watch on offense, but their matchup with Maurice Jones-Drew in Week 4 is not ideal for the defense. Jones-Drew steamrolled the Colts for 193 total yards and one touchdown last week—and now, he has a home date with the NFL's 31st-ranked rush defense.
3. Arian Foster (430 total yards, four touchdowns in 2012) is the only fantasy back to make my top-three countdown for Weeks 1-4 (standard-scoring leagues). One big reason for that: He racked up 234 total yards (115 rushing) and three touchdowns in his only game against Tennessee last year. BOOM!
4. If Adrian Peterson can log 25-plus touches in back-to-back weeks and dominate the Lions on Sunday, I won't utter another word about his quick comeback from ACL surgery in December.
5. I may have been stubborn about Chris Johnson's early-season struggles (108 total yards on 41 touches), but I'm not blind, either. For whatever reason, he's just not a priority with the Titans offense—regardless of what the scoreboard reads. By extension, he's only a flex consideration (if that) in 12-team leagues right now.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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