Fantasy Football Week 4 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Eric StashinSenior Writer ISeptember 26, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 23:   Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs the ball as he's tackled by Jerrell Freeman #50 of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Injuries and inability are certainly playing a major role on the rankings this week.  Obviously things change dramatically if C.J. Spiller, Reggie Bush or Fred Jackson dress, but can we count on that?  Throw in the struggles of some of the top backs, like LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray and Chris Johnson and there are a lot of owners shaking their heads.  Let’s take a look at how things currently fall, but keep in mind that there could be major changes as the week progresses:

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – vs. Tennessee
  2. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Cleveland
  3. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Cincinnati
  4. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New York Giants
  5. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – at Denver
  6. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns – at Baltimore
  7. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. San Diego
  8. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – at Kansas City
  9. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – at St. Louis
  10. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – at Detroit
  11. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Washington
  12. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at New York Jets
  13. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals – at Jacksonville
  14. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos – vs. Oakland
  15. Michael Bush – Chicago Bears – at Dallas
  16. Mikel Leshoure – Detroit Lions – vs. Minnesota
  17. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Carolina
  18. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Chicago
  19. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – at Green Bay
  20. Cedric Benson – Green Bay Packers – vs. New Orleans
  21. Andre Brown – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
  22. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – at Tampa Bay
  23. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Seattle
  24. Tashard Choice – Buffalo Bills – vs. New England
  25. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
  26. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – at Houston
  27. Ryan Williams – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Miami
  28. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Atlanta
  29. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins – at Arizona
  30. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
  31. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – vs. Tennessee
  32. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – at Green Bay
  33. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – at Atlanta
  34. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. San Francisco
  35. Peyton Hillis – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. San Diego
  36. Jacquizz Rodgers – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Carolina
  37. Daryl Richardson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Seattle
  38. Danny Woodhead – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
  39. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Miami
  40. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Green Bay


  • The early talk is that both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson could play in Week 4 for the Bills, but for now I am going to leave them both off the rankings (meaning Tashard Choice could get the opportunity to shoulder the load).  However, the news this week will have a major impact on how things play out.  If Spiller plays, he is a RB1.  If Jackson plays, he is probably more of a RB2.
  • Is anyone wondering how healthy Jamaal Charles is now?  After exploding for 288 total yards (233 rushing, 55 receiving) in Week 3 it is apparent that he is back to being a must use option.  While it isn’t fair to expect him to get that many touches on a weekly basis (Peyton Hillis’ injury contributed to it), he should be considered one of the better plays in the league at this point.
  • Maybe this will be the week that the Eagles finally lean on LeSean McCoy?  How long can they really continue to watch Michael Vick get beat up and turn the ball over?  McCoy is averaging just more than 100 total yards per game against the Giants in his career (six games), so if they do they should be rewarded.  We can’t predict what Philadelphia will do, but it certainly would make sense for them to go more run oriented.
  • We are no longer concerned about Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout affecting him on the field, are we?  With a positive matchup, consider him an easy Top 5 option.
  • According to Ben Volin (via Twitter), “Reggie Bush said this morning on @PaulandYoungRon about his left knee: ‘It’s just a bruise. I’m working hard to get back for this week.’”  He’s another one who we will have to monitor the news, but if he is in the lineup he is going to be the focal point of the Dolphins offense once again.  However, given his history can we really expect him to dress?  If he does he’s a RB2, but for now we are leaving him off the rankings.  If Bush is out, consider Daniel Thomas a viable FLEX option, though a risky play as anything more than that.
  • Ryan Mathews got through his first game back, now I would expect him to start living up to the expectations.  With a favorable matchup against the Chiefs (who are allowing 122.7 rushing yards per game, tied for tenth most in the league), look for him to erupt.
  • DeMarco Murray has far from lived up to expectations, like the majority of the Cowboys’ offense.  With a tough draw against the Chicago Bears, it is unfair to expect him to suddenly figure it out this week as well.  He still has potential keeping him as a RB2, but with 82 yards on 30 carries over the past two games (along with 48 receiving yards) that’s all he can be considered.
  • The New Orleans Saints have allowed 215.0 rushing yards per game over the first three weeks of the season.  While Cedric Benson’s value is typically capped, it is impossible not to consider him a RB2 this week.
  • Will it be Andre Brown, Ahmad Bradshaw or a time share in New York?  A lot of that may depend on Bradshaw’s health, but after a big performance Brown may be the option to own this week.  Regardless, I would consider both low-end options.

Make sure to check out the rest of our Week 4 rankings: