The Thursday night game in Week 4 of the NFL season was both surprising and disappointing on the fantasy football running back front.
Rookie Trent Richardson of the Cleveland Browns punched a touchdown into the end zone against the fierce Baltimore Ravens defense. But fantasy superstar Ray Rice failed to score or top 100 total yards. He had 96, though, and that’s why he was a first-round pick.
I shuffled the very top of my list a little after doing some research on the Cincinnati Bengals’ rushing defense (or absence thereof). MJD finds himself at the top of my Week 4 ranks as a result.
But make no mistake: you’ll still want to start the early Week 4 favorite, Arian Foster.
The Buffalo Bills’ running back situation has created an aura of mystique in the fantasy football community (and likely the New England Patriots’ meeting rooms) this week.
If Buffalo has enough trust in C.J. Spiller to activate him for this game, fantasy owners almost have no choice but to do the same. This list assumes that Spiller will play this week. If he doesn’t and Fred Jackson does, Jackson vaults to a high-end No. 2 RB spot.
The more guys that are playing for the Bills in front of Tashard Choice, the lower he would fall in these ranks. Because of the assumption that Spiller will suit up, Choice doesn’t make my top 40. If Spiller misses this game and Jackson plays, then Choice would be in the mid-30s.
If he has the job to himself, he’d probably be up between Steven Jackson and Matt Forte.
Speaking of Forte, the Bears (and fantasy owners) have another decision to make. Forte is questionable to play on Monday night against the Cowboys.
It’s not a favorable matchup to begin with, but because I don’t know whether Forte will play, he and Michael Bush look like low-end No. 2/flex options. You’re taking a risk with such a late game if you’re starting either one.
If you start Forte and he doesn’t play, that’s obviously a problem. But if you start Bush and Forte does play your fantasy score will likely suffer there as well.
Ryan Williams of the Arizona Cardinals should get his first career start with Beanie Wells shelved due to injury, but his matchup with the Miami Dolphins isn’t exactly enticing.
For how the rest of the landscape of fantasy RBs might shake out when the Sunday and Monday games are final, check out my last-minute Week 4 fantasy running back rankings below.
1. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
2. Arian Foster, Houston Texans (vs. Tennessee Titans)
3. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. New York Giants)
4. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers (at New York Jets)
5. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. San Diego Chargers)
6. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Chicago Bears)
7. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (at Denver Broncos)
8. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (at St. Louis Rams)
9. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (vs. New England Patriots)
10. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (at Kansas City Chiefs)
11. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (at Detroit Lions)
12. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals (at Jacksonville Jaguars)
13. Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions (vs. Minnesota Vikings)
14. Cedric Benson, Green Bay Packers (vs. New Orleans Saints)
15. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints (at Green Bay Packers)
16. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Washington Redskins)
17. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (at Arizona Cardinals)
18. Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (vs. Oakland Raiders)
19. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots (at Buffalo Bills)
20. Ben Tate, Houston Texans (vs. Tennessee Titans)
21. Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Carolina Panthers)
22. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (vs. Seattle Seahawks)
23. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (at Dallas Cowboys)
24. Michael Bush, Chicago Bears (at Dallas Cowboys)
25. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (vs. New England Patriots)
26. Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (at Philadelphia Eagles)
27. Andre Brown, New York Giants (at Philadelphia Eagles)
28. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
29. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (at Atlanta Falcons)
30. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (at Atlanta Falcons)
31. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Carolina Panthers)
32. Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Miami Dolphins)
33. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans (at Houston Texans)
34. Shonn Greene, New York Jets (vs. San Francisco 49ers)
35. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (at Green Bay Packers)
36. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (at Green Bay Packers)
37. Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins (at Arizona Cardinals)
38. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (at Arizona Cardinals)
39. Bilal Powell, New York Jets (vs. San Francisco 49ers)
40. Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers (at Kansas City Chiefs)