Fantasy Football Week Four Rankings: Running Backs

Michael WhooleySenior Writer ISeptember 30, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 27: Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams rushes against Nick Barnett #56 of the Green Bay Packers at the Edward Jones Dome on September 27, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

It is Week Four of the fantasy football season and leagues are starting to take shape.

While there are teams that are 3-0 and others that are 0-3 you have to remember that it is still early enough and you shouldn’t hit the panic button. For those that are 2-1 or 1-2, odds are your records could be flip flopped quite easily.

So don’t give up, keep hitting the Bruno Boys website and FORUM hard and don’t forget to nail the LIVE Q and A’s that we hold throughout the week.

This week we have quite a few key running backs taking a break as it is the first bye-week; the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles will all be kicking back.

One thing is for sure though, and that is the Bruno Boys won’t be. As always we will be hitting it hard so we can bring you yet another victory to stash on the shelves towards your quest of a championship title.

Let’s jump right into the Bruno Boys Fantasy Football Week Four Running Back Rankings.

1. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) vs. Green Bay

Adrian Peterson has been one of the best running backs all year and was expected to excel last week against the San Francisco 49ers. While he wasn’t stunning, he still put up 99 total yards. This was a game that the Minnesota Vikings let the ball fly.

In Week Four Peterson once again leads the way as he faces division rival Green Bay Packers. In his career, Peterson has averaged well over 100 yards per game and has also tossed in a few touchdowns against the Packers.

Expect some more domination from Peterson, who leads all running backs in fantasy football points through September. 

Point Projection: 24 points

2. Steven Jackson (St. Louis Rams) at San Francisco

After starting the 2009 season on a slow mark, Steven Jackson reached triple digit yardage in Week Two. In the Rams' game Jackson continued to rise up the charts with his best effort this year, going for 163 total yards against the Green Bay Packers.

While he still hasn’t reached the end zone, the St. Louis Rams are leaning on Jackson big time to lead their putrid offense.

This week he faces the San Francisco 49ers, a team against which he has gone for over 100 total yards in four of their last five meetings. Look for continued improvement out of the workhorse and for Jackson to score his first TD of the season against a 49ers defense that has yet to allow one thus far. 

Point Projection: 19 points

3. Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans) at Jacksonville

After going for 298 total yards and three touchdowns in Week Two, Chris Johnson came down to earth somewhat against the New York Jets. Johnson had a total of 105 yards; an effort that is admirable considering that the Jets have made everyone else look horrible this year.

This week Johnson faces the Jacksonville Jaguars who are nowhere close to the solid defense that they used to be. Johnson will visit pay dirt once again as he continues to establish himself as the hands down best running back in Tennessee. 

Point Projection: 19 points

4. Brandon Jacobs (New York Giants) at Kansas City

After being the touchdown machine for the New York Giants in 2008, everyone was starting to wonder where that Brandon Jacobs was this season.

Well, the answer came in Week Three as he went for 92 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

This week he takes on a Kansas City Chiefs defense that has allowed five rushing touchdowns in three games, so the touchdowns should continue for Jacobs. In fact, solid yardage and a visit or two to pay dirt is expected. 

Point Projection: 18 points

5. Matt Forte (Chicago Bears) vs. Detroit

While Matt Forte has struggled all season and has been one of the bigger busts thus far, in Week Three against the Seattle Seahawks he did go for 106 total yards.

While he did not reach pay dirt, the 10-fantasy-football-point showing does give a positive outlook heading into Week Four against the weak Detroit Lions rush defense.

Go ahead and plug him into your starting lineup once again as he has scored in double-digit fantasy points in his two career meetings against the Lions. We thought last week was going to be his breakout week, but that didn’t happen.

Expect Forte to score his first touchdown of 2009 and for this to be his breakout week.

Point Projection: 16 points

6. Marion Barber (Dallas Cowboys) at Denver  **CHECK INJURY STATUS**

With the news that Felix Jones will miss at least one week with a PCL sprain you better believe Barber is going to do whatever it takes to play in this game.

The only thing holding him back from suiting up would be if the training staff didn’t give Barber the green light to play.

If he does play you can expect around 100 total yards and a short yardage touchdown from the Cowboys’ workhorse. After watching Dallas get stuffed at the goal-line on multiple occasions on Monday night you better believe the coaching staff is hoping he can play in Week Four.

Make sure to monitor his situation up until game time on Sunday. And with the Cowboys playing the late game you might want to snag Tashard Choice as insurance in case Barber is a late inactive. 

Point Projection: 16 points

7. Willis McGahee (Baltimore Ravens) at New England

Willis McGahee continued his outstanding play this season by making it three weeks in a row in which he has had multiple touchdowns. This week he faces the New England Patriots, a much weaker version than what we have been used to in years past.

While a continuation of two touchdowns a game is unfair to expect, solid yardage and one visit to pay dirt is reasonable.

Point Projection: 16 points

8. Steve Slaton (Houston Texans) vs. Oakland

After a very slow start to the 2009 season Steve Slaton was able to get back on track as he went for triple digit yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

This week Slaton takes on an Oakland Raiders defense that is not known for its stellar defense. A continuation of what he did in Week Three is what you should expect in Week Four as he shakes off the cobwebs and reminds fantasy footballers why he was a first round pick during this season's fantasy drafts.

Point Projection: 16 points

9. Cedric Benson (Cincinnati Bengals) at Cleveland

All the speculation and questions about whether this stretch run by Cedric Benson is real or not can now be quieted by the critics as he rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers, arguably the best rush defense in the game.

This week he takes on one of the worst so another successful week is expected. In fact, his last game against the Cleveland Browns resulted in 171 rushing yards. As we stated previously, let the questions lay by the side and insert Benson as a RB1 this week.

Point Projection: 16 points

10. Clinton Portis (Washington Redskins) vs. Tampa Bay

In Week Three against the Detroit Lions, a game in which Portis was a game time decision, he rushed the ball 12 times for a total of 42 yards. While that is not very impressive, part of the reason for his struggles is the fact that the Washington Redskins were playing catch-up for the majority of the football game.

Watch Portis’ injury report carefully this week as we need to see how he bounces back after playing banged up in Week Three; but if suited up this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (187 rush yards allowed per game) it could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Point Projection: 15 points

11. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) vs. Tennessee

Maurice Jones-Drew had a stellar game in Week Three, going for 147 yards and three touchdowns, continuing the impressive play that has made him a household name.

Things are going to slow down some this week, though, as he takes on a formidable Tennessee Titans rush defense that has made many running backs look human the past few seasons.

No matter what though, you need to make sure Jones-Drew is plugged into your lineup as he will make for a very nice low end RB1 play once again in Week Four.

Point Projection: 15 points

12. Ronnie Brown (Miami Dolphins) vs. Buffalo

Last week Ronnie Brown went for 115 total yards against the San Diego Chargers, who have a weakened rush defense but one that is similar to the Buffalo Bills' at the moment; Brown faces Buffalo in Week Four.

Throughout his career Brown has averaged 85 yards a game against the Bills, making him a solid option as a RB2 in Week Four. With solid yardage and a possible touchdown you are looking at a 14-16 fantasy point game.

Point Projection: 15 points

13. Glen Coffee (San Francisco 49ers) vs. St. Louis

With Frank Gore out for three weeks with an ankle strain, it will be the Glen Coffee show in San Francisco. Coffee ran into a tough Williams Wall in Minnesota last week and was only able to average a shade over 2.0 yards per carry.

Things will be different in Week Four against a Rams rushing defense that allows 148 yards per game.  Look for the 49ers to get Coffee involved early and often in front of the home crowd, and for the rookie to score his first NFL touchdown while flirting with 100 rushing yards. 

Point Projection: 15 points

14. Derrick Ward (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) at Washington

Derrick Ward touched the ball only seven times last week against the formidable New York Giants. Sadly his nine total yards was the best showing of any Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back in Week Three.

We expect the ship to be righted somewhat in Week Four against a Washington Redskins defense that has allowed two straight backs to reach 100 rushing yards against them.

Look for Ward to have a solid game, getting back and being one of the biggest surprises at the running back position in Week Four.

Point Projection: 14 points

15. Kevin Smith (Detroit Lions) at Chicago  **CHECK INJURY STATUS**

After a solid start to the season, in Week Three Kevin Smith led the Detroit Lions in yardage with a total of 119 yards, well on his way to the best game this year, until he had to leave the game due to a shoulder injury.

Maurice Morris had to come in and finish off the game which is cause for concern as this is a game the Lions needed to break the losing streak.

Nonetheless, if Smith plays against the Chicago Bears he is a must-start RB2 against his division rival. Make sure to check his injury status throughout the week as the Lions are calling it a week-to-week injury.

Point Projection: 13 points

16. Pierre Thomas (New Orleans Saints) vs. New York Jets

If Week Three showed anything it was that Pierre Thomas looks healthy once again. On 14 rushing attempts he went for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

To err on the safe side, though, we would like to point out that Reggie Bush had 13 rushing attempts and actually touched the ball more than Thomas did. And considering that Thomas faces the New York Jets in Week Four, you have to really check yourself and not get too excited if you are a Thomas owner.

While the potential is there to have a nice week, the odds are still stacked against him some. With that being said 70 total yards and a TD is obtainable for Thomas on any given week and we think he hits that projection in Week Four.

Point Projection: 13 points

17. Willie Parker (Pittsburgh Steelers) vs. San Diego

Willie Parker lived up to his nickname “Fast Willie” in Week Three as he put up 129 yards and a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. That effort was not good enough, though, as the Pittsburgh Steelers fell just short of victory, giving the Steelers their first back-to-back losses since 2007.

With that being said, there was only one more running back rush last week making it an obvious choice of having Parker rated as the pure starting back. He faces the San Diego Chargers defense this week who have looked worse than anticipated.

Don’t think twice as Parker is a solid option in Week Four as either your low-end RB2 in deeper leagues or a flex-option.

Point Projection: 12 points

18. Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) at New England

Ray Rice finally grabbed the first touchdown of his career as he went for 75 yards and a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.

Against the weakened New England Patriots defense Rice should be able to once again throw up solid yardage. Since he has only one touchdown in his career it would be unwise to predict much more than 10-12 fantasy points, although as you saw this week if he can reach pay dirt his value is much greater.

Point Projection: 12 points

19. Ryan Grant (Green Bay Packers) at Minnesota

Ryan Grant continued to impress this year after a weak effort in the 2008 season, as Grant went for 104 total yards, good enough for double-digit points in fantasy leagues.

Week Four is going to be a major test for him, though, as Grant has been only average in four career games against Minnesota. Despite this, if you are looking for a RB2 to start in deeper leagues you can do much worse than Grant. Another double-digit fantasy showing is expected.

Point Projection: 12 points

20. Knowshon Moreno (Denver Broncos) vs. Dallas

Despite the talk of injury leading up to the game, Knowshon Moreno suited up and had a very nice game last week, running for 90 yards on 21 carries and punching in a touchdown. The fact that he had 21 carries is the eye opener and a great sign that he is ready to put his stamp on the football world.

Despite splitting carries with Correll Buckhalter, Moreno will be a solid play against the Dallas Cowboys in Week Four. Expect him to put up solid enough numbers to be a mid-to-low-end RB2 in deeper leagues.

Point Projection: 11 points




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