Fantasy Football Winners and Losers, Week 4: The Running Backs

Justin SparksCorrespondent IIIOctober 4, 2011

Fantasy Football Winners and Losers, Week 4: The Running Backs

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    Week 4 of the NFL is officially in the books. Fantasy football owners who drafted the big name NFL running backs had a fruitful week overall in their leagues. The upper echelon of ball carriers delivered and a few others continued to frustrate their owners with yet another inconsistent performance.

    The NFL has been a wild and crazy roller coaster thus far. No lead is safe. Anyone can win, anywhere. The Detroit Lions are undefeated. It's nuts out there.

    Basically, the new post-lockout NFL world is a new and uncharted land that makes it nearly impossible to navigate through. Fantasy owners throughout the country have been tearing their hair out trying to establish a dependable lineup that they can play week in and week out.

    Unfortunately, this list will not help you find a sleeper or even a method to this madness we've all experienced the last four Sundays. It will, however, give reassurance to some about their starting running back's reliability and provide insecurities for others who's running back did not perform up to par.  

Winner: Ray Rice

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    Points: 18

    Ray Rice scored his most points since racking up 26 points in the Week 1 beating of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The pint-sized 5'8'' running back for the Baltimore Ravens produced a balanced attack versus the New York Jets Sunday night.

    The versatile back displayed his skills with a 52-yard catch for his longest reception of the season. Rice is widely considered a top five running back and this week he showed why.

    Week 4 Statistics

    Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
    25 66 2 64


    Week 5 Preview

    The Baltimore Ravens will be enjoying time off during Week 5. Rice and the Ravens will be on their bye week.

    Although many Ray Rice owners will be disappointed, the Ravens next four games are the following: Houston, at Jacksonville, Arizona and at Pittsburgh. None of which have enjoyed a stellar start on defense through the first quarter of the season.

    Rice owners can smile for the next two weeks thinking about how those games might turn out.

Winner: Frank Gore

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    Points: 19

    Frank Gore didn't even start Sunday versus the Philadelphia Eagles. The banged-up running back took over in the second half of the game as he pounded the pathetic Eagles fourth quarter defense.The physical running back had 65 yards in the fourth quarter alone, which included his 12-yard run into the end zone.

    Gore scored his most fantasy points of the season thus far for his fantasy owners by beating his previous high of 11 points. No. 21 had a long run of 40 yards and an additional 25-yard scamper up the middle.


    Attempts Rushing Yards  Receptions  Receiving Yards
     15  127  2  12  1

    Week 5 Preview:

    The NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers host the NFC South-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 5. Gore did not receive a ton of carries versus the Eagles and looks to be splitting time with Kendall Hunter, who was the starter in Week 4.

    Gore could produce in similar fashion if the 49ers continue to use him heavily in the second half after the opposing defense wears down. Tampa Bay allowed 17 points to an Indianapolis Colts team on Monday night, so you can interpret that how you please.

Loser: Adrian Peterson

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    Points: 8

    For all the Adrian Peterson owners out there reading this, I have one word for you: breathe. The Minnesota Vikings are bad, very bad actually. You and everyone else associated with the NFL thought the league's best running back would break out against the Kansas City Chiefs but no.

    I predicted "All Day" would have a "30-burger" versus the Chiefs. Boy, did I get that wrong. Even playing a poor Chiefs team after publicly calling for more touches did not help Peterson produce in Week 4. Peterson's long for the day was a measly 14-yard run.


    Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
    23 80 1 3 0

    Week 5 Preview

    The Minnesota Vikings get back to the Metrodome next versus the Arizona Cardinals. Adrian Peterson will certainly be demanding the ball as the Vikings try to get their first win of the season in Week 5.

    Keep an eye on any news coming out of Minnesota this week. Donovan McNabb has struggled to lead this team thus far, and the Christian Ponder era could be starting sooner than expected. It may not happen this week, but be cognizant of that because Ponder will be handing the ball off, a lot.

Winner: Matt Forte

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    Points: 28

    Plain and simple, the Chicago Bears need to pay this man. Matt Forte has single-handedly won several fantasy owners games this year, and Week 4 was no exception.

    The Bears go-to man racked in over 225 total yards on Sunday, including a 46-yard scamper. Forte kept the Carolina Panthers at an arm's reach away the entire game. He derailed Cam Newton's comeback attempt on Sunday while killing the dreams of any owner who had to face him this week.


    Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
    25 205 4 23 1

    Week 5 Preview

    The Chicago Bears travel to Detroit for a Monday night matchup versus the undefeated Detroit Lions. Matt Forte will be the center of attention for the Detroit Lions defense.

    Detroit's Ford Field will be electric and incredibly loud, but Mike Martz will try to find a way to quiet the crowd. I highly doubt Forte will put up 28 fantasy points in Week 5; however, Forte could be a Lions slayer if the Bears can get the screen game going.

Loser: Tim Hightower

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    Points: 2

    Mike Shanahan shook things up on Sunday versus the St. Louis Rams. Tim Hightower seemed to be the first choice running back for the Washington Redskins, but Shanahan had other ideas.

    After scoring 10 points or more for the first three weeks, Hightower recorded a season low in fantasy points. Ryan Torain received the majority of the carries, surpassed the century mark and scored a touchdown as the Redskins' No. 1 back on Sunday.


    Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
    8 24 1 4 0

    Week 5 Preview

    The Washington Redskins go into their bye week in Week 5 on top of the NFC East. I never thought I'd be saying that, but per the introduction slide, this NFL is unpredictable as ever.

    Mike Shanahan enjoys having a variety of running backs to use in his game plans. Hightower will get his touches going forward but the reliability of Shanahan's preferences could change on a weekly basis.

Winner: Michael Turner

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    Points: 20

    Michael Turner has put up 20 points for the second time in three weeks in Week 4. The Atlanta Falcons running back saw paydirt twice on Sunday as the Falcons ran to victory.

    Turner's production has been sporadic thus far through the quarter mark in the season, but No. 33 has put up big fantasy numbers when he's been on. As long as he keeps punching it into the end zone, Turner's fantasy owners will be satisfied.


    Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
    26 70 2 18 2

    Week 5 Preview

    The Atlanta Falcons welcome back the Green Bay Packers to the Georgia Dome in Week 5. The Packers scorched the Falcons in the playoffs last season on the fast surface, but the Falcons will be seeking revenge.

    Green Bay is undefeated but their defense has let teams move up and down the field. The majority of the problems in Green Bay's defense lie within the secondary. If Julio Jones and Roddy White can get going, Michael Turner could be the clean up guy in the red zone.

    I like Turner's scoring potential in Week 5.

Loser: Chris Johnson

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    Points: 11

    Normally, my rule of thumb for any starter on my roster is that 10 points or higher equals a solid week from that individual. Some players are held to a different standard, and Chris Johnson is one of them.

    Johnson's legs seem to be getting back to where they should be after missing training camp in the summer. He surpassed the century mark for the first time this season, yet Chris Johnson owners have to be disappointed he only provided 11 points.

    Not getting into the end zone put a damper on his overall performance.


    Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
    23 101 2 11 0

    Week 5 Preview

    The Tennessee Titans travel to Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5. Pittsburgh has not been impressive whatsoever in the first quarter of the season and the Titans have flown under the radar as a 3-1 team.

    Tennessee will try to exploit the Steelers defense with a healthy dose of Chris Johnson. The speedster seems to be nearing his 100 percent fitness level. An extra week to get his legs underneath him could see the big play running back have his first fantasy breakout game of the season.

Winner: Beanie Wells

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    Points: 31

    I feel for those fantasy owners that sat Beanie Wells in Week 4. The Arizona Cardinals running back racked up the most points in Week 4 at the running back position. Who saw that coming?

    Wells had three different trips to the end zone that helped the points accumulate versus the New York Giants. In addition to his three scores Wells also surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark on Sunday.


    Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards  Touchdowns
    27 138 0 0 3

    Week 5 Preview

    The Arizona Cardinals head north to face the winless Minnesota Vikings. Beanie Wells may not have a repeat performance with two consecutive "30-burgers" but he should have a solid game.

    Minnesota has given up big leads, lost to a team they should have blown out and looked utterly dismal at times. Look for the Cardinals to try and control the game on the road by utilizing Wells throughout the game.

Loser: Rashard Mendenhall

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    Points: 8

    Any week a top 10 running back produces less than 10 points in fantasy football, that player is considered a loser for the week. Rashard Mendenhall had a terrible day at the office on Sunday and has been a consistent loser early in the season.

    The Houston Texans held the running back to just 25 yards from scrimmage on the ground. If it wasn't for his touchdown he would be sitting next to Tim Hightower in the two points club, which should be embarrassing for any Pittsburgh Steelers running back.


    Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
    9 25 0 0 1

    Week 5 Preview

    The Pittsburgh Steelers welcome the Tennessee Titans to Heinz Field in Week 5 for what should be a grind-it-out type of game. Mike Tomlin's team has not looked all that impressive at the quarter mark of the season.

    Mendenhall has only broken double digits in fantasy points once in four games this season. I have a hard time seeing him producing more than 10 points in Week 5 as well.

Winner: Arian Foster

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    Points: 22

    Arian Foster owners can finally rejoice this week. The hamstrung running back got back to his 2010 ways by surpassing the century mark and visiting the end zone on Sunday.

    Foster produced two donuts and a three-point game in Week 2 before breaking out in Week 4. The Houston Texans gave their star running back plenty of carries and he returned the favor.


    Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
    30 155 3 11 1

    Week 5 Preview

    The Houston Texans face the Oakland Raiders in Week 5 at home. Houston will be running the ball a little more than usual on Sunday with superstar Andre Johnson reportedly out with a pulled hamstring.  

    Foster looked good and healthy on Sunday and I fully expect him to get back to being a top five running back in the NFL. The future looks bright for Arian Foster owners.