Week 4 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Injuries have the potential to really shake these rankings as the week progresses.  Steven Jackson, Jahvid Foster, Ryan Mathews & Ray Rice are all battling injuries, but for now we will rank them as if they were going to play.  Of course, that could change so make sure to check back later in the week and pay close attention to the news.  Who practices and who doesn’t will go a long way in finalizing these rankings.

For now, let’s take a look at how things currently stand:

  1. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. Denver
  2. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Indianapolis
  3. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at Oakland
  4. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – vs. San Francisco
  5. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Arizona
  6. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – at Cleveland
  7. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Baltimore
  8. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Atlanta
  9. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
  10. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – at New Orleans
  11. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – at Pittsburgh
  12. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Seattle
  13. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. Carolina
  14. LaDanian Tomlinson – New York Jets – at Buffalo
  15. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – vs. Houston
  16. Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions – at Green Bay
  17. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at New York Giants
  18. Ronnie Brown – Miami Dolphins – vs. New England
  19. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – vs. Chicago
  20. Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns – vs. Cincinnati
  21. Brandon Jackson – Green Bay Packers – vs. Detroit
  22. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – at San Diego
  23. Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts – at Jacksonville
  24. Ricky Williams – Miami Dolphins – vs. New England
  25. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots – at Miami
  26. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – at Buffalo
  27. Marshawn Lynch – Buffalo Bills – vs. New York Jets
  28. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at New Orleans
  29. Justin Forsett – Seattle Seahawks – at St. Louis
  30. Tim Hightower – Arizona Cardinals – at San Diego
  31. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers – vs. Arizona
  32. John Kuhn – Green Bay Packers – vs. Detroit
  33. Chester Taylor – Chicago Bears – at New York Giants
  34. Ryan Torian – Washington Redskins – at Philadelphia
  35. Laurence Maroney – Denver Broncos – at Tennessee
  36. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – vs. Chicago
  37. Clinton Portis – Washington Redskins – at Philadelphia
  38. Michael Bush – Oakland Raiders – vs. Houston
  39. Jason Snelling – Atlanta Falcons – vs. San Francisco
  40. Jerome Harrison – Cleveland Browns – vs. Cincinnati


  • Maurice Jones-Drew has not looked good thus far this season, with 217 yards on 57 rushes.  Still, you have to anticipate the team trying to feed him the ball this week against a Colts defense that’s been allowing over 141 yards per game on the ground.  This could easily be his “breakout” game of 2010.
  • It was another big game for Arian Foster, picking up 126 total yards.  The one concern right now is that he hasn’t scored a TD since the first week, but that can easily reverse itself this week against the Raiders.
  • If Ryan Mathews is healthy, he is a Top 5 option this week.  Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee he’s going to play.  I’m going to leave him as the top back for the Chargers, with Mike Tolbert not doing anything to press the issue in Week 3 (17 carries for 73 yards).  For now I’m going to rank him as if he were healthy, but we’ll be updating this later in the week depending on the news.
  • The Packers have said that they aren’t committed to making Brandon Jackson an every down back.  Still, with a favorable matchup against the Lions, he’s a usable RB2 this week.
  • Charlie Batch looked good in Week 3, but you have to think the Steelers are again going to focus more on grinding the game out on the ground, especially against the Ravens.  That makes Rashard Mendenhall a strong play this week.
  • If you thought LaDanian Tomlinson would emerge as the Jets #1 running back this season please raise your hand?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Well, that certainly appears to be the case over the first three weeks of the season.  Shonn Greene has disappointed while Tomlinson is averaging 5.6 yards per carry (208 yards on 37 carries).  Throw in 60 receiving yards and it has been a solid year.  He’s not going to get 20+ carries a game, but he’s making the most of his opportunities.  With the Bills on the schedule, he should be considered a high-end RB2.
  • Ray Rice (knee contusion), Steven Jackson (groin strain) and Jahvid Best (turf toe) are questionable for Week 4.  We’ll rank them as if they are going to play, for now, but consider both of their spots tenuous at best.  They could be in for a dramatic fall later in the week depending on the news.  Rice has the toughest matchup, but could play a factor in the short passing game, which helps keep him up in the rankings.
  • The Texans are allowing just 54.3 rushing yards per game thus far this season.  Then again they’ve faced the Colts, Redskins and Cowboys, three offenses that are not known for their ability to run the football.  The Raiders, on the other hand, are now an offense built around Darren McFadden.  Look for him to have another strong game in Week 4.
  • Even if the Bears didn’t have a strong front four, you would expect the Giants to be a more pass-oriented team.  It’s just their identity these days.  Bradshaw should be a good option, but this game could quickly breakdown into a shootout.
  • Peyton Hillis’ strong Week 3 performance (144 yards, 1 TD) has pushed him into the RB1 spot for the Browns.  Seneca Wallace is currently running the offense, so he should be the focal point of the offense once again.  That makes him a RB2 in all formats.
  • It didn’t take long for Beanie Wells to get the bulk of the carries, did it?  In his first week of action he had 14 carries (for 75 yards) while Tim Hightower had 11 carries (for 40 yards).  While the two will share carries, Wells should once again lead the way and is the back worth using this week.
  • Even with a good matchup against the Rams, Clinton Portis got just seven carries.  In fact, his carries have been slowing declining, from 18 to 13 to 7.  Ryan Torain appears primed to get a shot to overtake him, so consider stashing him if you are in need of some help in the backfield.
  • It’s hard to predict the Buffalo backfield from week-to-week, but Marshawn Lynch does lead the team in carries with 33 (Fred Jackson has 17 & C.J. Spiller has 12).  Lynch is better suited as a FLEX option against a tough Jets defense.

What are your thoughts on these rankings?  Who’s too high?  Who’s too low?

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

    Week 4 Rankings: Top 60 Wide Receivers
    Week 4 Rankings: Top 25 Quarterbacks


    1. Mathews is way to high considering he’s probably not going to play. With that uncertainty I would rank him lower and move him up if he proves healthy. Same with Jahvid Best.

    2. admin says:

      I agree that I was “aggressive” with the injured guys, but on the basis that I would adjust them down as the week progresses if the news isn’t favorable. It Mathews were healthy, I’m not sure we’d be having the discussion about him being too high and there certainly is a chance he plays this week.

      Obviously, practice news will be the ultimate judge and if an adjustment needs to be made, it will be.

      I love the matchup, though, so if he’s playing and healthy, I think he could have a monster week.

    3. Most may disagree with your Mojo ranking, but I’m on board with you there. Indy’s run D is a disaster and he has a great track record against them.

    4. C Bass says:

      Please say something good about Deangelo Williams. You continuously rank him in the top 10-12 RBs. I own him and have basically lost hope. Carolina is flat out bad, so there are 8+ in the box on every play. He’s also not the 3rd down back anymore as Mike Goodson has taken that role which is leading to less receptions/yards, and Jonathan Stewart has been getting goal line carries (although he’s not succeeding). I need to understand what you are thinking about him to rank him in the top 10-12 every week so I could find something good to say and think about the guy i drafted in the 2nd round.

    5. admin says:

      C Bass, I agree it’s difficult to stomach thus far, but he has a big track record of success so it’s hard to give up on him after three weeks. He also has a positive matchup against New Orleans (3rd worst in the league with 145.0 rushing yards per game), where you have to believe that the Panthers are going to try and rush the ball in order to keep it out of Drew Brees’ hands and control the clock.

      If there were a week to hold out hope, this would be the one. Another poor showing, however, even with the good that is in his corner, and you can bet that he plummets.

    6. C Bass says:

      From your mouth to God’s ears on Deangelo. I’m thinking after losing last week, the Saints will come out pissed off and go up a quick 17 points in the first half and the panthers will be forced to throw the ball because they’re playing from behind. This would result in a steady dose of Mike Goodson and another horror show from Deangelo. I hope your ranking proves true just so I can see something positive from this guy, but I think I’m going with Peyton Hillis this week instead.

    7. mogli says:

      Hi i need to know which WR to start this week. My WR are
      Welker, reggie wayne, mark clayton, steve smith (NYG),louis murphy. i can start Three WR and other one gonna be WR/RB/T. basically i can start 4 WR since my RB SUCK big time. Do u i think i should purpose a trade for Peterson for REGGIE AND Dustin keller or if u have any trade option that will be awesome THX ALOT.

    8. mogli says:

      OR SHOULD I GO FOR MARK CLAYTON AND DUSTIN KELLER FOR PETERSON. SORRY I FORGOT TO ADD TAHT. BUT I DOTN THINK I WILLL GET PETERSON FOR CLAYTON AND KELLER and i dont wannna propose a stupid trade. micheal turner and BIG ben for reggie and mcnabb. let me kno . plz

    9. Brandon says:

      AP’s bye week this week is killer, so I have to delve into my bench for a replacement. I also have D Williams, who hasn’t produced much at all so far.

      From McCoy, Benson, and D Williams, who would you start? I feel like Benson/McCoy is a better starting 2, but I’m welcome to advice.

    10. admin says:

      mogli, there’s no way you get Peterson for Clayton & Keller. You could offer Wayne, but it depends on the other team. Chances are, you don’t get that either but it’s not a terrible offer.

      As for the guys you have, I’m playing Welker, Wayne & Smith this week

      Brandon, if it were up to me I’d start McCoy and Benson. Williams is a great option as well, but with his struggles thus far the other two are the way to go.

    11. mogli says:

      thx for reply but how about my fourth WR louis murphy or clayton.
      i was thinkin about benching steve smith (NYG). He hasnt done much anything this season and putting louis murphy, welker, wayne clayton. but i cant decide between louis, steve and clayton which two wideout to start. i would help if guys will reply and give me ur opinion thxx alot

    12. mogli says:

      and i m purposing a trade for mcnabb and wayne for frank gore and BIG BEN. is it a fair trade.

    13. admin says:

      For your WR, I’d go Smith & Clayton. Smith is coming off a big day and that game could breakdown into a shootout. I like his chances of producing this season.

      It’s not a bad trade if you are in need of a RB, but it will significantly weaken your WR corps. Who are your RB right now?

    14. mogli says:

      if i tell u my RB name u gonna laugh so bad. my RB are terrible terrible. Jamal charles and Green Ellis. in our league we can start 4 WR, TECHNICALLY 3 but the fourth one could be RB/WR/T. so i m starting 4 WR every week due to bad running game. the worst part is charles is on by week lol. should i purpose a Trade if so than which one and thx for reply again.

    15. admin says:

      Charles isn’t terrible, as he’s still being productive, but you’d rather have him as a FLEX then your top RB. You have some WR depth and could probably find more on the waiver wire if need be, sothe deal getting Gore is fair, so it’s probably worth rolling the dice on. I don’t see any way of you getting a top RB without parting with Wayne, unfortunately, which is going to weaken your receiving corps, but as I said, at least you have depth there.

    16. Scott says:

      Mr. Admin,

      You seem very high on Brandon Jackson. Please rate him versus the following three backs….Forte, Maroney and Tolbert.

      For the following weeks would you drop one of the four backs mentioned to pick up Blount or Torain?


    17. mogli says:

      someone just purpose me a trade for payton and wayne for big ben, turner, best, and malcolm floyd plz let me kno. i would say no but let me kno thx

    18. admin says:

      mogli – If Best were healthy I may consider it, knowing your shortage of RB, but he’s a wild card right now. Plus, you’re taking a huge downgrade in QB. I’d pass.

      Scott – I’m not really that high on him, but this week he should be a good play. Of those, though, I’d probably go Forte/Jackson/Tolbert/Maroney. I would probably pick up Blount, as he has a real chance of becoming the RB1 in TB in the very near future. Tolbert and Maroney need an injury to get to that sport on their respective teams.

    19. mogli says:

      ya thts wht i thought too thts y i declined the trade thx. but again he sent me another trade, wayne, payton and charles for turner, gore,best and big ben.

    20. Leroy says:

      I think Jason Snelling should be way higher on this list the combination of him and Turner is going to become on of the best in the league and Atlanta is committed to limiting Turner’s touches to keep the running game strong and both backs fresh.

    21. Have to come here and take my medicine. Looks like Mathews and Best will play.

    22. brian says:

      which RBs should I start week 4: Rice, Forte, Bradshaw?

      Thanks man, this is a tough one.

    23. admin says:

      If it were me, I’d go Rice & Forte, but it’s close. Rice is a must start, though.

    24. johnson says:

      DeAngelo Williams , Lesean McCoy and Benjarvus Green-Ellis are my 3 running backs and I’m thinking that McCoy and GE are the way to go because Williams has done nothing thus far. What do you think?

    25. admin says:

      McCoy is a lock.

      I think DeAngelo Williams could have a breakout performance this week. He just has too much talent to continue being this bad. I’d go with him over Benjavus Green-Ellis.

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