Week 3 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

The injury to Jamaal Charles has definitely sent sweeping changes over our weekly rankings, but that situation is not the only one causing fantasy owners headaches.  After big performances in Week 2, have Roy Helu and Daniel Thomas entrenched themselves as viable options?  Are Arian Foster and Steven Jackson healthy?  Let’s take a look at how everything stacks up:

  1. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – at St. Louis
  2. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. Denver
  3. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Detroit
  4. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – vs. New York Jets
  5. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Indianapolis
  6. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at Tampa Bay
  7. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New York Giants
  8. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at New Orleans
  9. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Carolina
  10. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
  11. Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns – vs. Miami
  12. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Cincinnati
  13. Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions – at Minnesota
  14. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
  15. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – vs. New England
  16. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – at Seattle
  17. LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Atlanta
  18. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. San Francisco
  19. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Baltimore
  20. Tim Hightower – Washington Redskins – at Dallas
  21. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – at Oakland
  22. Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Washington
  23. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – at Chicago
  24. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos – at Tennessee
  25. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Kansas City
  26. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers – vs. Kansas City
  27. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
  28. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins – at Cleveland
  29. Thomas Jones – Kansas City Chiefs – at San Diego
  30. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
  31. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – vs. Jacksonville
  32. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. Houston
  33. Danny Woodhead – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
  34. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – at New Orleans
  35. Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Pittsburgh
  36. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Arizona
  37. Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers – at Chicago
  38. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. Houston
  39. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – at Cleveland
  40. Dexter McCluster – Kansas City Chiefs – at San Diego


  • Chris Johnson has a favorable match-up against the Denver Broncos and, in prior seasons he would probably be the top option for the coming week.  However, with just 77 yards and 0 TD in his first two games it’s impossible to put him up there.  He’s close, however, even with the struggles.
  • Perhaps the impending demise of Michael Turner was a little overblown?  He has 214 yards and 1 TD on the ground over the first two games, not to mention four receptions for 72 yards.  Taking on a Tampa Bay defense that has been torched for 156.0 yards/game on the ground over the first two weeks, he’s a must own option for sure.
  • Is Arian Foster healthy or not?  He didn’t look it in Week 2, rushing the ball 10 times for 33 yards.  Are you ready to write him off, however?  If he’s starting, you have to consider him a viable option.  We’re going to rank him assuming he’s playing at full strength, but be sure to monitor the news and see what happens.  If he’s still banged up, Ben Tate looks that much better.
  • Can Darren McFadden run roughshod through the Jets defense?  He has 222 yards over the first two weeks and I just can’t bet against him at this point.
  • The fact that Matt Forte can produce on the ground (117 yards) and through the air (207 yards and 1 TD) is going to make him a good option regardless of the match-up.
  • How impressive has Fred Jackson been over the first two weeks of the season?  He’s already amassed 229 yards and 2 TD.  While the Bills-Patriots could breakdown into a shootout, the Bills could try and run the ball to keep it out of the hands of Tom Brady.  With the way he’s played he’s a borderline RB1, but I’d consider him more of a RB2, due to the risk of them needing to air it out.
  • Tim Hightower has been great, but Roy Helu looked tremendous in Week 2 (10 carries for 74 yards) and could easily eat into Hightower’s carries.  While he’s picked up 20+ carries each of the first two weeks, it’s possible that the number starts to fall.  He can’t be considered more than a RB2.
  • Yes, Ryan Grant is going to continue to be a factor in the Packers offense.  However, James Starks is clearly the better option.  He rushed for 85 yards on 9 carries, while adding 30 yards and 3 receptions in Week 2 (Grant had a total over 39 yards on 6 carries and 3 receptions).  Starks hasn’t been getting enough carries to be a RB2, but he’s a lock as a FLEX.
  • If Steven Jackson is healthy, he’s a solid RB2 option this week (even with a tough match-up against the Ravens).  Monitor the news and make sure before committing to him, however.
  • The Raiders have not been able to stop the run this season, allowing 255 yards over the first two games.  Granted, the Jets will be without their starting center, but if Shonn Greene is going to re-establish himself as a viable fantasy running back this is the week he’s got to do it.  Consider him a RB2 for now.
  • Ryan Mathews has gotten 12 carries in each of the first two games (109 yards and 1 TD), but also has added 10 receptions for 135 yards.  That definitely makes him a viable option, though he and Tolbert continue to split touches (21 carries for 45 yards and 1 TD + 17 receptions for 131 yards and 2 TD).  Consider them both more of FLEX options.
  • Has Daniel Thomas already taken over as the main RB for Miami?  He had 18 carries for 107 yards in Week 2 while Reggie Bush got just 7 touches (and has only rushed for 56 yards on 17 carries in two games).  While Bush will remain a viable option due to his ability in the passing game, Thomas appears to be the better fantasy option at this point.  However, that could quickly change.
  • Without Jamaal Charles the Chiefs will likely utilize Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster.  Jones figures to be the better overall option, with McCluster potentially viable in PPR formats.  However, neither offers the same upside as Charles and until we see how things are going to sort out I would consider them just FLEX options.

Make sure to check out the rest of Rotoprofessors Week 3 information:

Week 3 Rankings: Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 3 Rankings: Top 25 Quarterbacks


  1. Frank says:

    Hi Prof,

    Who to start at flex (st leage)


    I would go whit Tate wat do you think?

    • Nick Tenaglia says:

      Rex Grossman at Flex? I think you always have to go with a QB over a RB (unless your QB is Matt Cassel)

    • Tate’s value has a lot to do with Arian Foster’s health, so that’s a pretty big risk. I could see going Blount, though the scoring system would determine it.

      At first glance, I agree that Grossman has more upside.

  2. Nick Tenaglia says:

    so I just got a pants tent…. traded for Chris Johnson last night (J Stewart and Daniel Thomas for CJ) and now I look at the RB rankings….

    my RBs are Ray Rice (#1), CJ (#2), DMC (#4) and Mendy (#5). And with 1 RB spot and 3 Flex spots, I will be able to start all of them

    (Yes, this is me giving myself a big pat on the back – Good job, Nick)

  3. Cody says:

    I’m in ppr and lost Charles last week so I’m wondering who to start and I start 2 rbs
    Frank Gore
    Steven Jackson
    Darren Sproles
    Ben Tate
    Dexter Mccluster who could start at wr also
    Reggie Bush

  4. Frank says:

    Hi Nick en Prof,

    tks for the replay

    This is our scoring setting, in our leage RB often get more points,in the top 20 scoring there are 12-RB, 7-QB, 3- WR

    Scoring for Offensive Categories Setting

    FL – Fumble Lost, Including ST plays -2 points
    Pa2P – Passing Two-point Conversion 2 points
    PaInt – Passing Interception -2 points
    PaTD – Passing TD 6 points
    PaYd – Passing Yards 0+ PaYds = 1 point for every 20 PaYds
    Plus a 5 point bonus @ 400+ PaYd

    Re2P – Receiving Two-point Conversion 2 points
    Re40 – Reception of 40+ Yards 2 points
    ReTD – Receiving TD 6 points
    ReYd – Receiving Yards 0+ ReYds = 1 point for every 10 ReYds
    Plus a 3 point bonus @ 100+ ReYd

    Recpt – Reception 1 point
    Ru20 – Rush for 20+ Yards 2 points
    Ru2P – Rushing Two-point Conversion 2 points
    RuAtt – Rushing Attempt 0 – 15 RuAtts = 2 points for every 5 RuAtts
    16 – 30 RuAtts = 3 points for every 5 RuAtts
    31+ RuAtts = 4 points for every 5 RuAtts

    RuTD – Rushing TD 6 points
    RuYd – Rushing Yards 0+ RuYds = 1 point for every 10 RuYds
    Plus a 2 point bonus @ 100+ RuYd

  5. Tim says:

    Hey, I was wondering if you had seen this before listing Foster so high:

    Arian Foster (hamstring) did not participate in running drills with the Texans on Monday, and is considered “day to day.”
    “We took the step that we were kind of expecting to take. We were hoping to get him 10-15 carries,” said coach Gary Kubiak of Foster’s Week 1 effort. “He ended up getting 10. I think it is going to be a process with Arian working back to full speed.” It sounds like the Texans will continue to limit Foster’s workloads going forward. Ben Tate is going to be the best fantasy play in Houston’s backfield until Foster proves his health. Sep 19 – 4:43 PM

  6. Tim says:

    I play in a standard 10 team league with 2 RB slots, currently I have Frank Gore, Lagarrette Bluont, Cedric Benson and Felix Jones at RB. Due to some wild NFL action I am 0-2 and desperately do not want to fall to 0-3. My opponent this week is playing Arian Foster. I am wondering if it would be a sneaky move/worth it to drop Felix Jones or Cedric Benson to pick up Ben Tate for this pivotal matchup. My opponent has only Mike Tolbert on his bench and the waiver wire is lacking depth at RB.

    Also, in your opinion, is this theory of mine a result of 0-2′itis or is it wise to watch your opponents roster week to week so that you can try and nabb players they need?

    Thanks! May the Fantasy Gods have mercy on my soul!

    • It is a sneaky move, though there is nothing wrong with it. Is it worth dropping a better long-term option for him, however? Probably not, because all you are doing is thinking Week 3 instead of long-term.

      If you have another disposable piece, I definitely wouldn’t have a problem with it, though.

  7. Gamer says:

    12 Team non-PPR Flex question:
    - Steven Jackson
    - Ryan Matthews
    - Ben Tate
    - Steve Johnson

    Given the minor injuries to Jackson and Johnson and uncertainty of Foster; I’m leaning towards Ryan Matthews against KC. Appreciate your thoughts.

  8. Bez says:

    Hello again,
    Standard league 3/50 rush & receive, 6/TD.
    A couple of questions;
    1) Would you drop Shonn Greene or Tolbert for Ben Tate? I have Rice & Hillis.

    2) Who is the better WR pick-up for the rest of the season and would you drop P. Garcon (or S. Moss & M. Manningham) for any of these – Deion Branch, David Nelson, Nate Washington or Eric Decker? Please rate in order…please. :)

    3) I lost Aaron Hernandez for a few weeks and left with Marcedes Lerwis who has been out. Looks like he will be back this weekend. Who would you pick up and rate in order – Fred Davis, Evan Moore, Scott Chandler, Tony Scheffler or Ed Dickson?

    4) Last one (I promise) I have Big Ben and Sexy Rex at QB. Who would you pick up over either of them between Ryan Fitzpatrick and/or Cam Newton?

    Sorry for the long post but consolidating my questions into one – thanks again for all your insight and expertise. Go Roto!

  9. Sara says:

    Was hoping to get some quick advice before waivers tomorrow:
    Currently my questionables are Dallas Clark and Saints DEF. Clark barely managed to save his fantasy day with a late td last week and I’m not sure I trust him anymore. Fred Davis is still available and I was thinking about grabbing him.
    Meanwhile, Saints DEF has a cake schedule for the 6 weeks after this one. Would it be worth the drop to pick up Chargers for 1 week, or should I just ride out their Houston matchup?
    My drop options for either/both of these are Jones, Moreno, Bowe, and Meachem. (Starters are CJ/Turner, A Johnson/Nicks/Wallace, backups Benson & Williams TB)

  10. OK, let’s take these three one at a time:

    Gamer – It all depends on the injuries and how the week progresses. It’s almost impossible to make that decision right now. If Foster is out, Tate is the option. If Jackson is expected to work a normal workload, he’s right there. Unfortunately, I would wait and see how the week progresses before deciding. If you decide to early, you could make a mistake.

    1) Probably not. Greene is going to be the top option and Tolbert is very good as well. If Foster is healthy, Tate is not usable most weeks.
    2) I could see dropping Garcon and the order I’d prefer them is probably Decker, Nelson, Washington then Branch. They top two is either/or, though. They are very close.
    3) I would definitely make a move. F. Davis, then Chandler, would be the way to go.
    4) I would def. not drop Roethlisberger. Grossman I could see moving for either of the the other two. I’d love to say Newton will continue to blow us away, but does anyone really believer that?

    Sara – Which Jones? As for the D, it’s probably not worth dropping them over one week. I also wouldn’t give up hope on Clark quite yet. He’s still actually being targeted plenty (13, which is tied for 8th among TE) and should be fine.

  11. Jeff says:

    I am in a PPR league, struggling with what wr/rb lineup to play for Week 3. We play 2 rb, 2 wr, a wr/te, and wr/rb format. I have only one healthy te, so I am definitely playing at least 3 wr’s. I have:

    rb: Mccoy, Wells, Fred Jackson, Sproles, Moreno.

    wr: Wallace, Lance Moore, Branch, Gaffney, David Nelson.

    Also, would you recommend playing Romo or Hasselback this week?

    Thank you!

  12. Bez says:

    Thanks for the advice! I was awarded Cam Newton and Fred Davis off waivers and now I need to drop someone to pick up a WR (probably David Nelson since Decker is gone now).

    Here is my Team:
    QB Big Ben
    QB Rex Grossman
    QB Cam Newton
    RB Ray Rice
    RB Peyton Hillis
    RB Mike Tolbert
    RB Shonne Greene
    WR Calvin Johnson
    WR Santana Moss
    WR Mario Manningham
    TE Aaron Hernandez
    TE Fred Davis
    TE Marcedes Lewis
    K Alex Henery
    K Nick Folk
    DEF Eagles

    Stndrd League 3pts/50yrds Rush & Receive 6/TD
    Start 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1K & Team DEF.

    Who would you drop fvrom that list? I want to keep Hernandez cuz he rocks when healthy. Liked what Lewis did last year and assuming his rookie QB (Gabbert) will need a fallback plan (TE) but hate to keep 3 TE’S. Maybe drop one of the kickers? If so, who do you think will be best to keep for the rest of the season?
    Sorry for the long post and I guess my question comes down to this…Drop Grossman, Lewis or one of the Kickers?
    Assuming I pick up and have David Nelson available, who would you play this week for all positions?
    As always, thank you for your help. Much appreciated!

  13. Jeff – Here’s how I’d set it up:
    RB – McCoy
    RB – Jackson
    WR – Wallace
    WR – Branch
    WR/TE – Nelson (Moore is close)
    WR/RB – Wells
    QB – Romo (assuming he plays)

    Bez – I’d definitely drop one of the kickers (most likely Folk). As for how I’d do the skill positions this week:
    QB – Newton (though it’s a coin flip with Roethlisberger)
    RB – Rice
    RB – Hillis
    WR – Johnson
    WR – Moss
    TE – Davis

    And I’m always here to help! I truly appreciate yours and everyone else’s support!

  14. stephen says:

    RB1 – Chris johnson
    RB2 – Jahvid Best
    WR1 – Calvin Johnson
    WR2 – Mike Wallace
    Flex – Tim Hightower, Stevie Johnson, or Steve Smith

    I can’t make my mind up on the flex. Do you think that Hightower’s numbers are going to decline enough to start a WR over him? I have always been a traditional RB first guy, but I think the times are changing in the pass happy NFL. Thoughts?

  15. flex says:

    PPR league.
    2RBs 1 Flex(RB/WR)
    DeAngelo Williams, Woodhead,Grant,Murray, and Thomas Jones

  16. stephen – I do agree that times are changing. Helu’s performance in Week 2 has me a little worried about Hightower moving forward. I think I would actually go with one of the WR this week, with Johnson just slightly higher (though it’s a coin flip).

    flex – Jones, Woodhead, Williams (in that order). However, I could see using Woodhead over Jones, depending on the PPR points.

  17. flex says:

    Thanks professor. its .5 per catch

  18. Sara says:

    Thanks for the advice! Last question, my opponent this week just dropped Jimmy Graham for Chandler (><), and I could snag him by the time games start on Sunday. I'm thinking I'll drop Dallas Clark for him. Opinion?
    Also just snagged Fitzpatrick as my backup QB and am considering playing him over Ryan this week?

    • Sara says:

      Just as a reminder, I’ve kind of been stalking Fred Davis who has done slightly better, but I figure Graham is bound to be more consistent.

    • Graham vs. Clark is a tough call, honestly. Right now Graham is probably the better option, though I’m not quite so ready to throw in the towel on Clark. He’s still being targeted in the Colts’ offense and should still make plays. That said, I’d probably make the move.

      As for the QB, I’d stick Ryan.

  19. Muddy Cleats 18 says:

    I have a guy in my league who is not too thrilled with Gore. Wondering just how much I should give up for him.
    I have Rice – Blount – Tolbert – F. Jones – D. Carter as rbs with V.Jax,Maclin, Mannigham,Burleson,Sanders as wr…
    was thinking a Manningham,F.Jones, D.Carter combo or Tolbert straight up.
    Prob for me is I don’t like 49ers so don’t follow them that much and don’t really know what Gore is worth lately?
    thanks for help..

  20. Muddy Cleats 18 says:

    also have a chance to get Flaco on waivers(dropping Bradford) as a backup to Freeman. Just wondering Who you think is better – Flaco or Bradford. I think Flaco has better team but Bradford has a Dome to play in and 2 dates with the Seahawks and Cardinals…

    • I do like Flacco better than Bradford, though it is marginal. Go with your gut on that one.

      As for the trade, Gore would immediately become your #2 RB behind Rice. Is there a FLEX? How many WR do you start? Those things play a factor, though dealing Jones & Carter as part of the package makes a lot of sense, if you could swing it.

      • Muddy Cleats 18 says:

        2rb/2wr/1flex – figured I would have Rice/Gore/V.Jax/Maclin than use Blount/Manningham/Burleson/Sanders as a flex/bye/injury backups…

  21. Andrew says:

    Call me silly, but I’m a little anxious about Gore this week.

    I have Jackson and Tate starting and tossed Gore in the flex. I have a few other options consisting of Johnny Stewart, Greg Olsen, Julio Jones, and Lance Moore.

    My question is, do I stick with Gore or swap him for one of the above? (Assuming Foster is out for week 3)

    This is a PPR league, standard scoring after that.


  22. Muddy Cleats 18 says:

    got to bench 1 guy and wanted advice
    Calvin Johnson,Wallace,Maclin

    also have Burleson,Manningham and Decker but figured the first 6 are tops…amazing how the diff is between a 10 team and a 14 team league. 1 you have too little and 1 you have too much…

  23. John says:

    Questions: Std league,25 pass yds = 1pt
    TD = 4, 10 rush yds = 1pt TD = 6, 10 rec yds = 1pt TD = 6,
    - WR1: C. Johnson

    - WR2: E. Decker, J. Nelson, D. Henderson
    - WR3: ?
    - RB: Mendenhall, Blount, Tate

    Should I go with 3WR, if so whose the 2nd & 3rd. Or should I go w/3 RB’s.
    Flex in my league can be either RB or WR only!

    Defense, I have the Jets…will they crumble w/McFadden and the cross country trip? Should I pick up the Chargers @ K.C. or Carolina @ Jacksonville or Arizona @ Seattle?

  24. Noah says:

    I need help! I need to start two of these three RBs. Gore, Best, Fred Jackson. It is 1 point PPR.

  25. Dennis says:

    Im in a PPR league. I have Ray Rice, Forte, F.Jackson, Tolbert, Starks and R.Bush as RB’s. Im thinking of dropping Bush to take a flyer on Roy Helu for later in the season. is it a dumb move?

  26. Muddy Cleats – I’d bench Tolbert. He’s going to share carries with Ryan Mathews, so he does have the potential to fail to post big numbers. The others just have more upside.

    John – I would definitely play all 3 RB this week. As for the third WR, I’d go Henderson (though it’s close).

    Noah – Tough call, as all three are close on the rankings. I would probably go Gore & Best, but it’s hard to bench Jackson in what should be a shootout with the Patriots. Flip a coin, though, all should be usable.

    Dennis – I don’t think it’ll hurt you, as you are definitely stacked. In a PPR I like Bush, but neither will likely crack your starting lineup anyways.

  27. Dan says:

    I want to trade Greene but dont know who I should target and If I dont trade him who should I start this week at Rb.
    QB-Newton, Freeman
    RB-Rice, Greene, Tolbert, Daniel Thomas
    WR-Calvin J., Fitz, Britt Decker, Rice and Moore and D. Nelson are available
    TE-Finley, Fred Davis
    Should I drop any receivers for the other 2 or try and make a trade with my depth to get a RB.

    • I assume it’s Sidney Rice at WR? I can easily see getting rid of him at this point. That entire team just appears to have no value or upside. Until they find themselves a viable QB, it seems hopeless. Plus, as it is, I can’t imagine using him over Calvin, Fitz & Britt. I could see taking the flier on Nelson at this point.

  28. Sara says:

    Maclin also just dropped in our league (don’t ask..), would you drop Moreno, Felix, or Bowe to grab him? Other RBs are CJ/Turner/Benson, WRs A Johnson/Nicks/Wallace/Williams TB.

    • I don’t think you necessarily need him and you have a little bit more of a need at RB (especially with Benson facing a 3-game suspension).

      While I don’t like giving up on Bowe, he’s the only one I’d consider dropping at this point for him. It’s going to be rare either plays for you, though, but Maclin would have more trade value.

      • Sara says:

        Thanks, I always appreciate the advice! My league is so shallow I don’t see anyone picking up Bowe anyway, with Cassel performing the way he is. Maybe Maclin can help me trade up for a better RB.

  29. Faisal says:

    Hi, I have Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford and I am thinking of trying to trade Stafford. I am very weak elsewhere. should I go for an WR (I have Branch, Roddy White, Devery Henderson, and manningham) or an RB (i have fred jackson, green ellis, frank gore, moreno and sproles) or a TE (have V davis and Scott Chandler… this is a non ppr league w/ no flex player. any help would be appreciated, this is a great site, i wish i would have found it before my draft…

  30. Faisal says:

    I’m sorry, my comment was meant for the quarterback thread… my mistake

  31. Roll Tide says:

    would you trade Jermicheal Finley for D Bowe and Kellen Winslow? I have Gronkowski at TE and am thin at WR with Hakeem Nicks, Plaxico & Meachem.

  32. Faisal – No worries on where you posted the comment. I’m going to answer it no matter where you post it :) I also appreciate your support and welcome you! We’re always here to help and offer our opinions.

    As for what to go for, I would be most concerned about your receiving corps, though if you can add an elite RB I would go in that direction. I would then try to deal one of your RB for a good WR. If it’s one or the other, though, I’d be comfortable with Gore & Jackson moving forward.

    Roll Tide – I may try to shoot a little bit higher than Bowe. Finley is still viewed by many as one of the elite TE in the game, while Bowe’s stock is pretty low. Aim higher to start!

  33. aaron says:

    Non PPR league. 2rbs, 1 flex(wr/rb)
    Right now I have McFadden, Mathews, and Tate for my RB 1,2 and Flex. I also have Shonn Green and Best on my bench.
    Would you change any of those around?

    • I would definitely be playing McFadden & Best in my two RB spots. As for the FLEX, it depends on if Arian Foster is able to play or not. If he’s out, Tate is the no-brainer. If he’s playing, I would go either Mathews or Greene, whichever one your more comfortable with (I think Greene will have a big game this week and Mathews shares carries, but it really could go either way considering what Mathews has done so far).

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