Week 4 Rankings (2014): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

These rankings are crazy looking. A month ago, who would have thought that the Week 4 rankings would look like this? They do, though, and we must play with the hands we are dealt. Just to make matters worse, there are six teams on bye this week. Let’s take a look at the running backs we can expect to play this week and how they rank.

  1. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New Orleans
  2. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Tampa Bay
  3. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – vs. New York Giants
  4. Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers – at Chicago Bears
  5. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
  6. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. New England
  7. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – at San Francisco
  8. Rashad Jennings – New York Giants – at Washington
  9. Donald Brown – San Diego Chargers – vs. Jacksonville
  10. Lamar Miller – Miami Dolphins – at Oakland
  11. Matt Asiata – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Atlanta
  12. Ahmad Bradshaw – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Tennessee
  13. Reggie Bush – Detroit Lions – at New York Jets
  14. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Philadelphia
  15. Pierre Thomas  – New Orleans Saints – at Dallas
  16. D’Angelo Willams – Carolina Panthers – at Baltimore
  17. Joique Bell – Detroit Lions – at New York Jets
  18. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – at Houston
  19. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – at Kansas City
  20. Shane Vereen – New England Patriots – at Kansas City
  21. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Pittsburgh
  22. Alfred Blue – Houston Texans – vs. Buffalo
  23. CJ Spiller – Buffalo Bills – at Houston
  24. Chris Ivory – New York Jets – vs. Detroit
  25. Khiry Robinson – New Orleans Saints – at Dallas
  26. Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles – at San Francisco
  27. Justin Forsett – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Carolina
  28. Trent Richardson – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Tennessee
  29. Steven Jackson – Atlanta Falcons – at Minnesota
  30. Toby Gerhart – Jacksonville Jaguars – at San Diego
  31. Bishop Sankey – Tennessee Titans – at Indianapolis
  32. LeGaratte Blount – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Tampa Bay
  33. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – vs. Miami
  34. Chris Johnson – New York Jets – vs. Detroit
  35. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Philadelphia
  36. Bobby Rainey – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Pittsburgh
  37. Jacquizz Rodgers – Atlanta Falcons – at Minnesota
  38. Branden Oliver – San Diego Chargers – vs. Jacksonville
  39. Knile Davis – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. New England
  40. Bernard Pierce – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Carolina

Thoughts:

  • After missing the entire pre-season with a hamstring injury, Arian Foster appeared to be healthy for the first two weeks of the season. He then suddenly appeared on the injury report once again and ended up on the inactive list. Rookie Alfred Blue got the start, and I am operating under the assumption that will repeat itself this week. Blue carried the ball 13 times for 78 yards, with the majority of that coming on one 46 yard gain. The Texans offensive line has been having success this season, but blocking for Foster is obviously different than blocking for Blue. I think Foster will return next week, but this is an injury that can linger all season. Blue did enough against the Giants to be considered the clear handcuff, but I’m not sure he is much higher than a low-end RB2. The one thing we can be certain of, and it is no small thing, is that he will get the carries.
  • I already put up the disclaimer out about how funky these rankings would have looked one month ago, but I feel that further explanation is needed regarding Donald Brown. Yes I do have him ranked as an RB1, but the hope is that you aren’t in the position of using Brown as such. Ryan Mathews is still slated to miss another month, and now with Danny Woodhead out for the season Brown is certainly the guy to own in San Diego’s backfield. If that wasn’t clear, Brown carried the ball 31 times against the Bills on Sunday, though the bad news is that he only gained 65 yards. Brown also caught five passes for another 27 yards so in PPR leagues he still had a pretty solid day.
  • Eddie Lacy has been terrible so far this season. Everyone knows it and has been saying it, even Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy. While we certainly can’t argue with the poor performance, Lacy should be cut a little slack. To start the season the second year running back had to face the 5th, 6th, and 2nd ranked run defenses to start the season. Last year Lacy also got off to a slow start before exploding on the scene, and I would expect that to happen again. Don’t give up on Lacy just yet, as his value should begin to start ascending starting with this week against the Bears. Buying low is the only way to go here.
  • We all know about Trent Richardson’s failure to live up to expectations in the past year, and Ahmad Bradshaw is the beneficiary of that. Bradshaw has become an integral part of the Colts’ offense, and through three games he certainly looks like the better running back. The main thing here is that Bradshaw is getting the work in the red zone, and with Andrew Luck at quarterback that is not exactly in short supply. Bradshaw’s value is higher in PPR leagues, but with three touchdowns in the past two games he has appeal as a FLEX play in standard leagues as well. For as long as he is healthy, take advantage of Bradshaw’s success. The running back is averaging six yards a carry on 25 carries while also catching 12 passes for another 114 yards giving him 264 yards in three games.
  • Frank Gore was not happy about how last week’s game against the Cardinals went. The 49ers did not look like the 49ers we have come to expect, and Gore only had six carries for 10 yards. In the two previous games Gore carried the ball 29 times for 129 yards which again isn’t great, but certainly enough to be a FLEX starter at worst in a bye week. I would expect to see San Francisco increase Gore’s workload against the Eagles in order to keep their high powered offense off the field. Additionally Philadelphia’s defense will offer less resistance than Arizona’s did last week.
  • Bishop Sankey was the hot rookie running back this summer. The Titans drafted him in the second round, but he failed to impress in training camp. Eventually everyone knew that Sankey would rise to the top of the depth chart, but patience was a virtue here. First of all, if anyone did grow impatient with the rookie and cut him, he should be your number one waiver wire pickup. Of course the issue of bye weeks and injuries does come into play with roster management, but it won’t be long before Sankey is the Titans bell cow. This past week we got closer to that as Sankey carried the ball 10 times for 61 yards in the best performance of his young career. Shonn Greene did get a late game touchdown, but he only averaged about three yards a carry and it is clear Sankey is Tennessee’s best option. Ken Whisenhunt has said that Sankey still needs to improve his footwork and his playing time will be dependent on that, but if Sankey is that best option the Titans will have to utilize him. The good thing for Sankey owners is that his snaps have been trending in the right direction while Greene’s have been decreasing.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 4 rankings:

Week 4 Rankings (2014): Top 15 Defenses
Week 4 Rankings (2014): Top 50 Wide Receivers

43 comments

  1. Nick says:

    I’m having trouble starting Asiata over Deangelo Williams this week.

    • OD says:

      Start Asiata …. Teddy “The Black Brady” Bridgewater is going to allow that team to run … The Falcons Suck against the run …… The Ravens are Top 10 against the run ….. Plus Deangelo is coming off a Thigh Injury which is never good

  2. shivy says:

    Should I drop Jordan Matthews and pick up Steven Jackson to start over Bishop Sankey this weekend or should I just start Sankey this weekend?

  3. Jim says:

    I have Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey with the opportunity to drop one and get D’Angelo Williams on the wire. Any thoughts for the long term not just this week would be appreciated.

  4. Nick – I’d go Asiata as it’s easy to imagine the team going run heavy this week as Bridgewater gets eased into things.

    shivy – Is there anyone else you could start? Jackson is part of a big committee and is no guarantee, but neither is Sankey (though he’s heading into that direction). Push come to shove I’d lean Sankey, but it’s hardly a given.

    Jim – It’s going to be Martin’s job. Rainey has fumbled way too much to imagine him being trusted

    • shivy says:

      i wish. Ryan Mathews is hurt for me. Zac Stacy has a bye week and im already starting chris ivory. cant find anyone on the waiver either cuz everyone is taken (donald brown, khiry, kniles davis, even Lorenzo Taliaferro and blount. taking that into consideration, should I def not pick up steven jackson and start sankey then?

  5. Steve L says:

    Asiata, Jordan Matthews, or J. Bell for the flex? I’m leaning toward sitting Bell, more between the other two.

  6. Steve L says:

    Thanks. Also, what do you think of Demaryius for Demarco? I’ve got Garcon,Dez, and Hopkins as next in line.

    • OD says:

      Do not make that trade …. Garcon is not having a consistent season and Hopkins will Follow … …. D. thomas is the go to guy in Denver

  7. Gamer says:

    You’ll probably tell me to wait until later in the week to decide, but two questions (2 non-PPR leagues) both involving Knile Davis:

    1) Start Charles or Davis? It’s a tough defense, and I’m wondering how much they limit Charles.

    2) Start Doug Martin or Davis? Leaning towards Martin.

  8. S says:

    Vereen or Sankey for Flex position? I’m really scouring the barrel in my RB position this week.

  9. Tyler says:

    After winning two weeks in a row, I’m hesitant to alter my roster. But despite how gifted Cordarrelle Patterson is, I’m worried about keeping him in my flex when I have guys like Joique, Jeremy Hill, Alfred Blue, Jordan Matthews, and Taliaferro on the bench. What’s my best bet for this week?

  10. Steve L – It’s not bad, but Murray has always been an injury risk and Thomas is primed to break out.

    Gamer – Like you said, you can’t make a decision on that until we know the status of Charles, but if he’s playing I’d use him and Martin

    S – I’d probably lean Sankey, but it’s a tossup. I’ve just never been a big Vereen guy and can see Sankey in a plus matchup having his role increased again.

    Tyler – Honestly, I don’t trust any of the guys you would replace him with unless Arian Foster is out (then I’d go Blue)

  11. Jim says:

    I’m thinking about picking up on waivers Donald Brown w/ a contingency bid on Knile Davis and dropping Toby Gerhart. My RB’s are Jamaal Charles, Demarco Murray, Andre Ellington (bye), Lamar Miller and Toby Gerhart. I plan on starting Murray, Miller and Charles(if he plays). I would start Brown (if I get him and Charles does not play) and probably week 6 (KC bye week). How much FAAB should I bid? I’m thinking $28 out of $100 for Brown w/ a contingency bid of $8 for Davis. Is that too much for at most 2 or 3 starts? Ammad Bradshaw and Terrance West went for $26 last week.

  12. Bob says:

    QBs: Romo & Dalton

    RBs: A Morris, R Jennings, A Bradshaw, B Sankey, D Brown, R Matthews, and Ben Tate.

    Is Ahmad Bradshaw for Matt Ryan a good trade for me? Bradshaw has emerged as a dependent flex and I’m worried Matt Ryan is at his height this season.

  13. DANIEL says:

    who is better to pick up? gore or martin?

  14. Gamer says:

    I’m thinking of dropping Bobby Rainey from my bench and stashing either Ryan Mathews or Knoshown Moreno; .5 PPR league. Leaning towards Moreno because it’s not a leg injury. Recommendation?

  15. Greg says:

    My RB situation is in shambles. AP is out and Ball has a bye this week. Foster will probably be game time decision. I picked up both Brown and Miller, who will start this week. I also have Knile Davis. Do I ride Davis as my third RB and hope Charles sits or at least splits carries? Or drop Davis for Asiata?

  16. Tim Powell says:

    Hey Professor. Could really use your help with my RB2 and Flex play. I play in a PPR league. I need to start 2 of the following 4 players to fill a RB2 spot and a flex spot. Which 2 between Matt Asiata, Khiry Robinson, Kelvin Benjamin, Joique Bell? Thanks in advance!

  17. Marcos says:

    Should I drop Bears DEF, Andrew Hawkins, T.Gerhart for Marvin Jones? Trying to get him before next week.

  18. Law says:

    Knile Davis or Donald Brown to start this week? Also have Steve Jackson on the bench and Asiata, Martin on waiver. Also is Walker worth keeping at TE? or pick up Paul, Kelce, Donnell off the wire? Thanks.

  19. Rob T says:

    For RB2 should I start Asiata – or is it worth the risk to start Charles? Also a Davis owner. Thanks!

  20. Law – With Charles expected to play, I’d go Brown/Asiata of the guys who you have. That said, Martin should not be on waivers. Drop Jackson for him in a heartbeat. I like Walker and would use him over Paul/Kelce. Donnell is a close second though.

    Rob T – I would say Asiata is “safer” given the matchup, but Charles still has more upside. It’s hard to sit Charles, but if you are comfortable with your lineup you can play it safe. Atlanta has been terrible against opposing RB, so it’s a good bet Asiata produces.

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