Fantasy Football Week 4 running back rankings: Where do Dalvin Cook, Darrell Henderson fit in their returns?


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I’m just going to be honest up at the top: I’m not at all sure what to expect from the running back position in Week 4 of the Fantasy Football season. I entered the week with 16 running backs I felt pretty confident about starting, and the math obviously doesn’t add up to that being enough for your standard 12-team league. And that was before I went from projecting Sony Michel to dominate carries for the Rams to Darrell Henderson working in more of a committee in his expected return from a rib injury.

James Robinson should be pretty good Thursday night, and I’m starting him with some confidence as my No. 15 RB; I can’t say I have the same confidence in David Montgomery, Mike Davis, Chase Edmonds or Clyde Edwards-Helaire. That’s just the state of the position right now. 

Week 4 RB Rankings

  1. Derrick Henry — With the matchup against the Jets on the way, Henry is my No. 1 RB for this week in all formats. However, given that he has a 12.5% target share through three games, he might be the No. 1 RB this week even without that matchup.
  2. Dalvin Cook — Cook practiced Wednesday and Thursday and looks to be back in line to start for the Vikings. Alexander Mattison filled in admirably in his absence in Week 3, but I have no concerns about Cook splitting work if he’s healthy. The Vikings don’t tend to take him off the field much. 
  3. Alvin Kamara — Kamara only has 12 fewer carries than the Saints have attempted passes. I’m not sure how long this kind of approach can last in today’s NFL, but I’m not worried about what it might mean for Kamara’s value if the Saints do become more pass-heavy, because Kamara is their No. 1 receiver, too. He’s a stud.
  4. Austin Ekeler
  5. Joe Mixon — I’m starting to worry about Mixon. I mean, not for this game against the Jaguars, because the Bengals figure to lean on him very heavily in what should be an easy win. But looking ahead to Week 5 against the Packers, Mixon could be in a bit of trouble, as he has begun to cede third-down snaps to Chris Evans, who combined for three targets with Samaje Perine; Mixon had just one. If the passing game role isn’t expanded, Mixon might be back to being a touchdown-dependent RB, which would certainly be a disappointment.
  6. Najee Harris — If Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster are both out in Week 4, Harris might be the projected leader in targets at the position. He’s a must-start RB.
  7. Aaron Jones
  8. D’Andre Swift — It’s the “Spider-Man-pointing-at-Spider-Man,” except it’s Swift and Austin Ekeler pointing at each other.
  9. Saquon Barkley — I expected last week to be Barkley’s breakout game, and that’s exactly what it was. His efficiency remains an issue, but as long as he’s playing 80% of the snaps and seeing 20-ish touches, including a healthy passing game workload, he’s going to be a top-12 RB or very close every week
  10. Nick Chubb
  11. Antonio Gibson — If it wasn’t for Gibson housing a screen pass for 73 yards on his only catch in Week 3, there would probably be a lot of worried Fantasy players out there. For what it’s worth, he also had a target from inside the 5-yard line … which he dropped on what would have been an easy touchdown. So, that’s not ideal. The passing game role hasn’t been what we hoped (nine targets in two games), but I think he’s still a high-end starting option in a matchup like this.
  12. Jonathan Taylor — Taylor deserves another week before anyone starts panicking, but things aren’t looking great. The Colts offense looks terrible and Carson Wentz clearly wasn’t even close to 100% in Week 3, and that’s not even getting to the offensive line issues. But the bigger problem is he has just four targets over the past two games while playing fewer than 50% of the snaps. If he can’t find success against the Dolphins, it’ll be time to worry. Not yet.
  13. Ezekiel Elliott — It is looking increasingly likely that the panic about Elliott’s Week 1 is going to go down as a severe overreaction. Sure, Tony Pollard looks more explosive, but Elliott is going to keep getting 15-plus carries a week with locked in goal-line work, and that’s going to make him close to a top-12 RB most weeks, if not higher.
  14. Chris CarsonRussell Wilson is the only other player on the Seahawks with more than three carries, which makes Carson’s 41 through three games feel kind of disappointing. The Seahawks have run the third-fewer plays of any team so far, which is limiting the opportunity for Carson to get some much-needed volume. Carson is a solid Fantasy back who can be even more than that if the Seahawks give him more chances.
  15. James Robinson — It was nice to see Robinson really take control of this backfield split in Week 3. Since Week 1, Robinson has 26 carries to 10 for Carlos Hyde, and he’s been a consistent part of the passing game. Robinson is back in the borderline must-start conversation in my eyes. Hopefully Urban Meyer doesn’t do something weird.
  16. Clyde Edwards-Helaire — If you were inclined to be optimistic about Edwards-Helaire, you got reason to be so in Week 3, but there are still real questions about his passing game and goal-line roles that limit his upside.
  17. David Montgomery — Montgomery has such a huge role in this offense that I can’t imagine sitting him, but the Bears have to figure out how to get better results than they had in Justin Fields‘ first start.
  18. Chase Edmonds — Edmonds’ role in the passing game makes him relatively matchup proof. You’d like to see more opportunities to score for Edmonds, but he’s sort of like a diet-Austin Ekeler right now, and he remains worth starting in PPR for sure.
  19. Chuba Hubbard — Hubbard figures to be the lead back for the Panthers in Christian McCaffrey’s absence. He played 38 of 52 snaps after the first quarter Thursday, with Royce Freeman logging just 10. Remember, Mike Davis went from a replacement-level also-ran to a must-start Fantasy option with McCaffrey sidelined last season.
  20. Mike Davis — Davis is still getting enough work to be worth starting in PPR leagues, but it’s getting harder to see how he hits his upside scenarios as long as Cordarrelle Patterson continues to have such a prominent role.
  21. Myles Gaskin — I’m just not sure you can trust Gaskin as much more than a low-end starting option at this point. He’s still the lead back, but he’s ceding significant third down and goal-line snaps to Malcolm Brown, which leaves an awfully narrow path to Fantasy production. That is especially true for non-PPR leagues.
  22. Josh Jacobs — Jacobs looks like he’s going to return for Week 4 against the Chargers, and he’s back in the starting RB discussion. It’ll be worth watching to see how much work he gets in his first game back, especially with Peyton Barber looking surprisingly adept in Week 3 filling in.
  23. Miles Sanders
  24. Cordarrelle Patterson — That’s seven rushes in each of the first three games for Patterson, to go along with 14 targets in the last two. They clearly want him involved, and he’s looking like a more dynamic playmaker than Davis. He matters for Fantasy, for sure.
  25. Leonard Fournette — I’m not currently projecting Giovani Bernard to play in Week 4, which might mean I’m going to rank Fournette too high. That’s what I ended up doing last week after we heard reports that he was going to be the starter, and he ended up with just four carries. You can’t really believe much that you hear about this offense, but if Bernard is out, I’m willing to bet Fournette will take on most of that third-down and passing-down work, making him a viable play. But I don’t feel good about it.
  26. Kareem Hunt — Hunt had a huge game in Week 3, made all the more impressive because he didn’t really play much in the first quarter with Demetric Felton logging passing snaps. Hunt remains in the RB2 range in the rankings, and last week doesn’t really change that.
  27. Nyheim Hines
  28. Jamaal Williams — With just five targets over the past two games, it seems Williams isn’t really in Swift’s class as a passing game option. That means he’ll probably be a touchdown-dependent Fantasy player on a below-average team while splitting carries. He’s a fringe-y starter.
  29. Darrell Henderson — Henderson looks like he’s going to be back in the lineup for Week 4 after missing one game with a rib injury. The way the Rams have operated so far, Henderson has dominated touches when healthy, and then Sony Michel has dominated touches when Henderson has been off the field. Given that Sean McVay expressed concerns about Henderson’s ability to stay healthy before the season and then Henderson got hurt less than a game-and-a-half into his time as the lead back makes me think he’s going to be sharing the load a bit more moving forward. 
  30. Devin Singletary
  31. Michael Carter — Carter appears to be emerging as the lead back for the Jets, but to what end? He actually played fewer snaps than Ty Johnson in Week 3, though he had 11 touches to Johnson’s four, and I suspect he’ll continue to lead the team in touches at the position. However, the offense needs to take a big step forward before it really matters for Fantasy.
  32. Melvin Gordon — Gordon and Javonte Williams continue to split work evenly, which continues to limit each one’s upside. They are both touchdown-dependent RBs, and with a tough matchup on the way, they do not come highly recommended.
  33. Tony Pollard
  34. Javonte Williams
  35. Trey Sermon — Sermon didn’t exactly take advantage of his opportunity in Week 3, and if he can’t manage to look better this week, he probably won’t have much of a role when Elijah Mitchell is healthy. It’s hard to trust him to do much at this point, and Mitchell might actually be able to play in Week 4, as he has ramped up his participation in practice so far.
  36. Zack Moss — Moss is really cutting into Devin Singletary’s work, which puts this backfield back into a full-blown committee. What’s interesting is, it’s actually been a pretty productive timeshare, a definite change from previous seasons. I’m not sure you can count on that remaining true, but Moss should at least be rostered in all leagues.
  37. Kenyan Drake — If you want to view things optimistically, Drake is averaging double digits in Fantasy points despite just 44 yards on the ground and no touchdowns. There’s room for him to break out here, and a game that could turn into a shootout figures to benefit his skill set.
  38. Ty’Son Williams — I have absolutely no idea what to make of Williams, who led the team in snaps at RB in Week 3 but had just three carries and no targets. I’m thinking it’s a fluke, but I’m also thinking we can’t just assume he’s going to get 12-15 carries every week now. Which makes it hard to view him as a starting-caliber RB for Fantasy.
  39. Damien Harris — I had a feeling Harris would be pretty game-script dependent, and we saw that in action in Week 3 as the Patriots were forced to throw the ball 51 times. Things aren’t likely to be much better for Harris against the Buccaneers, who boast one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Expectations should be low.
  40. Sony Michel — With Henderson expected back, Michel probably doesn’t belong in your starting lineup. 
  41. J.D. McKissic — It’s worth watching Antonio Gibson’s status after he was added to the injury report with a shin injury Thursday that caused hi to miss practice. McKissic might be in line for a bigger role if Gibson is out, with rookie Jaret Patterson likely to be involved in the game plan in that event as well. 
  42. Latavius Murray
  43. Kenneth Gainwell
  44. Brandon Bolden
  45. James Conner — When the Cardinals have the opportunity to sit on a lead, Conner is going to be involved and have a chance to find the end zone. However, as we saw in a close win over the Vikings in Week 2, he had just eight carries. Expect more of that in what should be a very tough one against the Rams.
  46. Mark Ingram
  47. Ty Johnson
  48. Ronald Jones
  49. AJ Dillon
  50. Jeremy McNichols
  51. Tony Jones
  52. Carlos Hyde
  53. Alexander Mattison
  54. Phillip Lindsay
  55. Darrel Williams
  56. Salvon Ahmed
  57. Malcolm Brown
  58. Damien Williams
  59. Devontae Booker
  60. Samaje Perine

So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 4 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that has out-performed experts big-time.





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