1. Chris Johnson (TEN) - He will face a fairly stout Denver run defense in week 4 that has allowed just 1 rushing TD in 3 games, but does any of that really matter? Start him and reap the rewards.
2. Arian Foster (HOU) - Despite double digit fantasy efforts in every game this season, Foster has not found pay dirt since his monster week 1 performance. There is a great chance the TD drought will end in week 4 with a promising match up against a soft Oakland run defense on the horizon. Foster probably won’t match week 1’s totals, but he should do some serious damage.
3. Michael Turner (ATL) - He was able to bounce back in a big way from his groin injury in week 3 and Turner should carry that momentum into week 4 against the 49ers. Despite high expectations, the San Francisco defense has been very average against the run so far this season giving up 111 rushing yards per game and 2 rushing scores. Turner’s elite ability coupled with the Niners’ long road trip to Atlanta should provide fantasy owners with solid results.
4. Frank Gore (SF) - He was less than stellar in the ground game in week 3, but he more than made up for it in the passing game. Gore’s versatility is a big reason that he is such a valuable asset to fantasy rosters. In week 4, he will face a Falcons run defense that is giving up over 5 yards per carry to opposing RBs so far this season. They have also allowed 2 runs of 40 yards or more which bodes well. Gore should get back on track in the ground game against this defense, but even if he can’t, he will find a way to put up numbers.
5. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) - The end zone continues to elude him and Jacksonville’s anemic passing attack isn’t doing him any favors either. That said, there is hope for MJD in week 4 against a Colts defense that is very vulnerable against the run (see week 1 against Arian Foster). In addition, Jones-Drew has an exceptional track record against Indy averaging 148 total yards and a TD per game in his last 4 contests against them. If this match up doesn’t do it for him, it could be a long season.
6. Cedric Benson (CIN) - He continues to struggle in the yardage department, but as Benson proved in week 3, ground yards are easily supplemented with TDs. The good news is that there is a very good chance that he could get going in the yardage department in week 4. Cleveland has allowed 123 rushing yards per game and considering Benson gets the vast majority of carries, this stat bodes well. On the flip side, the Browns have yet to allow a rushing TD so far this season. This is not typical of a Cleveland defense and in our opinion, they are well overdue. Fortunately, Benson is more than qualified to make the necessary adjustments to that statistic for them. + Knee: Probable
7. Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) - As Cleveland’s Peyton Hillis illustrated so eloquently in week 3, the Ravens can be beaten on the ground. That doesn’t mean Mendenhall doesn’t have his work cut out for him against Baltimore in week 4, because he does, but with his ability and workload; every match up holds promise.
8. LaDainian Tomlinson (NYJ) - We aren’t going to go so far as to say that he’s back, but a 5.6 yards per carry average against 3 of the NFL’s best run defenses kind of suggests that he is. Even better, he gets to face a Buffalo run defense that has allowed 5 rushing TDs already in addition to 141 ground yards per game. If he did not have to share the load with Shonn Greene, Tomlinson would be a top 5 back this week.
9. Darren McFadden (OAK) - He will face a much stiffer challenge in week 4 against a Houston run defense that currently ranks 2nd in the NFL allowing just over 50 rushing yards per game. The silver lining is that the Texans have allowed 3 rushing TDs in 3 games, so the odds are in his favor to at least find the end zone. McFadden has performed well in every game so far this season and in spite of the tough match up, we expect another week of solid production from him.
10. LeSean McCoy (PHI) - In all honesty, McCoy is a boom or bust fantasy prospect for week 4. It really all hinges on his workload which is virtually unpredictable from week to week. The good news is that the Eagles offense is very likely to put him in a position to score and Washington’s run defense looked really bad against the Rams in week 3. McCoy should also be more involved in the passing attack against this defense where he can be extremely dangerous.
11. Matt Forte (CHI) - He continues to struggle badly to find yards on the ground, but a favorable week 4 match up against the Giants could be the cure. The Giants defense has been extremely generous to opposing RBs so far this season giving up 137 rushing yards per game and 3 TDs. There is also a good chance that Forte will return to favor in the passing game against this defense as well.
12. DeAngelo Williams (CAR) - The struggle continues and despite a solid yards per carry average, Williams is simply not getting the carries he needs to be effective thanks to the Panthers anemic passing attack. That said, this is still a good week to use him against a struggling Saints run defense that has allowed 435 rushing yards and 3 TDs in 3 games. We also like the fact that Williams has a history of lighting New Orleans up.
13. Ronnie Brown (MIA) - In spite of his lackluster fantasy numbers, Brown is averaging a solid 5.4 yards per carry. So, if he can get the carries, Brown can do some damage. He has a favorable week 4 match up against a shaky Patriots defense on Monday Night. Brown has been hit or miss against New England in his past, but he typically shines in Monday night games where he has scored 2 TDs in each of his last 2 appearances.
14. Peyton Hillis (CLE) - Hillis could have a tough row to hoe in week 4 against a solid Bengals defense. Of course, the same could be said in week 3against a top flight Baltimore defense and Hillis came out of that one smelling like roses. So far, he looks like the real deal and while there is a good chance that Jerome Harrison will return from injury, Hillis will remain the feature back and receive the bulk of the workload.
15. Joseph Addai (IND) - He is coming off of a terrible week 3 performance, but a week 4 match up against Jacksonville could be just what the doctor ordered. The Jags have already allowed 4 rushing TDs in 3 games and Addai is well overdue to find the end zone. Indy should jump out to a sizeable early lead which should translate into more carries for Addai this week. He will also benefit if Donald Brown can not play due to a hamstring injury which is very possible. Addai is no lock, but this is a tough week for RBs all around and we like his chances against this defense. + Knee: Probable
16. Justin Forsett (SEA) - He hasn’t been anything to write home about so far this season, but that could easily change in week 4. Forsett saw a drastic increase in his workload in week 3 which in all likelihood is a sign of things to come. That is especially promising for week 4 against a bad Rams run defense. Forsett ran for 130 yards and 2 TDs against St. Louis last season and if he gets the touches, a repeat is not out of the question.
17. Ryan Mathews (SD) - Mathews has been practicing in full and looks like he will be good to go in week 4. Even better, he will be matched up against a Cardinals run defense that has been torched on the ground so far this season. Arizona currently ranks 31st in the NFL against the run giving up close to 150 yards per game. They have also allowed 3 rushing TDs. The downside is that there is a decent chance that Mathews could be eased in slowly coming off of the injury and Mike Tolbert will likely maintain the goal line role. Mathews is risky, but given the match up and the fact that this is a tough week for RBs; he’s worth the gamble.
18. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) - We love Bradshaw’s potential as the Giants feature back, but overcoming a brutal week 4 match up against Chicago will be easier said than done. The Bears have given up a mere 119 rushing yards all season limiting opposing RBs to just 2.1 yards per carry. On the bright side, they have allowed 3 rushing TDs in 3 games, so there is room for optimism and Bradshaw is plenty capable.
19. Pierre Thomas (NO) - He will be a game time decision this week with a sprained ankle and while we like his match up against Carolina, Thomas is a risky fantasy play with this injury. Even if he starts, Thomas may be limited and there is always the possibility that he won’t finish the game. If he can practice in full on Friday, you can feel more confident in giving him the green light. + Ankle: Questionable
20. Ray Rice (BAL) - He is one of those players that is almost impossible to bench, but given the enormous challenge the Pittsburgh defense will pose and the fact that Rice is nursing a severe knee bruise, you may be better off going in a different direction in week 4. + Knee: Questionable
21. Steven Jackson (STL) - vs. SEA + Groin: Questionable
22. Shonn Greene (NYJ) - @ BUF
23. Chris “Beanie” Wells (ARI) - @ SD + Knee: Probable
24. BenJarvis Green-Ellis (NE) - @ MIA
25. Brandon Jackson (GB) - vs. DET
26. Jahvid Best (DET) - @ GB + Toe: Questionable
27. Mike Tolbert (SD) - vs. ARI
28. Clinton Portis (WAS) - @ PHI + Wrist: Probable
29. Tim Hightower (ARI) - @ SD
30. Marshawn Lynch (BUF) - vs. NYJ
31. Jonathan Stewart (CAR) - @ NO
32. Ricky Williams (MIA) - vs. NE
33. Laurence Maroney (DEN) - @ TEN
34. John Kuhn (GB) - vs. DET
35. Ryan Torain (WAS) - @ PHI
36. Kenneth Darby (STL) - vs. SEA Move up 9 spots if Steven Jackson is out
37. Jason Snelling (ATL) - vs. SF
38. Darren Sproles (SD) - vs. ARI
39. C.J. Spiller (BUF) - vs. NYJ
40. Willis McGhee (BAL) - @ PIT
41. Correll Buckhalter (DEN) - @ TEN
42. Jerome Harrison (CLE) - vs. CIN + Thigh: Questionable
43. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) - vs. CHI
44. Fred Jackson (BUF) - vs. NYJ
45. Leon Washington (SEA) - @ STL
46. Steve Slaton (HOU) - @ OAK
47. Michael Bush (OAK) - vs. HOU + Thumb: Probable
48. Fred Taylor (NE) - @ MIA + Toe: Questionable
49. Chris Ivory (NO) - vs. CAR
50. LaDell Betts (NO) - vs. CAR