Talk about a dream matchup for Elliott, who caught fire during the second half of last week's road win over the Cardinals: The Rams (Cowboys' Week 4 opponent) have allowed the most rushing touchdowns (five) to opposing tailbacks for the season; they also rank 31st in rushing yards surrendered to opposing tailbacks. For good measure, in his brief, but stellar career, Elliott is a perfect 10 for 10 in collecting 100 total yards and/or one touchdown per game at AT&T Stadium.
Bell has a great track record against the typically stout Ravens: Of his last six outings against the heated AFC North rival, the Michigan State product has notched 100 total yards and/or one touchdown five times; and overall, this shakes out to 110 total yards and 0.8 touchdowns per game. Against opposing running backs this season, Baltimore (No. 19 in rush defense) ranks 4th in rushing touchdowns surrendered ... but just 20th in rushing yards allowed and 27th in receiving yards allowed.
Ajayi had a nice on-paper matchup against the Jets, but only put up 16 yards on 11 carries for an abysmal 1.45 yards per carry. Thing should improve for Ajayi this week as he'll face a Saints defense that is the worst in the league against running backs, currently allowing 106.7 yards per game to opposing backs on the ground and 96.7 yards per game to opposing backs in the air. Ajayi should crack 20 carries, and present plenty of Week 4 upside as the Dolphins head to London.
The dynamic rookie has been so productive out of the gate last week's one-touchdown performance was almost a letdown; you had to console yourself with 183 yards from scrimmage, Hunt's third straight triple-digit outing. He's averaging 16 touches per game; dating back to last year each of the 11 backs to see that workload against Washington has scored or rushed for 100-plus yardsin several cases both as they averaged 120 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. The Redskins already let Todd Gurley amass 136 combo yards and a couple touchdowns on 19 touches, and LeGarrette Blount narrowly missed joining the stat sample group with a touchdown on 15 touches in the season opener. Suffice it to say it's all systems go for Hunt as he charges towards putting that ROY trophy on his mantel.
The 2017 season started off well for LeSean McCoy, but the last two weeks haven't been as kind. McCoy has only racked up 30 rushing yards on 26 carries over the past two games (1.15 yards per carry is not good, for the record), though he's been able to salvage things a bit with 13 receptions for 82 yards in those two games. Things should be looking up for Shady this week, as he'll get a Falcons defense that has allowed four touchdowns to opposing running backs this season (two through the air). They're also allowing 4.54 yards per carry to opposing rushers, so fantasy owners can feel better about rostering McCoy in Week 4.
Todd Gurley has been crushing the NFL this year. With Sean McVay he has six touchdowns and is on pace to set a lot of personal bests. He is currently on pace for a 70 catch season. This week he faces a Dallas defense who has only allowed one 100 yard rusher this season in CJ Anderson. That said, the other two rushers they faced were the joke that is Paul Perkins and the decaying corpse of Chris Johnson. Gurley's huge role in the passing game bodes well here as the Cowboys have allowed the 4th most receptions to running backs this year (5.5 per game).
It's hard not to keep Cook in your starting lineup at all times. Cook has become about as dominant a single back is there in the league. In his two previous home games, he has rushed 49 times for 224 yards and a touchdown. He broke the franchise record for most rushing yards in the first three games of a career (288), a record previously owned by a young, hungry Adrian Peterson and his 61 carries are more than four times the combination of rushes for backups Latavius Murray (7) and Jerick McKinnon (8). The Lions held David Johnson in check in Week 1 (11-23), but the Falcons shredded them last Sunday, as Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined to rush 27 times for 152 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings have made it clear that Cook is going to be a centerpiece of the offense and his playing time is unchallenged. He's as safe a RB1 pick as there is in the league right now.
After a slow start to the season Jordan Howard erupted for 138 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers, showing us that it's not time to write him off just yet. This week Howard will go up against a Green Bay defense that ranks in the bottom third of the league against the run, allowing over 110 rushing yards per game. It was a mixed bag for Howard against the Cheeseheads last year, rushing for 90 yards and a score in the friendly confines of Soldier Field, but getting stifled for just 22 yards on seven carries in his first trip to Lambeau.
The remarkably consistent Freeman is on pace to match/surpass his annual average from the previous two seasons--1,588 total yards and 14 touchdowns. Here's another reliable nugget to cherish: Charting his last 10 home games, including the postseason, Freeman has reached the elite-level threshold of 100 total yards and/or one score every time; and during that span, the Florida State product owns lethal averages of 105 total yards and 1.5 touchdowns. For Week 4, though, Freeman draws a Bills defense that currently ranks seventh against the rush.
Fournette has enjoyed a strong start to his pro career, modestly collecting 20-plus receiving yards and netting at least one touchdown every week. The LSU rookie hasn't overtaxed either, averaging only 22 per touches per outing. Fournette was particularly strong in the Jaguars' only true road tilt in Week 1, rolling for 124 total yards (100 rushing) and one score against the Texans. For Week 4, Fournette draws a date with the Jets--the NFL's 27th-ranked rush defense. Against opposing tailbacks, New York also owns bottom-12 rankings with rushing yards allowed and rushing touchdowns surrendered.
Gordon was having his most productive outing of the young season last week when a bone bruise in his knee forced him to the sidelines for much of the second half. Still, he expects to play and brings a three-game scoring streak into this tilt. The Eagles were a tough nut to crack on the ground last yeartop 10 in fewest running back touchdowns allowed and in that vicinity in yardage surrenderedand little has changed in 2017. Kareem Hunt has accounted for almost 40 percent of the yardage Philly has surrendered to running backs and two-thirds of their RB TDs allowed, and Gordon is a similarly versatile backthough a banged-up version at this point. Feels like Philly and a bum wheel put a ceiling on Gordon's stat line but his multi-faceted usage provides a solid floor.
Carson maintained his grip on the Seattle backfield despite a wayward script in Week 3 leading all Seahawk backs in snaps and touches, which should bode well for his outlook headed into a much more running back friendly opponent in the Colts in Week 4. Indianapolis has played nine games away from Lucas Oil Field since the beginning of 2016 and in six of those games at least one opposing running back has topped 100 total yards and/or scored a touchdown, with those backs amassing 8 total touchdowns. The Colts lost five of those contests and in each of those losses, an opposing back hit that 100+ total yards and/or touchdown mark. With the Colts two touchdown underdogs to the Hawks on Sunday, owners have to be excited about Carsons prospects.
The Patriots have not been good against pass catching running backs this year. They are allowing nearly six receptions (5.67) and over 84 receiving yards per week to them. That is over 14 fantasy points in PPR leagues. McCaffrey's touches have started to move closer to even with Jonathan Stewart 13 each last week), but this matchup provides room for both to perform. Good for McCaffrey, this game script might put Carolina in catch-up mode, which may lead to him playing more than Stewart later in the game. Last week he amassed nine catches in a game they fell behind. He has at least four catches and at least 44 total yards in every game this year.
Powell found the end zone last week, and saw a decent 15 carries. But he also didn't register any receptions for the second-straight week, and only racked up 37 yards on a meager 28 snaps. There's a chance Powell could see more volume in Week 4 if Matt Forte (toe) sits, but the Jaguars defense has been tough against opposing running back. While Powell get a bump if Forte ends up sitting, he's not currently close to being a must-start option.
Looking to save a little money? Cut out your morning coffee and replace it with some piping hot Tarik Cohen highlights! If watching Cohen get to the edge and turn the corner on some hapless defender who looks like he has cinder blocks for feet doesn't give you that extra jolt you need, you might not have a pulse anyway. Cohen's insane 6.5 yards per carry average is second only to rookie sensation Kareem Hunt, and Cohen still ranks in the top 20 in targets. This week he will face a Green Bay defense that has only allowed 86 yards receiving to running backs on 11 receptions, but has also given up two receiving touchdowns to the position already. Cohen is among the safer plays this week, at a price that still won't break the bank.
The value assigned to Montgomery is in direct relation to your scoring system. He has yet to prove himself as a true featured back. In three games, he has just 41 carries and yardage totals of 54, 35 and 35 yards. But, he leads the Packers with 18 receptions and has seen a steady increase in his targets (4-7-12) and receptions (4-6-8) as the season has progressed. The Bears haven't been able to keep a starting running back out of the end zone yet this season, giving up scores to Devonta Freeman (12-37-1), Jacquizz Rodgers (19-67-1) and Le'Veon Bell. It can't be forgotten that the reason Montgomery is a starting running back in the first place was last year's December meeting with the Bears when he rushed 16 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Whether he can come close to those numbers or not, he has retained the lion's share of the RB touches and should be ready to post his best rushing numbers of the season.'
The winds of fantasy football shift quickly and no one knows that better than Anderson owners. After leading the league in carries through two weeks, Anderson dropped off a Niagara Fall(s) in Week 3 and for the first time all season was in a dead heat in terms of touches with Jamaal Charles (10-10). Vance Joseph promised a committee in the offseason and it does appear Anderson is far from the runaway workhorse back we saw in the first two weeks. Dont be surprised to see a similar breakdown with Denver facing another stiff test in Week 4 when the Raiders come to town. Oakland has only seen two backs hit double-digits in attempts in 2017 and those backs averaged a paltry three yards per carry and no rushing touchdowns. In fact, the Raiders have yet to allow any rushing touchdowns in 2017.
For just a moment, forget about Mixon's middling tallies with rushing yards (62) and yards per rush (3.44) from last week. The real numbers to celebrate are '18' (Mixon carries vs. Green Bay) and '8' (the differential of Mixon carries, compared to Gio Bernard/Jeremy Hill combined). Both are solid indicators of the Oklahoma product taking on a greater workload in subsequent games. For Week 4, Mixon will encounter a Browns defense which ranks 14th against the run--a major improvement from last season's No. 31 ranking--and 15th in rushing touchdowns allowed.
With 12 receptions on the season, Hyde has already tied his 2nd best season total in receptions. He's just under halfway to his career record of 27. He is being used in the passing game more than ever before in this new Shanahan offense. Already over 300 total yards, he heads into Arizona to face a team that has only allowed 256 total yards to running backs this year. Granted, their only real test was Ezekiel Elliot last week who amassed 94 yards and a score. In the last 11 games, the Cardinals have not allowed over a 100 total yards. This will be a real test for Hyde.
Thompson's amazing Week 3 output against the Raiders (188 total yards, 1 TD) made him the most sought-after free agent heading into Week 4. Thompson, who has scored at least one touchdown in four of his last five outings, has also extracted 294 yards and three touchdowns since Week 2 ... from only 20 total touches. Up next, Kansas City currently has the league's 26th-ranked rush defense, allowing 121.2 ground yards per outing. What's more, the Chiefs have given up the second-most rushing touchdowns to a tailback this season, with only the Rams surrendering more.
Uh, the hamstring looks okay. Murray limped into Week 3 on the injury report, then turned 14 carries into 115 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. Presumably healthy, he'll test a Houston defense that's rebounded nicely since surrendering 100 yards to Leonard Fournette in Week 1, holding the Bengals to 63 and the Patriots to 53. The Texans gave up three 100-yard rushing games all of last season, but the Titans had as much success against them as anyone averaging 27-97-1 in the season series. Murray himself had a 95-yard, two-TD effort in the first meeting with Houston before ceding carries to Derrick Henry in the rematch and turning in a pedestrian 11-21 showing. Carries are being split more evenly in Tennessee thus far, but Murray has been the more effective back and should be considered the more reliable option.
Come Sunday, the Eagles might invoke an all-hands-on-deck approach to confronting the Chargers, the NFL's 31st-ranked rush defense. In the case of Blount, his hopeful range of 12-15 touches per game likely won't be enhanced, in the wake of Darren Sproles' year-ending ACL injury. Blount's appearances are largely relegated to short-yardage and goal-line situations. One last thing: It's worth noting that Los Angeles has surrendered just one rushing touchdown to opposing running backs.
The lights come on at the bar, the music stops, the DJ starts telling everyone to file out, and you realize the girl you've been dancing with for the past hour is not quuuiiiiiite as attractive as you had initially thought. It's an all around sobering moment. It's also probably also a bit like what Mike Gillislee owners felt like that after the touchdown well finally ran dry in week 3, as they finally noticed the sub-par 3.2 yards per carry average and the complete lack of use in the passing game. The way the Patriots are running the football right now Gillislee is completely touchdown dependent, and it will not be easy sledding against the Panthers this weekend. Carolina was a top six rush defense last season, and has allowed only one rushing touchdown so far in 2017.
He has been mediocre at best with nothing more than 44 rushing yards in any game so far and only four catches is a tad disappointing. The threat of a running quarterback tends to help the back but it hasn't translated for Crowell just yet. The Browns are better than advertised but still find themselves trailing often and that means more time for Duke Johnson. Crowell is the starter and will still see the majority of the goal-line work, if that happens, but another 40-something yards seems appropriate against a Bengals defense allowing just 3.5 yards per carry.
The Patriots, through three games, are the worst defense in the NFL against running backs. They are allowing 25 touches and 196 total yards PER WEEK to the position. On top of that, they have allowed four touchdowns in three games. This may be a get right game for Stewart who has only one touchdown (receiving) and hasn't surpassed 65 yards yet this season. His touches have started to move closer to even with Christian McCaffrey, but this matchup provides room for both to perform. Unfortunately, the game script might put Carolina in catch-up mode, which may lead to McCaffrey playing more.
Smallwood might be the biggest benefactor of Darren Sproles' season-ending ACL injury. Last week against the Giants, Smallwood modestly rolled for 80 total yards on 13 touches. Which brings us to this: Of the four times Smallwood has logged double-digit carries during his career, he's a perfect 4 for 4 in collecting 70 total yards. That nugget should encounter an interesting test for Week 4, with Smallwood taking on a Chargers defense that currently ranks 31st against the rush (147 yards per game).
Weve seen him as Beast Mode, much to the chagrin of defenders everywhere. And weve even seen him as Feast Mode, attacking handfuls of Skittles with the same ferocity and aggression as his alter ego on the field of play. Well, Sunday be prepared to get a glimpse Least Mode, where Lynch faces an opponent so daunting his impact and production can only be described as, Least Mode. The Denver pass defense gets massive amounts of praise, but in 2017 there is little doubt the Bronco front seven is the dominant force. Through three weeks, the Broncos are one of two remaining teams to not allow a rushing touchdown, theyre the only team to allow fewer than three yards per carry and only the Bucs and Dolphins have allowed fewer rushing yardsbecause theyve played just two games. All impressive no doubt, but when you consider the backs Denver have faced a genuine sense of concern for Lynch and the Oakland running game takes over. Melvin Gordon, Zeke Elliott and LeSean McCoy; all borderline top 5 backs and all held to a combined 83 rushing yards on 2 yards per carry. Y-I-K-E-S.
Miller's seasonal tallies for rushing yards and receiving yards have dropped in each of the last three weeks, a curious red flag for fantasy owners. On the flip side, Miller owns rock-solid averages of 113 total yards and 0.5 touchdowns in his previous two encounters with the Titans (Week 4 opponent). Speaking of which, Tennessee's No. 16 ranking with rush defense is a tad deceiving. Against opposing tailbacks, the Titans have allowed only 215 rushing yards combined (three-game average: 72 yards) and just one rushing touchdown for the season.
In the short term, Gore has succeeded in justifying his fantasy worth during Andrew Luck's prolonged absence from the Colts' lineup, collecting at least one touchdown for Weeks 2 and 3. Will that modest production carry over to Week 4? On paper, the answer is yes, given how the Seahawks have allowed the third-most rushing yards to opposing tailbacks. From a practical sense, however, the experts in Vegas have tabbed Seattle as 13-point favorites over Indy, meaning the Jacoby Brissett-led Colts might have to abandon their running game by halftime. One last thing: Citing his last seven encounters with the Seahawks, Gore has reached the elite-level threshold of 100 total yards and/or one touchdown four times.
Ingram has led the Saints' three-headed backfield (along with Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara) in touches and total yards for the previous three weekends. The former Heisman Trophy winner is also wayyyyyy overdue for a touchdown. For Weeks 16 and 17 last season, Ingram found the end zone three total times. Here are two things to embrace for Week 4: a) Citing the NFL's last 12 'International Series' games played at London's Wembley Stadium, the cumulative average for both teams sits at 51.7 points--including an ongoing streak of five straight outings of 50-plus points. b) The Dolphins currently rank as the NFL's No. 5 rush defense; but it's also a major departure from last season, when Miami finished an ugly 30th against the run.
Allen definitely looks like best option in the Ravens backfield. He has five receptions in each of the last two games and that might be a floor this week as Pittsburgh just gave up twelve receptions to Chicago running backs. The Steelers have allowed four different backs to get to four receptions in a game through three weeks and there is no competition for targets from West or Alex Collins. Allen's value could be limited by some sort of three-way committee but he should have a shot to see 12-15 touches.
Abdullah ranks in the top 12 in carries this season, but unfortunately the yardage and touchdowns have not followed with his increased workload. After three games Abdullah has just 163 yards rushing, is averaging a paltry 3.5 yards per carry and has failed to reach the end zone a single time. Things are unlikely to get better this week against a Minnesota defense that has held its opponents to an average of 62.7 rushing yards per game and is one of only two teams that has still not allowed a rushing score.
Coleman posted his best numbers of the season last week, rolling for 89 total yards against the Lions. The third-year back has also scored at least one touchdown in his previous four home outings, including the postseason. That's the good news. The 'bad' side reads like this: Under the play-calling direction of new Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, Coleman (941 total yards, 11 TDs last year) has averaged only 9.7 touches per game ... well off the pace of 2016, when the University of Indiana product collected 42 total touches for Weeks 1-3. Regarding Atlanta's Week 4 foe, it's worth noting: Against opposing tailbacks, Buffalo has cumulatively surrendered only 183 rushing yards and just one total touchdown (rushing/receiving).
It was a tough week for James White as he saw only one target, leading to his worst performance since...almost exactly one year ago when White last faced the Texans. Almost by default White should see more looks in week four, but it is not exactly what you would call a favorable matchup. While the Panthers did allow the third most receptions to running backs in 2016, but Carolina only gave up one receiving touchdown to the position. Expect White to bounce back with a performance that hovers right around double digit fantasy points, but not much more.
Quizz was limited to just five carries for fifteen yards last week as the Bucs went to the pass after an early deficit. More troubling is the fact he has zero catches and zero targets through two games. The Giants did allow two rushing scores last week to the Eagles but are holding opposing backs to 3.8 yards per carry. Rodgers is almost certain to be the lead ball carrier but it looks like the game will need to be close for him to get the touch volume you want.
Riddick failed to produced the game-breaking numbers many predicted in week 3 against the Falcons, but the credit should go to Atlanta for finally tweaking its game plan to key in on a pass catching running back. Riddick is still second on the Lions in both targets and receptions in 2017, and should continue to be an integral part of the team's offense going forward. With that said, this might not be the best time to go back to the well. Minnesota only allowed six catches and 19 yards receiving to Riddick in two games in 2016, and held Le'Veon Bell to four yards on four catches in week 2 of this season.
Tennessee accounted for 12.5% of the games played against Houston but 30% of the running back rushing scores the Texans allowed. Henry got in on the fun in Week 17 last year when he out-carried and outperformed DeMarco Murray 15-65-1 to 11-21, and with Murray owning a balky hamstring the workload has been evenly distributed. However, the Texans have surrendered just one running back rushing score this season and only three over their last 12 games dating back to Week 8 of 2016 so unless Murray has a hamstring setback and is ruled out Henry's a risky proposition at best.
Johnson passes the eye-test as Cleveland's best offensive skill player. Kizer looks his way often with Duke leading the Browns in targets, receptions and yards. Much of that production has come in the last two week with 140 yards on nice catches and that trend should continue with the Bengals allowing 5.6 receptions per game to running backs. Touchdowns might always be an iffy call but it looks like the catches and yards are a relatively safe bet.
For everyday citizens, it may be extremely painful to breathe or function with an injured rib cage; but tough NFL runners, like Kelley, could possibly play with the dual assistance of a flak jacket (protection from future hits) and pain-killing shot (temporary protection from future criticism). Which brings us to this: Should Kelley owners be indifferent about starting him in subsequent matchups, taking on the Chiefs, 49ers and Eagles over the next four weeks? Even when healthy, Kelley had been nothing more than a flex consideration with starting lineups; however, there were a few positives to celebrate from Week 2, with the Tulane product rolling for 78 yards on 12 carries against the typically stout Rams. Regarding Kelley's Week 4 opponent, the Chiefs currently rank 18th against the rush (112 yards per game).
Chris Johnson is still the starting running back for the Arizona Cardinals... question mark? Last week he looked old again and averaged an astounding 1.41 yards per carry. Andre Ellington outproduced him and Cardinals running backs are barely even worth bench spots. That is really too bad, because the 49ers have allowed at least 100 total yards to the starting running back in consecutive games. That streak is about to end.