It’s been the year of the running back, both with highly-touted rookies delivering immediate impact (e.g., Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, Christian McCaffrey) and several “receiving backs” who have proven to be elite fantasy starters as well (e.g., Tarik Cohen, Chris Thompson). For leagues that play a flex position, having a third running back delivering high-end and consistent production is a big advantage. Let’s take a look at some of these players for Week 4.
▪ Dalvin Cook (Minnesota) has been everything the team had hoped as its featured back, averaging 122.7 yards per game. Cook collected his first NFL touchdown last week and should add to that this week.
▪ The volume will be there for Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville) as the team has 99 rushing attempts on the season (tied for the league lead) and this is a favorable match-up against the Jets (after Fournette delivered against the Texans, Titans and Ravens including scoring a touchdown in each game).
▪ Kareem Hunt (Kansas City) has vaulted to the top of the running back rankings after an amazing start to his NFL career. At his current pace, Hunt would finish with 2,869 yards per scrimmage, which would easily be a new single-season NFL record.
▪ Christian McCaffrey (Carolina) is still seeking his first NFL touchdown but he was heavily featured in the passing game last week with nine receptions and 101 receiving yards. New England allows the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs per game.
▪ Even at Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs, Chris Thompson (Washington) is a must-start having scored in every game this season.
▪ San Francisco has just three sacks in three games, meaning Carson Palmer (Arizona) should have the time he needs this week for an above-average game at home.
▪ It's may seem like a leap of faith to start Philip Rivers (LA Chargers) after zero touchdowns versus three interceptions, but he's had plenty of bad games only to bounce back strong. Rivers is due and at home against Philadelphia is an attractive match-up.
▪ Chris Carson (Seattle) has settled in as the Seahawks’ main running back (neither Thomas Rawls or Eddie Lacy even had a carry last week). Carson should bust out this week at home against the Colts.
▪ Cleveland has allowed big games to top-notch receivers – Antonio Brown had 182 yards against them in Week 1 and T.Y. Hilton went off for 153 yards last week. A.J. Green (Cincinnati) should be next. Green caught all eight targets in his one game against Cleveland last year for 169 yards with a long score.
▪ DeAndre Hopkins (Houston) has had a lot of success in his career versus the Titans. Hopkins averages 102 receiving yards per game versus Tennessee in eight games.
▪ Adam Thielen (Minnesota) has caught 19 of 24 pass attempts thrown his way (79.2%), the best among all wide receivers with at least 20 targets. Keep Thielen and teammate Stephon Diggs plugged into lineups.
▪ Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) has struggled away from Heinz Field, and Baltimore allows a league-low 121 yards passing per game.
▪ Ameer Abdullah (Detroit) is due for a long score and has come close a few times. But he will likely find tough-sledding this week, on the road at Minnesota, which allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs per game.
▪ Marshawn Lynch (Oakland) is a bench candidate this week against a Denver defense that has held Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott and LeSean McCoy to a combined 85 rushing yards and zero rushing touchdowns.
▪ Willie Snead (New Orleans) is set to make his 2017 debut after a three-game suspension. However, you may want to wait and watch for a week. His role in his first game back is still to be determined.
Alan Satterlee is in his fourth year of writing about fantasy football for The Charlotte Observer. Find him on Twitter at @Speedkills_DFW.