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As a rule, our default is to start off the following week not ranking players that missed prior weeks. Once they get in a full practice, or their coach says they're going to play, we make the switch. As of Thursday afternoon we haven't yet made that switch with Dalvin Cook, Darrell Henderson, or Josh Jacobs. But it may be coming soon.

All three backs have returned to practice yet, just not with the full designation. When/if they do, it will have a massive impact on the projections and rankings below.

The Vikings are the easiest to diagnose. If Cook returns, he's a top-three back with No. 1 overall upside. You start him without thinking twice and Alexander Mattison heads back to the bench. If Cook is held out again, Mattison is a must-start, top-five running back in all formats.

The Raiders and Rams are more complicated. The Rams have mostly been a one running back team. When Henderson was healthy he handled almost all the touches. Since he's gone down it's been almost entirely Sony Michel. If Henderson can't return, I like Michel as a top-12 back in all formats against a bad run defense in a game that is projected to be a shootout. If Henderson returns, I'd view him as mid-range No. 2 running back, and Michel as a touchdown-or-bust flex. My guess is that there would be more of a split than we've seen this season. but it's just a guess for now.

The Raiders may be the most complicated. For one thing, they play Monday night. It's possible we don't get the all clear on Jacobs before Sunday's action. In that case it's hard to start any Raiders backs unless you have two of them and can wait it out. Also, we'd expect some type of committee no matter who is healthy. If Jacobs gets rules out, Peyton Barber and Kenyan Drake are both high-end flexes with an outstanding matchup against maybe the league's worst run defense. If Jacobs is cleared, he'd be a borderline No.2 running back and it would be hard to trust either Barber or Drake because their roles aren't clearly defined right now.

For those of you not impacted by these injuries, let's get to the rest of the Week 4 RB Preview:

Week 4 RB Preview
RB Preview
Who's Out

The following players are not being projected to play Week 4 at this time. Here's what it means:

Who's Out
Projections powered by Sportsline
CAR Carolina • #22
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Chuba Hubbard is a high-end No. 2 running back until McCaffrey returns.
MIN Minnesota • #33
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Alexander Mattison is a low-end No.1 running back until Dalvin Cook can return.
NE New England • #28
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
J.J. Taylor and Brandon Bolden will likely split White's role but this should ensure good target volume for Jakobi Meyers.
TB Tampa Bay • #25
Age: 29 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Leonard Fournette should see an increased role in the passing game if Bernard is out.
RB Preview
Numbers to know
  • 19 -- Najee Harris saw 19 targets in Week 4. That's the most for any RB since Alvin Kamara saw 20 in 2018.
  • 12.9% -- Derrick Henry's target share has doubled this year and it may be sustainable with A.J. Brown on the shelf.
  • 16 -- Touches for Zack Moss on Sunday. It looks like we're back to a full blown committee in Buffalo.
  • 83.8% -- Joe Mixon still leads all running backs in rush share and he gets Jacksonville on Thursday night.
  • 19.2% -- D'Andre Swift leads the Lions in target share, which helps make him game script proof on a bad team.
  • 13 -- Jonathan Taylor is tied for the NFL lead with 13 red zone carries. He'll get in the end zone soon enough.
  • 14 -- Mike Davis has 14 catches in three games. That type of volume keeps him as a PPR start.
  • 5 -- Ty'Son Williams only had five carries in Week 3. I don't know why, but you can't start Williams until that changes.
RB Preview
Matchups that matter
Matchups that Matter
Projections powered by Sportsline
CHI Chicago • #32
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs DET CHI -3 O/U 42.5
OPP VS RB
25th
PROJ PTS
14.2
RB RNK
13th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
203
REC
6
REYDS
49
TD
1
FPTS/G
12.4
NYG N.Y. Giants • #26
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NO NO -7.5 O/U 43.5
OPP VS RB
9th
PROJ PTS
13
RB RNK
16th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
134
REC
9
REYDS
56
TD
1
FPTS/G
11.3
KC Kansas City • #25
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ PHI KC -6.5 O/U 55
OPP VS RB
3rd
PROJ PTS
11.9
RB RNK
26th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
189
REC
5
REYDS
38
TD
1
FPTS/G
9.9
BAL Baltimore • #34
Age: 25 • Experience: 1 year
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ DEN DEN -1.5 O/U 44
OPP VS RB
2nd
PROJ PTS
10.1
RB RNK
30th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
164
REC
5
REYDS
45
TD
1
FPTS/G
10.6
NE New England • #37
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TB TB -6.5 O/U 49
OPP VS RB
4th
PROJ PTS
10.2
RB RNK
25th
RB Preview
Waiver Wire Targets
Week 4 Adds
LV Las Vegas • #31
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ LAC LAC -3 O/U 52.5
OPP VS RB
21st
RB RNK
36th
ROSTERED
48%
YTD Stats
RUYDS
143
REC
3
REYDS
31
TD
1
FPTS/G
13.2
Now that Chuba Hubbard is universally rostered, the waiver wire is very thin. But Barber would be a decent play if Jacobs can't go.
CAR Carolina • #32
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ DAL DAL -4.5 O/U 50.5
OPP VS RB
8th
RB RNK
44th
ROSTERED
11%
YTD Stats
RUYDS
17
REC
1
REYDS
8
TD
0
FPTS/G
1.2
Freeman is a deep league add because he could earn a split with Hubbard and that split could include short yardage work.
NE New England • #42
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TB TB -7 O/U 49
OPP VS RB
10th
RB RNK
47th
ROSTERED
5%
YTD Stats
RUYDS
5
REC
2
REYDS
3
TD
0
FPTS/G
1.4
If Taylor lands James White's passing game role he could become a PPR flex.
PHI Philadelphia • #14
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs KC KC -7 O/U 54.5
OPP VS RB
29th
RB RNK
40th
ROSTERED
53%
YTD Stats
RUYDS
53
REC
7
REYDS
56
TD
1
FPTS/G
8.6
Gainwell doesn't have a lot of upside but he has a nice PPR floor and a great matchup in Week 4 against the Chiefs.
Stash
SF San Francisco • #30
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs SEA SF -2.5 O/U 52
OPP VS RB
32nd
RB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
12%
RB Preview
DFS Plays
Top Play
Projections powered by Sportsline
CAR Carolina • #30
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ DAL DAL -5 O/U 50.5
OPP VS RB
8th
PROJ PTS
11.9
RB RNK
11th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
62
REC
5
REYDS
31
TD
0
FPTS/G
4.8
Like Alexander Mattison last week, Chuba Hubbard is chalk worth playing. I'd expect 10-plus carries and five-plus catches, which should make him a top-12 running back in most all DFS formats.
Contrarian Play
Projections powered by Sportsline
PHI Philadelphia • #26
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs KC KC -7 O/U 54.5
OPP VS RB
29th
PROJ PTS
13.6
RB RNK
20th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
156
REC
8
REYDS
71
TD
0
FPTS/G
10.9
Nobody likes underdog running backs, especially when they're coming off a five-touch game. But Sanders may just be facing the worst defense in football and teams have a habit of running a lot early against the Chiefs to try and keep the ball away from Patrick Mahomes.
RB Preview
Heath's Projections

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.