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
The following players are not being projected to play Week 4 at this time. Here's what it means:
CAR Carolina • #22
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Chuba Hubbard is a high-end No. 2 running back until McCaffrey returns.
Dalvin Cook RB
MIN Minnesota • #33
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Alexander Mattison is a low-end No.1 running back until Dalvin Cook can return.
James White RB
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.
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.
Matchups that matter
Waiver Wire Targets
LV Las Vegas • #31
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
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.
Freeman is a deep league add because he could earn a split with Hubbard and that split could include short yardage work.
PHI Philadelphia • #14
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
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.
CAR Carolina • #30
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
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.
PHI Philadelphia • #26
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
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.
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.