Before we delve into the aftermath of Week 4 running back committees, let's take a gander at some of the guys who were drafted as reliable RB1s at the start of the season. To maintain order, I'm going to roll with the sandwich strategy here. You know, start with a positive, throw in a negative and wrap up with another positive. Then you can devour all of the committee goodness for dessert.
DeMarco Murray (and fantasy owners) enjoyed his fourth straight game of over 100 rushing yards and at least one touchdown (he put up 149 yards and scored twice Sunday night against the Saints). Murray is the top fantasy running back of the season through four weeks, leading the second place Le'Veon Bell by over 20 total fantasy points.
LeSean McCoy let his fantasy owners down for the second week in a row with a dismal performance. He totaled 17 yards on 10 carries as Philadelphia couldn't get anything going on offense against the 49ers. Owners will have to hope he can bounce back next week against the Rams, even with a banged up offensive line.
Eddie Lacy broke through the goal line in the first quarter against the Bears on Sunday for his first touchdown of the season. FINALLY. Hopefully now, his owners can "relax."
On to the backfield committee breakdown from Week 4. And make sure you remember to check out NFL NOW for even more Week 4 fantasy player reports.
Trying to figure out the Ravens' backfield this season is like playing pin the tail on the donkey. Bernard Pierce was active after missing Week 3 with a thigh injury, and although he was healthy, he didn't receive one carry in a game where Baltimore put up 38 points. The team reportedly held him out as a precaution to prevent him from aggravating his injury.
Instead, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro split carries evenly, with 14 and 15 respectively. The duo totaled 124 rushing yards and each of them got into the end zone against Carolina. It's a situation to avoid going forward seeing how unpredictable it can be, but if there's one guy you have to start, it's worth noting that Forsett was on the field for 62 percent of the Ravens' offensive plays while Taliaferro was only out there for 35 percent. For now, it appears that Baltimore favors experience in this case, but we wouldn't be surprised to see Taliaferro take over lead duties by the end of the season.
Throughout the preseason, Jaguars' running back Toby Gerhart was a popular sleeper candidate who projected to play a featured role out of Jacksonville's backfield. There seemed to be nobody behind him who would threaten his touches, and Gerhart even said he wanted to be the 'Beast Mode' of the Jaguars' offense. Unfortunately for fantasy owners who took a chance on him, things just haven't panned out.
As Jacksonville struggled through Sunday, Denard Robinson played on significantly more offensive snaps than Gerhart and received more total touches. We can't say we weren't warned.
Neither back was particularly effective but it leaves us wondering if this will be the status quo going forward. Although Gerhart finally scored his first touchdown of the season (it took him several attempts to break the plane from one yard out), he has only managed 114 rushing yards through four games and has yet to post double-digit fantasy numbers in a single week. He's best left on your bench for now, while Robinson, though he's no workhorse, makes for an interesting waiver-wire consideration in deeper leagues with homerun play potential.
As long as Andrew Luck keeps producing for the Colts, both Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson should continue to be successful for fantasy owners. Richardson was on the field for 55 percent of Indianapolis' offensive plays and made the most of the 24 touches that he received. He finished the game with 99 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown, although his 2.4 yards per carry isn't much to brag about. Bradshaw totaled 11 touches, 52 yards from scrimmage and scored a receiving touchdown for the third straight game. He ranks in the top five among fantasy running backs in standard leagues with a total of 55.60 fantasy points and remains a must-start every week.
Minnesota's backfield committee was the most successful of Week 4 as the combination of Matt Asiata and rookie Jerick McKinnion made the Atlanta Falcons poor rushing defense look even worse. Asiata thundered his way to three touchdowns on 20 carries for 78 rushing yards and added three catches for 22 yards. McKinnon played the "lightening" role with 135 rushing yards on 18 attempts. That's an average of a whopping 7.5 yards per carry, which you can't expect to happen every week but it was definitely a coming out party for the talented runner and it's an indicator that the Vikings are willing to get him more involved. Scoop up McKninnon on the waiver-wire before it's too late.
The Bills were up to their usual backfield high jinks again in Week 4, with both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson doing what they do best: Splitting the workload adequately and not getting into the end zone. Spiller was the favored runner as he took his 15 carries for 60 yards and added three receptions for 24 yards.
Jackson only received seven rush attempts which he took for 33 yards but was much more effective catching the ball totaling 52 yards on six receptions. Neither back can be trusted as more than a flex option as the duo has only combined for two offensive touchdowns on the season.
Just when you thought Chris Johnson wasn't fantasy relevant any more, he turns eight total touches into 61 scrimmage yards and a touchdown against the Lions -- a defensive unit which stood as the NFL's best heading into Week 4. Chris Ivory handled the ball 19 times for 101 scrimmage yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry and remains a top-10 running back in terms of total fantasy points. Even in a losing effort, the Jets managed 134 rushing yards and although CJ2K's production may be inconsistent, Ivory will be a borderline RB2/flex play going forward.
Oh, yeah, one more thing. At all costs, avoid any running back on the Carolina Panthers for fantasy purposes. Don't put yourself through that. It's just not worth it, man!
Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter **@m_franciscovich**.