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Fantasy Sports Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Week 4: Running Backs Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em

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Fantasy Football Week 4: Running Backs Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

running backs
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With the San Francisco 49ers defeating the St. Louis Rams 35-11 on Thursday, Week 4 is officially underway. If you own Frank Gore, hopefully you started him. If you don't, I'm hoping you didn't play against someone who did because he had a monster game — 153 rushing yards and a touchdown. On the other hand, the Rams' running backs put up four combined points.

Looking ahead to Sunday, there are only two teams on a bye — Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers. Now, neither team has a top-10 fantasy running back on their roster, but not having Eddie Lacy or DeAngelo Williams available could thin out your roster a little. You are debating on starting your 10th-round draft pick or looking to the waiver wire for a decent one-week replacement. With the No. 1 scoring running back changing every week, you want to make sure that you have the best players on your team to keep your winning hopes alive.

I'm here to help you decide on which running backs to start and which one to leave on your bench. This slideshow will focus on the players drafted in later rounds or not drafted at all. So, you won't see the names of Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch here. The players named will be No. 2 running backs or used as a flex play.

With that being said, here are three running backs I believe are worth starting and three that deserve to be left alone in Week 4.

Bill Pivetz is a fantasy football writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Piv1127.

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Start: Bilal Powell

NY Jets
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

I wrote about Bilal Powell as a nice pickup in a previous article. Despite being listed at the No. 2 back behind Chris Ivory, Powell has been the more productive of the two. He has 226 yards and a touchdown in three weeks. There have been talks of Ivory missing multiple weeks, giving Powell an opportunity to overtake Ivory's spot.

This week, he plays against the Tennessee Titans, a team that's allowed over 100 yards and a touchdown to opposing backs. Heading into this game, the Titans' defense have allowed the 14th-most fantasy points to running backs. You can do a lot worse than Powell this week.

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Sit: Stevan Ridley

Ridley
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriot's No. 1 running back hasn't been what fantasy owners thought he would be so far. In three weeks, he's accumulated just eight fantasy points. He had 32 in the first three games last year. An even more disappointing stat is that Ridley has yet to eclipse 50 rushing yards this season.

Added to Ridley's disappointing 2013 is Shane Vereen, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden have been stealing carries. The other three running backs combine for 42 carries and 243 yards. Ridley will be unable to improve his numbers this week against the Atlanta Falcons as they are a top-five rushing defense.

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Start: Maurice Jones-Drew

MJD
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Maurice Jones-Drew owners were left disappointed after the first two weeks. Against the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, two supposedly bad run defenses, MJD had six combined points. However, he turned that around in Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks, scoring 11 fantasy points.

This week, the matchup is even better as he takes on the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have given up four rushing touchdowns and 4.7 yards per carry in three games. Jones-Drew isn't the player from yesteryear, but he's worth a start this week. Plus, Blaine Gabbert is back under center, so you know they'll be running the ball a lot more.

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Sit: BenJarvus Green-Ellis

The Law Firm
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard have been a nice one-two punch for the Cincinnati Bengals. However, that doesn't make Green-Ellis fantasy owners happy. The veteran has 126 yards, two touchdowns and only 20 fantasy points this season.

The Law Firm could see another disappointing game against the Cleveland Browns. If the Browns do one thing right, it's stop the run. They allow an average of just 90 rushing yards per game, fourth-best in the NFL. Don't expect Green-Ellis to break out of his slump in Week 4. If you have both Bengals running backs, start Bernard over Green-Ellis.

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Start: Darren McFadden

Run DMC
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Even with the exciting play of Terrelle Pryor, Darren McFadden has been top-10 running back so far. He has 33 fantasy points and is on pace for 176 this season, which would be a big improvement from last year.

There were concerns that Pryor wouldn't start, but it was reported by Rotowire.com that Pryor passed all the required tests. This could spell trouble for the Washington Redskins with McFadden and Pryor both active. They have allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs. And hey, don't be surprised if McFadden throws another touchdown.

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Sit: Ryan Mathews

Mathews
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The running joke last year was that Ryan Mathews had more broken clavicles than touchdowns. Despite not being injured (yet), this year isn't much better. He has 45 carries for 164 yards (3.64 YPC) and no rushing touchdowns. He is even losing goal-line carries to Ronnie Brown. I repeat, Ronnie Brown.

It will be even tougher for Mathews to break away from the pack this week. The San Diego Chargers face the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are one of the league's best rush defenses, allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. If possible, Mathews should be benched.