Can Adrian Peterson keep up this pace?

He led all running backs in fantasy scoring in week 3 with 24 fantasy points. He now owns the fifth-highest total of fantasy points among running backs through three weeks.

And since he has an early bye week in week 4, he does offer some upside with continued value throughout the season. But can he keep it up?

I still have my doubts, but in an offense with Alex Smith, who relies on a strong running game, it appears that Peterson will earn plenty of touches in the coming weeks. Staying healthy and avoiding a fatigue factor will be the key components to his value moving forward.

With bye weeks upon us, here’s the week 4 fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em guide for running backs.


Chris Carson vs. Arizona Cardinals

There’s still some confusion regarding the running back position in Seattle, but this matchup is too tasty to avoid.

Arizona is terrible. And that inability to win games is allowing the opposing teams to rack up the rushing totals.

The Cardinals are allowing the most fantasy points per game to running backs at 32.60 fantasy points. Teams are building leads against Arizona and turning to the running game to close out the victory.

We should continue to expect that in week 4 with Seattle coming to town. Carson is still in a timeshare with Rashaad Penny, but it’s obvious that Carson has been the better running back so far. Carson tallied more than 100 yards rushing in week 3, and I expect he’ll earn the bulk of the carries once again in this matchup.

Giovani Bernard vs. Atlanta Falcons

I hesitated on Bernard in week 3 against Carolina. This week, I’m not making the same mistake.

Injuries are decimating Atlanta’s defense, especially when guarding against the run. The Falcons are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs per game, and they rank 31st in yards per carry allowed at 5.2.

That should allow Bernard room to run and catch the ball out of the backfield. With Joe Mixon out, Bernard is getting a healthy dose of carries and targets. In week 3, he carried the ball 12 times and generated nine targets.

That production should continue into week 4 against an injury-riddled Atlanta defense.

Carlos Hyde offers some value in round 6 of the fantasy football draft. Flickr/Erik Drost

Carlos Hyde vs. Oakland Raiders

Hyde has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy football owners so far this season.

He’s been a touchdown magnet, scoring four times in three games, and he’s dominating the carries out of the backfield. I worried a bit with him losing third-down work to Duke Johnson, that he wouldn’t be as valuable, but he’s doing enough on first and second down to be a regular contributor for fantasy football rosters.

This matchup doesn’t hurt Hyde’s stock either, with the Raiders being one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL. The Raiders are allowing 5.1 yards per carry, good enough to be ranked 29th in the NFL.

Hyde deserves more recognition this season and he’ll continue a nice start in week 4.


Derrick Henry vs. Philadelphia Eagles

It doesn’t matter what draft capital you used to pick Henry. He’s not producing and this isn’t the matchup to exploit.

He’s averaging just 3 yards per carry this season and hasn’t reached the endzone. The Titans are having difficulties moving the ball and Henry is a major reason why. He hasn’t eclipsed the 60-yard mark yet this season and Philadelphia is one of the better run defenses in the NFL.

The Eagles are allowing just 3.4 yards per carry, tied for fourth in the NFL. The Eagles also are allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs at 9.73.

Henry will earn plenty of carries, but they’ll go nowhere.

Jay Ajayi vs. Tennessee Titans

This isn’t just about health. It’s about clarity.

Ajayi and Darren Sproles were held out of the week 3 game against Indianapolis for health reasons. They’re expected to return in week 4, but I still wouldn’t back either of them.

The Eagles backfield is a crowded place, with Corey Clement also earning several touches. Each week is a timeshare, and even with Ajayi having touchdowns in his first two games, he’s just not receiving enough touches to justify a regular start.

The Titans are one of the better defenses against the run, allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs.

The Eagles backfield is tough to trust, so I would pass on Ajayi in week 4.

Peyton Barber vs. Chicago Bears

The Bears defense is legit. And Barber is struggling to get anything going for the Buccaneers.

Chicago is allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs and allowing just 3.4 yards per carry.

Barber, meanwhile, is struggling to find a place in Tampa Bay’s offense, with just 124 yards rushing on the season as the primary back.

At some point, Tampa Bay will have to establish a running game, and this is likely the week where that comes into focus. Barber hasn’t been the answer this season and I don’t expect that will happen in week 4.

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