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Fantasy Football 2011: Week 4 Running Back Rankings

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Fantasy baseball is over, so football is the only game in The Land of Make Believe. There are quite a few story lines going on in the league right now, especially for running back. Therefore, this week is going to be a little bit different as we'll discuss and analyze the happenings in fantasy's most coveted position. Analyze and adapt.

Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter- Kendall Hunter scored San Francisco's only touchdown last week. Frank Gore is now gimpy (as usual) with his ankle, but looks to play. The news came out today that Gore and Hunter are going to be in a time-share situation at tailback.

The Niners are struggling to move the ball quite a bit and they've been able to win games based on their absolutely breathtaking defense. That thing is good. Teams with good defenses tend to run the ball more and their younger O-line should be able to work out the kinks at some point.  Hunter should really be owned in every league given Gore's injury history and Hunter's impressive preseason.

Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty- Head coach Pat Shurmur said yesterday that Hardesty "can handle more carries" after his solid outing on Sunday. Hardesty was widely considered as a sleeper for last season before he tore his ACL. This year he looks very healthy and has clearly shown he is a capable NFL back.

The Browns are running the West Coast offense which is predicated on short passes and a running game. Their offense won't be a powerhouse or anything, but they could be in the top half of rushing yards in the league. Hardesty should be owned in just about every league and this might even become a 50-50 split in due time.

Ryan Grant and James Starks- Coach Mike McCarty said that Grant was an "attempt runner" and was going to be a bigger part of the O. However, things changed quickly now that Grant is not expected to play with a renal issue. When a running back plays with a bruised kidney, it's like playing with fire. This isn't a medical journal, so we won't get into it too much.

James Starks is all set for a big game on Sunday and should be started in just about every league. Although, keep in mind this will be a hot-hand approach and he is a sell-high guy after Sunday (assuming Grant doesn't play and he has a big game).

Trade tip- When you know you're going to sell high on a guy, don't include him in your first offer. Offer another player, then hopefully your trade partner counters, then offer Starks. Sure, this move is slightly transparent to experience owners, but I've pulled it off more times than I care to count.

Beanie Wells and Alfonso Smith- Ken Whisenhunt said that the Cardinals won't be taking the reigns off Beanie Wells just yet. Wells is expected to be close to 100 percent, but Smith looks like a decent source of around 10 touches. He had 17 carries on Sunday and looked pretty good between the tackles. Wells is fairly safe to start this week (ranked at 26). However, Smith is likely worth owning since Whiz didn't give Wells a vote of confidence and his nickname is Weanie Bells.

Rank Running Back                                                               Team Opp
1 Adrian Peterson MIN KC
2 Darren McFadden OAK NE
3 LeSean McCoy PHI SF
4 Matt Forte CHI CAR
5 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC NO
6 Fred Jackson BUF CIN
7 Ray Rice BAL NYJ
8 Michael Turner ATL SEA
9 Rashard Mendenhall PIT HOU
10 Jahvid Best DET DAL
11 Chris Johnson TEN CLE
12 LeGarrette Blount TB IND
13 Ryan Mathews SD MIA
14 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG ARI
15 Felix Jones DAL DET
16 Arian Foster HOU PIT
17 James Starks
18 Daniel Thomas MIA SD
19 Tim Hightower WAS STL
20 Cedric Benson CIN BUF
21 Frank Gore SF PHI
22 Darren Sproles NO JAC
23 Steven Jackson STL WAS
24 Brandon Jacobs NYG ARI
25 Shonn Greene NYJ BAL
26 Beanie Wells ARI NYG
27 Mark Ingram NO JAC
28 Peyton Hillis
29 Mike Tolbert SD MIA
30 Joseph Addai IND TB
31 Dexter McCluster KC MIN
32 Willis McGahee DEN GB
33 Jonathan Stewart CAR CHI
34 Ben Tate HOU PIT
35 Thomas Jones KC MIN
36 LaDainian Tomlinson NYJ BAL
37 Roy Helu WAS STL
38 Marshawn Lynch SEA ATL
39 DeAngelo Williams CAR CHI
40 BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE OAK
41 Ryan Grant GB DEN
42 Reggie Bush MIA SD
43 Michael Bush OAK NE
44 Danny Woodhead NE OAK
45 Knowshon Moreno DEN GB
46 Pierre Thomas
47 Kendall Hunter SF PHI
48 Stevan Ridley NE OAK
49 Earnest Graham TB IND
50 Alex Green GB DEN
51 Delone Carter IND TB
52 Montario Hardesty CLE TEN
53 C.J. Spiller BUF CIN
54 Isaac Redman PIT HOU
55 DeMarco Murray DAL DET
56 Deji Karim JAC NO
57 Cadillac Williams STL WAS
58 Javon Ringer TEN CLE
59 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL SEA
60 Alfonso Smith ARI NYG
61 Ricky Williams BAL NYJ
62 Bernard Scott CIN BUF
63 Justin Forsett SEA ATL
64 Ronnie Brown PHI SF
65 Tashard Choice DAL DET
66 Jerome Harrison DET DAL
67 Lance Ball DEN GB
68 Marcel Reese OAK NE
69 Toby Gerhart MIN KC
70 John Kuhn GB DEN

Thanks for reading! You can get more running back info all week on Twitter and I'll be providing instant analysis on Sundays.