Here is our look at the backfield status for each of the NFL’s 32 teams.
Arizona Cardinals Committee worry level: High Week 4: Tim Hightower (seven carries, 24 yards); Chris "Beanie" Wells (five carries, 19 yards; one reception, six yards) Season: Hightower (42 carries, 229 yards, 2 TD; seven receptions, 49 yards); Wells (19 carries, 94 yards; one reception, six yards)
Comment: Wells is reportedly upset about his role with the Cardinals. He carried a bunch of times in his first appearance in Week 3, and not so much during a 41-14 blowout at the hands of the Chargers in Week 4. Shut your piehole, Beanie. You’re going to get more carries than Hightower for the rest of the season.
Atlanta Falcons Committee worry level: Low Week 4: Michael Turner (16 carries, 50 yards; three receptions, 28 yards); Jason Snelling (seven carries, 31 yards; two receptions, five yards) Season: Turner (74 carries, 281 yards, TD; six receptions, 46 yards); Snelling (47 carries, 226 yards, 2 TD; nine receptions, 74 yards, TD)
Comment: Snelling is really getting annoying for Turner’s fantasy owners, isn’t he?
Baltimore Ravens Committee worry level: Medium Week 4: Willis McGahee (14 carries, 39 yards, TD; two receptions, two yards); Ray Rice (eight carries, 20 yards; one reception, nine yards) Season: Rice (60 carries, 230 yards; 11 receptions, 74 yards); McGahee (30 carries, 76 yards, 2 TD; three receptions, minus-four yards)
Comment: Rice was probably held back a bit due to his bruised knee, but don’t worry. He should be closer to his old self this week against the Broncos. I’d probably keep McGahee benched this week.
Buffalo Bills Committee worry level: High Week 4: Marshawn Lynch (four carries, eight yards); C.J. Spiller (two carries, 11 yards; one reception, four yards); Fred Jackson (three carries, 21 yards) Season: Lynch (37 carries, 164 yards; one reception, seven yards); Spiller (14 carries, 49 yards; 12 receptions, 45 yards); Jackson (20 carries, 87 yards, TD; two receptions, zero yards)
Comment: With Lynch traded to the Seahawks, Jackson is now the starter, with Spiller filling the role of super-powered situational back. Both will have fantasy value, but Jackson should be in your starting lineup now.
Carolina Panthers Committee worry level: Medium Week 4: DeAngelo Williams (13 carries, 86 yards, TD; one reception, 14 yards); Jonathan Stewart (seven carries, 21 yards; one reception, 55 yards, TD) Season: Williams (56 carries,246 yards; four receptions, 34 yards); Stewart (28 carries, 87 yards, TD; three receptions, 73 yards, TD)
Comment: As noted here early in the season, when Williams and Stewart are both healthy, Williams is the clear leader in the Panthers’ backfield. He’ll run a lot this week, since a few of the Bank of America Stadium popcorn vendors will probably need to start at wide receiver thanks to Steve Smith’s injury.
Chicago Bears Committee worry level: Low Week 4: Matt Forte (12 carries, 26 yards; two receptions, seven yards); Chester Taylor (three carries, 22 yards) Season: Forte (50 carries, 134 yards; 16 receptions, 209 yards, 3 TD); Taylor (19 carries, 66 yards; five receptions, 53 yards)
Comment: Remember when I compared Forte to Marshall Faulk a few weeks ago? Can I get a mulligan on that one? His game-by-game rushing totals are 50, 29, 29 and 26. Maybe if he had an NFL-quality offensive line …
Cincinnati Bengals Committee worry level: Non-existent Week 4: Cedric Benson (15 carries, 60 yards); Bernard Scott (two carries, seven yards) Season: Benson (80 carries, 262 yards, 2 TD; three receptions, 20 yards, TD); Scott (15 carries, 64 yards; three receptions, 15 yards)
Comment: When a back is this busy, you can’t bench him, no matter how mediocre he may seem sometimes. Hang in there if you own Benson.
Cleveland Browns Committee worry level: Low Week 4: Peyton Hillis (27 carries, 102 yards, TD; two receptions, eight yards); Jerome Harrison (no stats); Season: Hillis (66 carries, 322 yards, 4 TD; 16 receptions, 94 yards); Harrison (25 carries, 85 yards; four receptions, 42 yards)
Comment: The Broncos, with no running game to speak of, traded Hillis for Brady Quinn? Really? Harrison should be dead to you at this point, unless you’re handcuffing him to Hillis in a deep league.
Dallas Cowboys Committee worry level: High Week 4: Bye Season: Barber (36 carries, 125 yards, TD; three receptions, six yards); Jones (22 carries, 98 yards; four receptions, 38 yards); Choice (eight carries, 21 yards; three receptions, four yards)
Comment: Jerry Jones and the coaching staff say that Jones is about to start getting busier. Let’s see it, boys.
Denver Broncos Committee worry level: Medium Week 4: Laurence Maroney (11 carries, five yards; two receptions, 10 yards); Correll Buckhalter (six carries, three yards; five receptions, 38 yards, TD); Knowshon Moreno (DNP – injured) Season: Moreno (39 carries, 111 yards, 2 TD; five receptions, 71 yards); Buckhalter (27 carries, 49 yards, TD; 11 receptions, 71 yards, TD); Maroney (23 carries, 29 yards; four receptions, 50 yards)
Comment: No wonder Kyle Orton leads the league in passing attempts and yards. Jim Brown would have a hard time earning fantasy value on this team. The only one with a real chance to do so down the road is Moreno, who’s at least practicing again this week.
Detroit Lions Committee worry level: Low Week 4: Jahvid Best (12 carries, 50 yards; five receptions, 34 yards); Kevin Smith (three carries, 12 yards; four receptions, 22 yards); Maurice Morris (no stats); Season: Best (50 carries, 174 yards, 4 TD; 21 receptions, 217 yards, TD); Morris (11 carries, 10 yards; seven receptions, 54 yards); Smith (three carries, 12 yards; four receptions, 22 yards)
Comment: Best has been a top-five running back in most formats due to all those touchdowns, but it would be nice if he ran a little better. He’s like a rich man’s Matt Forte.
Green Bay Packers Committee worry level: High Week 4: Brandon Jackson (nine carries, 33 yards; one reception, one yard); John Kuhn (nine carries, 39 yards) Season: Jackson (45 carries, 137 yards, TD; eight receptions, 50 yards); Kuhn (26 carries, 121 yards, TD; two receptions, 20 yards)
Comment: Can we all agree that these guys stink for fantasy purposes, even if we need to start them once in awhile? In real life, if my favorite team was a Super Bowl contender, and the GM decided to roll with this backfield situation instead of, say, dealing a couple of middle-round draft picks to the Bills for Marshawn Lynch, I’d be really PO’d.
Comment: Will Randy Moss’ presence open up more room for Purple Jesus to run, or will Brett Favre use it as a reason to hog the spotlight and throw all the time? My brain says the former, but I fear the latter. Fortunately, Peterson will be a fantasy stud either way.
New England Patriots Committee worry level: High Week 4: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (16 carries, 76 yards, TD); Danny Woodhead (eight carries, 36 yards; one reception, 11 yards, TD); Sammy Morris (two carries, three yards); Fred Taylor (six carries, 16 yards) Season: Green-Ellis (47 carries, 215 yards, 2 TD; one reception, six yards); Taylor (25 carries, 98 yards; two receptions, six yards); Woodhead (11 carries, 78 yards, TD; one reception, 11 yards, TD); Morris (nine carries, 24 yards; one reception, 19 yards)
Comment: Green-Ellis appears to be on his way to becoming a regular fantasy starter. Woodhead is now filling the Kevin Faulk role, and Faulk is a guy you never started unless you were desperate. Taylor reportedly will return after this week’s bye, so let’s not write BJGE’s name in ink just yet.
New Orleans Saints Committee worry level: Low Week 4: Ladell Betts (13 carries, 47 yards; four receptions, 23 yards); Chris Ivory (12 carries, 67 yards); Pierre Thomas (DNP – injured); Reggie Bush (DNP – injured) Season: Thomas (46 carries, 147 yards, TD; 17 receptions, 133 yards); Ivory (19 carries, 80 yards); Bush (seven carries, 18 yards; nine receptions, 63 yards, TD); Betts (13 carries, 47 yards; four receptions, 23 yards)
Comment: Thomas is an iffy play for Week 5 after missing Wednesday’s practice. You could make a case for starting either Betts or Ivory, but probably only if you can play three backs and already have one on a bye.
New York Giants Committee worry level: Low Week 4: Ahmad Bradshaw (23 carries, 129 yards, TD; two receptions, 14 yards); Brandon Jacobs (six carries, 62 yards, TD; one reception, four yards) Season: Bradshaw (75 carries, 382 yards, 3 TD; nine receptions, 61 yards); Jacobs (26 carries, 83 yards; four receptions, 26 yards)
Comment: I’m no fan of Jacobs, but if the Giants keep running Bradshaw this much, he’s going to wear down. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Tom Coughlin.
New York Jets Committee worry level: High Week 4: LaDainian Tomlinson (19 carries, 133 yards, 2 TD; three receptions, 22 yards); Shonn Greene (22 carries, 117 yards) Season: Tomlinson (56 carries, 341 yards, 3 TD; 12 receptions, 82 yards); Greene (52 carries, 223 yards; two receptions, 17 yards)
Comment: Told you Greene was due for a breakout! His workload wasn’t just because of the blowout win, either. He and Tomlinson shared the load, which is as it should be. LT has been solid this season, but asking for a lot of 133-yard games would be a little greedy.
Oakland Raiders Committee worry level: Medium Week 4: Darren McFadden (12 carries, 47 yards; six receptions, 82 yards); Michael Bush (seven carries, 40 yards, TD; two receptions, 16 yards) Season: McFadden (85 carries, 392 yards, TD; 16 receptions, 162 yards, TD); Bush (10 carries, 53 yards, TD; two receptions, 16 yards)
Comment: McFadden won’t play this week due to a hamstring injury, which could open the door for Bush to have a nice game. But make no mistake – when McFadden is healthy, he’ll be the man.
Comment: McCoy get more Westbrook-esque every week, doesn’t he? His status is iffy for this week due a broken rib. Mike Bell is the backup plan.
Pittsburgh Steelers Committee worry level: Low Week 4: Rashard Mendenhall (25 carries, 79 yards, 2 TD; two receptions, nine yards); Ike Redman (one reception, six yards) Season: Mendenhall (89 carries, 411 yards, 4 TD; five receptions, 27 yards); Redman (15 carries, 58 yards; three receptions, 18 yards)
Comment: Is there a more underrated fantasy back than Mendenhall, who is on pace for 1,752 yards from scrimmage? His touchdown runs against the Ravens were from one and seven yards. So much for Redman being the short-yardage guy.
San Diego Chargers Committee worry level: High Week 4: Mike Tolbert (16 carries, 100 yards, TD; two receptions, three yards); Ryan Mathews (nine carries, 55 yards, TD; one reception, 13 yards); Darren Sproles (six carries, 17 yards) Season: Tolbert (51 carries, 281 yards, TD; six receptions, 33 yards); Mathews (33 carries, 156 yards, TD; four receptions, 44 yards); Sproles (17 carries, 73 yards; seven receptions, 85 yards)
Comment: If I was a Mathews owner, I’d be terrified of those Week 4 numbers. Tolbert is too good to plant back on the bench, and Mathews was a first or second-round pick in most drafts. Yikes.
San Francisco 49ers Committee worry level: Non-existent Week 4: Frank Gore (21 carries, 77 yards; seven receptions, 60 yards); Anthony Dixon (one carry, three yards); Brian Westbrook (no stats) Season: Gore (73 carries, 270 yards, TD; 29 receptions, 263 yards, TD); Westbrook (one carry, zero yards; two receptions, six yards); Dixon (two carries, five yards, TD)
Comment: I made a bet with someone that Steven Jackson would have a better fantasy season than Gore. I like Jackson a lot, but I should either write the check for $5 right now, or hire a cheap voodoo priestess to do bad things to Gore. Look at all those receptions – wow.
Seattle Seahawks Committee worry level: Medium Week 4: Justin Forsett (19 carries, 65 yards; two receptions, 10 yards) Season: Forsett (51 carries, 215 yards; nine receptions, 66 yards)
Comment: When the Seahawks play again in Week 6, you should start Lynch if you have him. Let’s see what they do with Forsett before putting him back in fantasy lineups.
St. Louis Rams Committee worry level: Non-existent Week 4: Steven Jackson (22 carries, 70 yards; three receptions, 54 yards); Kenneth Darby (two carries, one yard; two receptions, 19 yards, TD) Season: Jackson (73 carries, 284 yards, TD; 12 receptions, 116 yards); Darby (19 carries, 52 yards, TD; three reception, 27 yards, TD)
Comment: Jackson played pretty well for a guy with a groin injury, didn’t he? If he could only get into the end zone more often …
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Committee worry level: High Week 4: Bye Season: Williams (55 carries, 139 yards; eight receptions, 64 yards); Graham (11 carries, 24 yards; 10 receptions, 98 yards, TD); Blount (six carries, 27 yards, TD)
Comment: The latest word from Tampa is that Williams’ role will be reduced, with Kareem Huggins playing more on passing downs, and Blount getting some short-yardage duty. It’s almost like some clever fantasy owner leaked this news in an effort to buy low on the Pewter Cadillac. Stay away for now.
Tennessee Titans Committee worry level: Non-existent Week 4: Chris Johnson (19 carries, 53 yards; three receptions, 11 yards) Season: Johnson (94 carries, 354 yards, 4 TD; 12 receptions, 38 yards)
Comment: Did you know that Johnson has 24 fewer yards from scrimmage than Hillis? Sorry – it’s fun to tweak people when their top overall pick isn’t racking up as many fantasy points as they thought. He’s fine.
Washington Redskins Committee worry level: Low Week 4: Ryan Torain (18 carries, 70 yards, TD); Clinton Portis (11 carries, 55 yards; two receptions, 26 yards) Season: Portis (49 carries, 195 yards, 2 TD; four receptions, 45 yards); Torain (25 carries, 116 yards, TD)
Comment: Portis will reportedly miss somewhere around six weeks due to his groin injury. Get on the Torain train – he’s owned in just 26.3 percent of FOXSports.com leagues. Only practice squad refugee Keiland Williams stands between Torain and fantasy stardom.