Koerner’s Week 4 Fantasy Football Tiers: RB

Koerner’s Week 4 Fantasy Football Tiers: RB article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ezekiel Elliott, James Conner and Melvin Gordon

  • Sean Koerner -- the No. 1 in-season fantasy football ranker in 2015, 2016 and 2017 -- takes a detailed look at his Week 4 running back tiers.
  • Use the strategies outlined below to build the most optimal starting lineup for your fantasy football team.

Below you’ll find my running back tiers for Week 4 fantasy football. These are based on standard scoring.

As a reminder, these tiers are not updated after publication. If you want my most up-to-date rankings for PPR, Standard and Half-Point PPR leagues, check out this post.

And, yes, my tiers will be part of our Action Network subscription this season. Be sure to check out the awesome special we’re currently running below for an annual sub.

Koerner’s Running Back Tiers

Based on standard scoring; +/- indicates how many Tiers up/down each player would move in a PPR format.

Tier 1
Todd Gurley (vs. MIN)
Alvin Kamara (@ NYG) +1

I honestly never thought Kamara would make it up to Tier 1 in standard scoring, but here we are. In PPR he would have Tier 1 all to himself. It’s clear that the Saints use dump-off passes to Kamara as an extension of the running game. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle Kamara once Mark Ingram returns next week.

Tier 2
Ezekiel Elliott (vs. DET)

The Cowboys’ passing game is a disaster this season. It’s going to force them to lean on Zeke even more going forward. He’s locked and loaded as a top-five RB going forward, to no one’s surprise.

Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ezekiel Elliott

Tier 3
Melvin Gordon (vs. SF)
Saquon Barkley (vs. NO)

There is certainly some merit to the opinion that the Giants shouldn’t have spent the No. 2 overall pick on Barkley, but for fantasy purposes, we don’t care. He has met the lofty expectations of being a midrange RB1 in his rookie season.

Tier 4
James Conner (vs. BAL)
Jordan Howard (vs. TB)

The Steelers appear to be open to trading Le’Veon Bell. It’s still anyone’s guess as to how this will all turn out, but that would be great news for Conner owners.

He may be the first player ever to potentially be a RB1 for all 16 weeks after typically being drafted in the last round of drafts in late August.

Tier 5
David Johnson (vs. SEA)
Kareem Hunt (@ DEN) -1
Giovani Bernard (@ ATL) +1

Johnson should finally get it going at home this week. If he explodes for a huge game, I would recommend trying to sell high.

Hunt has scored three total touchdowns in the past two weeks to help make up for the lack of yardage we have seen from him so far this season.

One alarming stat so far: He has just one catch (on three targets) for five yards. This likely has to do with Patrick Mahomes continually forcing the ball downfield.

Either way, Hunt benefits from being the workhorse back in this potent offense, but he could be wildly inconsistent if he needs to score TDs to return fantasy value on a weekly basis.

Tier 6
Leonard Fournette (vs. NYJ)
Sony Michel (vs. MIA)
Carlos Hyde (@ OAK)
Marshawn Lynch (vs. CLE)
Lamar Miller (@ IND)

I receive a lot of “why don’t you like Sony Michel?” and “why are you so low on Sony Michel?” questions on Twitter. As you may know from reading my Tiers, the main driver of my rankings are my projections (which you can find within the FantasyLabs models).

If you ever find yourself making player projections, you will notice just how important projected touches are.

You can be the most talented back on the team, but if you are only projected for five to 10 touches, it’s going to be hard for you to outproduce a mediocre back who may see 20 to 25 touches. It’s just basic arithmetic.

The only thing holding Michel back in my model was the fact that he had to split work with James White and Rex Burkhead. Now that Burkhead has been placed on IR, Michel shoots way up my rankings as a high-end RB2 for Week 4.

He is the same exact talent in my eyes as he was in Week 3, but now he has a much clearer path to touches. It’s critical to think about projections in this light versus whether or not I “like” someone.

Tier 7
Alex Collins (@ PIT)
Chris Carson (@ ARI)

One of my main concerns with Collins entering 2018 was Kenneth Dixon and/or Buck Allen being more involved than we would like. Sadly, that has been the case so far, with Allen playing a large role early on and getting the highly valuable goal-line carries.

The good news is, Collins can only get more usage from here, as I still believe he is the superior back.

Carson had a massive workload in Week 3 (32 rush attempts). I think it’s increasingly clear that he is the Seahawks’ bona fide workhorse and first-round rookie Rashaad Penny is not posing much of a threat.

Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Alex Collins

Tier 8
Devonta Freeman (vs. CIN)
Dalvin Cook (@ LA)
Kenyan Drake (@ NE)
Tevin Coleman (vs. CIN)
Kerryon Johnson (@ DAL)
Matt Breida (@ LAC)
Dion Lewis (vs. PHI)
James White (vs. MIA) +1
Isaiah Crowell (@ JAX)
Austin Ekeler (vs. SF)
Royce Freeman (vs. KC)

Freeman and Cook’s health are in question. If either of them sit, we would see Coleman shoot up to Tier 6, and despite a brutal Week 3 spot start, Latavius Murray would also shoot up to the middle of this Tier.

Johnson was the first Lions RB to rush for 100-plus yards in a game in five years. It would make sense for the Lions to give him more snaps, since opposing defenses can predict what type of play is coming when one-dimensional RBs LeGarrette Blount (rushing play) and Theo Riddick (passing play) are on the field. Johnson’s versatility should earn him more work going forward.

Tier 9
Phillip Lindsay (vs. KC)
Peyton Barber (@ CHI)
Derrick Henry (vs. PHI)
Jay Ajayi (@ TEN)
LeSean McCoy (@ GB)
Bilal Powell (@ JAX)
Javorius Allen (@ PIT)

Lindsay had an early exit Week 3, as he was ejected for punching another player in the face. The box score certainly makes it seem like Royce Freeman is now the Denver workhorse back, but I fully expect Lindsay to return to a full-on RBBC role in Week 4.

It’s going to be tough to trust either Ajayi or McCoy if they return from injury this week. I can’t imagine them having a full workload, as they could be eased back in given the depth their teams have at RB.

Tier 10
Jamaal Williams (vs. BUF)
Alfred Morris (@ LAC)
Jordan Wilkins (vs. HOU)
Aaron Jones (vs. BUF)
Latavius Murray (@ LA)
Chris Ivory (@ GB)
Tarik Cohen (vs. TB)
Ty Montgomery (vs. BUF)
Marlon Mack (vs. HOU)
T.J. Yeldon (vs. NYJ)
Corey Clement (@ TEN)
Nyheim Hines (vs. HOU)

A lot of this Tier depends on the health of other RBs on their team. If Mack returns this week, it makes Wilkins, Mack and Hines part of an ugly three-way RBBC.

I’ll want to avoid that at all costs until we get more clarity on how the Colts plan on handling their roles going forward.