Ladies and gentlemen, the best fantasy football runningback in the NFL after the season’s first four week is none other than LaDainian Tomlinson Adrian Peterson Michael Turner.
The Burner, a former backup in San Diego to Tomlinson, has blown up against a pair of weak rushing defenses to earn the early season honor. Turner made a statement in week 1 against Detroit with a 34.6 point performance and again in week 3 against Kansas City with a 28.4 point performance.
But it has been boom or bust for Turner, who has a combined 10.3 points in his other two matchups against Tampa Bay and Carolina. His struggles against better defenses will be tested in the Falcons’ next three games: at Green Bay, versus Chicago and @ Philadelphia.
I would not be surprised to see a fall from grace for Turner after the second quarter of the season is over.
Standard scoring (1 point per 10 yards rushing/receiving, 6 points per touchdown, -2 per turnover) was applied to rank the runningbacks. The top-12 runningbacks after a quarter of the season represent the best RB1s for a 12-team league.
San Francisco’s Frank Gore follows closely behind Turner, trailing the leader by only 2.8 points. Gore is bouncing after a somewhat disappointing 2007 campaign that saw the big back get off to a slow start. He is playing like the type of back everyone thought he would be last season.
There is no surprise that Marion Barber is high on this list, checking in at No. 3 behind Turner and Gore. Though Barber was underutilized against the Redskins in week 4, the Dallas runningback should continue to see a significant amount of action on a great offense. Had the Cowboys gotten him a few more touches in that week 4 loss, Barber easily could have been the top back at the quarter pole.
And sneaking around at No. 4: Adrian Peterson. The preseason’s top back on half the world’s fantasy football cheat sheets, ADP almost quietly has amassed 63.2 points on the year, only 10.1 points back of the leader. He remains the favorite to finish the season as the league’s best fantasy back.
The rest of the top 12:
Rookie surprises: Matt Forte and Chris Johnson make the top-12, not highly-heralded rookies Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall. Forte has staying power thanks to the nature of the Chicago run-first offense, while Johnson appears to be emerging as the featured back in the Titans’ backfield.
In a standard league, it is a little odd to see Reggie Bush so high on this list. While he has been boom or bust, his booms were huge enough — 22.3 and 24.8 points in weeks 1 and 3, respectively — to put him at No. 6.
Then come the familiar names, the guys we all expect to be on this list at the end of this season: Marshawn Lynch, LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and Clinton Portis. All of these guys were ranked in the top-10 of backs this offseason and should remain on this list for the remainder of the year.
Finally, Ronnie Brown could be starting his Comeback Player of the Year bid by crashing this list at No. 11. His gigantic week against the Patriots — 42.96 points — to thank, Brown could be wrangling playing time away from Ricky Williams going forward. His progress certainly is worth tracking.