It appears you are better off being ranked #4 on the U.S. news college list rather than #1.
That's because the schools tied for #4--UChicago, Columbia, and Stanford--are the three schools that have increased in popularity the most during the past decade.
Interestingly, the top 3 schools according to U.S. News--Princeton, Harvard, Yale--have actually declined relative to the competition over the past decade in admissions popularity.
Parchment now shows, for example, that 60% of students admitted to both UChicago and Princeton, prefer to go to UChicago...
...A fact that has not gone unnoticed at Princeton...
Why are the #4 schools benefiting more than schools 1-3? You could argue the top three schools are simply overexposed, whereas the #4 schools are still building awareness among the public. There's also a sense that HYP aren't really going anywhere--they are what they always were (at least since the 1930s perhaps) where Columbia, Stanford, and UChicago are on the move.
But it's not just the popularity contest with students that these universities are winning. UChicago definitely seems to have stepped up its faculty recruiting game, pulling quite a few senior scholars from the competitors in recnt years, who were more likely to raid UChicago in the past.
In fact, a post on the EconRumors Job Forum asked, "Why is everyone leaving Cambridge for Chicago?" (referring to Michael Greenstone at MIT and James Robinson at Harvard, who both left for UChicago).