Thu May 23 11:07am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
The NFL has released schedules, so it is time to see how this impacts the fantasy world. Next up, the running back spot.
Using our rules for our money leagues, we came up with a schedule strength ranking for the running back position. We are using our fantasy defenses report to calculate the rankings. This report can be found in all of our leagues under the "reports" heading. We took the schedule of each team and entered the average number of fantasy points allowed to running backs last season from all of their opponents to get our fantasy points allowed number. This is a good indication of the running backs with the most favorable schedules for fantasy scoring for the coming season.
The Ravens had arguably the most potent rushing attack down the stretch last year and will look to carry that over to this year, so having the easiest schedule for running backs bodes well for this entire offense. Baltimore should be run heavy once again with Mark Ingram and quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way. Both are setup for big years.
Phillip Lindsay was a huge surprise last year and is looking good again to at least repeat, having the second easiest schedule for running backs. New England, Detroit and Pittsburgh also have favorable schedules, making their running backs good targets for this coming year (i.e. Sony Michel, Kerryon Johnson and James Conner).
The Chiefs have run the ball well in recent years with whomever is starting, but have a schedule that could make it a little more difficult this year. Kansas City has the toughest schedule for running backs, which might send up a few red flags for likely starter Damien Williams.
Atlanta struggled to run the ball last year and could be in a similar situation this season, having the second hardest schedule for running backs. Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Houston are other teams with very challenging schedules for running backs. Keep this in mind come draft day.
Take a close at these rankings and tweak your overall rankings accordingly. These schedules could impact running backs - good or bad.
|FANTASY POINTS ALLOWED|
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (knee) returned to practice Monday for the first time since he tore his MCL in Week 14 of the 2018 season. Smith, who was filling in for injured tight end Delanie Walker, delivered 214 yards and three touchdowns in his final 5 games of 2018 leading up to his injury. With Walker now recovered, expect Smith to return to his limited role as the team's second tight end. While Smith is unlikely to have enough opportunity to be relevant this season, he remains a solid dynasty stash with Walker's best years likely behind him.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (calf) returned to practice today for the first time since the opening day of training camp. Although his Week 1 status was never in serious question, this is a good sign for Henry's 2019 fantasy stock. Henry will slide right back in as the feature back for new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith's offense entering his make-or-break contract year. Henry continues to be one of the most polarizing players for the 2019 fantasy season, but only time will tell if we are to get the Henry from the last four games of the regular season or the Henry from the first twelve. In reality, his upside will likely depend majorly on the ability of quarterback Marcus Mariota to produce more consistently in the passing game.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took the field for the first time this season on Sunday, and he looked good against the Vikings. Wilson went 6-for-9 for 82 yards, and he just missed a big third down completion that would have padded those stats even more. An especially nice thing was the fact that Wilson went virtually untouched in the pocket, and while it's just the preseason, any positive that can be found in Seattle's offensive line is worth a mention. Wilson is a knock quantity at this point, and if his offensive line can give him more time in the pocket, he could easily be in the discussion for MVP as the season rolls on.
Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf is scheduled to have knee surgery on Tuesday, and his presence for the start of the season is now in jeopardy. Metcalf's injury was discovered last week in practice, but head coach Pete Carroll declined to go into specifics about the injury or the circumstances surrounding it. It isn't believed to be terribly serious since Carroll's already talking about how the team is optimistic that Metcalf will be back for the regular season opener, but for a player who depends on speed like Metcalf, that seems questionable. For now, he's at least out for the rest of the preseason, not a great thing for a rookie.
Seattle Seahawks rookie safety Marquise Blair was carted off the field in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings after suffering back spasms. Blair had been hyped coming into the game, but he was beat for a touchdown in the first half and eventually left with the injury. At this point, it's unclear how serious the injury is or how much time Blair will miss, but it's just another shot at Seattle's rookie class after first-round pick L.J. Collier has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain as well. With Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, and Shaquem Griffin also recovering from injuries, Seattle's defense is taking a serious beating to start the season.
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will make his preseason debut on Thursday against the New England Patriots. The 34-year-old, who has played just 16 games over the last two seasons as a result of injury, was one of the most efficient fantasy tight ends, playing in each game over a nine-year span while eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in three straight seasons during the 2014-2016 campaigns. If he can remain healthy, he could return to form and be a valuable asset in one of the weakest tight end fantasy classes in recent memory.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd will have his number called more often this upcoming season. I run newer routes. Im on a lot of routes that I know once they call it, Im the first read, Boyd said before adding I know its me. I just have to win. The 24-year-old had 76 receptions (108 targets) for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. With A.J. Green (ankle) expected to miss some time, Boyd could easily surpass those numbers this upcoming season while serving as Andy Daltons top receiver.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel continues to impress this preseason. After missing 10 games in his first two seasons as a result of various ailments, Samuel, along with D.J. Moore, are now the undisputed lead receivers in Carolina this season. Though it is unknown who will be Cam Newtons target of choice, both possess huge upsides, so much so that head coach Ron Rivera indicated that both young receivers dont have ceilings.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore continues to impress. When referencing Moore and fellow wide receiver Curtis Samuels progress, head coach Ron Rivera remarked I think those guys dont have ceilings. I think those guys can become really, really good players. While Samuel continues to be a popular sleeper pick, the 22-year-old shouldnt be ignored. Moore finished the 2018 season with 55 receptions (82 targets) for 788 yards and a pair of touchdowns. With Cam Newton seemingly healthy once again, that number is expected to climb this upcoming season.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Robert Davis has been targeted thrice in two preseason games thus far. He's hauled in two of them, and both resulted in touchdowns of 46 and 55 yards. As unsustainable a success rate as this is, no positive performance from a Redskins wideout should be dismissed by the coaching staff. Their WR depth chart is an abundance of question marks, and every potential possibility for production should be considered. That said, Davis will also need to factor into the equation on plays that don't result in 50-yard touchdowns if he's going to earn regular playing time. He's playing himself into a roster spot, but fantasy relevance is a different story.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley kept up the good work in the team's second preseason game as he drilled a pair of extra points and a 32-yard field goal. Badgley already has the job won and appears to be the answer to the Chargers' years-long kicking woes. He's also openly spoken to the media about the fact that even though it's his job with no other competition around, he continues to focus on improving because he doesn't want to let his renowned teammates down. Badgley should be a consistent performer on the kicking front this season as LA is expected to have a strong offense.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon will begin his third year in the league when the team takes on the Seattle Seahawks, but it will be his first season with new head coach Zac Taylor. Taylor spent a couple of seasons serving under current Rams head coach Sean McVay, during which time the Rams skyrocketed to first in the league in scoring in Taylors first season as an assistant, which was also the same season where Todd Gurley led the league in yards from scrimmage. With Mixon finishing with 1,168 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018, he could be poised for a breakout season under a new regime.
Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu exited Sunday's game against the Saints in the third quarter and was wearing a wrap around his midsection afterwards. After the game, Nwosu told reporters that he felt a weird pain in his side when he was making a tackle, but he didn't seem to think it was very serious. The second-round pick from 2018 is slotted to be one of the team's starting linebackers, so everyone's hoping it's not too serious since the defense already lost Derwin James for upwards of three months. Updates are expected later in the week.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon has been targeted five times in the team's first two exhibition contests, hauling in two of them for 17 yards. The Redskins were without both Trey Quinn and Terry McLaurin in the most recent outing, with Josh Doctson seeing minimal playing time as well, so it's at least a little bit odd that Harmon hasn't gotten more looks. Washington possesses one of the least inviting wideout groups of any team in the league from a fantasy perspective, and it could be viewed as frustrating that a rookie with unknown upside hasn't seen a measurable amount of work in the preseason. Harmon is outside the fantasy radar until this changes.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey continues to sit behind New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley in pre-draft rankings. However, according to DraftKings NFL Analyst Greg Ehrenberg, he would select McCaffrey if he had the top pick in any of his fantasy drafts. I really think you cant go wrong here, but if I had the No. 1 overall pick, its Christian McCaffrey. The 23-year-old rushed for 1,098 yards and seven scores in addition to 107 receptions for 867 yards and six touchdowns. With McCaffrey eyeing both 1,000 yards on the ground and as a receiver, you cant go wrong if you are able to grab him in your draft.
Though he didn't get a touchdown, Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Artavis Scott led the team in receiving yards on Sunday when facing the Saints. Scott also had the longest gain of the day when he hauled in a 31-yard pass from backup quarterback Easton Stick in the final minute of the game. Scott is one of a few wide receivers battling to be the team's fourth or fifth option on the outside, and he looks to be in the thick of the fight. It's not clear yet who will take the spots, but Scott should be considered one of the strongest competitors for the position. If he can make the squad, he could find himself getting a lot of looks with a set of injury-prone receivers in front of him.
Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis might be getting up there in age, but he's still vying for a spot on the roster. That's not going to be a particularly fantasy-relevant roster spot, however, as the backup tight end in Washington will be used sparingly. If there is even a glimmer of fantasy potential for Davis, it's that he is a reliable pass-catcher on a team without many guys who can say that. He'd also be backing up Jordan Reed, who has had his fair share of injury troubles over the years. Still, Davis is best viewed as a player who will be targeted minimally throughout the season. He'll catch enough of those targets to reel off a productive day or two, but it's not going to be sustainable or predictable.
Washington Redskins tight end Jeremy Sprinkle enters 2019 in a competition with Vernon Davis for the backup tight end role. He has seen four targets and caught two of them for 13 yards in the preseason. This role is highly unlikely to provide any fantasy value, as even first-string tight end Jordan Reed was largely held in check in 2018. The Redskins are likely to once again rely heavily on the run as they did last year, while asking for mistake-free football from their quarterback. There simply won't be enough targets to go around for the fringe pass-catchers on this team. Reed is being drafted as a bench player in 12-team PPR leagues, per Fantasy Football Calculator. There is no reason to think any differently about his understudies.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn was held out of last week's preseason game, but he returned to practice on Sunday. Quinn will likely enter Week 1 as the Redskins' slot receiver, providing him with intriguing fantasy potential in PPR leagues. Regardless of who earns the starting QB job for Week 1, the Redskins don't figure to be an explosive passing offense. Without the presence of a proven big-play threat on the outside, it stands to reason that high-percentage plays to Quinn out of the slot will be a focal point as Washington tries to move the chains in chunks. That said, until we see clear evidence of this in game situations, Quinn falls outside the fantasy radar for now.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Detrez Newsome may be losing his spot in the pecking order. Coming into Sunday's game against the Saints, Newsome was slated to be the team's No. 3 running back after Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, but he got jumped by Troymaine Pope when it came time to actually go into the game. To make matters worse, Newsome did nothing of importance while Pope took a punt to the house for the biggest play of the game. At this point, Newsome may be at real risk to be cut from the team. He'll need to step it up in practice this week to see much of a future in LA.