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.
Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones is confident that the team will strike a deal with running back Ezekiel Elliott before Week 1 against the Giants. The Cowboys have had an offer on the table for nearly three weeks that would make Elliott the second-highest paid back ahead of Le'Veon Bell's $13.125 million average and behind Todd Gurley's $14.375 million average. Elliott's draft stock has slipped slightly because of his holdout, but he remains RotoBaller's No. 6 overall player and should still be taken in the first round of drafts. If he locks up an extension before Week 1, Elliott will immediately become a candidate to go first overall alongside Saquon Barkley.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (ankle) suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason game on Thursday night against the Raiders and is likely to be out four to six weeks, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. X-rays came back negative on his ankle. St. Brown wasn't much of a target to begin with in standard-sized leagues after catching 21 passes for 328 yards and no touchdowns in 12 games in his rookie season. The 22-year-old are running a new offense under a new head coach this year, so St. Brown will be behind when he returns. His injury should allow the likes of Geronimo Allison, Jake Kumerow and Trevor Davis to get more opportunities.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown caught three passes for 17 yards in his NFL debut Thursday night. "My expectation was to not make any mistakes and catch every ball that was thrown at me," Brown told BaltimoreRavens.com. Brown caught the first ball of the game, a seven-yard throw from rookie quarterback Trace McSorley. He caught two other targets for five yards apiece and attempted rushing the ball, but was taken down for a loss of four yards. Brown performed without jitters and his explosiveness will be a key asset to the Ravens offense. His current ADP is in the 170s. After watching Hollywood take reps with the starting lineup on Thursday, he might worth stashing on your bench in the late rounds despite the Ravens run-first offense.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore (shoulder) suffered a shoulder injury in practice on Thursday, and head coach Pete Carroll said that Moore is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Moore is getting a second opinion but isn't expected to require surgery, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. With rookie D.K. Metcalf also injured and not a lock to be ready for Week 1, Seattle's pass-catching group is thinning out quickly. It'll mean more looks for No. 1 wideout Tyler Lockett, as well as Jaron Brown, Keenan Reynolds and potentially Amara Darboh. Moore doesn't need to be drafted in standard-sized leagues, especially now that this injury clouds his early-season potential.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett will not play in the preseason game on Saturday against the Bears, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The Colts are sitting the majority of their starters this weekend, and Brissett could be forced to start in Week 1 due to the injury to Andrew Luck (ankle). The Colts are playing it safe here, as they can't afford to lose another signal caller with the regular season fast approaching. It's looking more and more likely that Luck won't be ready for Week 1 against the Chargers, so Brissett would get the nod if that's the case. Because it's possible Luck could be back in Week 2, Brissett's fantasy appeal hasn't grown all that much.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Floyd caught three balls for 54 yards and a touchdown in Thursday night's preseason game against the Eagles. With a little less than seven minutes to go before the half, rookie quarterback Trace McSorley threw a 28-yard dime to Floyd for the Ravens second touchdown of the game. Floyd is entering his eighth year and fifth team in just three seasons. He is toeing the line for a roster spot against the likes of Seth Roberts, Jaleel Scottand Jaylen Smith. Floyd likely shouldn't be in your fantasy sights this season, but performances in preseason may earn him a spot on the depth chart.
Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan will officially be suspended the first four games of the season after losing the appeal of his four-game ban for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Veteran swing tackle Dennis Kelly will take over the blind side to start the year, but it'll be a downgrade for the offensive line as a whole and for whoever is the team's starter in Week 1 between Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis believes hes finally playing explosive and consistent. Entering training camp as a presumed starter, Pettis has been pushed by rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd who have both turned heads. Meanwhile, Pettis has apparently lacked assertiveness. The 2018 second-round pick emerged at the end of last year, compiling 359 yards and four touchdowns in his final five games and becoming the clear second option behind tight end George Kittle. However, with more aerial weapons this season, Pettis needs to execute on his words to retain playing time. Still running with the starters, a reinvigorated Pettis seems like a safe backend WR2.
The competition between San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks CJ Beathard and Nick Mullens to earn backup duties will come down to final cuts. The two signal-callers both made starts in 2018 after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL and present different skillsets to the offense. Beathard is a risk-taker with a longer tenure with the squad while Mullens has been more consistent. With Garoppolo likely playing the entire first half this Saturday, both players will need to share limited opportunities. The Niners apparently have no intention to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, and its likely both Beathard and Mullens would garner interest on the waiver wire if they were cut. While its a difficult decision, the team has until September 8 to make the call.
Speaking Thursday, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch indicated defensive end Nick Bosa (ankle) and cornerback Jason Verrett (ankle, Achilles) are 50-50 for Week 1. Both players suffered injuries two weeks ago and their absence would impair an already-shaky defensive unit. Bosa, the second overall pick in 2019, could emerge as a quality IDP candidate once hes healthy while Verrett likely wont make any fantasy impact this season.
Based on the praised heaped upon San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jordan Matthews recently, his chances of making the team appear bright. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has a lot of confidence in Matthews and believes they can win with [him]. Once an ascending talent with three straight 800-plus yard seasons to start his career, Matthews has tailed off over the past two years, collecting just 582 yards across 24 games. If he makes the squad, hell vie for snaps behind likely frontrunners Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel and Trent Taylor. Matthews positive outlook comes at the expense of Kendrick Bourne, whos suffered drop issues this training camp. Unless he leaps the apparent starters, Matthews isnt a fantasy option if he survives final cuts.
Baltimore Ravens rookie running back Justice Hill gained a total of eight yards on seven carries in Thursday night's preseason game against Philadelphia. After rushing for 49 yards and a touchdown in Baltimore's Week 2 preseason matchup against Green Bay, Thursday night's Week 3 performance was unimpressive. While Hill's individual performance may not have been exciting, the entire Ravens backfield only rushed for 40 yards altogether. Hill is fighting for touches in a crowded backfield and needs to put together a good outing in next week's last preseason game to help solidify his No. 2 spot behind Mark Ingram. Hill is currently being drafted in the 12th round, but we have seen him go as early as the eighth round. Draft him as an Ingram handcuff with potential for an exponential amount of touches as the season goes on.
Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Trace McSorley showed what he's made of in Thursday night's preseason game against the Eagles. After deciding to sit quarterbackLamar Jackson and with Robert Griffin III still out with an injured hand, head coach John Harbaugh gave McSorley the keys to start and finish the game. McSorley completed 19 of 28 passes for 208 yards and three total touchdowns. "I thought Trace did a heck of a job against those guys," Harbaugh told BaltimoreRavens.com. "I thought he was very poised. Made a lot of plays on the move, extended some plays and made them, made some good throws." The sixth-round pick had a performance that could help thrust him into the No. 2 spot behind Jackson. McSorley will go undrafted in the majority of leagues, but in the event that Jackson goes down this season, he poses as an exciting waiver wire pick-up, dependent on Baltimore's use for him.
Houston Texans rookie tight end Kahale Warring remains in concussion protocol and has now missed two weeks of practice. Warring, a third round pick this year, looked like someone who could contribute some early during the first parts of offseason practices, but at this point, it would be a surprise to see him on the field much as a rookie, as his injury has caused him to miss valuable practice time at a position where rookies really, really need practice time. Warring is an interesting dynasty pick, but should be avoided in re-draft leagues.
Second-year tight end Mike Gesicki was the offensive star in Miami's preseason victory over the Jaguars on Thursday night, hauling in all three of his targets for a total of 59 yards. This included a 29-yard catch-and-run to start off the second quarter with Gesicki catching a 16-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick before scampering for another 13 yards. Seemingly still behind teammate Nick O'Leary on the depth chart, Gesicki is being drafted first of the two, even though neither should be on your fantasy radar until the Dolphins prove that their offense is anything but mediocre.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has returned to Cabo to train. The Cowboys reportedly offered Elliott a deal to make him the second-highest paid running back in football, but his return to Mexico seems to suggest that Elliott wasn't happy with the deal. While he's still training and seems to be in game shape, the fact that the latest contract offer from Dallas didn't cause Elliott to budge is an admittedly bad sign for his chances of showing up for the start of the regular season. Elliott's upside is through the roof, but the risk continues to increase. He's still worth a first round pick, but it's understandable to take the safe bet with someone like David Johnson instead of drafting Elliott.
Offensive line play is crucial to success in fantasy football, and the Houston Texans reportedly have an issue on their hands as they try to fill the most important offensive line position, left tackle. The team signed Matt Kalil this offseason, but the veteran hasn't been at practice since August 14th, which has opened a spot for Roderick Johnson to potentially claim the starting role. There's also a chance that rookie Tytus Howard could wind up manning the position. This uncertainty should worry fantasy owners who have Texans running back Lamar Miller, who'll need the line to create space for him to work in. This situation makes Miller a little riskier pick than he'd be if Houston had some consistency at the left tackle position.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) was diagnosed with a mid-foot sprain, and the team is cautiously optimistic about his status for Week 1.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a mid-foot sprain that was suffered in Thursday's preseason meeting with the New England Patriots. The team says they are "cautiously optimistic" about Newton's Week 1 availability, and while we can likely expect to see Newton on the field when the Panthers take on the Rams, there's a chance that Kyle Allen ends up taking the field. If Newton is healthy, he's a solid quarterback option thanks to his legs, but if Allen's forced to play in Week 1, don't expect much from the Carolina passing attack. We'd see a solid dose of Christian McCaffrey.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson is expected to make his Texans debut in Saturday's preseason meeting with the Dallas Cowboys. A hamstring issue had kept Johnson sidelined since being acquired by the Texans in a trade with Cleveland, but we'll finally get to see a hint of how the Texans will use him. Johnson's expected to see time as a both a third-down back and a slot option for the Texans, and he gives quarterback Deshaun Watson a weapon unlike one he's had before. Johnson's a sneaky mid-round pick in PPR leagues.