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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

RB Strength of Schedule

Tue May 28 9:03am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

Robinson setup for big season


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. Defenses obviously change from year to year, but knowing the running backs that might have the easiest schedule for fantasy is always a good idea when formulating your rankings and draft strategy.

  RB SOS  
1. Green Bay Packers 356.01
2. Houston Texans 361.46
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 361.46
4. Las Vegas Raiders 361.48
5. Seattle Seahawks 362.28
6. Buffalo Bills 363.19
7. Arizona Cardinals 363.76
8. Dallas Cowboys 363.9
9. Jacksonville Jaguars 364.51
10. Washington Commanders 364.86
11. Chicago Bears 364.89
12. Indianapolis Colts 365.41
13. San Francisco 49ers 365.86
14. New Orleans Saints 366.49
15. New York Jets 368.23
16. Detroit Lions 368.49
17. Philadelphia Eagles 369.05
18. Minnesota Vikings 369.06
19. Carolina Panthers 369.88
20. Cleveland Browns 370.34
21. Kansas City Chiefs 371.71
22. New York Giants 372.21
23. Los Angeles Chargers 373.19
24. Denver Broncos 373.32
25. Cincinnati Bengals 373.66
26. Los Angeles Rams 374.09
27. Baltimore Ravens 374.16
28. New England Patriots 375.60
29. Atlanta Falcons 376.19
30. Miami Dolphins 377.49
31. Tennessee Titans 378.2
32. Pittsburgh Steelers 378.72


The two teams with the easiest fantasy schedules for running backs are the Steelers and Titans, which is interesting because both teams could platoon running backs. The Steelers split the work between Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. And the Titans are likely to use both Tony Pollard and Tyjae Spears. All four backs could be setup for solid seasons with favorable schedules. It is always scary to take a back that might split work but seeing these positive schedules could make pulling the trigger on them a little easier come draft day. All four could be top flex plays for fantasy teams.

The Dolphins had huge success running the ball last year and could have similar solid production this season with the third easiest fantasy schedule for running backs. Devon Achane is really looking good in year two. He is expected to get more work and likely lead the backfield in touches. Raheem Mostert had a career season last year and a great schedule but he carries a little more risk. He is 32 years old and now has rookie Jaylen Wright pushing him for playing time. Just something to keep in mind come draft day.

The Falcons are another team with a top-five favorable running back schedule, making Bijan Robinson a very intriguing pick this year. Robinson had a bit of a disappointing rookie season, but a new coaching staff and really favorable schedule make Robinson a huge breakout candidate. He is moving up draft rankings in a hurry and is capable of finishing first overall in fantasy running back scoring because of his skill set.

Rhamondre Stevenson is a possible rebound candidate. He was slowed by injury last year but is back healthy and with the fifth easiest schedule for running backs. Stevenson has shown in the past he can be a big-time fantasy back. Things are looking up for him this year, making him a good buy-low candidate.

The Packers had the easiest fantasy schedule for quarterbacks but get the toughest for running backs. This isn’t great news for new back Josh Jacobs. It is hard to bet against the productive back, though. You just might want to temper expectations for him this coming year. Jacobs could have a few down weeks, especially for his standards.

The Texans signed Joe Mixon to shore up their running back spot, but he carries some concerns. He wasn’t highly productive the last few seasons besides all his scores and now gets the second toughest schedule for running backs. Plus, the Texans are likely to be a pass heavy team, which could limit his workload a little. Mixon could end up being a boom or bust player.

Tampa also has a unfavorable fantasy schedule for running backs. Rachaad White had a big season last year but padded his numbers because of all his work in the passing game. That might be a similar scenario for him, having a tough time to run with this schedule. The positive for White is he is very good in the passing game. You have to worry about his rushing totals, though.

The Raiders haven’t really settled on a starting running back, but Zamir White is likely to get first shot at the job. That is great news for his fantasy value but the not so great news is his tough fantasy schedule. This could limit the ceiling of White a little. He has risk to begin with because it isn’t 100 percent certain he wins the job. This makes him a bit of a scary pick for fantasy teams.

Kenneth Walker didn’t have quite the breakout second season many hoped but was fairly productive with his work. And the good news is Zach Charbonnet didn’t really put a big dent in his workload. The Seahawks seem happy with Walker as the lead back. The unfortunate news for Walker is he has the fifth toughest fantasy running back schedule. Walker might fail to reach his lofty expectations once again in year three.

We also wanted to look at playoff schedules for fantasy running backs. So we crunched the numbers of all the schedules from Week 14-17, which is the fantasy playoffs for most leagues. We know you have to get to the playoffs first, but knowing the running backs with the easiest playoff schedules doesn’t hurt by any means, especially in the big money contests.

  RB PLAYOFF SOS  
1. San Francisco 49ers 291.43
2. Washington Commanders 325.2
3. Houston Texans 327.8
4. Pittsburgh Steelers 332.03
5. New York Jets 337.57
6. Cleveland Browns 340.8
7. Las Vegas Raiders 341.1
8. Miami Dolphins 348.27
9. Chicago Bears 350.37
10. Buffalo Bills 350.53
11. Arizona Cardinals 352.8
12. Dallas Cowboys 358.87
13. Detroit Lions 359.7
14. New York Giants 365.67
15. Kansas City Chiefs 366.53
16. Green Bay Packers 368.97
17. Seattle Seahawks 370.23
18. Carolina Panthers 377.15
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 378.37
20. Los Angeles Chargers 380.73
21. Jacksonville Jaguars 381
22. Baltimore Ravens 381.43
23. Cincinnati Bengals 383.50
24. Philadelphia Eagles 391.07
25. New England Patriots 397.95
26. Indianapolis Colts 398.40
27. Denver Broncos 399.53
28. Tennessee Titans 401.63
29. Los Angeles Rams 403.92
30. New Orleans Saints 406.33
31. Minnesota Vikings 407.87
32. Atlanta Falcons 422.4

 

There are two teams with a top-five favorable schedule for fantasy running backs for both the regular season and playoffs. Those teams are the Falcons and Titans. Atlanta actually has the easiest fantasy playoff schedule for running backs. Robinson was looking good even before hearing this news but looks even better now. He is making a strong case to be the second running back off the board come draft day.

And Pollard and Spears are intriguing running back options with schedules that could produce big for both during the regular season and playoffs. You just have to worry about one back emerging to grab most of the work. If that happens, one of these backs could end up being a bust.

Minnesota has the second easiest playoff schedule for running backs. Aaron Jones has some injury concerns after the last few seasons, but he could be setup for a big workload with an unsettled quarterback situation in Minnesota. Jones has some good upside with his new team, especially during the playoffs.

One other team to mention for the playoff is New Orleans. Alvin Kamara isn’t getting any younger but remains the lead back and still productive. He still seems to have something left in the tank and could be a big fantasy factor for at least one more season, especially when it matters most in the playoffs. He could be a difference maker, having the third easiest fantasy schedule for running backs.

Houston is the lone team in both the top five for the toughest regular season and playoff fantasy running back schedules. This is an obvious concern for Mixon. He is looking more and more like a player you might to avoid come draft day. He might have some big games along the way in this great offense, but you have to wonder about his consistency and playoff performance.

So the top rated fantasy back, Christian McCaffrey, also has the toughest fantasy playoff schedule for running backs. You aren’t fading McCaffrey because of this. He is one of those rare backs that it doesn’t really matter who he plays. McCaffrey will produce. We still think he is the clear No. 1 fantasy back. He can still get it done in the playoffs.

Washington has Brian Robinson and Austin Ekekler likely splitting the work at running back, which hurts both their fantasy values. They also get the second most difficult playoff schedule for running backs. We wouldn’t reach too early for either back because of this.

The Steelers have the easiest fantasy running back schedule during the playoffs but fourth toughest for the playoffs. This is a tough one. Both backs have potential for good things, showing they can co-exist last year and produce well for fantasy teams. You just have to wonder if fading in the playoffs will make all that good work during the regular season all for nothing.

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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