Thu Jun 2 10:47am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Williams setup for breakout year
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.
|2022 RB SOS|
|3.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||384|
|6.||New York Giants||392.5|
|8.||Las Vegas Raiders||394.1|
|11.||Los Angeles Chargers||397.3|
|12.||Los Angeles Rams||397.8|
|13.||San Francisco 49ers||398.2|
|16.||New York Jets||399.2|
|17.||New Orleans Saints||400.9|
|19.||Kansas City Chiefs||401.4|
|22.||Green Bay Packers||404|
|29.||New England Patriots||411.2|
The Dolphins have the best schedule for fantasy running backs this coming year. The problem is you just aren’t sure the back that will lead that team in carries. But these guys might be worth taking a chance on because of this schedule. Whoever emerges could be a productive fantasy asset. David Montgomery is intriguing on a team that lacks weapons in the passing game and gets the second easiest schedule for fantasy backs. Montgomery might have his best season to date. Javonte Williams is pegged as a breakout candidate by many and having the third most favorable fantasy schedule for running backs makes that even more of a possibility. The Patriots have a host of backs that should get carries and could all produce well with their favorable running back schedule. And the Bills duo of Devin Singletary and rookie James Cook could do some damage this year.
Running backs with challenging fantasy running back schedules include Cordarrelle Patterson, Leonard Fournette, Miles Sanders and Joe Mixon. Patterson is one guy that is a concern because of his finish to last year, stumbling at the end of the season after a great start. And now Patterson gets the most challenging fantasy schedule for running backs. Fournette is setup for more work with Ronald Jones gone, but that might not lead to a lot more fantasy points with this schedule. Lastly, Saquon Barkley has been a bust in recent years and his team has the sixth toughest schedule for fantasy backs. Barkley could have more tough sledding this year.
Take a close look at this entire ranking when figuring out your fantasy rankings for the coming season.
We also wanted to look at playoff schedules for fantasy running backs. So we crunched the numbers of all the schedules from Weeks 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.
|2022 RB PLAYOFF SOS|
|1.||Los Angeles Chargers||345.7|
|6.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||376|
|8.||Green Bay Packers||380.3|
|11.||New York Giants||390.5|
|12.||Las Vegas Raiders||394|
|15.||New Orleans Saints||400.7|
|19.||New England Patriots||407.9|
|24.||Los Angeles Rams||418.3|
|27.||Kansas City Chiefs||424.7|
|29.||New York Jets||430.6|
|31.||San Francisco 49ers||433.3|
Christian McCaffrey has big injury concerns, but his celling is as high as any back in the game. He also has the easiest fantasy playoff schedule for running backs. This makes him a huge risk/reward pick for fantasy teams. McCaffrey could be a difference maker in the playoffs if he can stay on the field. Elijah Mitchell is another intriguing back for the coming year, getting a chance to start from day one and having the second most favorable fantasy schedule for running backs. Rookie Breece Hall is expected to be the Jets lead back and could have a great finish to his season with a very favorable schedule to end things. And D’Andre Swift has a favorable regular and playoff fantasy schedule. Swift is another back that battles injury issues, but could be a monster this year if he can stay on the field all season.
There are many repeat teams near the top of the list of the toughest fantasy running back schedules, including the Texans, Falcons and Eagles. You might just want to steer clear of players on these teams. Things might not work out well for them. The team with the toughest fantasy running back schedule in the playoffs, though, is the Chargers. Austin Ekeler is a top-five draft pick this year. He gets a ton of work in the passing game, so having a tough running back schedule isn’t a huge concern. But it is something to keep in mind when picking early in drafts. If you are debating between Ekeler and another high-profile back, you might want to lean the other way because of this playoff schedule.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
New York Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney (leg, knee) is unlikely to suit up at practice during the upcoming week, head coach Brian Daboll told reporters Sunday. Toney was held out of the team's preseason opener due to lower-body injuries. The absence of Toney has left quarterback Daniel Jones with limited high-level pass-catching options during practice, as Kenny Golladay has scuffled with inconsistencies. When healthy, Toney showed flashes of explosiveness during his rookie season in New York, as he compiled 39 receptions for 420 receiving yards across 10 games (four starts). There should be ample opportunity for Toney to be a factor on a weekly basis once the regular season gets underway, although his status for Week 2 of the preseason against Cincinnati next Sunday appears murky at best.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Joshua Kelley carried the ball three times for 16 yards, adding another three receptions for 28 yards through the air during Saturday's 29-22 preseason loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Kelley began the game as the lead back and played only about a quarter of action before Larry Rountree III and Isaiah Spiller took over. Kelley entered last season with ambitions to be the backup behind Austin Ekeler. However, he failed to secure that role, prompting the team to draft the rookie Spiller 123rd overall. Kelley will have an opportunity to hold off Spiller, but he will need to continue to impress and outperform him during the preseason.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (groin) returned to the practice field Sunday and immediately rediscovered his rapport with quarterback Jalen Hurts. While Smith being sidelined by a groin ailment was largely precautionary, it's a boon to see him back in action. After a breakout rookie campaign in 2021 (916 receiving yards, five touchdowns), Smith figures to factor significantly into Philly's passing game this season, even with the addition of A.J. Brown taking a slight shine off his upside. The Eagles take the field for the second week of the preseason next Sunday vs. Cleveland, although making sure Smith is healthy for a matchup with the Lions in Week 1 of the regular season remains paramount.
New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco entered the season one play away from becoming the team's starting signal caller, and earlier this week, that play happened. Flacco now stands to be New York's starting QB for Week 1 if Zach Wilson (knee) -- who will undergo knee surgery Tuesday -- is not cleared in time. Flacco went 16-for-19 with an interception during practice Sunday, per reporters on the scene. The veteran did not suit up for the team's preseason opener, with Mike White and Chris Streveler taking over under center following Wilson's departure. While Flacco would have the motivation of facing his former organization (the Ravens) to begin the season, he is likely off the fantasy radar. Over the past two seasons, the Jets have gone 0-5 in games started by the 37-year-old.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London (knee) was not spotted during Sunday's practice, an unsurprising development after he departed Friday's preseason opener due to a right knee injury. London hauled in his first professional reception for 24 yards prior to his exit, but the team believes that he avoided any long-term concerns. Taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, London is set to immediately play a significant role in the Falcons' new-look offense. The 6-foot-5 wideout hauled in 88 receptions for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns during his junior season with USC, which earned him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors. Fantasy managers will want to check back for further updates on his injury status as they become available.
Buccaneers' second-year quarterback Kyle Trask looked solid in Saturday's 26-24 preseason loss to the Dolphins. He completed 25 of his 33 passes for 258 yards, adding one touchdown and one interception. Trask even led the Bucs on a potential game-winning drive that unfortunately ended in a missed field goal. With Tom Brady returning for yet another season, Trask will not be an option in 2022 redraft leagues, but he is worth a stash in dynasty formats as the prospective future starter in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White turned seven carries into 32 yards and added two receptions for 13 yards during the preseason bout against Miami. He was also involved on special teams, returning two kicks for 43 yards. Although he ran behind Giovani Bernard and Ke'Shawn Vaughn, he was the most efficient of the three. The rookie profiles as a skilled receiving back and has been a standout in training camp, where he has been getting some reps with the first-team offense. He could see the field in 2022 if he continues to impress and may be worth a late-round flier in redraft fantasy leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn handled 10 carries for 19 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's preseason loss to the Dolphins. He also added two receptions for 22 yards. Vaughn led the team in carries but failed to make an impact on the ground outside of the one-yard score. Leonard Fournette should continue to be a three-down back this season, but the Bucs also added Rachaad White in the third round of the 2022 draft, and pass-catching specialist Giovani Bernard is still on the roster. In this crowded backfield, it's hard to imagine Vaughn becoming fantasy-relevant at any point this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers veteran quarterback Blaine Gabbert got the start in the team's preseason opener against the Dolphins. He completed all five of his passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Gabbert and second-year player Kyle Trask will continue to compete for the QB2 job behind Tom Brady. Trask shined on Saturday as well, but it's plausible that the Bucs rely on Gabbert's 11 years of experience if Brady were to miss any time this season. Brady has not missed a single game due to injury since 2008, however, so neither Gabbert nor Trask is expected to make a fantasy impact this season.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had a rough go finding success during Sunday's practice, per observers. The signal caller is reported to have gone 6-for-20 through the air, including tossing an interception. While Kadarius Toney (leg, knee) was unavailable, Jones still struggled to get the ball out to his playmakers. The 25-year-old kicked off his preseason with a 6-for-10 passing performance in a win over New England, having thrown for 69 yards, while incurring a sack. The upcoming year is likely an inflection point for Jones and the Giants, after the first-round pick threw for just 10 passing touchdowns across 11 games last season. He is likely on the outside-looking of being a QB1 in the vast majority of fantasy formats.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) is set to have surgery on his partially torn meniscus Tuesday, per Jets head coach Robert Saleh. Wilson sustained the injury -- along with a bone bruise -- during the team's preseason opener against the Eagles. The expectation within New York is that the signal caller avoided a serious long-term injury. While Wilson has initially received a two-to-four week recovery diagnosis, it's always possible that could change coming out of surgery. For now, the Jets appear content to move forward with Joe Flacco as their starting quarterback, which would set up a Week 1 rematch with the organization that the veteran took to the Super Bowl a decade ago. Wilson was likely already facing a muddled path to fantasy consideration in most fantasy formats, but managers will want to check back post-surgery to get a clearer picture of his anticipated return.
Third-year receiver Tyler Johnson put on a show in Tampa Bay's preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins, turning seven targets into six receptions for 73 yards. Johnson made a few excellent catches, and this performance validates the positive reports on him out of training camp. The wide receiver room in Tampa Bay is undeniably loaded, but injuries loom over the team's projected top three targets. Chris Godwin's (knee) timetable is still uncertain following an ACL tear, Mike Evans (hamstring) is nursing a minor hamstring injury, and Russell Gage (leg) suffered an injury of his own recently. The Buccaneers brought in a healthy Julio Jones, but a hamstring injury has plagued him in each of his past two seasons. Johnson, who has previously flashed in limited opportunities, is not currently worth a look in 2022 fantasy drafts. However, he could be a name to monitor if any of the Bucs' receivers miss time to start the season.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (appendectomy) is back in action at practice Sunday for the first time since undergoing an appendectomy in July. Despite continuously not having a timetable for his return, it appears the Bengals will have their signal caller back with ample time to ramp up before Week 1 of the regular season against Pittsburgh. Presumed backup Brandon Allen went 3-for-3 during Cincinnati's preseason opener vs. the Cardinals, with Jake Browning and Drew Plitt garnering significant snaps in Burrow's absence as well. On the heels of a breakout 2021 campaign that saw the 25-year-old Burrow both lead the league in completion percentage (70.4%) and take his team to the Super Bowl, the offensive weapons that the Bengals have assembled figure to make the young quarterback a popular choice among top fantasy targets.
Philadelphia Eagles running backs Miles Sanders (leg) and Boston Scott (concussion) were held out of practice Sunday due to respective ailments. The move seems precautionary in Sanders' case, as the team's expected lead back hauled in two receptions for 20 yards during Friday's preseason opener against the Jets. Scott has been dealing with a concussion for over a week. Kenneth Gainwell likely would step into a larger role if both players are sidelined for any period of time, although Jason Huntley led Philly with 16 carries in Week 1 of the preseason. Sanders amassed 754 yards on the ground last season, but he did not manage to find the end zone. Scott, conversely, was the red zone bell cow, racking up seven rushing scores despite receiving just 87 rushing attempts all year.
It's not usually a good sign for a player's regular season value if they're playing a lot in the first preseason game. Houston Texans running back Royce Freeman is the latest example of that, as he touched the football 15 times in Sunday's win over the Saints. He finished with 25 rushing yards and 19 receiving yards. Seeing Freeman on the field as much as he was suggests that he's the No. 4 running back at best for the Texans and therefore shouldn't be on anyone's fantasy radar at this point.
Houston Texans starting quarterback Davis Mills led two drives for the Texans in Saturday's preseason opener against the Saints. Both drives were three-and-outs. Mills completed all three of his pass attempts, but only for 14 yards. It wasn't a particularly encouraging first showing of the season for Mills, but he's still set to be Houston's starter this year and shouldn't face any pressure from Jeff Driskel, who threw three interceptions on Saturday. As far as fantasy goes, Mills projects to be a low-end QB2 at best based on the makeup of this offense.
Houston Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce ran the ball five times in the team's preseason win over the Saints, finishing with 49 yards. Preseason is obviously tough to judge, but seeing Pierce average 9.8 yards per carry while Marlon Mack averaged just 2.0 seems like a good sign for Pierce in the race to be Houston's No. 1 running back. While running backs on teams like the Texans tend to be fairly boom-or-bust because of how often the team is playing from behind, Pierce is looking like an intriguing fantasy sleeper right now.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus went 2-for-2 on extra points during Saturday's preseason victory over the Dallas Cowboys. He also converted his lone field goal attempt. The 31-year-old has been one of the NFL's more reliable kickers, so it comes as no surprise that the Broncos did not entertain any competition for McManus this offseason. He finished as the K17 last year, connecting on 26 of 31 field goals and 33 of 34 extra points. He is generally reliable and plays half his games in the high altitude of Denver, so he's worth rostering in most leagues.
Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz completed 10-of-13 passes for 74 yards with no turnovers in Saturday's loss to the Carolina Panthers. The newly acquired quarterback kept most passes close to the line of scrimmage while spreading targets around to multiple receivers. Before his substitution, Wentz led a 14-play, 82-yard drive to give the Commanders their first touchdown. While decision-making has been an issue for the former No.2 overall pick as of late, this performance provides some hope for what he has to offer in his seventh NFL season. Wentz is a borderline QB2 and is mainly an option in superflex league formats.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Kendall Hinton hauled in three of four targets for 53 yards during Saturday's preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. His best play was a gorgeous 24-yard touchdown reception in which Josh Johnson placed the football perfectly and Hinton tracked it well before catching it in the end zone. The 25-year-old Wake Forest product is expected to make the roster in 2022, filling a special teams role while offering depth at wide receiver in the wake of Tim Patrick's ACL tear. Last year, he hauled in 15 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown.