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The thirst for fantasy knowledge and insight is unquenchable — no matter how trivial, minimally useful or premature such insight might be.
Thus, the Madman brings you the barely useful schedule breakdown for running backs. Be aware that data for such projections before the season are based on data from seasons past, and the level of defensive performance by any given team can vary significantly from one season to the next.
No one can forecast injuries — either to a running back or his offensive line or even quarterback, any of which could detract from an RB’s output. But based on the best available data, some big-name rushers might deserve additional scrutiny.
Among the hardest schedules for RBs are those of four who should be high draft picks: Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Josh Jacobs and Saquon Barkley. Clearly, we would welcome any of these talented RBs onto our rosters, but perhaps not with an early first-round pick (or late first-round in Jacobs’ case). Maybe we won’t bid quite as much in auctions. Perhaps we would trade them for a downgrade at RB while upgrading elsewhere.
Two others with outlooks that aren’t grand are Tampa Bay’s Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II. Fournette didn’t materialize into the fantasy force the Madman expected last season, at least not until the playoffs. Outside of the potential committee, you will have to deal with some difficult matchups. You’re gonna want to get either of these guys at a bargain rather than at full price.
The Panthers, Cowboys, Raiders, Giants and Buccaneers all have schedules in which they will face defenses that are about 1.5 points better against fantasy RBs than the league average.
But with the bad, there is always some good. The Vikings’ Dalvin Cook is set up for another monster season. The Colts’ Jonathan Taylor should build on a strong second half from last year. And David Montgomery could take another step toward every-week start with the Bears.
Somebody in Arizona could have a nice season, whether it is Chase Edmonds, James Conner or someone else. Cam Akers finally appeared to have taken the backfield reins for the Rams near the end of last season, and he could be set up for a strong season.
Much is expected from Steelers rookie Najee Harris, and his schedule does little to detract from those expectations. Outside of the Colts and Cardinals, Pittsburgh has the easiest schedule against fantasy RB defenses.
Something to look for off the beaten path: Miles Sanders and the Eagles are set up nicely to establish a running game early in the season — with seven of their first 10 games featuring favorable RB matchups. But the final eight weeks feature three poor matchups, a bye and no exceptional matchups.
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