Aug 4, 2012
Once I get past the top-3 RBs on the board, how the rest of the RBs who are going to make it into my top-20 overall stack up is somewhat up in the air. There is a lot we need to see in the preseason, and it’s mostly due to injury issues. For example, if Darren McFadden shows no sign of trouble, he’ll move up. And if Ryan Mathews shows signs of trouble, he’ll move down.
But another way to differentiate players like Maurice Jones-Drew, Ryan Mathews, Trent Richardson, Darren McFadden, Chris Johnson, DeMarco Murray, and Matt Forte – who are hard to differentiate – is to look at their playoff strength of schedules. SOS can be a solid tie-breaker when you’re trying to decide between players of seemingly equal value, and playoff SOS is obviously especially important.
If you’re drafting toward the end of the first round, I think you have to take a RB with at least one of your first two picks, but deciding between these seven options isn’t easy, so looking at each of their schedules for the critical playoff weeks (13-16) might be the best way to pick the best one, preseason injury red flags or clean bills of heath notwithstanding.
So here’s how I see their schedules stacking up this year, from easiest to hardest.
- Darren McFadden, Oak – Of course, he has to be healthy in December to take advantage, but matchups against Cle, Den, KC, and Car looks pretty solid.
- Trent Richardson, Cle – If your league ends after Week Sixteen, Richardson’s matchup in the season finale against the Steelers means nothing, so his playoff matchups look pretty good against Oak, KC, Was, and Den.
- Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac – For MJD, it’s best to focus on teams that have weaker offenses, since he’ll have his best chance to get 20+ carries if the Jags are leading or in a close game, and that should be the case for most of their playoff matchups against Buf, NYJ, Mia, and NE.
- Matt Forte, Chi – Of course Mike Bush is in the mix here, but games against Sea, Min, GB, and Ari looks pretty decent.
- Chris Johnson, Ten – The vibes are good this summer, and Johnson can offset any issues running the ball with production in the passing game. Overall, his playoff schedule against Hou, Ind, NYJ, and GB looks okay. Houston is the biggest issue.
- Ryan Mathews, SD – These schedules are very close on the surface, so Mathews landing only in the 6th slot isn’t a tragedy. But Weeks 13-14 against Cin and Pit will be tough, yet Car and NYJ are better Weeks 15-16.
- DeMarco Murray, Dal – He gets Phi, Cin, Pit, and NO, which isn’t that good. Again, it’s not like those considering Murray should head for the hills upon seeing this schedule, but his schedule does check in as the hardest.