Easiest & Hardest RB Rest of Season and Playoff Schedules - Roto Street Journal
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Easiest & Hardest RB Rest of Season and Playoff Schedules

Though drafting and waiver wire moves get all the glory, buying low and selling high are two of the most crucial and underappreciated arts in fantasy football. Unfortunately, most owners only have another day or two to make moves with other owners. Then, all that’s left is the Waiver Wire… and their prayers.

At this stage of the season, Strength of Schedule is arguably the most important factor in determining who to acquire and who to send way — that’s why we have a whole 2018 Strength of Schedule GuideWe already covered QBs, so now we turn our attention to the most volatile position in fantasy: Running Backs.

Turning our attention to the horses, we break down the:

A) Five Easiest and Hardest Rest of Season (ROS) Schedules

B) The same, but for the Playoffs

Running Back SoS Analysis

Five Easiest Rest of Season RB Schedules

1) Baltimore Ravens: Alex Collins (RB-BAL), Ty Montgomery (RB-BAL) & Javorious Allen (RB-BAL)

Although Alex Collins (RB-BAL) was buried by many early, he’s actually the RB19 on the season and has now topped double digits in 3 of his last 4 games, and 5 of 8 games on the year.

Based on his upcoming schedule, Collins should continue rolling, offering the “Stretch Run Hero” upside he brought last year. He legitimately does not face a single tough matchup, with 5 of his final 6 fantasy games against bottom-10 defenses versus RBs.

While Ty Montgomery (RB-BAL) has been acquired, which muddies things a bit, but he’s likely a greater threat to Javorius Allen (RB-BAL), who’s become a complete non-factor with 1, 3, 0, and 1 carries in his last four games.  In fact, use the Montgomery acquisition as a selling point to Buy Low on Collins, who has quietly emerged as the clear guy here. This offense is bound for plenty of RZ trips with this cakewalk finish, and Collins should be a strong weekly bet for at least 1 TD each week, with a few multiscore games tossed in.

2) Arizona Cardinals: David Johnson (RB-ARI)

David Johnson (RB-ARI) is a widely known “Buy Low” in the fantasy community, and a glance at this upcoming schedule tells you why. Four of seven come against bottom-10 defenses, and none of the remaining three are overly intimidating. 

Beyond the joke game slate, Johnson also stands to gain from Byron Leftwich’s promotion to OC. Though the team had nowhere to go but up, the offense as a whole still looked much better. Josh Rosen (QB-ARI) set career highs across the board, while Johnson logged a season high 41 receiving yards (sad). With a week off to scheme even more around his strengths, Johnson should see the usage against the right matchups for an explosive second half.

 

3) Cleveland Browns: Nick Chubb (RB-CLE) & Duke Johnson (RB-CLE)

The league-leader in yards after contact per attempt at 4.61, Nick Chubb (RB-CLE) has been a high-end RB2, low-end RB1 since Hyde’s departure. 18+ carries in all three contests, scores in 2 of 3 and 14+ FPs in said contests.  His 58 carries over these three weeks trail only Adrian Peterson (RB-WAS), and Chub’s 84% market share of carries is the highest among all RBs since Week 7. Stability.

This high volume should only continue, but now against a glorious upcoming slate. Indeed, new OC Freddie Kitchens cheffed up some serious Duke Johnson (RB-CLE) magic, who was used far more than at any point of 2018. Johnson hauled in 9-of-9 targets for 78 yards and two scores, and should remain a receiving staple, considering Kitchens’ “Bruce Arians Roots.” Duke also stands to benefit from this delicious schedule

But Chubb is still the clear-cut rusher here, out carrying Duke 18-1 under Kitchens. The two can coexist magically with such decisive roles. Ride this backfield to stretch-run glory, with Chubb in particular a low-end RB1.

 

4) Green Bay Packers: Aaron Jones (RB-GB)… and Jamaal Williams (RB-GB)

What a perfect time for Ty Montgomery (RB-BAL) and his annoying presence to be shipped away –the juiciest part of the fantasy schedule! Granted, this calendar isn’t quite as “green” as some others, but at least three matchups come against bottom-five teams, and the rest aren’t overly daunting.

Over the last two weeks, Aaron Jones (RB-GB) seems to have emerged as the main guy. He’s logged 61.5% and 58.1% of GB’s RB snaps, as compared to 25% and 41.9% for Jamaal Williams (RB-GB). This balance seemed likely to have been even more favorably Jones last week, but he coughed up a costly fumble and was never heard from again. Pray this doesn’t linger.

Williams may be a subpar plodder, but he is reliable in protection and generally sound with ball-security. As such, it feels unlikely Jones can just completely separate, and any more mistakes could mean a full-on Williams Show. Either way, Jones needs to be started in most lineups during the favorable times, while Williams — only 24% owned — should be stashed.

5) LA Chargers: Melvin Gordon (RB-LAC) and Austin Ekeler (RB-LAC)

As if you needed any more reason to love Melvin Gordon (RB-LAC), who’s second behind only Todd Gurley (RB-LAR) in RB FPs per game.

Yet, the man who may single-handedly carry you into the playoffs could also hand-deliver the title, with 5 of his last 7 games coming against bottom-10 defenses. Even the Pittsburgh game is juicy, as they surrender a ton of receptions to RBs and Gordon is of course a do-it-all warrior. We just saw their linebackers get put into a blender by Christian McCaffrey (RB-CAR)

Beyond Gordon, Austin Ekeler (RB-LAC) remains a must-hold handcuff. We’ve already seen he won’t be a true featured back if Gordon misses time, but should Ekeler be called upon, he would be in line for 15+ touches, and 15+ FPs nearly every week in this schedule.

 

Five Hardest ROS RB Schedules

32) Philadelphia Eagles: Corey Clement (RB-PHI), Wendell Smallwood (RB-PHI) & Josh Adams (RB-PHI)… bleh

There’s little reason to care about such a congested and unpredictable committee. But if you needed another reason to stay away for… well, here it is.

Corey Clement (RB-PHI) has been forgotten. Wendell Smallwood (RB-PHI) is too inconsistent. If you’re expecting a heroic stretch run from the creature named Josh Adams (RB-PHI)… think again. This will always be a gross committee. The schedule is awful. RT Lane Johnson is likely to return earlier than expected from his MCL sprain, but isn’t 100%. Meanwhile, the aging LT Jason Peters continues to suffer minor ailments, and just seems on the verge of something serious.

Simply put: there was already no reason to target this run game. Now, with a brutal schedule, there’s even less of one.

31) New York Giants: Saquon Barkley (RB-NYG)

Indeed, with elite receiving ability and such heavy weekly volume, Saquon Barkley (RB-NYG) is matchup-proof. He hasn’t been below 15 FPs on the year, and has topped 20 FPs in 50% of his games.

Still, a murderer’s row of matchups certainly doesn’t help. Granted, he gets two softies in SF (13th) and TB (6th) over his next two weeks, but then it’s straight brutality to close out 2018. Even more worrisome is Barkley’s reliance on the “big play,” as those may be harder to find against these stouter fronts.

No, you’re not suddenly selling low or  benching Barkley. But if you’re trying to pull off a block-buster for a true stud, Barkley’s schedule is reason enough to side with Melvin Gordon (RB-LAC), Kareem Hunt (RB-KC) or Alvin Kamara (RB-NO) instead. Plus, depending on your roster makeup, moving Barkley for an elite WR with a cake schedule – i.e. Michael Thomas (WR-NO) — is surprisingly recommended.

30) Detroit Lions: Kerryon Johnson (RB-DET) & Theo Riddick (RB-DET)

We’ve all been waiting for Kerryon Johnson (RB-DET) to takeover this role, which felt likely after 18.9 FPs against Miami and then a 12.1 FP follow-up. Yet, Kerryon’s fresh off a 5.9 FP clunker, still committee-trapped, running behind a crumbling line…and now facing a daunting ROS schedule. Clearly, his value arrow is pointing decisively down.

Also noteworthy: Theo Riddick (RB-DET) just returned to the lineup from a two-game absence in Week 10, and logged a team-high 8 targets, eating into what had been a newfound source of receiving value for Johnson. Trapped in this nightmare rotation against stiff competition, Johnson appears to be a sell-high while his name carries value. We’ll be waiting until next year for a true breakout.

29) Indianapolis Colts: Marlon Mack (RB-IND)

Fresh off 30.9 and 27.9 monsters, Marlon Mack (RB-IND) has been an out-of-nowhere season-changer. Which is why you need to Sell High, now.

Yes, the talent is real. Mack is incredibly explosive, and has emerged as the clear lead back in an above-average offense. Still, those outbursts came against the pathetic Bills and Raiders where nearly everything was perfect. Both opponents are awful against everything, especially the run. Both teams get down big early, allowing for bleed-the-clock game scripts.

This won’t be the case in the upcoming weeks versus a daunting slate of opponents, which is doubly concerning when this backfield remains a role-based committee. With many labeling Mack a low-end RB1, his price will never be higher. He’s far more likely to perform as a mediocre flex against these opponents.

 

28) Houston Texans: Lamar Miller (RB-HOU) & D’Onta Foreman (RB-HOU)

After breeding some false hope in owners with back-to-back 16 and 19 FP efforts, Miller crashed back to his bleh reality self, even against a Broncos defense that had surrendered two 200 yard rushers in their last three games.

Alas, Miller reminded us of how truly vanilla he is. He was so pathetic, in fact, while mustering up 21 yards on 12 carries, that the plodding Alfred Blue (RB-HOU) wound up out-carrying him 15-12.

So if Miller can’t get it done in the cakewalk matchups…but now has one of the toughest schedules in the league… and he now has D’Onta Foreman (RB-HOU) set to return… is there any reason to like Miller moving forward? I don’t think you need my help answering that one.

Fantasy Playoffs RBs Outlook

Five Easiest RB Playoff Schedules

1) Cardinals

2) Ravens

3) Broncos

4) Panthers

5) Bengals

Honorable Mention: Vikings

David Johnson (RB-ARI)’s joke ROS schedule trickles right now to the playoffs, where he’ll get the 6th easiest  Week 14 matchup in Detroit, followed up by the 3rd easiest in reception-generous Atlanta. Week 16 will be dicey against the stout Rams front, but Johnson could at least throw you on his back to get you there… Similarly, Alex Collins (RB-BAL) cream puff calendar extends into Weeks 14 + 15, where he’ll be an excellent bet for at least one TD against the Chiefs and Bucs, especially if he catches fire like I expect before this stretch run… Philip Lindsay (RB-DEN) has staked a strong claim to Waiver Wire pickup of the season, and he could cement the award if he plays to his potential against SF, CLE, and OAK — three glorious matchups. This also keeps Royce Freeman (RB-DEN) relevant, if only as a “handcuff,” as he could be mopping up garbage points and TDs versus these abysmal teams….As arguably the team’s top receiving target, Christian McCaffrey (RB-CAR) was already set to benefit from Carolina’s absolute joke pass-game schedule. But the fact plenty of these defenses suck against the run too? Cheat Code time… One of the few workhorses left, Joe Mixon (RB-CIN) is set to feast in battles versus the Chargers, Raiders, and Browns…. We’ve been recommending Dalvin Cook as a Buy Low for quite some time now, and he looked as explosive as ever on a 70 yard scamper in which he logged the highest MPH of this season. With Miami (3rd most FPs) and DET (6th most) in Weeks 15 & 16, Cook could make owners forget about his non existent first half by securing titles in these last two weeks.

Five Hardest RB Playoff Schedules

32) Buccaneers 

31) Chiefs

30) Giants

29) Saints

28) Redskins

The Bucs run the ball?… Kareem Hunt (RB-KC) may have a brutal playoff schedule, but this offense is so damn explosive he’s finding the end zone regardless. No reason to downgrade him… Saquon Barkley (RB-NYG) finds tough sledding from Weeks 12-16, and the most nerve-wracking could be the Giants preserving him for the future in daunting matchups down the stretch, considering this a lost season… Alvin Kamara (RB-NO) and his extensive receiving usage makes the schedule a moot point. The same can’t be said for the rapidly declining Mark Ingram (RB-NO), however, who has been struggling for relevancy without TDs, which will be hard to come by against these opponents…. Between a decimated line and an awful long-term schedule, Adrian Peterson (RB-WAS) and his 2018 Cinderella Season could be coming to a close. I’d sell if anyone is unaware of the surrounding injuries and tough matchups. 

Like this piece and style of analysis? Don’t miss our 2018 Fantasy Football Trade Deadline and SoS Guide!  

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