Saturday, February 7, 2009

Passing Schedules

For quarterbacks, you don't play the schedules as much as you do for rb. You generally only have one or two on your roster. Most people either get a top notch qb or play musical quarterbacks. So ther. With only one starter, you probably have someone you play everyweek. If your playing musical quarterbacks, you are taking guys off the waiver wire. But it may still be helpful, perhaps if you are torn between two qbs you view equally. Since schedule isn't as important for qbs I'm not going into my methodology. If there was a qb with an outstanding schedule, you might want to think about using a flier, but I don't see an guy like that out there.

The top schedules are again in the AFC South, I guess it says something about being in a division where three of the teams are offense first. Add in the AFCE and NFCW and you have some drooling offenses.


The next best schedules for qbs:


So forget what I said back in December about Tavris Jackson and Orton. Upon inspection, their schedule aren't that good. What can be taken from this? Schaub is probably the primary benficiary. He's probably leading the third tier now. I might consider using two midrounders on Schaub and either Flacco or even Garrard. I used that strategy last year, picking Eli and Rodgers in several leagues, planning on one of them coming through.

Worst passing schedules

Well its the NFC East again, not surprising. I don't even downweight Manning or McNabb, its the same schedule they played last year. The NFC South is going against the NFCE so their schedule is a bit of a downweight. This doesn't dissuade me from picking Brees, and I wasn't going to pick a Buc. Ryan is hurt a bit, I guess if you were considering Ryan or Schaub, who I had rated 8th and 9th, this makes the difference. The other NFCE opponent is the AFCW, and their divisional matchups alone counter the bad NFCE games.

In the end, this won't affect the rankings nearly as much as it did for running backs, but there may be years where there is more significant difference in passing schedule.

Wide Receivers-First Tier

As previously mentioned, there are seven receivers that should be considered sure things. Since I don't think opponent quality matters to receivers as much I'm not going to do a schedule study. I'll also be brief, because these picks are fairly obvious. I've said before, these receivers should all be picked between the first tier backs and the second tier. They are all a fairly solid lock for a top 10 performance. Moreover, I am not confident in the order. There is no reason why any of them are necessarily at the top or the bottom of the tier. For that reason, there is no reason to take one in the first round. You should be able to get one of them in the second round, if your not particular about which.

Larry Fitzgerald-Cardinals
Calvin Johnson-Lions
Andre Johnson-Texans
Steve Smith-Panthers
Reggie Wayne-Colts
Anquan Boldin-Cardinals
Randy Moss-Patriots

Of course things change if Boldin is elsewhere but I think he puts up numbers anywhere. As the Johnsons have shown, top receivers put up numbers even on bad teams, even against tough schedules. There is really no reason why you would ever sit one of these guys. That certainty is gold in the second round.

There are two guys I'd classify as a 1-. Just enough uncertainty to take them down a notch, but enough ability to give them consideration. I'd consider them equal to the second tier running backs, and would make a good third round pick if, for example, it looks like there's enough good backs to last till your third rounder comes up.

Greg Jennings-Packers
Got the job done in 2008 and looks like a star, but Rodgers spreads it around too much, and the potential for more Packer rushing tds in 2009 slide him just a notch. Since I think his value is lower than most, the point may be moot, as he goes ahead of some first tier guys.

Roddy White-Falcons
This ranking is likely more useful as he may not be drafted as high as he should. I was actually on the White bandwagon a few years too early. I think his value continues to rise, but he hasn't yet shown the consistency that the first tier receivers have.

Running Back-Final Notes

Just to finish up my end of season thoughts on running backs, here's afew other backs to consider.

Knowshon Moreno
Depending on where the Georgia back ends up, he could be a contender, at least a mid round back. Other rookies may be draftable as well, but until the draft its tough to consider any. It depends more on situation than on the back himself, but I don't think there are going to be as many rookie backs that make an impact as in previous years. For one, it doesn't seem many will be drafted highly and secondly, many teams already have a young back contributing. Particularly I see value if he goes to the Texans, Broncos or Jets.

Denver Broncos Back
The Broncos have a outstanding line and a great passing game. A running back that is established as a feature back will be very worthy. A new coach might not even object to having a feature back so keep an eye on this situation. If Moreno ends up here, he jumps to the high second tier. If McGahee, Larry Johnson or someone of their caliber ends here he jumps to the mid tier as would any of the current Broncos backs who establishes himself. This spot is built for fantasy success.

Michael Bush-Raiders
My current favorite late round sleeper. He probably won't get drafted at all, so I don't recommend taking him into the last round, but he is a good flier to take there. He has talent and a team that may be on the rise.

Michael Bennett-Chargers
This only applies if Sproles is gone. But if he is, the backup to a possibly washed-up Tomlinson and a good Charger offense is worth a last round pick.

Cardinal Running Back
I don't like any of the current crop but if they pick up anyone new, he's worth a look with a newly confident oline and a weak NFCW schedule.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mid Round Talent-Third Tier

These are the guys that you want as your third and fourth running backs. They should be available after you've filled out your receivers. I've already mentioned 2 backs, including the first two tiers and tweeners, so by the time that these rbs are going, most people already have three backs. It also may be possible that you grabbed three of the first two tiers, but in any case, you want one of these guys in the midrounds. These are the guys that might be somewhat risky but have a high ceiling, or maybe they have a promising schedule where you get six games where they are a solid play. They could also be guys whose total value is just higher than where they will likely get drafted. Every draft is different and it could be that some of these guys go earlier. Most likely, they get taken after most of the 26 backs already mentioned.

Le'Ron McClain-Ravens 2008: 18th
McClain has a good schedule with a lot of great matchups. He finished 18th this year. If McGahee is gone, McClain's numbers should be at least as good as 2008. If they aren't they might be just as good anyways. It's possible his draft value is higher than I'm predicting, but I like his value here. If McGahee is gone, McClain could approach the end of the second tier. Dominating defense, solid oline, and a punishing back that is that poor man's Jacobs combo of leading the committee and being the goal line guy

Jonathan Stewart-Panthers 2008: 22nd

Carolina's schedule is hard, but I've said before I like Stewart to grab a higher percentage of the team's points this year. I would imagine he should finish somewhere around 18-22 in points. Since there should be at least 2 backs taken already, he has value in the midrounds.

Earnest Graham-Bucs 2008: 42nd
Last year Graham was forced to play fullback for a while, and had significant injury time. This year he should return to the starting role and vastly outperform 2008. If he does, is there any reason to think Thomas Jones will outscore him this year? I don't think so, but there will be a vast difference in draft position. Add in the fact that the Bucs have a pretty good running schedule and he a very solid pick here.

Cedric Benson-Bengals 2008: 46th
Benson only started the last part of 2008. Extending those numbers to a full season would make him a solid pick to finish around 20th. Add in the Bengals great schedule, and Benson is an astounding pick here. Taking Benson as your third or especially fourth means you can start him only in those great matchups while sitting him against the Ravens and Steelers. I really want Benson next year, I'm just trying to figure out how long I can wait to take him. Here's hoping he gets no hype heading into the season.

Jamaal Charles-Chiefs 2008: 65th
Larry Johnson is as good as gone. Do you want a feature back that has six games against the AFC West? I know I do, and that's what Charles should be this year. He should do in 2009 what Johnson did this year; light up bad teams and give you no qualms about sitting him the other weeks. That's exactly what I want from a back at this point of the draft.

Ryan Grant-Packers 2008: 23rd
Grant quietly finished 23rd this year after being drafted much higher. Without the hype he likely slips to around 30. Yet the same conditions that apply to him being drafted so highly last year still apply. Even more so as last year I was not so confident of him being the feature back. He put the yards up last year, just without the touchdowns. That should even out more and he is a solid bet to finish in the top 20. Additionally, its a great schedule for a spot starter, with 5 premium matchups.

Jamal Lewis-Browns 2008: 32nd
Lewis was 32nd last year against a tough schedule. Against a moderate schedule this year he should be back in the twenties. Moreover over 32 backs have been taken by the time you are snagging him. The Browns have to be better this year, meaning there is some upside to Lewis too. The counter is that Jerome Harrison could be taking more carries in 2009. The gamble there is worth if in this point of the draft for someone you will start about 5 times.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Running Backs-The Aversion Tier

This group of players will feature backs that you don't want to draft. These guys are basically the tweeners between the second tier and third tier. For one reason or another, they're likely to get drafted higher than they should and should therefore not be targeted. To me, there is a big gap after that group of second tier rbs and after that noone stands out. I'd just as soon have Cedric Benson as opposed to someone that will go in the fourth round.

Reggie Bush-Saints
There's no justification for taking someone this injury prone in the top 3 rounds. Can you count on Bush to be there in the fantasy playoffs? Can you count on him to give you 6 games? Throw in a miserable schedule and every red light should be triggered for Bush.

Pierre Thomas-Saints
I wanted to like Thomas this year. He's the goal line back for a good offense and should be the beneficiary of the inevitable Bush injury. But the schedule, as stated, is brutal. And until Bush is injured, he is still in a committee, even assuming Deuce is gone. There is the potential for him to slip, but I feel that without schedule knowledge, he's going to go right after the second tier, maybe 18-22. I don't a committee back with a terrible schedule that high. There will likely be drafts where he slips to a lower round, in which case the upside may be worth it.

Kevin Smith-Lions
Similar situation to Thomas in that he probably gets drafted somewhere between 18 and 22 among backs. That's where he might deserve to be not counting schedule, but his schedule is simply not welcoming. So you'd have to spend a fairly high pick on a back on bad team with a bad schedule who is promising but not proven. Pass, unless he slips to where you are looking for upside.

Darren McFadden-Raiders
I talked about McFadden in my schedule post. His proclaimed value is likely to be second tier and his value, with other capable backs on the roster, is not that high. I guess there is potential to slip but my money says he gets taken too high.

Willie Parker-Steelers
He might get drafted too highly or he may not. I believe his value is close to nil. Even if he inexplicably the starter next year, he will be the third best back on a team with a terrible oline and an additional goal line back to boot. Name recognition could mean he's drafted in the low 20s, but I wouldn't take him in the last round.

Felix Jones-Cowboys
You might want to gamble on this year's Derrick Ward, but I would caution against it. He looks like he will have a good career on the field, but his fantasy career will probably start off rocky. There are three solid backs on the team. If he slips to a flier he is worth the shot but someone in your draft probably thinks too highly of him.

Ronnie Brown-Dolphins
His problems aren't new. He's splitting carries, he finished the year slowly and his team will have a much more difficult schedule. He has a big name and had some big games last year, implying someone will ignore those factors. Hopefully it isn't you.

Thomas Jones-Jets
I've documented my reluctance towards Jones both in Fantasy Fallers and the schedule. To quickly reiterate, his schedule takes a leap in difficulty, the team will be worse and he will get a smaller percentage of the tds. Because of the big points this year, he will get drafted at least with the second tier, and his value isn't that high.

Lendale White-Titans
He can't get as many tds this year. I've discussed this at length elsewhere. He didn't even put in a high percentage of his short yardage carries. Someone will look at his high point total and pick him high. He would have to really slip to be interesting because unless your in bad shape, when would you ever feel comfortable starting him.