So far in my late summer rankings, I haven't mentioned schedule much. For the passing positions, it wasn't really important because when I did my research, there wasn't any standout or terrible passing schedules. It also is inherently not as important for receivers. Still, it has a great impact for ballcarriers. There is no point in rehashing what you can already access in my old posts. Back in Februrary i did full analysis of every rb's schedule. If I mention that that x running back has a terrible schedule, the research to back it up is hidden in the depths of this blog. The changes from my positions in Febuary will be based on various changes to situations and on changes in how the back is generally perceived. As always there are general tiers to follow.
I'm not going against the grain when I say that Adrian Peterson(1) should be the number one pick. He is generally perceived as the best back, he's on a good team, and bonus, he has a pretty good schedule. If for some odd reason you didn't want him, you are still better off taking him and trading him.
Where I differ from the pack is that I don't he's that far ahead of Matt Forte(2). The Bears 2nd year back is the feature runner for a better team than Peterson. While he won't break as many long TDs as AD, he should get more goal line opportunities, and he'll be leading games in the second half more. He also has a worse backup. Can't go wrong with Forte, especially as he sometimes slips down to 5 or 6.
I was honestly surprised that Maurice Jones-Drew(3) has been rated so highly by everyone else, because a big part of my high rating of him is due to his phenomenal schedule. The AFC South backs all have incredible schedules and MJD probably has the best.
In the fourth slot Michael Turner is your safe pick. Most people would take him second but that schedule is absolutely brutal. There will be far fewer red zone opportunities for Turner, far fewer second half leads to run out. He'll have a fine year, but there will be few games in which you are thrilled to start him. I'm taking Chris Johnson(4) with his outstanding schedule. People are down on Johnson because they think White takes the goal carries. But he couldn't do that any more than he did last season.
Next I'm taking Brandon Jacobs(5), who is facing the same schedule as last year. He has no Ward and no downside. Wouldn't be surprised if he gets 20 touchdowns. I'm also a believer in Steve Slaton(6). I had him lower in the winter because I thought the Texans would acquire another back. They didn't and Houston's great running schedule combined with my high team expectations lends great weight to his high ranking here.
With those guys off the table, I take Michael Turner(7). It's unlikely for that scenario to happen, so I doubt I would ever have Turner this year. Just as well, as I wouldn't relish facing that schedule. In the same way I know I'm unlikely to get Deangelo Williams(8). He is just getting overdrafted. He has actually risen to this point since February, because of the injury to Stewart. But he has the same problem as Turner; his schedule is a monster. He has value if he slips to the end of the first round, but at this point I start thinking about a receiver.
You can't go wrong with the expected production of Brian Westbrook(9) and Clinton Portis(10). The two feature backs should give the kind of production they had last year.Westbrook will miss a game or two, and Portis will play through a few nicks, but at the end of the year, they'll both probably be in the top ten.
Steven Jackson(11) and Frank Gore(12) won't end up on any of my teams this year. They're consistently overdrafted by people focusing on their talent and forgetting that you don't want a back, even a feature back, on a losing team.
Ryan Grant(13) is insanely underdrafted. He is the feature back for a good offense with a decent schedule. He looked good in preseason. There is no back behind him that might split carries. You can likely get him early fourth round.
Similarly, Pierre Thomas(14) can be picked up in the late third. My rising expectations for Thomas has mostly to do with my growing belief that the Saints are going to win the NFC. He lags behind the others because he needs a Reggie Bush injury to be top 10. Either way, he is the lead back and the goal line guy. They do have a tough schedule, otherwise he could be higher on this list.
That's the end of the first tier, or first two tiers. Either way, after these guys are gone, there are a lot of receivers I would take before the next back.
Joseph Addai(15) is getting unfairly underdrafted. Sure he seems to be injury prone, but that's basically the only knock against a running back that was drafted in the top 5 a year ago. Noone at this point is question free. Add in the fact that he has a great schedule and you can insure the pick by taking Donald Brown pretty late and he is really the best option at this point.
The knock on Marion Barber(16) is that Felix Jones is knocking on the door. While the same questions about Jacobs last year turned out to be negligible, I feel that Jones is a more credible threat. Still, Barber will be the goalline part of the committee of a good offense at the very least.
The situational facts are all very good for Ladanian Tomlinson(17). My comparatively low ranking is due to the fact that I think he's done. I went through it first hand with Shaun Alexander after many years of a fruitful fantasy connection. He looks like a shadow of the LDT we knew; he can't cut. I don't know that he will be replaced or if he'll play through the tough times, but I don't feel confident enough to draft him at any point where he would realistically be available.
I also have some faith in Darren McFadden(18). On innate talent, he should be the feature back for a team that put up solid rush numbers last year and faces an increasingly weak AFC West. He has great value as a third back in particular with those 4 matchups against the Chiefs and Broncos.
A notch above the foll wing group is Cedric Benson(19). In addition to having a quite good schedule, Benson is the feature back for a team that I think will surprise a few people. If the Bengals end up around 8-8, Benson will have quite a good season, and I've been picking him up as often as possible.
At this point in the draft there is value in those backs that feature for bad teams. Typically, I don't want any of them, but there are places that they have value, say in a deep league where you want a sold number 2. Usually, your starting lineup is set, and you would rather have a back with potential to go off than someone who will be solidly mediocre, but technically there is value here in Kevin Smith(20), Larry Johnson(21), Ronnie Brown(22), Thomas Jones(23), Marshawn Lynch(24), and Derrick Ward(25). At least, they have more real value than committee guys or backups. But ideally, in a standard league, you should have your starters, and would rather have potential than a high floor. Jones was a top 5 guy last year, but in addition to the much harder schedule this year, it seems as if Washington will grab a chunk of carries this year. Kevin Smith is mostly being overdrafted, while Ward is seriously underdrafted, considering his status is essentially the same as the other backs in this group.
Even though their value is higher, I'd wait and take someone with potential for big numbers, like Knowshon Moreno(26), or Ray Rice(27). The two backs are the most likely guys to lead solid rushing attacks but probably splitting carries in a few directions.