Ok fellow Fantasy geeks...
I have applied my "Real Strength of Schedule" and now have my first RB depth chart.... Sure players will move up and down in the coming weeks, but this is my start and I offer some comentary for each.
****Remember to keep these guys in buckets so you can better manage the talent available. There rankings are not as important as the bucket they're in.
Also keep in mind that "values" will differ based on your league's rules. My rankings assume that you'll have a big league 10-12 teams, 3 starting RBs, good point values for receiving and "other".
1.Adrian Peterson: He's inherited the title as best back and with a good defense he'll get his shots. Looking at a very good TD year.
2. Clinton Portis: After an off year, you have to expect a rebound from one of the game's most talented players. Besides, WAS has the easiest schedule VS the run... Though he will drop on most boards, don't sleep on Clinton.
3. Ladanian Thomlinson: Just like Portis, he's back and on a playoff team. This may be his swann song. Don't let him pass, SD has a favorable schedule VS run defenses. Phillips will not allow 8 in the box, so that should help LT.
4. Michael Turner: Folks, the Burner is not a flash in the pan. He's for real and with the respect Ryan commanded, he got plenty of room to rumble, and you might even see some more customary big runs this year. Atlanta has a tough schedule vs The Run, but I think ATL's offense is good enough to level the field.
5. Brian Westbrook: Lashawn McCoy is just what the doctor ordered. The ability to spell Westbrook will make him more productive and keep him healthier. I have a feeling he'll move down my chart by the season, but he's still Mr. Everything for Philly.
6. Matt Forte: It's hard to ignore his productivity and now with Cutler on board, you can expect that there will NOT be a Sophmore slump. I like Matt here, but I'd be hesitant of a 1st round selection.
7. Ronnie Brown: The injury threat always bumps Ronnie deep into the the 2nd round or worse. With an improved offense and an aging Ricky Williams, you would think that Ronnie's workload would be on par with the top backs in the league. He has the talent and would be an interesting gamble as a 1st rounder.
8. Frank Gore: SF has a favorable schedule and also against Run defenses. Even if they get moderate play from their QBs you can expect a healthy Gore to be Mr. Everything. Gore will slide , but keep him in this bucket.
9. Stephen Jackson: Stephen is a beast and when he finally played last year he played very well. If STL can get the passing game going, Stephen will be the benefcator. The improved O-Line will also help (yes,even minus Pace)
10. Willie Parker: Many beleive that PIT will be utilizing the pass even more this year. Like Turner and Westbrook, you're really buying into Parker's big play potential. If Mendenhall can regain his form, Willie's days as the bell-cow back might be over.
11. Thomas Jones: He worries me because, despite the Jets emphasis on the run, it's a lot to ask of Sanchez to keep 8-9 guys out of the box. 3 yards here and there might weight heavily on Jones. Washington and Greene may end up stealing away carries.
12. Marshon Lynch: He will slip because of his suspension, but he'll be a huge asset after week 4. Even with Owens and Evans, there's no questioning that Lynch will get his 25+ carries.
13. Maurice Jones-Drew: Like last year, J-Drew is a preseason favorite. He could be an early second, but he'll need a great year to really gain 1st round consideration. I'm not impressed with JAX, but Jones is very solid.
14. Reggie Bush: It's real hard to let Bush slide, especially if your league values receiving and special teams. Bush has re-dedicated himself and understands what needs to be done. His only obsticle is Pierre Thomas, and loosing carries to him. If you grab a solid back in RD 1, Bush is a nice complement.
15. Marion Barber III: Marion is sliding on my board for two main reasons; he did not look sharp last year, Choice and Jones will compete for carries and any slump by Barber may see him replaced. Felix Jones is coming back from injury and is, IMO, the better back. DAL has a tough schedule vs Run Defenses
16. Ryan Grant: I could see Grant ending up in the top 5 by the end of the season. After disapearing last year, you have to remember he is a solid every down back on a pretty good offense. He'll grind out a good year.
17. Kevin Smith: He'll loose some ground because he plays for DET, but he is very skilled and DET will be better. Like with Sanchez, Stafford will need to push Calvin Johnson and Pettigrew to get defenders out of the box.
18. Brandon Jacobs: With the departure of Ward, you would think that Jacobs will finally get his 20+ carries a game, right? Well maybe not. Bradshaw and Ware are still highly regarded in NY and Coughlin has a system that is working , for now. Buf if Jacobs can get more carries,,, holy Christ he's good....
On the BUBBLE:
19. DeAngelo Williams: He and Johnathan Stewart are both very good. IMO Stewart is more of the full-time back, but Williams will remain in that role for now. As long as he does, expect a solid year.
20. Steve Slaton: Slaton could end up a top 10 back this year. I am hesitant to make him a 2nd Rounder, but he would be a nice gamble.
21. Fred Taylor: NFL coaches and players contend that Taylor is one of the greatest backs they have ever seen. The problem is he can't stay healthy. I'm not sure that NE's offense will need him to carry the load, so I'm expecting greatness only in moderation.
22. Jamal Lewis: Strange things afoot in CLE, but Jamal might have one decent year left. CLE has a favorable rushing schedule and he is a questionable 2nd RB but good 3rd RB on your team.
23. Joseph Addai: Really on the fence with Addai, as IND shakes up their offense a bit. He's still the main rusher on a very good offense. Solid #2 back
24. Darren McFadden: The jury is still out, however he really lit it up when he got the carries last year. OAKs OTs are not very good and MIA fans are happy to see Sataele go. He'll have most value as a Reggie Bush- Wildcat type. Michael Bush is a better runner and Fargas will also get his opportunities.
25. Larry Johnson: IMO, this year's sleeper. He'll slide to the 4th round and beyond, but remember this, when he played last year, he was VERY good. A full year could put Larry back into the fold as one of the leagues top rushers.
26. Derick Ward: No one has seen him get the full load, but he has shown enough to get recognition. He might break in slowly which can hurt his stats, surrendering carries to Earnest Graham.
27. Chris Johnson: TEN loves to run and they have a great schedule Vs run defenses. Lendell White may have lost his share of carries by slumping last year when Johnson was hurt. Johnson is better, but Lendell will get his share.
28. Julius Jones: SEA must trust him an awful lot. I don't, but he's the starter on a team with little depth.
29. Cedric Benson: Benson played really well last year. I like him with 20+ carries and Palmer back healthy.
31. Jonathan Stewart: Will have a hard time supplanting DeAngelo Williams as the feature back, but is a value back up and will get some decent numbers.
33. Pierre Thomas: Expect some sucess from Thomas running between the tackles, He will push Bush for playing time all year long. He will likely be the starter, whatever that will mean...
34. Bennie Wells: A forgotten man on draft day, may find himself in the driver's seat of the NFL's most exciting offense. My favorite rookie pick/chance.
35: Lendell White: Will get carries and TDS and will be on standby for fulltime duty should Johnson slip up.
36. Michael Bush: Is too good not to play. May replace McFadden as the feature back.
37. Darren Sproles: Has shown enough to earn playing time. With SD success, he may be seeing a great deal of time.
38. Tim Hightower: He's a bull, but maybe not the perfect fit for ARZ offense. I like Wells to win the starting job. A good pick for TD leagues.
39. Lashawn McCoy: Can Brian Westbrook stay healthy,,,history say no. McCoy is a rookie worth having.
40: Ricky Williams: May get less reps with a healthy Brown and emerging Cobbs, but if Brown should falter....?
41: Ray Rice: Looking to supplant McGahee as the starter and future.
42. Leon Washington: Patiently waiting for Thomas Jones to break down.
43. Amad Bradshaw: 07 Bradshaw is a good backup to have,, not so sure about the 08 one though.
44. Knowshon Moreno: DEN rookie might be the best of the class, keep eyes open in preseason
45. Rashad Mendenhall: Forgotten b/c of his injury and b/c of Parker's return. Nice potential here..
46. Felix Jones: Coming back from injury, could be DAL's best back, just needs an opportunity.
47. Jamal Charles: Waiting for Larry Johnson to screw up...
48. Ledell Betts: Mr Backup and always a valuable reserve, especially if you have Portis
50. Peyton Hillis: Moreno or Young? What about Hillis...? Showed he can get it done. L Jordan odd man out?
51. Mike Bell: Vet is looking good so far and can spell the smaller Slaton for some valuable reps.
52. Mike Hart: All eyes on Addai to impress, else IND will get the young kid some carries.
53. Earnest Graham: Similar back to Ward. An experienced vet, could earn starting job because of it.
54. Kevin Faulk: The ageless one will get opportunities with Taylor getting rest. L. Maroney also a possibility!
55: Justin Fargas: Gets stats no matter who he's competing against for carries
56. Laron McClain: Flash in the pan? Will still get carries, maybe enough goal-line to be valued.
57. Jerius Norwood: Like Betts will see plenty of time spelling Turner.
58. Donald Brown: Talented rookie could pass Hart and maybe Addai as IND's featured back by season's end.
59. Chester Taylor: Perhaps the most valuable injury backup out there, besides he's not bad.
Stay Tuned..... QBS coming up next.....