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Ease of Fantasy Schedule 2003 - Running Backs
by David M. Dorey
July 1, 2003
 

Running Backs - Full Season

Games: Good Bad Games: Good Bad Games: Good Bad Games: Good Bad
CHI 10 3 DEN 7 3 DAL 6 9 NYJ 4 10
GB 10 3 CIN 7 4 CAR 6 11 PHI 4 10
MIN 10 5 KC 7 4 MIA 5 7 TEN 4 10
SEA 8 3 PIT 6 2 HOU 5 9 WAS 4 11
OAK 8 4 ARZ 6 5 JAX 5 9 TB 4 12
DET 8 5 BAL 6 5 NE 5 9 NO 4 13
SF 8 5 SD 6 5 NYG 5 9 BUF 3 9
CLE 7 3 STL 6 5 ATL 5 11 IND 3 11

This season appears to favor Ahman Green, Shaun Alexander, William Green and Clinton Portis the most - all have only three games all season facing top 12 defenses from 2002. Chicago also has a nice schedule but Anthony Thomas struggled greatly last season and Adrian Peterson could get a chance after closing out 2002 with a nice performance.

Whoever wins the RB job in Minnesota will face the easier defenses ten times next season while Charlie Garner, James Stewart and the combo of Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow enjoy lighter schedules.

Edgerrin James should be fully recovered from last season, but he gets to earn his living against eleven tough defenses with only three of the most accommodating to help pump his stats up. The healthy version of Edgerrin in the past could overcome such a schedule. Which Edge do we see this year? The lack of easier opponents is shared with Travis Henry who already is proving unlucky with Willis McGahee getting drafted and must provide the running game when the passing game had already declined even before Peerless Price left..

Deuce McAllister receives the worst of all, facing the 12 most "runningback tough" defenses a full 13 times this year while the confusing situation in Tampa Bay looks like it will struggle again to find a rhythm. The same confusing backfield is in Washington where newcomer Trung Canidate joins Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson while the Redskins work on their passing game and face 11 of the toughest rushing defenses this season.

Running Backs - First Six Weeks

Games: Good Bad Games: Good Bad Games: Good Bad Games: Good Bad
GB 5 0 NO 3 3 MIN 2 3 TB 2 4
SF 4 0 PIT 2 1 NE 2 3 CLE 1 1
DEN 3 1 CIN 2 2 NYG 2 3 CHI 1 2
OAK 3 1 DET 2 2 NYJ 2 3 DAL 1 4
ARZ 3 2 SD 2 2 PHI 2 3 IND 1 4
BAL 3 2 TEN 2 2 STL 2 3 MIA 1 4
SEA 3 2 ATL 2 3 CAR 2 4 BUF 0 3
JAX 3 3 KC 2 3 HOU 2 4 WAS 0 4

Best
WK 1 2 3 4 5 6
ARZ @DET SEA GB @STL @DAL BAL
BAL @PIT CLE @SD KC BYE @ARZ
DEN @CIN @SD OAK DET @KC PIT
OAK @TEN CIN @DEN SD @CHI @CLE
SEA NO @ARZ STL BYE @GB SF
GB MIN DET @ARZ @CHI SEA KC
SF CHI @STL CLE @MIN DET @SEA
Worst
WK 1 2 3 4 5 6
BUF NE @JAX @MIA PHI CIN @NYJ
DAL ATL @NYG BYE @NYJ ARZ PHI
IND @CLE TEN JAX @NO @TB CAR
MIA HOU @NYJ BUF BYE @NYG @JAX
WAS NYJ @ATL NYG NE @PHI TB

Those first six weeks are critical to getting a good start for your fantasy team and Ahman Green should post good numbers to start out the season although Najeh Davenport is reported to be getting more carries to keep Ahman fresh.

Hearst and Barlow have a very nice start for 2002, the question is more which one to use? What is a great game divided by two?

Clinto Portis ended last season as a bonafide stud and this season should see him resume his scoring ways. Likewise, Charlie Garner has a tough opener but overall a very nice schedule in the first six weeks.

The worst positioned runningbacks belong to the Redskins and notably to Travis Henry who opens the season with a fairly brutal initial stretch. Ricky Williams and Edgerrin James will be highly drafted but both get tougher schedules to open 2003. At least William's gets rid of his bye week and he did get better as the season progressed in 2001.

Running Backs - Weeks 14, 15 and 16

Games: Good Bad Games: Good Bad Games: Good Bad Games: Good Bad
MIN 3 0 NYG 2 1 MIA 1 1 WAS 1 2
CLE 2 0 TEN 2 1 NYJ 1 1 BAL 0 0
DEN 2 0 CIN 1 0 SF 1 1 BUF 0 2
GB 2 0 PIT 1 0 ATL 1 2 NE 0 2
KC 2 0 STL 1 0 DAL 1 2 OAK 0 2
SEA 2 0 ARZ 1 1 IND 1 2 PHI 0 2
CAR 2 1 CHI 1 1 SD 1 2 HOU 0 3
DET 2 1 JAX 1 1 TB 1 2 NO 0 3

Best
WK 14 15 16
CLE STL @DEN BAL
DEN KC CLE @IND
GB CHI @SD @OAK
KC @DEN DET @MIN
MIN SEA @CHI KC
SEA @MIN @STL ARZ
Worst
WK 14 15 16
BUF NYJ @TEN MIA
HOU @JAX @TB TEN
NE MIA JAX @NYJ
NO TB NYG @JAX
OAK @PIT BAL GB
PHI DAL @MIA SF

Ending the fantasy season on a high note is always welcomed (and thanks for nothing last year, Priest). The Minnesota back will have the best schedule of all runningbacks for delivering in the crucial weeks fourteen through sixteen, especially since he has two home games and is one of the few with a nice week sixteen matchup at home.

Shaun Alexander ends the fantasy season very well, with two road trips against weak defenses and then a final home stand against the Cardinals. That could be a nice playoff run indeed. Clinton Portis is aided with two home games and then his final inside the dome in Indianapolis. If Priest Holmes is alive and well that late in the season, he should provide a bonanza in the final two critical weeks.

Deuce McAllister starts the season out with no big effect from his schedule but ends up facing three consecutive tough defenses for rushers, including a home stand against Tampa Bay in week fourteen just when you need him the most to stay in the playoffs.

Those Houston runningbacks, most notably Stacey Mack, are already expected to remain in the bottom half on the NFL this season and should you need them in the fantasy playoffs, you could likely be disappointed thanks to two road games and no easy venues.

These Ease of Schedules are only one tool and by themselves cannot assure performance (or the lack of it), However, it has always proven more reliable for the runningbacks. Last season the top five schedules belonged to Miami, San Diego, Green Bay, Denver and Chicago. Four out of five is not bad.

Last season the five worst rushing schedules belonged to Washington, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Arizona and St. Louis. None of them met expectations. All things are never equal for players in the NFL.