Early Strength of Schedule: RBs (Updated)

QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DT | RB (PPR) | WR (PPR) | TE (PPR)

Below is a full season SOS table for the running back position. Here is what each column means:

2011: The total SOS (excluding W17 since a vast majority of leagues do not play in W17) for 2011.

%CH: The percent change from 2010. A positive number means that the team has an easier schedule, while a negative number means that the schedule projects to be tougher.

P3: The team’s average SOS for a W14-16 playoff.

P2: The team’s average SOS for a W15-16 playoff.

If a particular matchup is listed in green, it means that it is at least 3% better than the average for that week. If it’s listed in red, it’s 3% worse than the mean.

I use SOS as a tiebraker between two similarly ranked players or as a way to rank players within a tier. It’s important to note that this is just preliminary SOS. Things will change as the draft and free agency occur, and they’ll change week by week during the season as some defenses get better while others get worse. Typically, a defense won’t go from terrible to great (vice versa) in one year, so if you’re expecting a great matchup from your RB in W16, there’s a very good chance that it will be at worst mediocre at that point in the season.

A few takeaways:

– The news is good for two studs, Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, who should see a considerably easier schedule in 2011 than what they saw in 2010. AP’s playoff matchups are a little better, but CJ’s aren’t bad either. A few other stud RBs (Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy) should see an easier schedule, but we should exercise caution with Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew and Jamaal Charles, who are all projected to see a more difficult schedule. At this point, I’d put AP, CJ, Foster and McCoy ahead of Rice, MJD and Charles.

– Whoever gets the starting gig in Miami is going to be set up for a nice season. The schedule is mediocre for the first half, but the matchups look great down the stretch, with five favorable and one unfavorable over the last 10 weeks. If a rookie lands there (or a free agent like DeAngelo Williams) and wins the job, they’ll have a shot at RB1 status if the O-line can come together.

– Expect more greatness from Arian Foster. His schedule is mediocre, but it doesn’t look any worse than last season.

– Watch out for Jonathan Stewart if Williams leaves. The schedule looks very favorable, though he does have four tough matchups in the first eight games.

– Many pundits are writing Michael Turner off in 2011, expecting his late-season swoon to continue into the new season. While he did struggle ypc-wise over his last four games (including the postseason), he still scored two TDs in that span while finding the endzone six times from W11 to W14. If he’s healthy, he’s going to score double-digit TDs, so he’s a solid pick in the 2nd round given the certainty of his workload.

– If Shonn Greene can fully overtake LaDainian Tomlinson as the Jets RB1, then we should see some good production. He gained 70+ yards in three of his last four games (including the playoffs) and found the endzone twice in that span.

– Matt Forte should be able to build on his very solid 2010 season with an easier schedule. He’s currently going in the early 2nd round and should make an outstanding RB2. When removing bias of schedule from both players’ 2010 numbers, Forte only trailed Jamaal Charles by 0.1 fantasy points per game.

– The Cardinals couldn’t run the ball very well last year, so I wouldn’t bet on a big jump in productivity when the schedule projects to be almost 9% worse. I’d also be wary of drafting Steven Jackson considering his schedule is about 11% tougher and his W16 matchup with the Steelers. Ouch.

– The table is set for Jahvid Best (+4.8%) and whomever wins the Green Bay job, be it Ryan Grant or James Starks. Neither schedule on the whole is great, but running the ball should be a little easier in 2011 for both teams.

– Cedric Benson is another sleeper that could surprise if the Bengals can find a QB to keep the safeties honest. He’s only 28 and averaged 96 rushing yards per game just two seasons ago. The key will be a solid passing game.

Click here to download a CSV file of this data.

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