Please refer to the previous post for the preface about this article. Again, though, this is not a list of absolutes. Some studs you will start regardless of matchup. Some RBs may be ranked high here and have a couple bad matchups you might avoid. And this list itself will evolve and change as the season evolves and changes.
Feel free to disagree – vehemently (though politely, please) with these rankings. I encourage you to comment on the blog. I would love to hear other thoughts.
Each breakdown will look like this -
Remaining Schedule:Wk6, Wk7, Wk8,Wk9, Wk10, Wk11, Wk12, Wk13, Wk14, Wk15, Wk16 (bold is common fantasy playoff sched)
Synopsis: example opportunity + good sched – injury worry – receptions = B+
THE BOTTOM FIVE
This is, again, not to say these are horrible starts all the time. But for the most part they are less stable and reliable than many others.
15) Steven Jackson
@WAS, @STL, @NE, AZ, @NYJ, @SF, CHI, MIA, @AZ, SEA, SF (good playoff sched)
Analysis: We know Jackson has the ability and we know he will put some points up regardless of situation. But that bad oline, a rough overall schedule and a terrible offense have really set him back on this list. I think people are overlooking the Jets D – 75ypg is tough, 6 TDs so far offsets it a bit. That may change. But even if you don’t believe in the Jets, AZ or Sf, there is no easy game, no cupcake at all the remainign games. Jackson will probably produce OK, but I dislike his schedule. He does have a decent playoff schedule will probably be a guy you can count on more then. But as it stands, he will be inconsistent before then. This is one that can change if Jom Haslett can revitalize that team.
Synopsis: Opportunity + ability – bad oline – terrible offense – tough schedule= B-
16) Steve Slaton
MIA, DET, CIN, @MIN, BAL, @IND, @CLE, JAX, @GB, TENN, @OAK (middling playoff sched)
Analysis: You have to love the relative value of Slaton, since you likely didn’t draft him. It’s unlikely Ahman Green takes the job back and let’s be honest – if he did, he’d be hurt pretty quickly. Slaton has some rough patches in his schedule and unlike Jackson hasn’t got the track record where we trust he will overcome them. The offense looked to be picking up before Schaub got sick and if that’s the case, Slaton will have room to run. Now they just need the D to keep them in games so he gets the chance to run – though he can catch as well. Even when he hasn’t he has broken tackles and fought for yards – he’s a gamer and tough. We’ll see if he breaks down near the end of the season – he is, after all, a rookie.
Synopsis: opportunity + improving O + receptions + decent schedule – middling D – rookie burnout worry = B-
17) Michael Turner
CHI, @PHI, @OAK, NO, DEN, CAR, @SD, @NO, TB, @MINN (middling playoff sched)
Analysis: The Falcons took great care in not only protecting their rookie QB, but their franchise running back as well. The oline is better than it has been and let’s face it – the rookie Qb is better than any vet they’ve had in years. So the question is: why so streaky? Like the Star Trek movies, he follows up solid perfomances with complete stinkers. His game totals have been: 220, 42, 104, 56, 121. See a pattern? Me too and it concerns me. His TDs follow the yard totals as well. He almost seems like a perfect matchups guy – he plays well when he should, and struggles when he should as well. As such, CHI, PHI, MINN (your fantasy championship game), CAR – all those look like bad matchups for him. If Turner can string some good performances against tough Ds, he moves up on this list. But that schedule looks pretty brutal if he keeps up what he has done so far against good D.
Synopsis: opportunity + health +improved offense – streaky performance – tough schedule = B-
18) Thomas Jones
CIN, @OAK, KC, @BUF, STL, @NE, @TENN, DEN, @SF, BUF, @SEA (decent playoff sched)
Analysis: What has been going on with Jones anyway? After a good first game, it’s been all downhill. The oline is better. He’s got a better Qb who has a grasp of the offense finally. Yet Jones’ YPC is decreasing, not increasing. I think you will see things improve as the season progresses but he will likely be pretty streaky. He’s got some great matchups (DEN, OAK, KC) and just one truly awful one (TENN) so if I can see some improvement after the bye, I’d be more confident. But so far, he’s headed the wrong way. This weekend is a big indicator of where he will end up at season’s end.
Synopsis: opportunity + improving offense + good schedule – bad ypc – decreasing stats = B-/c+
19) Willie Parker
@CIN, NYG, @WAS, IND, SD, CIN, @NE, DAL, BAL, TENN(brutal playoff sched)
Analysis:Willie Parker has now been banged up two seasons going. Do I think he’s injruy prone? Not so much that as unlucky. But I am concerned with his return from this injury. I don’t think Mewelde Moore is going to eat into his carries all that much. The offensive line is shaky and a little inconsistent. And man is that schedule brutal in parts. NYG, WAS, DAL, TENN are really harsh matchups – as I said on the Fantasy Show last night the NFC East is the toughest division against the run and Tennessee and Baltimore are no slouches. With a better schedulem Parker would probably be higher on this list. I think he will perform ok for many of those matchups, but it could be tough sledding for him. The upside is, the Steelers love to run first, so he’ll get carries and lots of them.
Synopsis: run 1st offense +ability + opportunity – injury concern – tough schedule =B-/C+
20) Larry Johnson
TENN, @NYJ, TB, @SD, NO, BUF, @OAK, @DEN, SD, MIA (middling playoff sched)
Analysis: Do I think LJ still has talent? Yes, I do. But not enough to overcome that atrocious oline, terrible playcalling and lackluster offense. And the defense – well, it ain’t pretty. So the problem becomes that even when he could run and has a good or great matchup – will the Chiefs be in the game enough to use him? I think the first Denver game was an abberration. Not that he can’t do it again, but can the team? I think as the season goes on, teams will light the Chiefs up and LJ will see more games like against Carolina where the run was just flat out abandoned. I think he’ll get more carries 7 more often than not, but the Chiefs will also trail more often than not. On another team LJ would be a great big threat. Here, he’s a shiny piston in a broken motor.
Synopsis: opportunity + decent schedule – terrible offense – age/past workload = C+
That took a while to write up. I don’t want to give less so assume one more of these today, maybe two and the last bit tomorrow in between rankings.