We come to the last bit of our experiment here – one I will probably come back to several times and re-rank. As I have said before, this is not a list of absolutes and as teams play more and things change, so might this list. And as always, comments are welcome. This article is definitely the type that makes me wish I had web savvy and could design a proper site. It would be nice to front page it all season long. Alas, I will just have to link to it when I refer to it.
Remember that the breakdown goes like this:
Remaining Schedule:Wk6, Wk7, Wk8,Wk9, Wk10, Wk11, Wk12, Wk13, Wk14, Wk15, Wk16 (bold is common fantasy playoff sched)
Analysis: This dude is good/bad and here is why….
Synopsis: example opportunity + good sched – injury worry – receptions = B+
1) Adrian Peterson
Remaining Schedule:DET, @CHI,BYE, HOU, GB, @TB, @JAX, CHI, @DET, @AZ, ATL (great playoff sched)
Analysis: Yes, Peterson has occasionally struggled this season, most notably (and to great lamenting on my part) this past weekend against the Saints. Well, Gus Frerrotte showed the Saints – and the NFL – you cannot just stack the box against Peterson. He will beat your secondary. Frerotte is no Manning (either The Peyton or The Eli) but he has some receivers getting healthy and can air it out enough to where defenses will need to respect him.
As far as matchups go, Peterson has a very good schedule the rest of the way. Yes, CHI twice is tough but a good deal of the rest of his schedule is very tasty. And we know he has big game ability – before this rough patch (if you can call 2 touchdowns against a stout TENN D rough) – he lit the Colts and Packers up and while neither resembles a shutdown run defense, neither are most of the rest of his matchups. And we’ve seen him perform against good defense before and put up points. He’s healthy too, which few of his fellow first round picks can claim. Peterson is my pick for top RB going forward – his mix of ability and schedule are too good to overlook.
Synopsis: Ability + opportunity + schedule =A
2) Ronnie Brown
Remaining Schedule:@HOU, BAL, BUF, @DEN, SEA, OAK, NE, @STL, @BUF, SF, @KC (good playoff sched)
Analysis: You might ask yourself how I can be unsure about the defense in Miami and sure about Brown. Fair question. My response is: look at 2007. I nseven games he was one of the top backs. In just seven games he compiled 600+ yards in the ground and another 389 yards in receptions. Simply put he was a stud. Had he not gotten hurt, he very well might have been the top Rb in fantasy football in 2007.
But ah, there’s the rub. He gets hurt. At least that’s the perception. Brown is coming off a significant injury to be sure, but he has lost none of the ability that made us so impressed with him last year. In fact, he’s got new tricks like that maddening Wildcat formation – which revealed he can throw pretty well. Even if the ‘Cat gets shut down – and I have a hard time imagining it will not – Brown is playing very well. He only really has one proven tough matchup in Baltimore. And while New England won’t be fooled again (right?), they are not what they once were defensively.
If Brown can stay healthy, he has every chance to suceed in a big way going forward.
Synopsis: opportunity + great schedule – injury worry = A-
3) Marshawn Lynch
Remaining Schedule:SD, @MIA, NYJ, @NE, CLE, @KC, SF, MIA, @NYJ, @DEN (middling/good playoff schedule)
Analysis: Lynch’s schedule ranking could fluctuate greatly – as of now, both Miami and the Jets are top 10 ranked run defenses. I don’t know I buy that. The Jets are not giving up yards (75ypg) but do like to give touchdowns up (6 so far). The touchdowns indicate the defense might not be as stout against the run as they appear. They also are ranked 31st against the pass – that might have something to do with it too. Miami is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, shrouded in a Wildcat formation – they are Ok against the pass, apparently stout against the run and befuddling to watch. I don’t buy them but I cannot point out why right now. I think they have played some teams on their heels the last few games and I think we’ll know more after Houston.
But back to Lynch – overall he has a pretty good schedule which could improve as NY and MIA come back to earth. And if that’s the case, then the playoff schedule is very, very nice. Denver during most league’s Championship Week is a great matchup.
Lynch needs to live up to these matchups. I think he is very talented and capable of great numbers but this season has been somewhat of a question mark. he has run hard and well, but his offensive line is not always opening things up for him – some of his numbers are a testement to his ability given what he was working with. Against Arizona it wasn’t him so much as some bad turnovers and the team falling behind. Trent Edwards getting hurt didn’t help matters. As long as Edwards is there, defenses are kept more honest as in my opinion Losman makes too many mistakes. Lynch is a hard runner with a good schedule down the stretch whose numbers will catch up with his ability soon.
Synopsis: opportunity + health + good sched = A-
4) Reggie Bush
Remaining Schedule:OAK, @CAR, SD, BYE, @ATL, @KC, GB, @TB, ATL, @CHI, @DET (middling/good playoff sched)
Analysis: You can debate if Reggie is a running back or a wide receiver masquerading as a running back but you cannot agrue this – he gets points. His value is in the totals, not the classic stud back carries and for the most part Bush has delivered. At times, like against San Fran, he throws up a stinker but usually he gets enough yards in the air and on the ground to total around 100 yards. The touchdowns are a little slow in coming, as they were even last year before his injury. And losing Colston and Shockey has hurt a bit – he gets more looks but also more defensive focus. Colston might be back this week and Shockey isn’t terribly far off – guys like Billy Miller, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson have filled in well. But Bush will really excel when Colston and Shockey are back. While his targets may decrease, he will find more room to move. Part of his struggles have also been the offensive line – it is not blockign well for the run. While Deuce McAllister had one good game, it ended up being same old, same old for his next. The line is not blocking well for the running backs. Until that changes, it will always be more of a struggle to run between the tackles.
The schedule New Orleans faces is very nice. Chicago is a tough one, especially during fantasy playoffs, but other than that very few of these matchups should be too hard. They are all currently Middling to Good matchups and some are great. Carolina may be an issue, but there’s a game I think he will do more in the air than the ground.
Bush isn’t perfect. He still takes too many carries outside. He dances sometimes. He gets his touchdowns on returns. But on the whole will put up solid points and against many of the defenses he faces, he should do very well.
Synopsis: ability + dynamic offense + receptions + good schedule – oline issues – bad habits (stop taking it outside dammit!) = A-
So that’s the 20. Some may agree, some may not. It will change due to injury, defensive play and other factors. Any thoughts, send me them at thunderingblurb(a)gmail.com – if I get enough reaction we can do a whole show around it. Or, dare I say it, another article.
Rankings late today. I need to give my fingers a break.