THUNDERING BLURB » strength of schedule ANDREW GARDA'S ENDLESS TAKES ON NFL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL Fri, 22 Oct 2010 12:30:31 +0000 en hourly 1 Top 20 RBs Forward (1-4) Fri, 10 Oct 2008 17:46:00 +0000 admin Previously on Lost – I mean, here are the links to the first three segments of the article:
Top 20 RBs Forward (5-9)
Top 20 RBs Forward (10-14)
Top 20 RBs Forward (15-20)

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) – 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.

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Top 20 RBs Forward (5-9) Thu, 09 Oct 2008 23:01:00 +0000 admin I want to remind everyone that this is not a list of absolutes and as teams play more and things change, so might this list. However with what has been seen so far, this is a basis from which we can keep track of where guys are and how they are doing.

Again, I will invite people to post in the comments what they think or email me at

To catch you up, here are the previous posts:
Top 20 RBs 10-14
Top 20 RBs 15-20

Once again, 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+

Onto the next crop:

Matt Forte
Remaining Schedule: @ATL, MINN, BYE, DET, TENN, @GB, @STL, @MINN, JAX, NO, GB (good playoff sched)
Analysis: Now this may cause a ruckus, but I’ll stand by it. My biggest worry with Forte is rookie wall syndrome. Will he hold up over a whole season? Good question – many rookies don’t. Heck, there are Vets who don’t either, come to it. Maybe you also get worried about Orton and the offense. Well, in my opinion, Orton had some sort of bell go off, as he has taken a huge step forward this season. He and Forte excel in part because of the impact they have on the offense. Forte is running well, he catches the ball and makes something happen when he does. And he’s scoring TDs both on the ground and through the air. So the defense cannot just sit back and make Orton beat them, they have to respect the run. They can’t just try to shut down the run though because Orton is making something out of not much through the air. Right now, the offense is hitting on all cylinders and I just don’t see a change coming.

There are some rough patches on the schedule (Minny 2x and Tenn) but Jacksonville isn’t as stout vs the run as they used to be, the Saints can be run on and the rams and Lions? Cake. As I have said a few times before, Green Bay seems to be worrying people but right now they are coughing up 161 ypg and have allowed 5 TDs to date and the secondary is banged up. Two games agains them seem pretty good matchups. The only thing I worry about is that rookie wall. We’ll have to see if Forte is the guy to bash it down or not, but I’d be willing to risk it. They may even spell him a little with Kevin Jones going forward and while it will affect his numbers somewhat it would be a good thing for the rookie to get soem rest.
Synopsis: opportunity + ability + good oline + good schedule – rookie burnout worry – Kevin Jones = B+

Joseph Addai
Remaining Schedule:BAL, @GB, @TENN, NE, @PITT, HOU, @SD, @CLE, CIN, DET, @JAX (good playoff sched)
Analysis: Some tough games early for Addai, as they have been for the Colts offense as a whole. But I believe they will be bouncing back soon. Maybe not this week against a resurgent Baltimore D, but I think the Colts will be rising again. Green Bay and a weakened New England squad are places to start Addai early on, but the key to his value will be week 11 onward where he stops being more a matchups guy and becomes a consistent starter. All those remaining games are at least decent starts as they now stand – even Jacksonville is (as I have said numerous times) not what it was defensively.

I think Addai will peak right as you surge for the playoffs. Problem may be that he was a high pick for you and he may have killed you in the early season. But if you can make adjustements and hang on, Addai will come through for you when it counts most. We know he has ability. we know Manning will get the offense moving. The offensive line is almost all the way back. I don’t think we have seen the full 2008 Addai. He is coming though – and hell comes with him! (little Thundering Humor there…. )
Synopsis: opportunity + usually dynamic offense + great oline – team injuries – tough early sched + good finishing sched = B+

Chris Johnson
Remaining Schedule:BYE, @KC, IND, GB, @CHI, @JAX, NYJ, @DET, CLE, PITT, @IND (good playoff sched)
Analysis: Another rookie? What? Yup, Chris Johnson may be a rookie, but like Forte he has a good chance to be a top back from here on out. He has a few tough matchups (the Bears and Steelers) but so much of this schedule is cake that despite the fact that he is in a RBBC (I lied when I said MJD was the only one) he’s going to put up very good points down the stretch. Like Forte though, will he hit the rookie wall? I expect him to get more and more work over his RBBC partner LenDale White but he’s already averaging between 15-20 carries as it is.

He has struggled the last two weeks against top defenses (44 yds vs Baltimore, 61 yards against Minny – though 2 Tds against the Vikes). But he only sees a handful of them the whole rest of the year. He has good speed, vision and hangs onto the ball well. They aren’t even using him as a receiver much yet, something I expected the Titans to do a lot this season. Johnson faces a great schedule, certainly has the ability to take advantage of it and will be a workhorse for many teams down the stretch. If he can stay healthy and energized and avoid rookie overload, he could be a real stud by season’s end. The opportunity is there.

Wow – imagine the Titans had a top flight WR to really keep the defense honest?
Synopsis: great sched + ability + opportunity – sub-par pass game – rookie burnout worry = B+

Frank Gore
Remaining Schedule:PHI, @NYG, SEA, BYE, @AZ, STL,@DAL, @BUF, NYJ, @MIA, @STL (middling playoff sched)
Analysis: There was a lot of discussion preseason as to whether or not Gore could play well in Martz’s offense and with a sub-par oline. The answer to both is yes – though I would argue the oline is not really all that subpar. Still, Gore is a stud and should be a top 10 RB every draft until something happens to say otherwise. He has skills, no denying it. What he also has right now is a hit and miss schedule the rest of the way. PHI is on it’s heels, but still a decent defense I think. The Giants and Dallas are tough as nails and Buffalo at home in the winter will be no easy chore. We’ll see what the Jets really can do vs the run well before this game and Miami as well. There are some question mark run defenses here that I am not sure will bear out as they have. But for now, the matchups look ok, not great and not consistently. Gore is a talent to be sure – part of his problem is the occasional big hole the team gets into. But Gore has been busy in pass game and looks pretty good doing it and that helps his value even when his ground yards are not sturdy. The reception yards will fill them out.
Synopsis: opportunity + health + receptions – potentially tough schedule = B

LaDainian Tomlinson
Remaining Schedule:
NE, @BUF, @NO, BYE, KC, @PITT, IND, ATL, OAK, @KC, @TB (good playoff schedule)
Analysis: When I started this, little did I think LT would be on the far end of the top 10. But here he is and there are some big reasons why. First of all, his toe. It was getting better, but got stomped on last week and now here we are again with the injury a concern again. Hey, getting your hurt toe stepped on is an occupational hazard for a running back. It could – probably will – happen again. LT has two games that might be good matchups – New England has struggled against the run and Buffalo is right there with them. But if LT is not healthy he might not be very effective. And on top of it, they might utilize Sproles more to let him get a breather. And assuming he 1) doesn’t reinjure the toe or 2) lose a lot of carries to Sproles, the offense itself is banged up and streaky.

Rivers was hot the first three games but now is on a bad two game skid. He looked a little lost against Miami. Antonio Gates is still hurting and Chris Chambers is now out for a week or two. If the pass game is nonexistent, it makes it easier to stop the run. Now LT has faced that before and played well anyway. But he was healthy then. He isn’t now and may not be until after the bye week. The Chargers have to play him – they are in dire straits in the division and can’t afford to not have him. So he will likely not be 100% until week 10, if then. At that point he has some good matchups (the Steelers are the only decnt run D on the schedule right now). But a healthy LT would be in a better place on this list. If he can get healthy soon (how I don’t know) he’ll crawl up it. For now, despite a good schedule, he resides at 9 which I am sure some might think is too far back.

Based on some conversations I have overheard, others might think it’s not far enough back.
Synopsis: opportunity + good sched – injury worries – offensive struggles = B

The last bit will be posted tomorrow. Maybe not early as I have the Stampede as well as the appearence on ESPN 1230 but before my lunch if not sooner. Rankings will come after probably.

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Top 20 RBs Forward (10-14) Thu, 09 Oct 2008 20:25:00 +0000 admin So turns out I did 6 first time out, not 5 which explains why it took longer to do the synopsis than I anticipated. So you got a Baker’s 5. I guess at the end, you’ll get the last post with the top 4 – ooo the antici…………pation.

First group here:
Top 20 RBs (15-20)

Again, the breakdown of each RB will look 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+

So here are the next 5 – (and not a bakers 5 like the last time):

10) Clinton Portis
Remaining Schedule:
STL, CLE, @DET, PITT, DAL, @SEA, NYG, @BAL, @CIN, PHI (tough playoff sched)
Analysis: I love Clinton Portis. Guy is one of the most underrated stud backs in Fantasy Football every single year. That said, he has lost a step. He clearly does not have the burts he once did, despite beating teamates in sprints at practice. Must feel very different with pads on. Still, he puts points up and is an absolute workhorse. But like Westy, Barber and Jacobs, he is in a tough division. What you can say is, he just played two of those defense and blew them out of the water. 121 vs Dallas and 145 vs Philly?

Barber struggled against Philly and Washington. Westy had 2 TDs vs Dallas but was only saved via his receptions yard-wise. Same against Washington with one less TD and less ground yards. He got hurt vs Pittsburgh. Portis is more consistant than Barber and healthier than Westbrook. While he lacks the upside of either, he’s playing exceedingly well against tough foes as well as cupcakes.
Synopsis: consistency/reliability + opportunity + achievement in hard matchups – tough schedule = B

11) Brian Westbrook

Remaining Schedule:
@SF, BYE, ATL, @SEA, NYG, @CIN, @BAL, AZ, @NYG, CLE, @WAS (tough playoff sched)

Analysis: I moved Westy around more than anyone else on this list. In fact, I had someone else here not five minutes before I wrote this. Let’s look at why: He plays in the toughest division to run on, bar none – all 4 teams in the top 10 vs the run (as of 10/9). And just in case that isn’t enough, he gets Baltimore as well. He why not Tennessee too?

As long as we’re piling on, he’s banged up again. He would have been in a better position had it just been a sprained ankle, but it’s broken/fractured ribs which bother him whenever he moves. Those are not things that heal quick. They may trot him out this week, when they should bench him and give him time to heal. If he plays this week, it’s only going to aggravate those ribs and take longer to get healed. It ain’t all grim for him though – he catches the ball a ton, is in a dynamic offense and is a huge reason why the offense goes. If he can get healthy, he could be healthy. Still, it’s brutal road going forward with this guy.
Synopsis: opportunity + dynamic offense + receptions – big injury concern – very tough sched = B/B-

12) Marion Barber III
Remaining Schedule:
@AZ, @STL, TB, @NYG, BYE, @WAS, SF, SEA, @PIT, NYG, BAL (brutal playoff sched)
Analysis: Hey I found someone with a tougher schedule than Westbrook! Again, this is not to say Barber won’t produce points. But you can’t like most of what you see there, assuming things stay similiar to now. It IS a theme with the NFC East RBs – it’s not easy for them in this division. Barber is a bruiser and he will get his yards most of the time, but Dallas can air it if need be and watch out for Felix Jones. While he will not steal a ton of carries from Barber, he certainly will eat into them. Jones brings an intriguing X-factor into the offense and they can’t keep him off the field.

The last two games, Barber’s targets are down as well. Funny thing is, Jones’ haven’t gone up. Barber can catch the ball so we’ll see if he gets more looks over the next few weeks. Would I like to own Barber? Yes. He’ll get the carries to put up points most times. But the division is brutal and so is the schedule.
Synopsis: health + dynamic offense – tough schedule + unknown impact (Felix factor) = B-

13) Maurice Jones-Drew
Remaining Schedule:
(middling/good playoff sched)
Analysis: I think this is about the only RB on this list in a pure RBBC. And no Taylor here either, though he has a great schedule as well. But MJD does more with less and consistently. The split carries hurt for sure. But I think Taylor keeps Jones-Drew fresh as often as MJD keeps Taylor fresh. Like Westbrook, MJD survives on his receptions right now. He’s been tremendously effective in the past. Problem is – that was the past. In the ‘what have you done for me today’ mentality of Fantasy Football, MJD is a guy many owners have tried to divest themselves of. I can see why – bad production, annihilated offensive line which is only just recovering. Poor play by the rest of the offense.

But we’ve seen a couple of all right games from him. The oline is starting to pull it together. MJD has some fantastic matchups and we know he can take advantage of them. I know many have tried to get rid of him – I am saying GET him. I believe both he and Taylor will bounce back and MJD is the type of player who only needs a seam to open and he’s gone. It’s a tad risky – again the oline is still a work in progress. But I think he will be back to a solid RB2 status over his next few games and a great matchup guy going forward.
Synopsis: ability + good schedule + several great matchups – developing offense – oline questions – split carries = B-

14) Brandon Jacobs
Remaining Schedule:
@CLE, SF, @PITT, DAL, @PHI, BAL, @AZ, @WAS, PHI, @DAL, CAR (Brutal playoff sched)
Analysis: Let’s be honest – Brandon Jacobs is pretty freaking good. I don’t know he’s as talented as some of the other backs in his division, but he is productive and is workign hard for that new contract. The whole ‘hot hand’ thing scared some owners off but he’s been consistent so far and anyone who did draft him has been content. He had one sub-par game against Cinci – though all the Giants struggled and it was an odd game. Other than that he’s been money, even against Washington. Despite that, I still hate the schedule. And it’s a tough one, not only with games against all division rivals. In some cases he gets them twice! And for good measure he sees Baltimore and Pittsburgh as well as a decent Carolina run D.

So far he’s been money in the bank, but he faces some real challenges this season and has an absolutely brutal schedule for your fantasy playoffs. By the end of week 9 (Dallas) we’ll have a good idea how he will do after several bruising weeks. Until then, mark me as ‘concerned’. Let’s not forget he was banged up a lot last year and with this tough schedule, could break down again this year. Also, he wasn’t a TD machine last season – so far, looks like more of the same though he is nearly at last year’s mark of 4 already.
Synopsis: opportunity + dynamic offense + ability – tough schedule – injury worries = B-

That’s it for now – you may see the next five today. Depends on prep for the Drive Block (10pm EST/7pm PST on But I will work on it for you. Again, feel free to comment here on the site or email me….

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