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Fantasy Football: Running Backs With Favorable Schedules & Top Offensive Lines

Justin takes a look at running backs set to benefit in fantasy football from easy schedules and strong O-line play.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 10: Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a first down against the Carolina Panthers during the third quarter in the game at Lambeau Field on November 10, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Although the NFL does not seem to value the RB position, fantasy football drafters are taking RBs early and often as they mock draft in preparation for their upcoming home league drafts. Recently completed high-stakes and industry drafts are beginning to show a rise in RB ADP with the desire to solidify the position early. This is a change from this year’s Best Ball streets, which are wide receiver-centric, with WRs rapidly coming off the board and pushing RBs down into the middle to late rounds.

Today we’ll be looking at two important metrics at the running back position, and players who they set up well for in fantasy. Here they are:

Strength of Schedule (SOS): The fantasy SOS used takes into account all the defensive matchups that each RB will face. The difficulty of each matchup is based on overall defensive rank and how good the defense is against the RB position. The SOS looks at the opposing defenses’ individual players’ grades, overall team defense average ranks, over/under totals for each game to be played and expected fantasy points given up.

Offensive Line Ranking: The offensive line rankings used looked at the rank and grades of each individual lineman, with a cumulative score for the entire line, including depth at the position. The score also factors in the continuity of the line, looking at how many returning starters and expected new starters each team has.

When looking at both of the above metrics, a few select teams stood out as having a favorable strength of schedule AND a quality offense line to go with it, and some very exciting players stand to benefit. Here they are:

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Robinson gets several matchups vs. weaker defenses: GB, DET, HOU, TB (2), ARI, MIN and CHI. Robinson also gets to run behind a top-10 offensive line led by right guard Chris Lindstrom, who is regarded as football’s best run blocker, along with two great tackles in Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary.

Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions

Gibbs has the easiest schedule of opposing defenses, with virtually an entire schedule of soft matchups. With only two tougher matchups on paper against NO and KC (and the latter could even be a shootout in Week 1), you cannot ask for a better schedule for fantasy. Add in that Gibbs gets to run behind one of the league’s best centers Frank Ragnow and two quality tackles, Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker, and things are setting up nicely for the rookie. David Montgomery is a benefactor here as well.

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

Jones is another RB who gets to face the NFC North, featuring four teams that all project to have weaker defenses, and gets to face each of them twice. Add in schedule dates with ATL, LV, LAR and the NYG, all of whom are expected to be middle-of-the-pack to bottom-third defenses, and it’s a very tempting schedule. The Packers also have a good offensive line led by a very solid left side. AJ Dillon gets a little bump up here as well.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

You will notice a theme here, with another RB from the NFC North. Overall, Mattison has a favorable schedule filled with a bunch of good matchups, although it does have some tougher ones (PHI, SF, CIN) too, so it won’t all be smooth sailing for the new Vikings starter. Fortunately, he’ll get the ball in the trenches behind a quality center Garrett Bradbury along with two top bookend tackles in Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill.

Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

Williams may not start the season as he is still recovering from the knee injury he suffered in Week 4 last season, but when he does, the schedule should allow him to get his feet underneath him. He also has a great schedule for the fantasy playoffs drawing MIN, LAC and DET in Weeks 13-15. Williams gets the benefit of running the ball behind a line that includes Garett Bolles, Mike McGlinchey and Quinn Meinerz. Keep in mind that Samaje Perine will most likely be filling in early in the season for Williams; when he does, Perine will benefit from this as well.