2014 Fantasy Football: Drafting Running Backs by Strength of Schedule Strategy

If you place a high value on strength of schedule for running backs, you should be able to build a strong team in your 2014 fantasy football draft.

When viewing FantasyPros’ strength of schedule for running backs, there were some names that instantly jumped out at me. For my drafts, I try to build the best well-rounded team that I can. That means that I may pull the trigger on Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers in the second round, and I will try to draft Julius Thomas or Rob Gronkowski in the third or fourth. I will miss out on running backs during the early parts of my draft, so I need to find backs that will see the endzone action and be workhorses in the middle rounds.

The running back listed with the easiest schedule on FantasyPros is Rashad Jennings. The New York Giants ranked 29th in rushing yards in 2013, but that was due to the revolving door of backs that was created by the injuries to David Wilson and Andre Brown. In the games Jennings played for the Oakland Raiders between Week 9 and Week 15 last season, the 29-year old back averaged 89.83 rushing yards per game, 1 rushing touchdown per game and 18.83 carries per game. Jennings also had a presence in the passing attack, as he finished the 2013 season with 292 receiving yards on 36 receptions during. According to Fantasyfootballcalculator.com, his average draft position is in the middle of the fourth round, but in the more public ESPN formats, you will probably be able to land him in the fifth or sixth round.

The running back with the sixth-easiest schedule, is Toby Gerhart, the new workhorse for the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the amount of touches Gerhart is reportedly going to receive, I think he has the potential to finish as top-10 running back in your fantasy football league. He has almost no competition, and he should see all of the goal line carries. The Jaguars will be able to move the ball better with the additions of Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee, and you can get Gerhart late in ESPN drafts.

Backs Trent Richardson and Chris Johnson also have some of the softest schedules heading into the 2014 season, and they will be available in the middle rounds of your draft. If you want to use your early picks on wide receivers or elite tight ends and quarterbacks, you can still find quality running backs later down the road.

Using this strategy, this is the team I drafted.

 

I don’t have an elite wide receiver, but Emmanuel Sanders and DeSean Jackson are serviceable options that should finish as top-20 wide receivers. I also have high upside with Danny Amendola, and Brandin Cooks and Greg Jennings should have their moments. The Miamia Dolphins may figure out how to use Lamar Miller this season, and rookie rusher Jeremy Hill should benefit from Giovani Bernard‘s increased involvement in the passing attack this season. Rookie Charles Sims has the skills to steal the starting job from Doug Martin, and I think he is one of the biggest sleepers you will not hear about in 2014. If Rob Gronkowski suffers any set backs, Eric Ebron is a member of a team that loves to pass, and he has the physical skills to make an instant impact for the Detroit Lions. So overall, I feel I have solid starters with a bench that is filled with potential.

Using the strength of schedule to draft your picks is not an exact science, and Jennings and Gerhart could end up as total busts. With that being said, however, you can still use this information to find running backs who are still valuable despite being drafted in the later rounds. If you wanted to draft quarterbacks or tight ends early, this should be a toll you can use to help build your team.

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Categories: Fantasy Football

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