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What?? It's NEVER too early for fantasy football analysis!
On the eve of the NFL Draft, despite the fact that many of the selections and free agent signings could certainly shake up what the defensive rushing rankings were at the end of the 2009, I’ve decided to take a look at – albeit an early one – each teams' schedules for this upcoming year as they relate to the rushing game. Again, this is purely for entertainment purposes only as this will most certainly need to be edited as we get closer to the season and begin factor in what each team has decided to do repair or further upgrade their rushing defense with free agency and the draft.
Basically, based on the end-of-season defensive rushing stats of 2008, I placed each team’s defensive rushing unit into one of five groups and then gave each of those groups a number ranking relative to the others. I then tallied up each team’s schedule using these numbers and the help of a spreadsheet and... voila! Each team’s rushing schedule has been placed into one of five groups, with each getting progressively more difficult. Since I hold all of your intelligence in such high regard I will not attempt to explain any further. If you’re already confused though, you should probably just leave now and save yourself the trouble.
Also, since each team has apparently decided to adapt a 14-headed-RB system over the course of the last few seasons, this type of information is affecting more potential fantasy players than ever. So there's that. But now that I’ve attempted to hard sell you enough to the brink of outward rebellion, let’s just go ahead and get this shindig started as I am not much of a fan of rioting...
As always, feel free to leave any feedback, including vehement disagreements in the comments and most importantly, enjoy!
BAL, JAC, NYJ, WAS
Analysis: With the early lead for easiest opponents to rush against schedule (ORAS -- clever, I know!), it’s hard not to come to one SINGLE conclusion about this group IF you look at it and think for long enough. Still don’t have anything? We'll wait a bit longer...
Still nothing? Well... okay -- fine! Allow me to spell it out for your unimaginative psyche:
Willis McGahee: 28 years old (will turn 29 in October)
Thomas Jones: 30 years old (will turn 31 in August)
Clinton Portis: 27 years old (will turn 28 on the first of September)
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that once running backs edge closer to the magical age of thirty that can no longer be effective. Well, maybe I am but that's only because there is statistical proof in the matter, but regardless, I'm also stating that each of these team’s schedules – by all accounts – are quite light on the rushing defense juggernauts side of things. Is this a good thing? Of course! How could it not be? (On a side note though, doesn’t discovering that Willis McGahee is almost THIRTY years old make you feel old? It does for me and I’m only 22!)
Maurice Jones-Drew owners or fans should also be doubly happy with this information. Not only is Fred Taylor gone, making MJD the feature back of the team’s offensive attack, but he’s also got a pretty easy run at things this year unless there are some major changes on the rest of the league’s rushing defense front. Which there definitely could be -- so put all the party hats and kazoos away please!
SF, MIN, PIT, ARI, SD, SEA, CHI, NO
Analysis: The scary-good prospects of this bunch of teams with relatively easy opponents to rush against schedule (ORDS) are obviously Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson. As if their owners needed any other excuses to brag or expect them to come close to record-breaking seasons this year as it is…
Frank Gore is also another promising prospect now that we’ve seen that A) Mike Martz isn’t afraid to use him because he is built and runs like a brick shithouse and B) Even if he was, Mike Singletary would probably throw him out the third-floor facility film room window. On a quick side note, I’d just like to say that Mike Singletary has immediately jumped to the top of my favorite coaches list for the mere fact that he could actually do these types of things and we wouldn’t really be surprised or mad. He's Mike Singletary for goodness sake!
Also, if Willie Parker can stay healthy then an easy schedule to rush against could certainly only mean good things, as well as for Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush. Although the latter two rely so much on their receiving skills as well that we’d probably be getting ahead ourselves with that. So let’s just continue on!
DEN, BUF, HOU, DAL, TEN, KC, CIN, PHI
Analysis: Since an average schedule against anything doesn’t really tell us anything, the only thing that stands out for me here would be the sparkplug that is Chris Johnson and also the game planning nightmare that is Brian Westbrook. Oh and we can throw in some optimistic expectations for big things from Steve Slaton again this season – in particularly because I have him on my keeper squad.
And maybe if Larry Johnson were to stop pouting about everything he could get something done against some sub-par opposing units too, but that’s just too up in the air to call correctly.
TB, NE, OAK, CLE, STL, MIA, NYG, IND
Analysis: Let’s see… you can’t be too worried about Joseph Addai and the Colts tough ORDS since doing so is actually impossible as long as Peyton Manning’s behind center. The same for the Giants as well, if only because Brandon Jacobs is an absolute house who could probably run through a steel wall if a defense tried to stop him with one. The Dolphins have had enough success with the Wildcat to be wily and tricky no matter how tough the opponent is and the Patriots currently have approximately nine RB’s now on their roster that they could use in times of trouble.
Besides that – save for Stephen Jackson and his potential to bust things up depending on the situation of the passing game – there really isn’t that much else that stands out. In a positive way, that is.
GB, CAR, DET, ATL
Analysis: Things would have been extra interesting on either polar opposite end of the ORDS no matter who found themselves there, but this particular group has two extra special one’s to talk about. For one, the most surprising and standout success stories of 2008 was Michael Turner (along with the entire Falcons franchise in general actually) and his season that finally burst him from beneath LaDanian Tomlinson’s shadow. Thankfully for the Falcons though, especially with their recent acquisition of TE Tony Gonzalez, they have enough offensive weapons to offset any real problems they’d have on the rushing side of things.
On the other hand you have Carolina and their equally surprising story of their impressive duo of running backs, Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Although Williams got out to an early lead and finished the season with the better season of the two, Stewart certainly proved that he had a knack for the end-zone and was equally as viable to use in most situations as Williams was. Because of this, the fact that they have one of the toughest ORDS’s in the season next year isn’t of TOO much worry – mainly because they can continuously pound away at any unit’s that are attempting to be stubborn – but is still of some worry none-the-less.
We should really discover what Packers back Ryan Grant is made of with such a tough schedule as well. Lastly, for Detroit… well, since my mother always taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say than to not say it at all, I’ll just end the article with the hop and suggestion that… oh screw it! The Lions have much more pressing matters to work on in tomorrow’s Draft than their rushing game – necessarily. So let’s hope they stay away from the skill players (save for running back) and shore up their offensive and defensive lines.
Enjoy the Draft!