Schedule strength for running backs considers both rushing and receiving yards as today’s players rarely rely on just running production anymore. The analysis also considers the venue. There is a difference between how defenses respond either home or away, which creates 64 “different defensive matchups” depending on where the game is played.
The scoring was a point for every ten yards rushing or receiving, six-point touchdowns, and a point per reception. The average fantasy points allowed to running backs are at the bottom of this page for reference.
Below are the total points for each backfield according to their schedule, using the averages allowed in 2021 by those defenses.
The differences do not appear dramatic. And the Bills and Lions are primarily passing teams with committee backfields. David Montgomery is nicely situated but will be in a new offense. The Seahawks, Dolphins, Patriots, and Ravens are the next best, but all also rely on a combination of several running backs.
Three different views are below. Week 1 to 17 is the full-season fantasy strength of schedule. “The Dorey Rule” says to draft by considering the first six weeks for a hot start. Finally, Weeks 15 to 17 represent the most common fantasy playoff weeks. “Good” games against a Top-22 venue from last year; “Bad” was when they played in one of the Bottom-22. Bye weeks were also considered as “bad”.
Antonio Gibson / J.D. McKissic (WAS) – The Commanders’ schedule is very advantageous for their running backs. As it works out, they battle three bad matchups by Week 6 but then the only remaining negative is a Week 14 bye. Better yet, six of their final nine weeks contain weaker defenses and Weeks 15 and 17 are at home versus the Giants and Browns. The workload looks to be more distributed this year, and there is the specter of Brian Robinson Jr. cutting into the workload. By midseason, the schedule looks profitable for the backfield.
Ravens Backfield (BAL) – One of the murkier backfields gets a lighter slate of games. Both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards return from injury, Mike Davis was added and Tyler Baddie was drafted. The best part of this schedule is Weeks 1 to 8 which contain five soft matchups and no bad ones. The second half of the season is much less favorable, but at least they end up with home games against the Falcons and Steelers during fantasy playoffs.
D’Andre Swift / Jamaal Williams (DET) – The Lions face one of the better schedules for running backs with a nice opening to the season with three of five matchups favorable and ending with only one tough venue in the final seven games of the fantasy season. D’Andre Swift already enters 2022 with promise, and his schedule will work with him if he can stay healthy.
Rashaad Penny / Kenneth Walker (SEA) – The respective roles are up for grabs in the Seattle backfield, but an intention to run more and a kind schedule should help. After Week 6, the only negatives are the bye and Week 14 versus the 49ers. Overall, this could let the rookie Kenneth Walker shine if Rashaad Penny continues to have injury issues. Fantasy championships at home versus the Jets sound like a winner.
Devin Singletary / James Cook (BUF) – Another backfield with less clarity after the Bills made James Cook as the third running back taken in the NFL draft. Devin Singletary likely remains the primary back but faces a tough opening with three bad matchups over the initial four games. It clears up the rest of the way with only a bye and Week 16 at the Bears, but otherwise, they enjoy seven favorable matchups between Weeks 5 to 14.
Dalvin Cook (MIN) – The Vikings’ stud running back has already fallen in fantasy drafts this year and that’s likely compounded with a glance at his schedule. Cook battles a brutal stretch between Weeks 4 and 12, with every matchup in a tough venue other than hosting the Bears in Week 5 as a neutral pairing. It lightens over the final five games but still plays the Colts and at the Packers during fantasy playoffs.
Najee Harris (PIT) – The top rookie rusher last year, Najee Harris was a fantasy goldmine but he’ll have a tougher time repeating with a new quarterback and a schedule that contains just three favorable venues against eight top defenses plus a bye week. Even his fantasy playoffs holds road trips to the Panthers and Ravens.
Josh Jacobs / Kenyan Drake (LV) – There’s a chance that even the rookie Zamir White could also limit what Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake accomplish this year. Jacobs star isn’t as bright, and Drake returns from a broken ankle. Worse yet, after opening at the Chargers, the Raiders don’t have a favorable matchup until Week 12. And when you need them the most, this backfield faces the 49ers, Patriots and Steelers during fantasy playoffs.
2022 weekly grid
Fantasy points allowed per game to running backs
These are the values applied to this year’s schedule to determine strength of schedule for running backs.