Strength of schedule swings

Strength of schedule swings

Strength of Schedule

Strength of schedule swings

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Knowing that a player has a bad or good schedule is useful information. But it is really incomplete without knowing what they faced last year. By reviewing the strength of schedule from the previous year matched against their actual performance helps predict what will happen for this year. Bottom line, same schedule strength suggest a similar outcome (assuming no other notable changes to team dynamics, coaching, personnel, etc.). Players who excelled against a bad schedule and now face a much easier slate are where values in drafts can be found. Most people tend to draft as if last year repeats.

This measurement uses the actual statistics allowed by the home and away versions of every defense against quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. Tight ends are excluded since their usage has far too much variation. It considers what each venue allowed on average against the three positions. The defenses are arrayed against points allowed and then adjusted for how far from the midpoint they were. That shows is a defense was an advantage or disadvantage to face against the average.

Quarterbacks were measured only for pass yardage (1 point per 20 yards) and six point touchdowns. Wide receivers were measured only for receiving yards (1 per 10) and six point touchdowns. One point per reception went for those running back and wideout categories.

That is applied against 2016 to show the actual schedule strength that each team faced and then again to 2017 to indicate what each team will face. Then simply comparing the two to establish the “swing” of the schedule. Below shows for the season, the point advantage the schedule gave or took away.

Actual Schedule Advantage of 2016

QB’s RB’s RB + Rec. Pts WR & TE WR & TE + Rec Pts
NYG 13.8 ARI 29.8 ARI 26.0 SEA 39.5 SEA 46.5
SEA 13.7 NE 24.0 KC 17.2 CHI 28.8 TB 29.3
CHI 11.6 CAR 21.0 NE 17.0 LAR 23.6 CHI 28.4
DAL 7.8 KC 20.4 CAR 16.2 ATL 21.3 LAR 26.5
TB 6.9 DAL 17.4 NYJ 14.4 TB 17.7 NO 22.4
NE 4.5 NYJ 16.1 DAL 13.4 WAS 17.2 DEN 20.2
NYJ 4.0 LAC 13.3 TB 11.9 NYG 16.6 ATL 18.1
LAR 3.0 TB 10.9 LAC 7.7 DEN 14.5 WAS 17.2
DEN 2.0 TEN 5.6 NO 0.2 NYJ 14.4 NYJ 15.5
BAL 1.1 MIA 3.0 TEN 0.2 NO 14.3 NYG 15.1
ARI 0.4 NO 2.5 BAL -2.2 DET 13.1 MIN 12.4
PIT -0.7 BAL 1.4 DEN -2.4 MIN 11.6 DET 12.4
ATL -1.9 ATL 1.3 LAR -3.3 NE 9.7 NE 6.6
CAR -2.4 BUF 1.2 BUF -3.4 DAL 9.5 SF 4.1
WAS -4.8 JAC 0.3 MIA -4.4 ARI 7.9 ARI 1.6
NO -5.5 DEN -1.0 SF -4.7 SF 5.8 JAC 1.4
DET -6.2 LAR -1.0 OAK -5.1 PIT 5.5 OAK 1.0
MIN -6.6 SF -2.3 PIT -5.8 JAC 3.9 GB 0.4
HOU -7.9 DET -2.7 ATL -7.5 CAR 2.8 DAL -0.7
LAC -8.4 OAK -4.1 CLE -8.9 GB 0.9 PIT -4.1
SF -8.9 HOU -4.2 JAC -9.0 OAK -0.7 CAR -6.3
BUF -9.4 PIT -4.8 PHI -9.0 BAL -1.8 PHI -6.6
KC -10.8 NYG -6.6 HOU -9.5 PHI -2.2 BAL -9.4
GB -11.4 SEA -7.7 DET -9.5 IND -2.3 CLE -11.4
JAC -12.1 CIN -8.0 NYG -9.7 CLE -2.4 IND -11.5
CIN -13.2 PHI -8.1 SEA -11.5 BUF -2.6 MIA -14.0
PHI -13.3 CHI -11.3 CIN -12.1 MIA -3.1 BUF -15.0
OAK -14.1 CLE -11.5 CHI -19.4 HOU -6.9 TEN -15.9
TEN -14.5 GB -22.7 WAS -25.2 TEN -7.6 HOU -20.6
IND -14.7 IND -23.7 GB -25.8 CIN -13.3 CIN -23.9
CLE -15.0 WAS -25.4 MIN -30.6 LAC -19.0 LAC -30.2
MIA -16.5 MIN -28.7 IND -34.4 KC -22.7 KC -35.1

2016 – The Actual Advantages and Disadvantages

Remember – the numbers above show what the cumulative advantage that an offense had given how the defenses they faced fared against other teams as well. It is only half the equation in that a really bad offense can flop even against an easy schedule and a top offense can continue to excel despite a tough schedule.

Quarterbacks – 2016 was a season where quarterbacks all had a decent year but not many standouts. Dak Prescott opened his career against a softer schedule and Tom Brady had a better slate as if he needed it. The worst schedules went mostly to teams that wouldn’t throw much or well anyway. Aaron Rodgers big year went against a tougher schedule than most.

Running Backs – David Johnson blew up last year with the easiest set of games and LeGarrette Blount’s 18 touchdowns may have had a boost from the schedule, especially since he never rushed for more than seven during his career. Ezekiel Elliott also opened his career with a great O-line and schedule for that magic 1-2 punch for a running back. The Vikings, Colts, Packers and Redskins all had down years with their backfield though it should be noted that Jordan Howard’s great rookie year came against one of the worst schedules (though with one of the better O-lines).

Receivers – Since individual match-ups against cornerbacks matter more than overall stats, this is less revealing than the other two positions.Doug Baldwin and Mike Evans had the easiest schedules and did well. The worst schedules went against teams that don’t throw as much anyway other than A.J. Green who had to battle injury anyway.

Forecasted Schedule Advantage for 2017

QB’s RB’s RB + Rec. Pts WR & TE WR & TE + Rec Pts
MIN 27.3 DEN 17.1 DEN 16.1 CHI 32.9 CHI 36.8
CHI 15.3 NE 14.9 MIN 13.2 SEA 26.9 SEA 32.4
TB 10.9 JAC 14.6 CAR 12.4 NYG 26.7 NYG 27.8
BAL 10.7 NYJ 12.9 NE 9.0 DAL 26.4 DAL 24.6
CAR 10.4 TEN 12.7 ARI 8.8 CAR 21.8 TB 23.4
GB 10.2 MIN 12.6 NYJ 8.3 TB 20.7 MIN 20.1
NO 9.8 ARI 12.4 JAC 8.3 MIN 20.0 CAR 18.3
DAL 6.2 CAR 12.1 TEN 6.8 NO 12.5 SF 15.8
SEA 4.8 DAL 9.8 DAL 3.6 NE 11.4 NO 10.7
NE 3.4 CIN 1.8 BUF 1.3 SF 11.2 LAR 10.6
JAC 3.2 GB 0.9 NO 0.7 JAC 11.1 JAC 10.5
NYG 3.0 NO 0.1 GB -0.7 NYJ 10.4 NE 8.9
NYJ 2.1 BAL 0.1 MIA -0.7 ATL 9.6 TEN 8.3
CIN 2.0 SEA -0.4 CLE -3.1 LAR 9.4 DET 6.2
TEN 1.2 MIA -1.0 CIN -4.6 TEN 8.4 ATL 5.7
ATL 0.8 CLE -1.5 SEA -5.2 ARI 8.2 ARI 4.8
BUF -0.5 BUF -1.8 CHI -6.3 DET 7.6 NYJ 4.1
CLE -7.1 LAC -3.5 BAL -6.7 BAL 6.2 BAL 3.5
ARI -8.1 OAK -4.7 TB -7.6 HOU 2.7 HOU -2.1
PIT -9.9 PHI -5.0 OAK -7.8 CIN 1.6 GB -2.6
DEN -11.0 CHI -5.7 DET -10.6 WAS 0.4 CIN -4.0
LAC -11.5 NYG -5.9 PIT -10.7 GB 0.3 WAS -4.0
MIA -12.1 KC -7.5 LAC -11.3 OAK -0.6 PHI -9.2
DET -12.1 DET -7.9 NYG -12.2 LAC -4.3 OAK -9.4
HOU -14.9 WAS -8.2 PHI -12.3 PIT -4.5 PIT -12.2
LAR -16.9 PIT -8.4 ATL -12.5 CLE -4.8 CLE -12.3
KC -17.5 TB -9.3 KC -13.3 DEN -4.9 DEN -15.3
WAS -18.9 LAR -10.0 WAS -14.2 PHI -6.2 LAC -15.7
OAK -19.2 IND -10.4 LAR -18.0 BUF -9.8 BUF -15.9
PHI -20.7 ATL -12.4 IND -21.9 KC -10.5 MIA -20.8
SF -23.2 SF -15.6 SF -22.6 MIA -12.2 KC -22.8
IND -34.5 HOU -17.4 HOU -24.8 IND -13.3 IND -23.4

2017 – The Projected Advantages and Disadvantages

Quarterbacks -Sam Bradford might actually be worth a back-up spot with that advantage. Jameis Winston looks to continue his progress while Cam Newton can bounce back if his shoulder holds up. Not exactly fair that Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers all have above average schedules.

Running Backs – C.J. Anderson gets yet another mulligan on his career with a nice stretch of games if he takes advantage. Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette both start their careers with a lighter set of games than most. Lamar Miller catches no breaks and is slated for fewer carries anyway. The Carlos Hyde/Joe Williams debate may be a moot point anyway.

Receivers – Have to like Cameron Meredith, Doug Baldwin, Odell Beckham, Dez Bryant and Mike Evans. Colts could be hurting with this schedule if Andrew Luck is not present and in good form. No reason to expect much from the Chiefs anyway but the Fins get the double-whammy with losing Ryan Tannehill and facing one of the worst schedules.

Schedule Swings

Now we can apply how schedule strength is changing from the previous season. The bottom line to evaluating a player is less about the strength of his schedule and more about how much harder or easier his schedule will be this year. That is more reflective of how his performance may change. You know what he did in 2016 – how does that schedule compare to 2017?

Quarterbacks

Team Swing 2017 Rank 2016 Rank
MIN 33.9 27.3 1 -6.6 18
GB 21.7 10.2 6 -11.4 24
TEN 15.7 1.2 15 -14.5 29
NO 15.4 9.8 7 -5.5 16
JAC 15.3 3.2 11 -12.1 25
CIN 15.1 2.0 14 -13.2 26
CAR 12.9 10.4 5 -2.4 14
BAL 9.6 10.7 4 1.1 10
BUF 8.9 -0.5 17 -9.4 22
CLE 8.0 -7.1 18 -15.0 31
MIA 4.4 -12.1 23 -16.5 32
TB 4.0 10.9 3 6.9 5
CHI 3.7 15.3 2 11.6 3
ATL 2.7 0.8 16 -1.9 13
NE -1.1 3.4 10 4.5 6
DAL -1.7 6.2 8 7.8 4
NYJ -1.9 2.1 13 4.0 7
LAC -3.1 -11.5 22 -8.4 20
OAK -5.1 -19.2 29 -14.1 28
DET -6.0 -12.1 24 -6.2 17
KC -6.7 -17.5 27 -10.8 23
HOU -7.0 -14.9 25 -7.9 19
PHI -7.4 -20.7 30 -13.3 27
ARI -8.6 -8.1 19 0.4 11
SEA -8.9 4.8 9 13.7 2
PIT -9.2 -9.9 20 -0.7 12
NYG -10.9 3.0 12 13.8 1
DEN -13.1 -11.0 21 2.0 9
WAS -14.1 -18.9 28 -4.8 15
SF -14.3 -23.2 31 -8.9 21
IND -19.8 -34.5 32 -14.7 30
LAR -19.9 -16.9 26 3.0 8

Biggest Positive Swings

Sam Bradford
Aaron Rodgers
Marcus Mariota
Drew Brees
Jameis Winston

Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers hardly need any help but both should have an even easier time. Sam Bradford isn’t a fantasy starter but his second year coupled with a much easier schedule should at least merit a back-up spot. Marcus Mariota goes from a terrible schedule to an average one but how much he’ll throw is limited by their rushing success. Jameis Winston also gets a nice upgrade from 2016.

Biggest Negative Swings

Trevor Siemian
Kirk Cousins
Brian Hoyer
Andrew Luck
Jared Goff

Jared Goff gets no favors from the schedule so his development may remain in first gear. The rebuilding in San Francisco may also be a slow progress. Andrew Luck not only had one of the worst schedules last year, he has the worst one this year. Kirk Cousins has to try to convince the Redskins to give him a contract against a much worse schedule this year.

Running Backs

NO RECEPTION POINTS WITH RECEPTION POINTS
Team Swing 2017 Rank 2016 Rank Team Swing 2017 Rank 2016 Rank
MIN 41.3 12.6 6 -28.7 32 MIN 43.8 13.2 2 -30.6 31
GB 23.5 0.9 11 -22.7 29 GB 25.1 -0.7 12 -25.8 30
DEN 18.1 17.1 1 -1.0 16 DEN 18.5 16.1 1 -2.4 12
WAS 17.2 -8.2 25 -25.4 31 JAC 17.3 8.3 7 -9.0 21
JAC 14.3 14.6 3 0.3 15 CHI 13.2 -6.3 17 -19.4 28
IND 13.4 -10.4 29 -23.7 30 IND 12.5 -21.9 30 -34.4 32
CLE 10.0 -1.5 16 -11.5 28 WAS 11.0 -14.2 28 -25.2 29
CIN 9.9 1.8 10 -8.0 25 CIN 7.5 -4.6 15 -12.1 27
SEA 7.3 -0.4 14 -7.7 24 TEN 6.7 6.8 8 0.2 10
TEN 7.2 12.7 5 5.6 9 SEA 6.3 -5.2 16 -11.5 26
CHI 5.6 -5.7 21 -11.3 27 CLE 5.8 -3.1 14 -8.9 20
PHI 3.1 -5.0 20 -8.1 26 BUF 4.7 1.3 10 -3.4 14
NYG 0.6 -5.9 22 -6.6 23 MIA 3.6 -0.7 13 -4.4 15
OAK -0.6 -4.7 19 -4.1 20 NO 0.5 0.7 11 0.2 9
BAL -1.4 0.1 13 1.4 12 DET -1.1 -10.6 21 -9.5 24
NO -2.3 0.1 12 2.5 11 NYG -2.5 -12.2 24 -9.7 25
BUF -3.0 -1.8 17 1.2 14 OAK -2.7 -7.8 20 -5.1 17
NYJ -3.2 12.9 4 16.1 6 PHI -3.4 -12.3 25 -9.0 22
PIT -3.6 -8.4 26 -4.8 22 CAR -3.9 12.4 3 16.2 4
MIA -4.0 -1.0 15 3.0 10 BAL -4.5 -6.7 18 -2.2 11
DET -5.2 -7.9 24 -2.7 19 PIT -4.9 -10.7 22 -5.8 18
DAL -7.6 9.8 9 17.4 5 ATL -5.0 -12.5 26 -7.5 19
CAR -8.9 12.1 8 21.0 3 NYJ -6.1 8.3 6 14.4 5
LAR -9.0 -10.0 28 -1.0 17 NE -8.0 9.0 4 17.0 3
NE -9.0 14.9 2 24.0 2 DAL -9.9 3.6 9 13.4 6
HOU -13.2 -17.4 32 -4.2 21 LAR -14.7 -18.0 29 -3.3 13
SF -13.3 -15.6 31 -2.3 18 HOU -15.3 -24.8 32 -9.5 23
ATL -13.6 -12.4 30 1.3 13 ARI -17.2 8.8 5 26.0 1
LAC -16.7 -3.5 18 13.3 7 SF -17.9 -22.6 31 -4.7 16
ARI -17.5 12.4 7 29.8 1 LAC -19.0 -11.3 23 7.7 8
TB -20.2 -9.3 27 10.9 8 TB -19.5 -7.6 19 11.9 7
KC -27.9 -7.5 23 20.4 4 KC -30.5 -13.3 27 17.2 2

Biggest Positive Swings

Dalvin Cook
Ty Montgomery
Leonard Fournette
C.J. Anderson

Neither Dalvin Cook nor Leonard Fournette was around last year but at least they step into their respective teams when both are facing much better schedules. The Vikings zoom from the worst schedule for running backs in 2016 (when they could not afford it) and yet end up with one of the lightest for 2017 – that is pretty rare. Ty Montgomery (or Jamaal Williams) also gain an advantage though the committee in Green Bay could limit. C.J. Anderson could make some noise as well though he’s been inconsistent at best and Jamaal Charles hopes to squeeze out one more season on those knees.

Biggest Negative Swings

Spencer Ware
Doug Martin
Melvin Gordon
Carlos Hyde

Ware has enough trouble holding off Kareem Hunt and this schedule is not going to make him look any better. Martin misses the first three weeks and returns to a much worse schedule. Melvin Gordon’s drop is troublesome since he is changing cities and that seemed to be a major problem for Todd Gurley. Carlos Hyde already has a new offense, competition in the backfield and an injury history so adding a bad schedule does no favors.

Receivers

NO RECEPTION POINTS WITH RECEPTION POINTS
Team Swing 2017 Rank 2016 Rank Team Swing 2017 Rank 2016 Rank
CAR 18.9 21.8 5 2.8 19 DAL 25.4 24.6 4 -0.7 19
DAL 16.9 26.4 4 9.5 14 CAR 24.6 18.3 7 -6.3 21
TEN 16.0 8.4 15 -7.6 29 TEN 24.1 8.3 13 -15.9 28
CIN 14.9 1.6 20 -13.3 30 CIN 19.9 -4.0 21 -23.9 30
LAC 14.6 -4.3 24 -19.0 31 HOU 18.4 -2.1 19 -20.6 29
KC 12.1 -10.5 30 -22.7 32 LAC 14.5 -15.7 28 -30.2 31
NYG 10.1 26.7 3 16.6 7 BAL 12.8 3.5 18 -9.4 23
HOU 9.6 2.7 19 -6.9 28 NYG 12.7 27.8 3 15.1 10
MIN 8.4 20.0 7 11.6 12 KC 12.3 -22.8 31 -35.1 32
BAL 8.1 6.2 18 -1.8 22 SF 11.8 15.8 8 4.1 14
JAC 7.1 11.1 11 3.9 18 JAC 9.1 10.5 11 1.4 16
SF 5.3 11.2 10 5.8 16 CHI 8.4 36.8 1 28.4 3
CHI 4.2 32.9 1 28.8 2 MIN 7.6 20.1 6 12.4 11
TB 3.0 20.7 6 17.7 5 ARI 3.1 4.8 16 1.6 15
NE 1.6 11.4 9 9.7 13 NE 2.3 8.9 12 6.6 13
ARI 0.3 8.2 16 7.9 15 CLE -1.0 -12.3 26 -11.4 24
OAK 0.1 -0.6 23 -0.7 21 BUF -1.0 -15.9 29 -15.0 27
GB -0.6 0.3 22 0.9 20 PHI -2.6 -9.2 23 -6.6 22
NO -1.8 12.5 8 14.3 10 GB -3.0 -2.6 20 0.4 18
CLE -2.4 -4.8 26 -2.4 25 TB -5.9 23.4 5 29.3 2
NYJ -3.9 10.4 12 14.4 9 DET -6.2 6.2 14 12.4 12
PHI -4.0 -6.2 28 -2.2 23 MIA -6.7 -20.8 30 -14.0 26
DET -5.5 7.6 17 13.1 11 PIT -8.1 -12.2 25 -4.1 20
BUF -7.2 -9.8 29 -2.6 26 OAK -10.4 -9.4 24 1.0 17
MIA -9.1 -12.2 31 -3.1 27 NYJ -11.4 4.1 17 15.5 9
PIT -10.0 -4.5 25 5.5 17 NO -11.6 10.7 9 22.4 5
IND -11.0 -13.3 32 -2.3 24 IND -11.9 -23.4 32 -11.5 25
ATL -11.7 9.6 13 21.3 4 ATL -12.4 5.7 15 18.1 7
SEA -12.6 26.9 2 39.5 1 SEA -14.1 32.4 2 46.5 1
LAR -14.2 9.4 14 23.6 3 LAR -15.9 10.6 10 26.5 4
WAS -16.9 0.4 21 17.2 6 WAS -21.2 -4.0 22 17.2 8
DEN -19.4 -4.9 27 14.5 8 DEN -35.5 -15.3 27 20.2 6

Biggest Positive Swings

Kelvin Benjamin
Corey Davis/Rishard Matthews
Dez Bryant
A.J. Green

Assuming Kelvin Benjamin remains in shape, he gets an easier time in 2017 as do the Titans receivers who have to wait until third down before they get a pass. Dez Bryant needs a good year and has a chance to return to Top 10 status after missing it for the last two years. A.J. Green missed six games injured last year but returns to a better schedule. He still ends up with a below average strength though.

Biggest Negative Swings

Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders
Terrelle Pryor/Jamison Crowder
T.Y. Hilton/Donte Moncrief
Robert Woods/Tavon Austin

The Broncos are trying to decide on a quarterback while the wideouts face a lot of great cornerbacks this year. Terrelle Pryor changes teams but swapping the Browns for Kirk Cousins has to be a significant upgrade regardless. The Rams receivers have minimal expectations anyway but the Colts bad schedule needs Andrew Luck to get and stay healthy.

THE LATEST

More Huddle
Home