The Strength of Schedule is determined by matching up the fantasy points allowed for each defensive venue (home and away) against the looming schedule for each offense. While defenses will not perform exactly the same as last year, it at least yields a reference point to consider when valuing players. For the first time, I have altered the previous year’s stats by improving the Rams and lowering the Seahawks due to significant personnel moves each franchise made in the offseason. It is only the extreme results that are truly notable.
To remove the effects of the unusually bad or good game, defensive performances had their best and worst game removed before determining their average fantasy points allowed for each position. This analysis considers tight ends and wideouts the same. Each offense use them in varying measures so only combined receiving points make sense. Running backs were not included as receivers.
|2017 Receiving Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game|
|20 Best Matchups||20 Worst Matchups|
Three different views are given below – Weeks 1 to 6 show what players will face as they start the season. Weeks 1 through 16 are shown for a full season view and weeks 14 to 16 show the most common weeks for fantasy playoffs. Below that is the NFL schedule marked for each team to show when they have good (green) or bad (red) match-ups. The Dorey Rule is “draft as if the season only lasted the first six weeks”. Those first six games will determine if you get out to a hot start or are trailing by mid-season.
This analysis considers running backs awarded 0.1 points per rushed or received yard and six point touchdowns and one point per reception. This is the most common fantasy scoring for receivers.
|Weeks 1 to 16 (Full Season)||Weeks 1 to 6 (Dorey Rule)||Weeks 14 to 16 (FF Playoffs)|
DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller (Texans) – With a healthy Deshaun Watson returning, both wideouts are looking at a big year. They face only three bad matchups overall though the final one is Week 16 in Philadelphia. They’ll roll up plenty of points by then facing seven soft games over the first 15 weeks and enjoy a strong start with three of their first four weeks in softer venues. By their Week 10 bye, they will have only faced one bad matchup. This year has a better schedule than 2017 when the receivers were already highly productive until the injury to Watson.
Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief (Jaguars) – The schedule is great but the depth chart clarity is lacking. Lee and Moncrief should become the starters but Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and the rookie DJ Chalk will also mix in. That will make it harder to rely on any single receiver and more so when there are no reception points. But should any Jaguar pass catcher step up from the pack, he’ll take advantage of the softest schedule for his position. The Jaguars only face one bad matchup over their first nine games.
Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) – Edelman in particular should benefit from their lighter schedule since he returns from a torn ACL and could use the help. And the reality is that Chris Hogan, Jordan Matthews and other receivers will figure into the diverse and complicated passing scheme. The Pats usually succeed despite an annually bad schedule but catch a break in 2018. They’ll face eight soft matchups and get a hot start with four of their first five games against weaker secondaries. Gronkowski easily remains the top tight end even without this help.
Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson (Jets) – There’s plenty of risk and upside in the passing scheme for the Jets. An undefined quarterback situation has obvious implications until Sam Darnold finally wins the job outright. And Quincy Enunwa returns from a lost 2017 season due to a neck injury. But he managed 857 yards in 2016 while Anderson gained 941 yards last year. Now both go against a weaker schedule than most with half of their games played in advantageous venues and four of their initial six games also facing soft matchups. The depth chart could change during the year but both Enunwa and Anderson not only man the primary roles but also start the year with a chance to rack up fantasy points.
Golden Tate, Marvin Jones (Lions) – Both wideouts topped 1,000 yards last year and there’s plenty to like in the passing scheme headed up by Matt Stafford. But – the schedule is as brutal as any in the NFL. Not do they face eight bad matchups, but they all happen from Week 7 through Week 16. That’s eight of ten games versus the worst venues to play. Their final four games are against the Rams, at the Cardinals, at the Bills and Week 16 versus the Vikings. That’s a tough time during the fantasy season for such a challenging stretch.
Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) – The Cardinals install a new scheme under offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and the starting quarterback will switch to rookie Josh Rosen at some point. Add in new the rookie wideout Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald playing past his expiration date and there is plenty of concern. Making matters much worse is a schedule that features no good matchups after Week 5 and that ends with four of the final five games playing in the worst venues. The schedule that only gets worse as the season progresses.