Strength of schedule swings

Strength of schedule swings

Strength of Schedule

Strength of schedule swings

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most important metrics in player value is schedule swings. Period. We all know what the players did against their schedule in 2017. Matching that up to the projected 2018 fantasy schedule strength shows which players should be better or worse when factoring in their opponents. If there is only one factor between two seasons that is guaranteed to be different, it is the schedule.

This measurement considers the points 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. This is the same analysis as strength of schedule but uses total points and the comparison to the past year.

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 were also applied to running back and wideouts.

Actual Schedule Advantage of 2017

QB’s RB’s RB + Rec. Pts WR & TE WR & TE + Rec Pts
SEA 22.3 MIN 15.7 MIN 15.1 LAC 25.7 ATL 29.2
LAC 20.4 CAR 11.6 NYJ 14.0 DAL 23.8 CAR 24.6
DAL 18.4 NE 8.2 CAR 13.6 BUF 23.7 DAL 21.0
KC 17.8 NO 7.8 NO 11.2 ATL 21.9 JAC 20.7
LAR 14.6 TEN 6.4 DEN 11.0 JAC 21.7 BUF 20.4
CAR 14.2 DAL 5.8 NE 9.4 CAR 20.3 LAC 20.1
BUF 13.2 BUF 4.9 TEN 7.8 LAR 16.6 LAR 13.4
PHI 11.2 SEA 4.5 SEA 7.4 KC 15.6 MIA 11.5
JAC 10.1 NYJ 4.4 CHI 6.9 SEA 15.3 KC 11.3
ATL 7.9 JAC 4.3 CLE 5.3 MIA 12.2 SEA 9.3
TEN 7.4 KC 3.7 DAL 4.7 TEN 11.1 NE 9.3
NE 3.8 DEN 3.5 JAC 3.6 PHI 10.8 ARI 3.3
MIN 2.2 CLE 2.4 ARI 2.1 MIN 6.4 NYJ 1.9
OAK 0.9 ATL 0.8 KC 1.1 ARI 6.2 TEN 1.5
MIA 0.7 ARI 0.3 PIT 0.8 NE 5.0 PHI 1.3
BAL 0.0 CHI 0.0 TB 0.0 BAL 0.0 MIN 0.0
NYJ -0.8 BAL -0.8 BUF -0.7 OAK 0.0 NYG -0.5
WAS -1.0 PHI -1.6 NYG -1.3 NYG -0.4 NO -5.1
NYG -2.1 LAC -1.8 OAK -1.5 GB -1.8 BAL -6.0
NO -2.9 HOU -3.9 ATL -4.4 NO -3.0 GB -6.4
CIN -3.3 PIT -4.1 BAL -4.4 PIT -3.1 OAK -6.7
TB -3.5 MIA -4.4 PHI -7.8 CIN -3.6 TB -7.4
ARI -3.7 OAK -5.7 DET -8.3 NYJ -4.8 PIT -9.3
CHI -5.4 CIN -6.3 MIA -8.5 TB -6.4 CIN -9.6
PIT -6.4 NYG -6.4 HOU -8.6 DEN -6.7 DEN -12.6
DEN -6.9 IND -7.0 IND -9.7 WAS -7.1 WAS -17.0
HOU -11.7 TB -7.8 WAS -10.8 SF -15.2 SF -20.4
DET -11.9 DET -11.0 LAC -11.6 CHI -16.2 CHI -22.2
GB -12.5 GB -11.1 CIN -12.0 HOU -17.7 HOU -26.0
CLE -13.3 WAS -13.1 GB -12.1 CLE -18.2 DET -28.2
SF -18.7 LAR -15.8 LAR -15.5 DET -21.1 CLE -35.8
IND -19.4 SF -20.0 SF -17.6 IND -30.3 IND -43.1

2017 – The Actual Advantages and Disadvantages

Quarterbacks – Interesting that the No. 1 quarterback (Russell Wilson) had the softest schedule. Alex Smith, Philip Rivers and Jared Goff had better seasons but it did not help Dak Prescott or Tyrod Taylor. Those worst schedules went against Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck who had injury problems anyway. DeShaun Watson was even more impressive considering his tougher schedule.

Running Backs – The Vikings had a great schedule but Dalvin Cook missed most of it. Jerick McKinnon had a career year instead and parlayed that into a new job with the 49ers. Dion Lewis did the same with the Pats. The Saints rushing offense blew up and had a better schedule to help. Amazingly, Todd Gurley had a monster year and one of the tougher rushing schedules. The 49ers, Packers and Bengals all had down years for their backfield.

Receivers – Despite facing what would be the lightest schedules for receivers, Dez Bryant and Kelvin Benjamin (in both CAR and BUF) did not take advantage. But Julio Jones and Keenan Allen did. T.Y. Hilton had a bad year with no quarterback and the toughest slate of games in the NFL. The Browns were no better. But the Lions and Texans both had good seasons as receivers despite facing bad schedules. Neither team had much of a rushing offense so they had to throw,

Forecasted Schedule Advantage for 2018

QB’s RB’s RB + Rec. Pts WR & TE WR & TE + Rec Pts
WAS 23.5 CHI 21.0 CHI 29.0 JAC 22.5 JAC 23.1
JAC 23.3 CLE 11.5 CLE 12.2 LAR 19.2 LAR 18.0
LAR 16.7 NE 9.5 LAR 11.4 WAS 13.0 WAS 14.2
PHI 14.2 TEN 7.1 TEN 10.4 CIN 12.3 NYJ 10.8
CHI 11.2 MIA 7.0 CAR 9.1 CHI 11.3 NE 7.6
NYJ 8.7 LAC 5.4 NE 8.8 NYJ 9.9 CIN 6.5
TEN 5.3 LAR 5.3 NYJ 8.5 DEN 8.6 CHI 6.0
NYG 4.6 CAR 4.9 LAC 7.4 NYG 8.2 DAL 5.5
NO 4.4 MIN 3.8 MIA 7.3 DAL 8.0 PHI 5.3
TB 3.3 DAL 2.0 MIN 6.3 NE 7.0 DEN 4.8
BAL 2.6 ARI 1.8 JAC 5.3 PHI 5.9 HOU 4.6
NE 2.3 NYJ 1.6 DET 3.1 SEA 5.2 NYG 4.6
ATL 1.8 JAC 0.8 BUF 2.7 NO 4.0 SEA 4.6
CIN 1.0 OAK 0.5 PIT 1.9 HOU 3.5 NO 2.0
DAL 0.9 PIT 0.2 SF 0.3 BAL 1.8 MIN 0.9
HOU 0.0 BUF 0.0 KC 0.0 ATL 0.0 CAR 0.0
MIN -1.4 BAL -1.1 ARI -1.3 TB -0.1 BAL -2.3
SEA -1.7 SF -1.1 OAK -1.6 CAR -1.0 TB -2.4
CLE -2.2 DEN -2.1 DAL -2.8 TEN -1.4 ATL -2.8
CAR -2.3 KC -2.2 ATL -2.9 MIN -1.5 IND -7.7
DEN -2.6 CIN -2.6 BAL -4.9 OAK -3.2 LAC -8.5
LAC -3.8 ATL -2.7 PHI -5.0 SF -5.3 SF -10.1
OAK -4.6 NYG -6.3 WAS -5.5 LAC -6.1 DET -11.4
KC -5.9 PHI -6.4 DEN -8.5 DET -7.5 PIT -12.7
PIT -6.0 DET -7.8 GB -9.2 IND -8.2 MIA -14.4
DET -7.9 TB -8.5 CIN -9.5 PIT -11.2 TEN -14.7
SF -8.0 GB -9.0 NYG -10.4 ARI -13.0 GB -16.2
IND -9.2 NO -9.1 TB -10.8 BUF -15.1 OAK -17.3
MIA -11.7 IND -9.1 NO -12.4 MIA -15.2 BUF -17.5
ARI -11.9 HOU -10.9 IND -13.2 CLE -15.4 ARI -22.2
BUF -12.7 WAS -13.7 HOU -17.4 KC -16.8 CLE -23.1
GB -19.4 SEA -20.4 SEA -19.8 GB -18.1 KC -28.7

2018 – The Projected Advantages and Disadvantages

Quarterbacks – Alex Smith heads to Washington at the right time and Blake Bortles gets an easier set of opponents even if his defense and rushing game means he won’t need to rely heavily on passing. Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Mitchell Trubisky all head into their second or third seasons with a chance for another step up in their development. Aaron Rodgers is better than his schedule which is fortunate this year. Rookie Josh Rosen and Josh Allen might be better served seasoning on the bench all year than learning the job against two of the toughest schedules in the NFL.

Running Backs – Jordan Howard and Todd Gurley both have light schedules while the backfields of the Titans and Browns may produce a fantasy stud if they can settle for just one main back from their respective committee backfields. The rookies Rashaad Penny and Ronald Jones get no favors from their schedules and the committees in Houston and Indianapolis will also have to figure out which back gets the most work against a tough set of opponents. Even the Saints face more challenging defenses.

Receivers – None of the easiest receiver schedules go to an established stud and the Jaguars, Rams, Redskins and Jets do not even have a certain No. 1 wideout. And the schedule is less applicable to the position since it comes down to individual matchups of cornerbacks against wideouts. It is more reliable that the Chiefs, Browns, Cardinals and Bills will see a tougher time connecting downfield.

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 2017 – how does that schedule compare to 2018?

Quarterbacks

Team Swing 2018 Rank 2017 Rank
WAS 24.5 23.5 1 -1.0 18
CHI 16.7 11.2 5 -5.4 24
JAC 13.1 23.3 2 10.1 9
HOU 11.7 0.0 16 -11.7 27
CLE 11.1 -2.2 19 -13.3 30
SF 10.7 -8.0 27 -18.7 31
IND 10.1 -9.2 28 -19.4 32
NYJ 9.5 8.7 6 -0.8 17
NO 7.3 4.4 9 -2.9 20
TB 6.8 3.3 10 -3.5 22
NYG 6.7 4.6 8 -2.1 19
CIN 4.3 1.0 14 -3.3 21
DEN 4.3 -2.6 21 -6.9 26
DET 4.0 -7.9 26 -11.9 28
PHI 3.0 14.2 4 11.2 8
BAL 2.6 2.6 11 0.0 16
LAR 2.1 16.7 3 14.6 5
PIT 0.4 -6.0 25 -6.4 25
NE -1.5 2.3 12 3.8 12
TEN -2.1 5.3 7 7.4 11
MIN -3.6 -1.4 17 2.2 13
OAK -5.5 -4.6 23 0.9 14
ATL -6.1 1.8 13 7.9 10
GB -6.8 -19.4 32 -12.5 29
ARI -8.2 -11.9 30 -3.7 23
MIA -12.4 -11.7 29 0.7 15
CAR -16.4 -2.3 20 14.2 6
DAL -17.4 0.9 15 18.4 3
KC -23.7 -5.9 24 17.8 4
SEA -24.0 -1.7 18 22.3 1
LAC -24.3 -3.8 22 20.4 2
BUF -25.9 -12.7 31 13.2 7

Biggest Positive Swings

Alex Smith
Mitchell Trubisky
Blake Bortles
Deshaun Watson
Tyrod Taylor/Baker Mayfield

The positive swings means that this year should be easier than last year and that’s a blessing for Mitchell Trubisky who has “the training wheels off” this year. Alex Smith is new to the Redskins but he comes at an opportune time after Kirk Cousins just turned in a lower season than he had the previous two years. Blake Bortles has rushing support now and a gang of moderately talented receivers. Deshaun Watson was electric in 2017 and returns from his knee injury to face an upgraded slate of opponents.

Biggest Negative Swings

A.J. McCarron/Josh Allen
Philip Rivers
Russell Wilson
Patrick Mahomes
Dak Prescott

The Bills tried to address that terrible pass offense of the last few years but neither quarterback catches a break with a far tougher slate of opponents for 2018 than what Tyrod Taylor faced last year. Both Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson have big drops in schedule strength but that’s just from what were two of the very lightest schedules in 2017 to just average ones this year. And both quarterbacks are in the elite club where they’re better than their schedules anyway. Patrick Mahomes follows Alex Smith who had a career best season against one of the lightest schedules but the Chiefs opponents are just a but tougher than average this year and Mahomes brings an entirely new element to the offense. Dak Prescott picked a bad season to no longer have a No. 1 wideout or tight end.

Running Backs

NO RECEPTION POINTS WITH RECEPTION POINTS
Team Swing 2017 Rank 2016 Rank Team Swing 2017 Rank 2016 Rank
LAR 21.1 5.3 7 -15.8 16 LAR 26.9 11.4 3 -15.5 31
CHI 20.9 21.0 1 0.0 13 CHI 22.2 29.0 1 6.9 9
SF 18.9 -1.1 18 -20.0 3 LAC 19.0 7.4 8 -11.6 28
MIA 11.5 7.0 5 -4.4 5 SF 17.9 0.3 15 -17.6 32
CLE 9.1 11.5 2 2.4 22 MIA 15.8 7.3 9 -8.5 24
LAC 7.2 5.4 6 -1.8 19 DET 11.4 3.1 12 -8.3 23
OAK 6.3 0.5 14 -5.7 31 CLE 7.0 12.2 2 5.3 10
PIT 4.3 0.2 15 -4.1 2 WAS 5.3 -5.5 23 -10.8 27
CIN 3.7 -2.6 21 -6.3 1 BUF 3.4 2.7 13 -0.7 17
DET 3.2 -7.8 25 -11.0 6 GB 2.9 -9.2 25 -12.1 30
GB 2.1 -9.0 27 -11.1 15 PHI 2.8 -5.0 22 -7.8 22
ARI 1.5 1.8 11 0.3 9 TEN 2.6 10.4 4 7.8 7
NE 1.3 9.5 3 8.2 10 CIN 2.5 -9.5 26 -12.0 29
TEN 0.6 7.1 4 6.4 23 JAC 1.7 5.3 11 3.6 12
NYG 0.1 -6.3 23 -6.4 21 ATL 1.5 -2.9 20 -4.4 20
BAL -0.2 -1.1 17 -0.8 7 PIT 1.1 1.9 14 0.8 15
WAS -0.6 -13.7 31 -13.1 17 OAK -0.2 -1.6 18 -1.5 19
TB -0.7 -8.5 26 -7.8 32 BAL -0.5 -4.9 21 -4.4 21
IND -2.1 -9.1 29 -7.0 12 NE -0.6 8.8 6 9.4 6
NYJ -2.8 1.6 12 4.4 11 KC -1.1 0.0 16 1.1 14
ATL -3.5 -2.7 22 0.8 24 IND -3.4 -13.2 30 -9.7 26
JAC -3.6 0.8 13 4.3 14 ARI -3.4 -1.3 17 2.1 13
DAL -3.8 2.0 10 5.8 25 CAR -4.5 9.1 5 13.6 3
PHI -4.8 -6.4 24 -1.6 18 NYJ -5.5 8.5 7 14.0 2
BUF -4.9 0.0 16 4.9 28 DAL -7.5 -2.8 19 4.7 11
DEN -5.6 -2.1 19 3.5 27 MIN -8.8 6.3 10 15.1 1
KC -5.8 -2.2 20 3.7 29 HOU -8.8 -17.4 31 -8.6 25
CAR -6.7 4.9 8 11.6 4 NYG -9.0 -10.4 27 -1.3 18
HOU -7.0 -10.9 30 -3.9 26 TB -10.7 -10.8 28 0.0 16
MIN -11.8 3.8 9 15.7 20 DEN -19.4 -8.5 24 11.0 5
NO -16.9 -9.1 28 7.8 30 NO -23.6 -12.4 29 11.2 4
SEA -24.9 -20.4 32 4.5 8 SEA -27.2 -19.8 32 7.4 8

Biggest Positive Swings

Todd Gurley
Jordan Howard
Jerick McKinnon
Kenyan Drake
Carlos Hyde/Nick Chubb/Duke Johnson

Seems unfair to allow Todd Gurley one of the best schedules after tearing up the NFL with no schedule advantage in 2017. Jordan Howard and Jerick McKinnon are in new offenses and they’ll have an easier time than most. Kenyan Drake also gets the lighter schedule for his first season as a starter though his role is less certain than McKinnon and Howard. The Browns infusion of talent all over the offense gets a boost from their schedule if they can settle on a primary back and allow him enough volume to post big stats.

Biggest Negative Swings

Rashaad Penny
Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram
Royce Freeman
Ronald Jones
Lamar Miller

Rashaad Penny is popular in drafts and he will get the chance to be a heavy-use back in Seattle but has a terrible offensive line and the worst schedule of any running back – not a recipe for success for any rookie back. The Saints have a significant swing from 2017 when they had one of the lightest running back schedules (that produced the No. 1 backfield) to one of the toughest slate of games. Still hard to expect much downgrade in their production as they are better than their opponents. Ronald Jones is another rookie in a committee backfield that gains no advantage from facing softer defenses.

Receivers

NO RECEPTION POINTS WITH RECEPTION POINTS
Team Swing 2017 Rank 2016 Rank Team Swing 2017 Rank 2016 Rank
CHI 27.5 11.3 5 -16.2 28 IND 35.5 -7.7 20 -43.1 32
IND 22.1 -8.2 25 -30.3 32 WAS 31.2 14.2 3 -17.0 26
HOU 21.2 3.5 14 -17.7 29 HOU 30.6 4.6 11 -26.0 29
WAS 20.1 13.0 3 -7.1 26 CHI 28.2 6.0 7 -22.2 28
CIN 15.9 12.3 4 -3.6 22 DEN 17.4 4.8 10 -12.6 25
DEN 15.3 8.6 7 -6.7 25 DET 16.8 -11.4 23 -28.2 30
NYJ 14.7 9.9 6 -4.8 23 CIN 16.2 6.5 6 -9.6 24
DET 13.6 -7.5 24 -21.1 31 CLE 12.7 -23.1 31 -35.8 31
SF 9.9 -5.3 22 -15.2 27 SF 10.3 -10.1 22 -20.4 27
NYG 8.6 8.2 8 -0.4 18 NYJ 8.9 10.8 4 1.9 13
NO 7.0 4.0 13 -3.0 20 NO 7.1 2.0 14 -5.1 18
TB 6.3 -0.1 17 -6.4 24 NYG 5.1 4.6 12 -0.5 17
CLE 2.7 -15.4 30 -18.2 30 TB 5.0 -2.4 18 -7.4 22
LAR 2.7 19.2 2 16.6 7 LAR 4.7 18.0 2 13.4 7
NE 2.0 7.0 10 5.0 15 PHI 4.0 5.3 9 1.3 15
BAL 1.8 1.8 15 0.0 16 BAL 3.7 -2.3 17 -6.0 19
JAC 0.8 22.5 1 21.7 5 JAC 2.4 23.1 1 20.7 4
OAK -3.2 -3.2 21 0.0 17 MIN 1.0 0.9 15 0.0 16
PHI -4.9 5.9 11 10.8 12 NE -1.7 7.6 5 9.3 11
MIN -7.9 -1.5 20 6.4 13 PIT -3.4 -12.7 24 -9.3 23
PIT -8.1 -11.2 26 -3.1 21 SEA -4.8 4.6 13 9.3 10
SEA -10.1 5.2 12 15.3 9 GB -9.8 -16.2 27 -6.4 20
TEN -12.5 -1.4 19 11.1 11 OAK -10.6 -17.3 28 -6.7 21
DAL -15.8 8.0 9 23.8 2 DAL -15.5 5.5 8 21.0 3
GB -16.4 -18.1 32 -1.8 19 TEN -16.1 -14.7 26 1.5 14
ARI -19.2 -13.0 27 6.2 14 CAR -24.6 0.0 16 24.6 2
CAR -21.3 -1.0 18 20.3 6 ARI -25.5 -22.2 30 3.3 12
ATL -21.9 0.0 16 21.9 4 MIA -25.9 -14.4 25 11.5 8
MIA -27.4 -15.2 29 12.2 10 LAC -28.6 -8.5 21 20.1 6
LAC -31.8 -6.1 23 25.7 1 ATL -32.0 -2.8 19 29.2 1
KC -32.4 -16.8 31 15.6 8 BUF -37.9 -17.5 29 20.4 5
BUF -38.8 -15.1 28 23.7 3 KC -40.0 -28.7 32 11.3 9

Biggest Positive Swings

Allen Robinson/Taylor Gabriel
T.Y. Hilton/Ryan Grant
DeAndre Hopkins/Will Fuller
Jamison Crowder/Josh Doctson

Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Ryan Grant catch a break moving to new teams that will face lesser secondaries this year. T.Y. Hilton’s fortunes mostly ride on the health of Andrew Luck but at least his schedule is not going to be the problem this year. The outlook for DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller is very bright for 2018 since they already both blew up while playing with Deshaun Watson last year. Jamison Crowder gets a bump up in outlook with an easier schedule though with a new quarterback.

Biggest Negative Swings

Kelvin Benjamin/Zay Jones
Tyreek Hill/Sammy Watkins
Julio Jones/Mohamed Sanu
DeVante Parker/Kenny Stills

The schedule strength matters less for receivers since individual matchups with cornerbacks dictate their success of failure.
But the
negative schedules are worth noting since those highly-ranked defenses they’ll face invariably have top cornerbacks to focus on the opponent’s No. 1 receiver. The Bills already had a terrible 2017 and now have one of the worst schedules in the NFL. The Chiefs also go against a much worst schedule for receivers and rely on a new quarterback that causes an additional challenge. Jones did not get that new contract this year and goes from one of the best to just an average schedule.

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