The Strength of Schedule takes the 2018 fantasy points allowed by defenses to running backs and applies them against the 2019 schedule for each offense. This goes even further since it also breaks down the 64 venues that can happen – facing each defense either home or away.
The average fantasy points allowed by each defense is then sorted highest to lowest to determine the 20 best venues to play (an advantage) and the 20 worst (a disadvantage). The “middle” 24 venues offer neither advantage nor disadvantage and are not counted.
20 best venues TO PLAY
20 worst venues TO PLAY
Three different views are given below. Weeks 1 to 16 is the full season strength of schedule for the position. 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. Finally, Weeks 14 to 16 cover the traditional fantasy playoffs.
This analysis awards 0.1 points per yard rushing or receiving. Touchdowns are worth six points and receptions are worth one point.
Mark Ingram/Gus Edwards (BAL) – Mark Ingram could not have landed in Baltimore at a better time. The Ravens matchups with the Steelers are the only time they face a tough venue and their second meeting is in Week 17 anyway. Half of their games will be in the easier venues and they wind down against the Bills, Jets, and Browns during fantasy playoffs. The split in workload may limit Ingram and Gus Edwards, but the schedule won’t be in their way.
James Conner (PIT) – The Steelers back became the No-Bell prize in 2018 and should continue to shine versus a schedule that contains only two bad venues during the fantasy season. After Week 5, he faces no tough defenses and wraps up Weeks 14 to 16 with the Cardinals, Bills, and Jets. Even his matchup in Baltimore waits until Week 17.
Kenyan Drake (MIA) – With Frank Gore gone, Drake looks to have a clearer path to more touches and the final year of his rookie contract faces a slate of games that should help him land a bigger payday. After facing the Ravens and Cowboys over the first three weeks, only the Week 8 matchup in Pittsburgh falls in a tough venue. Come fantasy playoffs, he faces the Jets, Giants, and Bengals for one of the best fantasy schedules. This could be a sneaky way to look better than he normally will.
Derrick Henry (TEN) – Oddly enough, the Titans have one of the tougher passing schedules and yet one of the lightest for rushing. That fits perfectly for the new commitment to using Derrick Henry as a workhorse back. He’ll face just one tough venue between Weeks 7 through 15 and even his Week 17 faceoff with the Saints happens in Tennessee. Henry wants to become one of the top rushers in the NFL and this schedule won’t hamper his efforts.
Peyton Barber/ Ronald Jones (TB) – The reality is that the Buccaneers have enjoyed lighter schedules for running backs in the past with marginal results. This time, they’ll face one of the toughest and do that while trying to once again justify mixing in Ronald Jones instead of just riding Peyton Barber. Their opening schedule won’t help with the first seven games including trips to the Saints, Panthers, and Titans and never facing a lighter matchup in the first half of the year. That’s no way to make either back appear to be worthy of a heavy load.
Devonta Freeman (ATL) – A change in offensive coordinators could help Devonta Freeman who missed almost all of last year with a foot injury. But his schedule won’t improve much with just one softer venue over his first ten games. The Falcons enjoyed a lighter schedule in 2018 and their passing game reflected it. 2019 won’t make a rebound for the rushing effort likely with a tough slate of games all the way through to the fantasy playoffs. The absence of Tevin Coleman may get Freeman more work, but he’s going against mostly tough defenses even if he remains healthy.
Damien Williams (KC) – The ex-Dolphin came through for the Chiefs late last year after Kareem Hunt was released. He’ll start the year as the primary but may be spelled by newly-signed Carlos Hyde. He also has to contend with a schedule that plays in only three of the easier venues all year while facing seven of the toughest including opening the year in Jacksonville and closing the fantasy season in Chicago. The schedule won’t be much help in making Williams look like a primary back but playing in a prolific offense certainly won’t hurt.
LeSean McCoy (BUF) – Shady McCoy already looked like a risky bet after the Bills added Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and drafted Devin Singletary. He just hit the 30-year-old wall but starts the year with only one bad venue over his first 11 games. He enjoys four of his first five weeks with good matchups. Then, just when you need him most, he slams into a four-game stretch starting in Week 13 of nothing but bad matchups. His lone home game is against the Ravens and three weeks are spent visiting the Cowboys, Steelers, and Patriots. And that’s if his hamstrings aren’t a problem again.
Week by week – Running backs with reception points