1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002
Ease of Fantasy Schedule 2003
by David M. Dorey
July 1, 2003

Now entering the seventh year for this type of analysis for The Huddle, each NFL team was matched against what their schedule will be this fall. Using the defensive statistics from the last half of the 2002 season, with removal of the highest and lowest outputs from the final ten weeks of the season (excluding week 17), each scheduled was compared to the defense it faced.

If it faced a defense that was in the top 12 for allowing the most fantasy points, the matchup was considered as "good". If it faced a defense that was in the bottom 12 for allowing fantasy points (AKA the stingy defenses), then the matchup was considered as "bad". The eight teams which were "in the middle" of allowing fantasy points were considered neither good nor bad.

The result of that analysis yielded this distribution of defenses:

Most points allowed (good) Middle tier Least Points allowed (bad)
ARZ 24.0 CHI 26.7 ARZ 27.3
MIN 23.7 ARZ 26.2 SD 25.6
SD 23.3 SD 24.9 MIN 25.0
NO 20.2 SEA 24.7 CIN 24.2
DET 20.0 DEN 24.6 DET 24.0
KC 19.9 NO 24.1 SF 23.5
CIN 19.6 STL 22.8 NYG 22.0
ATL 19.5 DET 22.1 ATL 21.9
NE 19.0 BUF 20.8 CAR 21.2
SF 18.7 KC 20.7 DAL 21.2
PIT 18.0 WAS 20.2 NE 21.0
CAR 17.4 IND 19.9 HOU 20.7
HOU 17.3 BAL 19.2 PIT 20.0
NYG 17.3 NE 19.2 KC 20.0
CHI 16.7 OAK 18.7 NO 19.9
SEA 16.7 SF 17.8 CLE 19.1
OAK 16.5 NYJ 17.7 BAL 18.7
PHI 16.4 CIN 17.6 JAX 18.7
IND 16.3 MIN 17.3 OAK 18.7
JAX 16.2 CLE 17.1 PHI 18.3

Actual statistics from weeks 7 through 16 of the 2002 season.

TEN 16.1 HOU 16.9 SEA 18.1
DAL 16.1 JAX 16.9 TEN 18.1
WAS 15.8 ATL 16.8 CHI 17.5
NYJ 15.7 MIA 16.6 GB 17.5
CLE 15.6 CAR 16.2 IND 17.5
GB 14.8 DAL 16.1 NYJ 16.0
BAL 14.4 PHI 15.2 STL 15.5
STL 14.2 TB 14.4 DEN 15.5
BUF 13.5 NYG 14.3 BUF 15.1
MIA 13.4 PIT 12.8 MIA 15.0
DEN 13.2 GB 12.1 WAS 14.1
TB 12.7 TEN 12.0 TB 12.9

This season is even more refined since it compares how defenses were against positions, not merely passing or rushing. For instance, runningbacks gain both rushing and receiving yards and scores and you are starting the position, not the method of offense. Therefore defenses were ranked on how many fantasy points they gave up to runningbacks for yards and scores no matter if rushing or receiving.

Similarly, passing yards indicate quarterback effectiveness, but do not correspond 1:1 to wide receiver receiving yards since backs and tight ends also catch those passes and some defenses are better against wideouts than others. For this reason, defenses were ranked on how many points they gave up to wide receivers only which led to subtle differences between quarterback and wide receiver good and bad matchups.

When reviewing the good and bad matchups for ease of schedule, remember too that it is just as important to have a lack of bad matchups as it is to have a lot of good matchups. Individual player talent matters the most.

As with any sort of analysis, realize that this is one tool and only a part of the entire puzzle. We will update this during midseason.