For those of you who followed The Fantasy Greek through the latter part of the 2010 season, you may recall The Fantasy Greek provided in Weeks 11 and 13, as a planning tool for your rosters, a ranking of those teams with the best and worst schedules for Weeks 14 to 16 and Weeks 15 to 17, the weeks of most fantasy football league playoffs, for each primary fantasy position: QB, RB, WR, TE, and DST. Even though the 2011 season is now almost three months away (keep your fingers crossed!), we can still look ahead to team schedules and get a sense where teams stand in terms of their strength of schedule, by position, for fantasy purposes.
Below, you will find a ranking of those teams with the WORST schedules for the 2011 season. This is purely a statistical analysis based on fantasy points allowed by position in 2010 through Week 17, inserted into each teams’ 2011 schedule.
In terms of accuracy, in comparing the projected strength of schedule pre-2010 season, to the strength of schedule post-2010 season, we know the most accurate strength of schedules by position goes to the running back position. This makes sense as teams from year-to-year defend the run as they generally did the year before. Indeed, the deviation between strength of schedule pre-2010 season, to the strength of schedule post-2010 season, for running backs was zero to five in twenty out of thirty-two instances. If we add in the deviation of six to ten, the figure increases to twenty-seven out of thirty two instances. To put this in plain English, the strength of schedule was more accurate for running backs than the other positions for twenty-seven out of the thirty-two teams in professional football! If you are playing the match-ups like The Fantasy Greek, knowing this in advance of the regular season can be a good thing if you are trying to choose who to draft between two comparable, competing players on fantasy draft day. As to the accuracy of the strength of schedule for the remaining positions, running backs are followed by quarterbacks, then wide-receivers, then defenses, and finally tight-ends. As to these positions, particularly, quarterbacks and wide-receivers, we could expect a slightly bigger deviation if only because whatever players are in a teams defensive secondary, at the defensive back and safety position, can make a difference as to how these players perform passing and receiving the football. Again, while numbers may not be everything, take some comfort in the fact that they actually are more so than not in fantasy football.
In terms of the rankings below, what you see may surprise you as to which team has the least favorable schedule by position. The Fantasy Greek will try to make sense of this for you the fantasy owner, but in the end, “that’s why they play the games.”
27. Chargers (T)
Best of the Rest: 22. Titans; 21. Patriots; 20. Texans; 19. Chiefs; 18. Saints; 17. Bengals
Analysis: When you look at defenses ranked toward the bottom of the strength of schedule rankings, think about the Chiefs in 2010. The Chiefs had one of the better defenses based on their secondary and run defense. However, the Chiefs played numerous teams that did not turnover the ball very often. As such, in 2010, the Chiefs were a match-up based play.
Still, it is hard to think of a defense that is real good, like the Steelers, Jets, and Chargers, having a “bad match-up.” When it comes to defenses, the strength of schedule is a little less important. Take for instance the Steelers, who ended up playing teams that gave up the least fantasy points to opposing defenses in 2010. The Steelers still finished first or second in most defensive categories in 2010 and finished as one of the top fantasy defenses. The same can be said about the Chargers, but less so the Jets. Yet, both ended up playing teams that gave up the least fantasy points to opposing defenses too, and both teams were some of the better fantasy defenses during the course of last season. Even the Raiders could fit this category, as there were weeks last season that they excelled. Yet, in 2011, the Raiders will have to deal with the fact that shut-down corner Namdi Asomugha may no longer be with the team.
The remaining teams, the Dolphins, Jaguars, Colts, Bills, Broncos and Panthers could likely be on the waiver wire for significant parts of the season as these team defenses have not been particularly fantasy worthy except in exceptional match-ups in recent seasons. Yet, the arrow is pointing up in terms of whether these teams could become fantasy worthy on a week-to-week basis.