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.”
Best of the Rest: 22. Patriots; 21. Panthers; 20. Buccaneers; 19. Saints; 18. Chargers; 17. Titans
Analysis: Here too, there are several fantasy wide-outs that have some difficult schedules for 2011 including Dwayne Bowe, Roddy White, Greg Jennings, Brandon Lloyd, Calvin Johnson, and Andre Johnson. Still, each one of the aforementioned receivers, especially Roddy White and Dwayne Bowe, were impossible to bench in 2010 regardless of the match-up.
Even though Roddy White had one of the tougher schedules among wide-receivers last season, White still managed to post 115 receptions for 1,389 yards and 10 TDs. This season, he should even have help from rookie receiver Julio Jones who should be good enough to command some of the defensive pass coverage. Likewise, Dwayne Bowe had one of the toughest wide-receiver schedules in 2010 and he still managed to post 72 receptions for 1,162 yards and 15 TDs.
However, as you look at fringe teams either with a questionable group of receivers, like the Bears or Raiders, or with a questionable quarterback situation, like the Vikings or Broncos, then the strength of schedule could become more important. Take for instance the Vikings. In 2011, the Vikings will face the Chargers, Buccaneers, Bears (2x), Packers (2x), Panthers, Raiders, and Saints, and could have either an inexperienced quarterback or rookie quarterback under center. This does not bode well for Sidney Rice or Percy Harvin. Similarly, the Bears have games scheduled against the Saints, Packers (2x), Panthers, Buccaneers, Chargers, and Raiders in 2011. With a passing game that is already struggling, with no true number one wide-receiver, and with a quarterback that has been sacked a league high number of times, it is hard to believe that the Bears wide-receivers will have a huge impact on the fantasy football landscape in 2011.