The New 2019 Strength of Schedule: Quarterbacks (Fantasy Football)
How many times have you heard someone on a podcast or in an article dismiss strength of schedule? The same ones who say that often publish something on strength of schedule, because there are so many people who are looking to get every edge possible. But it becomes a problem when everyone looks at strength of schedule the same way.
It’s legitimately impossible to justify why certain teams have gotten better and apply any measurement as to how it will improve their team’s defense in the following year. Sure, they may have drafted a defensive player, but maybe they have him play out of position, maybe he doesn’t quite fit the scheme, or maybe he’s just a bust and doesn’t get on the field. Because of that, we must throw the idea that we can adjust teams out the window.
Instead, let’s make the traditional strength of schedule better. Remember when Frank Gore finished the 2016 season as the No. 12 running back? Does that mean he should’ve been drafted as the 12th running back off the board? Absolutely not, anyone who played fantasy football can tell you that. That method is exactly what most do for strength of schedule. How many total points did a team allow, rank them among others, apply those ranks to next year’s schedule, and voila, traditional strength of schedule.
Instead of accepting this as a method, I did exactly what I do for fantasy players with “Boom, Bust, and Everything in Between,” (read the process on that here) where I went through every team and added up how many top-12 performances they allowed (based on the BBEIB method), how many top-24, etc. as to how it relates to each position. What this does is remove an outlier performance where a team may have allowed a massive game to a superstar that influenced the overall numbers more than they should’ve. Who knows, maybe they were missing a superstar like Luke Kuechly on defense that week. Whatever the case, this method allows us to see each team’s consistency as it relates to fantasy football and should better project the strength of schedule for 2018. Here’s my list of quarterbacks with their score in my strength of schedule earned.
Quarterbacks with a Great Schedule
Kyler Murray (ARI) SOS Score: +27
Not only is he starting fresh with an offensive-minded head coach whose offense is supposed to produce tons of plays, but he has the best schedule, and it’s not all that close. There were 11 teams who earned a grade of at least -3 on my version of strength of schedule, and of the 15 games Murray will play during the fantasy season, only one of them will come against those teams. Meanwhile, he has six games against the nine teams who were considered a plus-matchup.
Cam Newton (CAR) SOS Score: +19
When he comes back from his offseason shoulder surgery, the league has done him a favor and given him one of the best schedules in the league. He doesn’t have a single matchup with any of the top-four pass defenses in the league (Bills, Bears, Vikings, Chargers), but does have four matchups (tied for the most in the league) with the bottom-four pass defenses (Bucs, Chiefs, Falcons, Jets). He’ll also play two of his three fantasy playoff games inside domes.
Andrew Luck (IND) SOS Score: +17
After Luck plays the Chargers brutally tough defense in Week 1, it’s smooth sailing for him and the Colts. They have a four-game stretch from Week 3-7 where they’ll play the Falcons, Raiders, Chiefs, and Texans, which should boost his value quite a bit. Then he’ll play against the Bucs and Saints in the first two weeks of the fantasy playoffs, which is a treat for any quarterback, especially one who can go toe-to-toe with the best of them.
Quarterbacks with a Bad Schedule
Joe Flacco (DEN) SOS Score: -21
Not that you were going to draft Flacco anyway, but I had to include him considering how bad his schedule actually is. Remember when I said Kyler Murray will play just one of those top-11 teams? Well, Flacco and the Broncos have to play 9-of-15 games against them. One of his best matchups comes in Week 1 against the Raiders, but it’s downhill after that. Maybe he turns into a streamer for the playoffs when he plays the Texans, Chiefs, and Lions? That’s considering Drew Lock isn’t starting at that point.
Matthew Stafford (DET) SOS Score: -15
Coming off his worst season in quite some time, Stafford has one of the tougher schedules in the league, though it doesn’t help that he plays against the Bears, Vikings, and Packers for five of their 15 games (Packers in Week 17). He’ll open the season on the road against the Cardinals, who held him to 101 yards passing and no touchdowns in Week 14 of last year, then return home to play the Chargers. Stafford will have streaming appeal throughout the season, but you don’t need to draft him.
Patrick Mahomes (KC) SOS Score: -11
After what was the best fantasy season of all-time, the schedule-makers didn’t take it easy on the reigning MVP. He’ll be playing against Jacksonville in Week 1 (maybe without Tyreek Hill), will then play against the Vikings and Chargers in the middle of the season, then play against the Patriots, Broncos, and Bears in the fantasy playoffs. His schedule has some high-points as well and isn’t completely brutal, but it’s not good, either.