The New 2020 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 2020. Here’s my list of quarterbacks with their score in my strength of schedule earned.
Quarterbacks with a Great Schedule
Baker Mayfield (CLE) SOS Score: +14
After what was a nightmare of a sophomore season, Mayfield will look to get back on track in what should be considered the easiest schedule in the league for fantasy quarterbacks. Sure, he’s going to play the Ravens twice, but he caught a break only seeing the Steelers once during the fantasy season. Outside of those games, Mayfield doesn’t have what should be considered a bad matchup on his schedule. In fact, he has six games against teams that ranked bottom-eight in my formula.
Aaron Rodgers (GB) SOS Score: +12
While Matt LaFleur may not believe in Rodgers, the schedule should help allow him to get back on track in 2020. The Bears are the toughest game on the schedule, and fortunately, he only gets them once on the fantasy season with their second matchup in Week 17. He’ll also be at home when they play in Week 12. The only other below average matchups he has are against the Vikings, who are going through somewhat of a rebuild on defense. His playoff schedule against the Lions, Panthers, and Titans isn’t bad, either.
Dak Prescott (DAL) SOS Score: +12
Not only did Prescott get added weaponry this offseason, but he also has one of the best schedules in the league among quarterbacks. He’ll play 7-of-15 games against bottom-10 defenses, which is tied for the Browns and Giants for the most in the league. By comparison, Deshaun Watson and the Texans have just two of those games. Sadly, it could’ve been even better if he’d played the Giants twice, but one of their games comes in Week 17.
Quarterbacks with a Bad Schedule
Deshaun Watson (HOU) SOS Score: -18
As if things hadn’t gone bad enough for Watson already. First, he loses his alpha go-to receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Second, he has the toughest schedule in the league. He has just two matchups against teams that were considered worse than the league average by my formula. No other quarterback can say that. Not just that, but he has six matchups with teams who were inside the top eight against fantasy quarterbacks last year. His rushing will keep him afloat, but if you were torn between him and another quarterback, use this as your tiebreaker.
Ryan Tannehill (TEN) SOS Score: -15
After what was an unbelievable year for Tannehill where he posted the fourth best QB Rating of all-time, the schedule seems to have gotten a lot tougher on him in 2020. There are games against the Steelers, Bills, Bears, Ravens, and Packers all littered through his schedule, which means you are going to want a quarterback on your bench who you can platoon with Tannehill. It’s rare to find a great matchup on his schedule, too, as the Texans, Bengals, and Lions matchups are the only ones he has against bottom-10 teams.
Josh Allen (BUF) SOS Score: -13
There’s good and bad to Allen’s schedule, but for those with playoff aspirations, you may want to consider another quarterback. Allen has a light start to his schedule, but over the final eight games, he’ll have matchups with the Patriots, Seahawks, Chargers, 49ers, Steelers, Broncos, and then the Patriots in Foxborough for fantasy championship week. If you draft Allen, make sure you unload him for the second half of the season.