The New 2021 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 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 Kareem Hunt finished as the No. 10 running back in 2020? Does that mean he should’ve been drafted as the 10th 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 Joey Bosa 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 2021. Here’s my list of quarterbacks with their score in my strength of schedule earned.
Quarterbacks with a Great Schedule
Cam Newton/Mac Jones (NE) SOS Score: 32
Whichever quarterback gets to start for the Patriots this year, they won’t have the excuse of a poor schedule. There are 11 teams who present what were deemed as a “below average” matchup for quarterbacks, and the Patriots have just one game against the combination of those teams. Meanwhile, they have matchups with the Jets (twice), Texans, and Falcons over the first 11 weeks of the season. They have the best strength of schedule, and it wasn’t all that close.
Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) SOS Score: 24
If you’re expecting a bounceback season out of Tagovailoa, the schedule is certainly going to help aid him in doing so. Just like the Patriots, the Dolphins will be playing against the Falcons, Jets (twice), and the Texans this year, which gives them a big boost in the strength of schedule score. The Dolphins do have three below average matchups on the schedule, which is what puts them a tick below the Patriots.
Trevor Lawrence (JAX) SOS Score: 20
Welcome to the NFL, rookie. The schedule makers made life easier on Lawrence, as he’ll have four games against some of the worst defenses in the league, which include Houston (twice), the Falcons, and the Jets. The only downside is that three of those games take place from Weeks 12-16. The only brutal game he has on his schedule comes when he plays the Rams in Week 13. But hey, if you get to the playoffs while streaming quarterbacks, his matchups in Weeks 15 and 16 against the Texans and Jets look mighty good.
Notable: Zach Wilson (NYJ) SOS Score: 20
Quarterbacks with a Bad Schedule
Aaron Rodgers/Jordan Love (GB) SOS Score: -20
If Rodgers does come back to the team, he won’t have what I’d describe as a pleasant schedule, particularly when it matters most. From Week 11 through Week 17, he’ll play a gauntlet that includes the Vikings, Rams, Bears, Ravens, Browns, and Vikings. And keep in mind, that doesn’t even include his early-season matchups against the Steelers and the Football Team. The only great matchup he has on his schedule comes in Week 2 against the Jets.
Jared Goff (DET) SOS Score: -18
If you were thinking the hate went too far with Goff and that he might be a decent streamer/platoon option, think again. His start to the season is a nightmare and it really doesn’t get any better as it goes on. The first seven weeks include the 49ers, Packers, Ravens, Bears, Vikings, and Rams. If you want to find a great matchup, you have to wait all the way until Week 16.
Russell Wilson (SEA) SOS Score: -16
We already know that Pete Carroll likes to stand in the way of elite production with Wilson, but now the schedule is working against him as well. Of the 16 games he’ll play during the fantasy season, nine of them are deemed below average, including four that are absolutely brutal (most in the NFL). Those matchups are against the Rams, Steelers, Washington, and the Rams. Even worse is that they’re spread throughout the schedule, so there’s not just one section of the schedule you should try and avoid.
Notable: Patrick Mahomes (KC) SOS Score: -14