Strength of schedule winners
Best Fantasy Players By Position Using Strength of Schedule
Of the many analyses available to fantasy football owners, strength of schedule (SOS) is useful in small doses. When making decisions during your draft, SOS could be valuable in a 50-50, coin-flip situation if making a decision between two very similar players. If you feel two players are extremely close, when one player is projected to face the most favorable matchup in the NFL and the other the least favorable, then SOS makes that choice simpler.
During the season is when strength of schedule can become more of a factor, especially when used in tandem with fantasy points allowed per game (FPA/G). If you're coasting into the playoffs around Week 9, you might want to make a trade for a player set up to play a very easy schedule during your postseason. You can look up the defenses that player will face from Weeks 14 to 17, so you can view each team's FPA/G. This is where playing the matchups can be taken to a whole other level. Always remember, fantasy football is a football-based MATH game, not a math-based FOOTBALL game. The difference is subtle, but it is there.
For our purposes right now though, let's focus on the top players at each position which will face some of the most favorable SOSs. If you'd like a closer look at all the teams' strength of schedule at every position (QB, RB, WR, TE, K, DEF, DL, LB, DB, PR and KR), click here for that essential information.
1) Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo
2) Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning
3) Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Smith
4) New York Jets: Mark Sanchez / Geno Smith
5) Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton
This is a really interesting group. First of all, Tony Romo is going right at the end of the QB1 grouping in 12-team leagues and as we all saw last season, he is coming off an up-and-down season. He did pass for nearly 5,000 yards, but also tied a career-high with 19 INTs. Considering the ascension of Dez Bryant, the reliable Jason Witten, and a hopefully injury-free 2013 for Miles Austin, there are lot of weapons at his disposal. The NFC East is a wide open division and it is feasible Romo leads Dallas to the postseason.
What I like about Peyton Manning is that he is typically the fourth or fifth QB drafted, yet he could easily be fantasy's No. 1 QB. Adding Welker is nice, but Denver had a tremendous defense a year. Keeping their opponents off the field and therefore putting Manning back into action will only lead to more points. If the Broncos can rely on Ronnie Hillman and/or Montee Ball to carry the ball more effectively, opening up the play action would be deadly. This could be a big year for Denver.
Another interesting option is Alex Smith here. While obviously not a QB1, he's a low-risk QB2 that takes care of the football and should have some guaranteed production coming from Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe all year. Don't forget that the Chiefs play in the AFC West, a division that is certainly lacking some punch on defense across the board, excluding the aforementioned Broncos.
If you're drafting Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith, you must be in a very deep league or a two-QB league. Sanchez is untouchable as far as I'm concerned. Smith has some dynasty value, but the Jets have too much to prove and too few playmakers to accomplish their goals. Chris Ivory is the only guy I'm targeting (or perhaps his backup Mike Goodson in deeper formats in case Ivory goes down).
Last and certainly not least, we have Cam Newton. No matter what, the former Auburn star is going to get his yards and touchdowns. He singlehandedly carries this offense wherever it needs to go. The NFC South is a very competitive division right now, but it has been lacking on defense. Newton doesn't really need a bump in the minds of fantasy owners, so continue drafting him as a Top 5 QB. He has all the talent in the world, but he really needs some help at the skill positions.
1) Miami Dolphins: Lamar Miller
2) New York Jets: Chris Ivory
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin
4) Houston Texans: Arian Foster
5) Denver Broncos: Ronnie Hillman / Montee Ball
Another good grouping of players here. We have two RB1s (Foster and Martin), two RB2s (Miller and Ivory) and some upside RB3s (Hillman or Ball, depending on who emerges).
I'm very hot and cold with Miller. On one hand, he had an excellent final season with the Miami Hurricanes. He can run away from defenses to break big plays and speed will always kill in fantasy football by providing huge potential for points. Unfortunately, Miami's offensive line and offense as a whole concern me. They're breaking in a new left tackle, Jonathan Martin, who is moving over to the left side in his second season. Letting Jake Long leave may have been a mistake. They'll also be hoping for a quick transition from Mike Wallace to take the lid off defenses. Miami WRs only scored three TDs last season, so this puts a ton of pressure on Miller to produce and you're drafting him almost exclusively based on his potential (which is substantial for what it's worth).
Ivory's intense running style has caused him to miss 24 games over his first three seasons. He does average 5.1 yards per carry and any back who can go over five yards per clip can be a huge talent. Like the aforementioned Miller though, Ivory must shoulder a great deal of New York's offense. Given his fragile nature, there's a lot of risk involved. Ivory feels like a much more comfortable selection as my RB3 or flex, as opposed to my RB2.
Tampa found a gem in The Muscle Hamster. He's a Top 5 pick in redraft leagues and you might see him go first over all in some startup dynasty leagues. Considering he is one of the first few players drafted, his strength of schedule is of little consequence. You either like him more or less than somebody like Jamaal Charles or Foster, speaking of which…
You may not have noticed since you're not staring at fantasy football content all day like me, but Foster is slowly but surely slipping in drafts. He was a relatively consensus pick at 1.02 and now is being drafted closer to 1.04. While Foster is having some small injury issues, there is no news out there to suggest he won't be ready to play for Week 1. He will be 27 years old and should still be in the prime of his career. He only gains more value if he falls any further.
Hillman is currently the starting back in Denver. As training camp and the preseason progresses, this situation is a must watch. Hillman has leapt nearly four rounds in a matter of a week. There are points aplenty to be scored in the Mile High City. One underlying problem is that Ball will get his opportunities sooner or later, so both guys will likely eat into each other's numbers. Since they are both RB3/flex players, if you draft either one, it is best to play the hot hand by matchup.
Up next: wide receivers