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Tomorrow’s Moves Today – Week 9: Leveraging Strength of Schedule and Team Level Trends To Stay Ahead of the Competition

Tomorrow’s Moves Today uses the strength of schedule tabs included in the Weekly Stat Explorer to identify team positional units with favorable/unfavorable upcoming schedules and players on the related teams that should be targeted or avoided.

The Weekly Stat Explorer (WSE) includes strength of schedule tabs for quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, and DST. These tabs visualize each team’s schedule on a positional unit basis and can be filtered to provide rankings for a range of weeks.

Rather than use points allowed to determine the difficulty of a team’s opponents, the tool works through the following process:

  • The average points per game scored by each fantasy relevant player are compared to their point totals when facing particular DSTs, resulting in a differential for each matchup.
  • Players are grouped by position and the differentials are totaled and then divided by the number of contributing matchups.
  • The more points that opposing offensive players scored above their averages when facing a DST, the less difficult the DST is considered by the WSE.
  • Alternatively, the less points that opposing offensive players scored above their averages when facing a DST, the more difficult the DST is considered by the WSE.
  • This process is performed at each position, and the differentials are ranked and used to calculate strength of schedule scores.
  • In the case of DSTs, the included matchups review the scores of DSTs when facing particular offenses

With the halfway point of the 2018 fantasy season behind us, let’s take a look at what Weeks 10 through 16 have in store for each team’s positional units.

Strength of Schedule Weeks 10 – 16

Quarterback

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  • Joe Flacco just might be worth adding if you’re concerned about finding streamable quarterbacks down the stretch. In addition to facing the third easiest QB schedule between Week 10 and the end of the fantasy season, he draws Tampa Bay’s porous defense in the first round of most leagues’ playoffs.
    • Flacco is averaging 16 points per game (PPG) and has finished inside the top-24 of quarterback rankings only four times this season. While he’s certainly not a plug and play option, it wouldn’t hurt to have him in your back pocket if you can afford the roster space.
      • Baker Mayfield scored 21 points, his highest total of the season when facing the Buccaneers in Week 7.
  • As Matt Freedman and I discussed on this week’s episode of RotoViz Radio, Russell Wilson is trending in the right direction. In addition to opposing the fourth most favorable sequence of rest of season (ROS) opponents, he draws San Francisco and Kansas City in the playoffs.
    • Wilson averaged a QBR of 95 in the first four weeks of the season. He improved to 139 in the subsequent weeks, with a perfect rating against the Lions in Week 8.
    • He’s also thrown three touchdowns in each his last three games.
    • If you’re looking to get out of the streaming game and make a move for a weekly QB option, Wilson is your guy. Given his slow start, he shouldn’t be overly expensive.
  •  Matthew Stafford is averaging just 17 PPG which ranks 18th among passers. He’s gone over 20 points only twice this season but does have significant name recognition. Regardless, he shouldn’t be viewed as a usable option looking forward. In addition to losing his favorite weapon, Golden Tate, he opposes an absolutely grueling ROS schedule.

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Running Back
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  • Nick Chubb is the lead back in Cleveland and with Duke Johnson’s evaporating opportunity, will shoulder a significant workload. Many had viewed the Georgia alumnus as a potential “league-winner”. Given the soft schedule that lies ahead, this just might be a possibility.
    • The defenses he opposes between now and the end of the season average a ranking of 25 and only Carolina, who he’ll face in Week 14, sits near league average.
  • With Ty Montgomery no longer a Packer, Aaron Jones’ competition has shrunk. Montgomery averaged just four carries per game, but it seems likely that Jones will be able to consume this vacated opportunity.
    • Jamaal Williams attempts and snaps per game have decreased steadily over the course of the season. Despite recording 19 more rushes than Jones, he trails the more talented back in both yards and touchdowns.
    • Green Bay faces one of the most favorable ROS RB schedules, giving Jones a good chance of closing out the season as an RB2.

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  • Peyton Barber has managed to somewhat right the ship, scoring 21 points in Week 6 and 15 in Week 8. Granted, a three-point performance against the Browns was sandwiched in between. Unfortunately for Barber, he faces the most grueling of all RB schedules. While he may have appeared to be one of the better adds on the wire this week, his ROS prospects do not look good.

Wide Receiver

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  • D.J. Moore scored 18 points last week and it looks like Carolina is going to prioritize getting the rookie more involved. At a minimum, Moore should draw five targets per game going forward and may add some extra production in the ground game.
    • The Panthers face a ridiculously appealing ROS of season schedule with the leagues easiest and third least challenging opponent in Weeks 15 and 16. If Moore truly has become Carolina’s WR2, there’s an abundance of points for the taking on the horizon.
  • It’s possible that John Brown, Michael Crabtree, or Willie Snead is available in your league. If this is the case, they are likely as useful of an add as any available option. The Ravens lead the league in passing attempts per game, face the third easiest ROS schedule, and face the sieve-like Buccaneers secondary in Week 15.

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  • If you’ve been holding out hope that the duo of Mike and Tyrell Williams will emerge as weekly options, the Charger’s schedule does not set up favorably for this to come to fruition. While each player has flashed — Mike scored 24 points against the Rams in Week 3 and Tyrell strung together 27 and 22 point performances against Cleveland and Tennesee — it’s important to recognize that neither player has seen more than four targets since Week 3 and Melvin Gordon is the team’s second look in the passing game.

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Tight End

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  • If Ed Dickson is available, which is unlikely given a solid performance in his first game back, he should be added by all teams in need of tight end help. He faces an extremely forgiving ROS schedule, should be one of Seattle’s go-to options in the red zone, and the team’s offense has been trending in the right direction.
  • Jeff Heuerman averages just four PPG but trails only Eric Ebron (15) and Zach Ertz (14) in total red zone targets. Heuerman has seen 12 red zone looks and has drawn multiple looks three times. Further, his expected points per game have been steadily rising. As the Broncos face the second easiest ROS schedule, Heuerman is a dark horse candidate to be the 2018 second-half breakout TE.

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  • Jordan Thomas surprised fantasy gamers with a two-touchdown performance against the Dolphins. While owners that added him aren’t expecting similar results on a week to week basis, as he’s averaging just 1.6 targets per game, they should recognize he faces the most brutal ROS schedule of all TEs.
  • Jimmy Graham has recorded just six red zone targets and found the end zone only a single time. While not entirely a disappointment, Graham has finished as a TE1 in four games and ranks 10th in utility. In most cases, SOS can be faded when dealing with elite players and elite offenses so Graham’s challenging ROS outlook is a modest cause for concern.

DST

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If you’re a contender and have the roster space available to dump any players that will likely not be useful do so now and add one or two defenses with favorable playoff matchups.

  • Washington and Indianapolis will be streamable in every game for the ROS. As a result, they make appealing adds for owners low on FAAB. Not to mention, they close out the season with New York (Giants), Jacksonville, and Tennessee.
  • Detroit opposes the two easiest opponents in Weeks 14 and 15. Matching up against the Bills likely makes the team the best option for Week 15.
  • New England faces Buffalo in Week 16. Be on the lookout for the Patriots on the waiver wire in the coming weeks as they figure to be the best option in the finals. Likewise, if Chicago is dropped they oppose San Francisco, and Los Angeles (Rams) plays Arizona.
  • Desireable Week 15 defenses include Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver and Tennessee.

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