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2019 Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule Rankings: The Positional Units to Target and Those to Avoid

In this post, Dave Caban uses our 2018 strength of schedule results to identify the positional units with the most favorable/unfavorable 2019 schedules. Included are positional charts that overview every team’s positional unit matchups by 2019 week. 

The 2018 version of the Weekly Stat Explorer included Strength of Schedule (SOS) tabs that were extremely useful for identifying team positional units with favorable/unfavorable upcoming schedules. Last season is in the books, players have shifted teams, and I can guarantee that a number of defenses will improve and a number will weaken. But the rankings calculated by the tool can still be used to inform our 2019 preparation.

By averaging the 2018 season-end ranks of each opponent that a positional unit will face in 2019, we can get a rough approximation of how difficult their schedule will be.

Determining Rankings

SOS rankings were calculated on a positional basis. Rather than use total points allowed to determine the difficulty of a team’s opponents, the tool worked through the following process:

  • The average points per game scored by each fantasy-relevant player were compared to their point totals when facing particular defenses, this resulted in a differential for each matchup.
  • Players are grouped by position and the differentials were totaled and then divided by the number of contributing matchups.
  • The more points that opposing offensive players scored above their averages when facing a defense, the less difficult the defense was considered by the tool.
  • Alternatively, the fewer points that opposing offensive players scored above their averages when facing a DST, the more difficult the DST was considered.
  • This process was performed at each position, and the differentials were ranked and used to calculate SOS.
  • In the case of DSTs, the included matchups reviewed the scores of DSTs when facing particular offenses.

2019 Full Season Rankings

The teams with the hardest schedules are ranked No. 1, and those with the easiest schedules are ranked No. 32.

Quarterback

 
Team AVG Opp SOS Rank
CLE 12.7 1
CIN 13.3 2
NYJ 13.9 3
BUF 13.9 4
MIA 14.1 5
DET 14.1 6
PIT 14.3 7
KC 15.0 8
NE 15.1 9
GB 15.3 10
PHI 15.7 11
NYG 15.7 12
SEA 15.9 13
SF 16.1 14
DAL 16.1 15
BAL 16.2 16
LA 16.3 17
WAS 16.4 18
DEN 16.6 19
LAC 17.1 20
ATL 17.4 21
OAK 17.5 22
HOU 17.9 23
TEN 17.9 24
NO 18.3 25
ARI 18.3 26
IND 18.4 27
TB 18.5 28
CHI 19.3 29
MIN 19.8 30
CAR 20.5 31
JAC 20.5 31

Running Back

 
Team AVG SOS Rank
KC 12.7 1
ATL 14.1 2
LAC 14.1 2
CIN 14.2 4
GB 14.3 5
IND 14.8 6
CLE 14.9 7
PHI 15.4 8
TB 15.5 9
HOU 15.5 10
DET 15.6 11
NYG 15.7 12
DEN 15.8 13
LA 15.9 14
CHI 16.3 15
SF 16.5 16
NO 16.7 17
CAR 16.8 18
JAC 17.1 19
OAK 17.2 20
TEN 17.3 21
NYJ 17.4 22
SEA 17.5 23
MIA 17.5 24
ARI 17.6 25
DAL 17.6 25
MIN 17.9 27
BUF 18 28
NE 18.3 29
WAS 18.5 30
PIT 20.4 31
BAL 21.3 32

Wide Receiver

 
Team AVG SOS Rank
DET 12.0 1
GB 12.2 2
KC 12.8 3
HOU 13.2 4
NYJ 13.6 5
DEN 13.9 6
TEN 14.0 7
PHI 14.4 8
MIN 14.7 9
CIN 14.7 10
LAC 14.7 10
MIA 15.2 12
CHI 15.6 13
NYG 15.9 14
OAK 16.2 15
BUF 16.7 16
PIT 16.9 17
NO 17.1 18
NE 17.5 19
CLE 17.7 20
SEA 17.8 21
LA 17.9 22
SF 17.9 22
WAS 17.9 24
DAL 18.3 25
CAR 19.0 26
IND 19.1 27
ARI 19.7 28
TB 19.7 28
BAL 20.3 30
ATL 20.6 31
JAC 20.7 32

Tight End

 
Team AVG SOS Rank
CAR 12.80 1
PHI 13.10 2
TB 13.50 3
DAL 13.50 4
ATL 14.00 5
NYG 14.00 5
SF 14.60 7
LA 14.70 8
NO 14.70 8
DET 14.90 10
SEA 15.10 11
WAS 15.30 12
MIA 15.30 13
ARI 15.60 14
CLE 15.70 15
GB 16.20 16
MIN 16.30 17
CHI 16.30 18
NE 16.90 19
CIN 17.20 20
IND 17.90 21
HOU 18.00 22
JAC 18.10 23
BUF 18.10 24
PIT 18.30 25
OAK 18.70 26
NYJ 19.00 27
DEN 19.30 28
TEN 19.50 29
KC 19.50 30
BAL 20.40 31
LAC 21.50 32

DST

 
Team AVG SOS Rank
OAK 13.70 1
JAC 13.90 2
SF 14.50 3
CHI 14.70 4
BAL 14.70 5
ARI 14.80 6
HOU 14.90 7
CLE 15.10 8
TB 15.20 9
IND 15.40 10
MIN 15.40 10
ATL 15.70 12
BUF 15.80 13
PIT 15.90 14
KC 15.90 15
DEN 16.00 16
LAC 16.30 17
SEA 16.30 18
TEN 16.30 18
LA 16.50 20
DAL 16.70 21
MIA 16.90 22
CIN 17.30 23
CAR 17.30 24
NE 17.80 25
NYJ 18.40 26
GB 18.90 27
NO 18.90 27
DET 19.10 29
WAS 19.10 29
PHI 19.30 31
NYG 21.30 32

Weekly SOS

Click images to open in higher resolution…

Quarterback

Running Back

Wide Receiver

Tight End

DST

Takeaways

Quarterback

  • Carson Wentz should dominate the first five weeks of the season. In this stretch, his opponents average a ranking of 26.
  • After a tough stretch to start the season (excluding Week 1) Mitchell Trubisky has one of the easiest schedules of all passers.
  • There’s certainly hope for Andy Dalton, but he’s in for an absolute gauntlet facing opponents with an average ranking of 7 between Weeks 3 and 10.

Running Back

  • The Ravens face the easiest schedule of all running backs and open the season with four easy matchups. This could make Mark Ingram a sell-candidate after the first quarter of the fantasy season.
  • The Packers open and close the fantasy season with two challenging matchups in Chicago and Minnesota. Along the way, the team’s rushers face one of the most difficult of all schedules. If you’re looking for a tie-breaker between Aaron Jones and another back, that just might be it.
  • I’ve been drafting Ito Smith on a decent portion of my Zero-RB teams. Unfortunately for Smith, Devonta Freeman, and sleeper Brian Hill, things won’t be easy. Seven of their 16 opponents finished 2018 inside the top-10.

Wide Receiver

  • You didn’t need more reasons to draft Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore but their soft schedules should only add fuel to the fire.
  • If Nick Foles is able to add a spark to the Jaguars’ offense, the team’s wideouts could be in store for surprising seasons. They get a highly favorable slate to open the season and half of their opponents finished last season ranked 26th or worse.
  • The Lions face the most challenging of all WR schedules, only adding to the trepidation surrounding the team’s WR corps.

Tight End

  • Travis Kelce will be an absolute monster in 2019. Even if he were opposing the most difficult of schedules this statement would hold. Given that he faces one of the easiest of all schedules, the sky is the limit.
  • Vance McDonald draws a favorable second-half schedule which makes him a nice TE premium pairing with Hunter Henry who opens the season against a sea of green.
  • Greg Olsen returns from injury a year older and facing an onslaught of a schedule. Seven of Carolina’s opponents finished 2018 inside the top-eight.

DST

  • Baltimore, Dallas, and Kansas City make for solid options to start the season.
  • Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Denver also make for good plays in Week 1.
Image Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Carson Wentz.

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