Welcome to the rest of my life…
You’re probably wondering why I started my fantasy football article with that particular line. I’ll try to summarize the explanation for that statement and get to the pertinent fantasy goodness which will be detailed within. This is my very first article as a member of The Fantasy Authority and the emotions running through me vary from excitement, nervousness, and doubt. But with the help and guidance of the fellow Authority writers, I think that this next part of my journey will be a true success and hopefully quite fun. Now that’s been taken care of, onto the subject at hand…
Every year, during the NFL Schedule Release show, the national media outlets (ESPN, NFL Network, FS1) begin analyzing, probing, and picking apart all of the possible fantasy ramifications for the offensive skill players by using an outdated and inaccurate measure called: Strength of Schedule. I’m saying this because every football season is its own individual entity with its own characteristics, chemistry, and personality. Teams evolve, and have negative or positive progression regarding their offensive and defensive tendencies. There is also the injury variable, which strikes teams without warning and skews the strength of schedule metric drastically. There is a newer, more efficient, analytical, and consistent way to measure Strength of Schedule for which I am a very strong believer in.
Created by Warren Sharp, the free stats website SharpFootballStats.com, uses advanced analytics and visual representation to allow users to customize, visualize, process, and retain information unlike anywhere on the internet. When it comes to Strength of Schedule, using in-season data produces a more effective measure of opponents as opposed to pre-season projections. Some of the screenshots that I’ll be showing in this article will focus on 2017 Offensive Strength of Schedule predictions for a couple of teams. These metrics are accurate with the context that Warren Sharp is predicting performance 4.5 months before week one. That said, this is a reference tool for the time being, and should be reviewed now and revisited in the future when more comprehensive data has been compiled; therefore, it should be used as one of the many components considered by fantasy football owners when trying to understand the landscape of the 2017 season from an offensive perspective.
In the first chart above, you’ll notice the Green Bay Packers offensive strength of schedule is shown for the entire 2017 season. The metric used (Pass Efficiency Defense) highlights a middle-of-the-road schedule for Weeks 1-6, then two relatively easy matchups (Wk 7 and Wk 9) sandwiched between their bye week. But from Wk 10 onward, the Packers only have two easy matchups (Wk 14 and Wk 17); the rest are combined middle of the pack to difficult. It’s not the time to start hitting the panic button and going to Defcon 5, thinking the Packers passing game will be totally shut down during the latter part of the season. We are talking about Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and Martellus Bennett you know…
If an antsy owner puts any of those guys on the trading block, don’t hesitate to make an offer since you can probably get them in a trade for pennies on the dollar. Suffice it to say, if you’re the owner who drafts any of the Green Bay weapons, be the rational, progressive owner and stay the course. On a side note, the Packers passing game could have some low ownership for DFS purposes during that tough stretch, but they do bring some massive upside and a high ceiling for GPP contests.
Now on the opposite spectrum to Passing Efficiency Defense against, the Indianapolis Colts have a very nice Offensive Strength of Schedule based upon the chart shown below. They only have to deal with four top-10 pass defenses all season: Wk 2 vs. Cardinals (3rd), Wk 9 @Texans (5th), Wk 15 vs. Broncos (1st), Wk 17 vs. Texans (5th). The rest of the schedule is filled with very good-to-great passing matchups and bodes well for Andrew Luck, T. Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Kamar Aiken, Jack Doyle, and Erik Swoope.
The Colts passing offense should start fast, with five of the first six games coming against passing defenses cumulatively ranked in the bottom 12 — including Nos. 20, 30, 28, and 26. A lull occurs from weeks 7-10 as they face middle of the road passing defenses, except for the week nine contest at home against the reigning AFC South defending champions. After their week 11 bye, however, the Colts have a mixed bag when it comes to opponents ranked in defensive passing efficieny: weeks 12-14 they see the Titans (26th), Jaguars (16th), and Bills (20th). During weeks 15-17, which are the fantasy playoffs, the Colts find themselves in much more difficult matchups with the Broncos (1st), Ravens (10th), and Texans (5th). It would be advisable for owners to consider secondary options if you do own any of the Colt offensive players since you do want to win your championship (and if you don’t, shame on you).
The Indianapolis Colts skill players are all viable options for DFS purposes; especially during the tougher stretches since their ownership will be depressed because of recency bias. Like the Packers, the Colts are an explosive offense and should be targeted for use in GPP’s due to their high ceiling and potency.
It is important to note that there are 30 different metrics that can be used to measure Offensive Strength of Schedule for all 32 teams ranging from Defensive Efficiency, Rush Defensive Efficiency, Third Down Conversion Efficiency, Explosive Pass and Rush D. I could go on and on, but I suggest you go to the website and check it out for yourself. The information there is plentiful, easy to use, and most important, up-to-date with the latest changes which will cause fluctuations to the defensive rankings throughout the season such as injury, ineffectiveness of players, or a completely new coaching philosophy.
In closing, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my first article to its conclusion and I hope that you were able to see fantasy football from a different perspective (an analytical one) and it makes you curious enough to check out SharpFootballStats.com. In 2017, it’s appropriate to use any and all types of metrics to assist you with being the most complete fantasy football owner that you can be, and to bring home that championship!!!
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