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You can never have too many pieces of data for your fantasy draft, but it is important to use each correctly and not overanalyze. The strength of schedule analysis is a tool that can be quite valuable if used properly. You should not solely base your draft on a player’s strength of schedule and bypass a much better player due solely to schedule strength, especially when you consider these numbers are based on last season and things change from year-to-year. I doubt you would want to pass on Aaron Rodgers because he faces the third toughest schedule against the pass this season. But utilizing strength of schedule certainly has its use, as you will read about in the following paragraphs.
The strength of schedule is a useful tiebreaker between players with similar value. When comparing players that you are struggling with, you can look at the strength of schedule, or even further at the strength of schedule against the run or pass. If one of the players faces a much easier schedule this season, you may want to lean toward drafting them. For example, imagine you are having a tough time deciding on whether to draft Percy Harvin or Michael Crabtree and you consider both to be solid options for your team, but you can’t decide which you prefer. Well looking at their schedule strength, you see that Crabtree’s San Francisco 49ers face one of the easier schedules in the league with a 46.5 percent opponent winning percent. Harvin’s Minnesota Vikings on the other hand face a tougher schedule with opponents having a 51.6 percent winning percent. Breaking it down farther, you see that the Vikings have the toughest schedule against the pass (opponents only allowed 3,221 fantasy points in 2010), while the 49ers rank near the bottom of the league with 3,613 points. Thus you may want to lean toward drafting Crabtree.
Another use of the strength of schedule is helping to cover bye weeks. When you have a stud that you expect to start every week, you only really need to worry about covering their bye weeks (barring injuries). By finding a player with an excellent matchup during your stud’s bye week, you can put yourself in better position for a victory during a tough week. To help illustrate this, let us say that you were lucky enough to draft Arian Foster. You see that Foster is on bye during Week 11, so you start by looking at the available runners that could cover his bye week. On your short list are Fred Jackson (at Miami), Daniel Thomas (vs. Buffalo), Ryan Torain (vs. Dallas) and Ryan Williams (at San Francisco). You have determined that they are all pretty close in your book, so you check the rushing defense strength of schedule chart. You see that Jackson faces the third-ranked Dolphins run defense from last season (allowed only 208 fantasy points), while Thomas faces the Bills’ 31st-ranked run defense (allowed 379 points). Continuing on, you see the Torain faces the 15th-ranked Cowboys while Williams faces the fourth-ranked 49ers. Thus you decide that Thomas is your best option to cover Foster’s bye week.
Another reason to refer to strength of schedule is for selecting your starting lineups. Looking at current season rankings is ideal, but during the early weeks of the season there is not a large enough sample set to use the current rankings. Thus you may want to consider looking at the previous season schedule strength analysis. Thus if you are trying to determine which quarterback to start, you can see who has the better matchup this week. So if you had to decide between Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez for Week 1, you will see that Flacco faces the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fourth-ranked pass defense, while Sanchez faces the Dallas Cowboys’ 30th-ranked pass defense. Thus you may decide to take a chance on Sanchez to lead your squad to begin the season.
Overall Strength of Schedule
The overall strength of schedule takes the 2010 records of a team’s opponents and gives an overall winning percentage. This can help you see what teams face a tough road and who is filling up on cupcakes.
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