Evaluating each player’s strength of schedule (SOS) should be a vital component in the overall preparation that occurs with all fantasy owners prior to your various drafts. Even though many events will take place between now and the onset of your fantasy postseason, it can still be beneficial for your draft planning to determine which QBs appear to have the most favorable schedules during weeks 14-16, which is usually the three week stretch that encompasses the playoffs in most fantasy leagues. This is true for owners who plans to exercise patience before drafting a QB, or for those who will not be selecting early enough in round one to have the opportunity of securing Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. In either case, you will not be choosing your QB from the top tier, and instead will be deciding from multiple options that might appear almost interchangeable. In that case, the SOS can assist you with this important decision. Not only is it wise to utilize this information as you prepare for draft day, but you should also keep those weeks in mind as the season proceeds.
Once we have progressed through the first three weeks of the regular season, the statistics that are utilized to determine each defense’s strength can shift to what is actually taking place in 2012. And that could alter the SOS for various QBs. But we will address that when those adjustments have occurred. For the sake of collecting data that can be beneficial for your draft planning now, the strength of every opponent’s pass defense has been determined by employing last year’s overall pass defense ranking, the number of yards that each team allowed, and the number of TDs that these same units surrendered. The amount of fantasy points that were given up by each defensive unit in 2011 was also used in the equation, and was tabulated with the help of our friends at fftoolbox.com. And the final element of consideration in this process included the improvements in personnel that have been made in the offseason by each franchise.
For a comprehensive look at the SOS for the entire season, including projections regarding how many fantasy points will be allowed by defenses in 2012, Kurt Turner has created an extremely comprehensive breakdown: https://fantasyknuckleheads.com/strength-of-schedule-fantasy-football-positional-sos/
Meanwhile, here is a rundown of the 5 QBs who will be provided with the best matchups during weeks 14-16. The signal callers in this select group are either legitimate No .1 options, or can be considered as high end QB2s. They are listed in order of difficulty, beginning with the easiest schedule. Analysis of the 5 QBs who possess the most challenging matchups will be appearing soon.
|Quarterback||Week 14||Pass D Rank||Week 15||Pass D Rank||Week 16||Pass D Rank|
|Matt Schaub||at Patriots||31||Colts||15||Vikings||26|
|Jay Cutler||at Vikings||26||Packers||32||at Cardinals||17|
|Matt Ryan||at Panthers||24||Giants||28||at Lions||22|
|Drew Brees||at Giants||29||Buccaneers||21||at Cowboys||23|
|Cam Newton||Falcons||20||at Chargers||13||Raiders||27|
No QB will experience a more appealing three game stretch than Schaub, who faces three teams that allowed at least 25 TD passes last season. Beginning with a matchup versus a New England pass defense that ranked 31st while allowing just under 300 YPG last season. He then returns home for a date with Indianapolis, who permitted 227 YPG through the air. Then he can exploit a Viking unit that surrendered more TD passes than any other team last year (34). Both New England and Minnesota also allowed over 20 fantasy points to opposing signal callers in 2011. All three of Schaub’s opponents made steps to strengthen their defensive units, as New England aggressively utilized the draft to stockpile new talent. The Colts hired Chuck Pagano as HC, and signed three former Raven defenders to accompany him. The Vikings changed DCs, and will also alter their coverage schemes. Still, Fantasy owners should consider snatching up Schaub as a backup. He would then be available to you as an option later, and should deliver excellent production when you need it most.
Not only will Cutler be reunited with Brandon Marshall, with whom who he connected for 206 passes and 2,590 yards in 2007-2008, but he will he should find the offense of Mike Tice to be far less rigid than the Mike Martz strategy that exposed Cutler to sizable punishment. All of which should serve him well, when the Bears enter this portion of their schedule. Especially when he engages both NFC North divisional rivals, who have encountered problems defending the pass. First he will line up against the Vikings, who only managed to garner a league worst eight INTs last season, in addition to their other deficiencies in this area. He will also meet a Green Bay unit that was the NFL’s worst versus the pass last year, enabling opponents to throw for a whopping 300 YPG, while also permitting 29 TDs. The Cardinals usually did not reside at the bottom of the rankings in any major statistical category last season, but they were also far from the top. And even though they relinquished far less yardage than the Packers, they were just 27th in creating turnovers, including a mere 10 INTs.
Ryan has spearheaded an aerial assault by the Falcon offense to this point of the preseason, and you probably do not need another reason to target him in your drafts. Particularly if you were planning to select your QB after the first five signal callers have departed the board. But not only will Ryan enjoy the benefit of having Julio Jones, and Roddy White on the opposite end of his tosses, but the trilogy of opponents that he will encounter present the chance to generate exceptional numbers for fantasy owners during that span. The Panthers have attempted to reinforce their interior line and secondary, and should employ a healthier LB core. That is advisable, considering that Ryan torched them for 320 yards and four TDs during their most recent encounter in week 14. The same Giant unit that stiffened during the 2011 postseason needs to do so again, since they allowed 255 YPG and 28 TD passes during the regular season. And even though the Lions are capable of producing big plays defensively, it’s been proven that they also permit them. Including the 26 TD throws that were generated against them last year.
You certainly do not need a lengthy dissertation about the exceptional production that Brees routinely provides for fantasy owners. He is certainly elite, and by definition already possesses significant appeal as a first round option. But his week 14-16 schedule is noteworthy, since it includes three units who encountered difficulty defending the pass in 2011. Therefore, you can add his favorable SOS to the list of reasons why is worthy of a first round pick. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Giants were significantly more vulnerable during the regular season, and were torched for 363 yards and a whopping four TDs by Brees in week 12. Tampa Bay’s defensive shortcomings were widespread last season, including their inability to prevent opponents from collecting sizable yardage through in the air (238 YPG). Only two teams permitted more TDs than the 30 that the Bucs allowed, including the three that Brees produced in their two 2011 matchups. The Bucs did intercept four of his tosses, but managed only 14 for the entire season. Dallas specifically addressed their deficiencies in the secondary, but must now exhibit massive improvement, after enabling opponents to amass 244 YPG and 24 TDs in 2011.
While Newton’s SOS during this period is very favorable, he must perform more effectively against Atlanta than he did during his rookie year. The Falcons intercepted five of Newton’s passes in their two matchups, as Newton completed 54% of his throws, while managing a paltry QB rating of 54. But he should be more successful at generating yardage against San Diego and Oakland. Both AFC West franchises are undergoing defensive makeovers in terms of coaching changes, schemes and predictability, but Newton should still accumulate yardage and TDs in both games. Plus, Newton’s exceptional ability as a rusher should be considered when he lines up against all three of opponents. He averaged 42 yards on the ground versus Atlanta, who finished sixth overall in rush defense last season. However, both the Chargers and Raiders were far less competent, finishing 20th and 27th respectively in that category. This offers potential for additional fantasy points for Newton owners, as San Diego relinquished 122 YPG, while permitting opposing ball carriers to also average 4.4 YPC. Meanwhile, Oakland was just 27th against the run last season, allowing 136 YPG. Only one team permitted more runs of 20+ than the 24 that the Silver and Black surrendered.