Strength of Schedule Targets Week 10

Updated: November 15th 2020

With the fantasy regular season nearing the end in most RSO leagues, owners with competitive teams need to begin thinking about reinforcing their squads for the final push into the playoffs.  Below I lay out a few NFL teams with particularly favorable offensive schedules for the rest of season or in the fantasy playoffs (weeks 14-16).  Most of the players on these teams would not be considered must start options at this point.  Not all teams have notably great offenses, but RSO owners should at least entertain obtaining certain players from each team based on the schedule ahead.

 

Baltimore

Lamar Jackson has been fine for fantasy football, however, “fine” is not what people were hoping for when acquiring the rushing guru.  The Baltimore signal-caller is currently a borderline QB1.  He’s on pace for just 2/3 of his touchdown total from 2019 with drops in rushing and passing efficiency.  The volume levels remain on a very similar pace however.  The lack of big plays highlights the main difference from last season.   Deep passing is a notoriously volatile measure due to a variety of factors that may not be passing accuracy.  The drop in Jackson’s passing correlates with decreases in Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews’ fantasy output which also relied on high touchdown percentages.  The run game remains stellar, but the Ravens’ three-way committee limits the fantasy impact of any running back.

I am willing to invest in the Baltimore passing attack for a playoff run.  The remaining schedule looks incredibly soft with just one tough matchup (Pittsburgh) remaining and a fantasy playoff trifecta of Cleveland, Jacksonville, and the Giants.  The offense and Jackson in particular, possess the opportunity to explode down the stretch.  Brown and Andrews remain volatile assets due to the low-passing volume of this unique Baltimore offense.  The running backs may continue as unpredictable weekly pieces with three backs potentially getting work.

 

Los Angeles Rams

This one is more for those with a fairly secure path to the playoffs.   The Rams have been one of the most opponent-dependent teams so far looking strong against the weaker opponents but struggling against some of the more difficult draws.  Increased run-game usage also limited the passing-game to a degree.  Woods and Cupp remain weekly starters at wide receiver but without many huge ceiling games, while Goff has been a streaming QB2 option.  The decreased volume in the passing game has really hurt Higbee and Everett at tight end.

The Rams get New England, the Jets, and Seattle for the fantasy playoffs.  New England may seem like a hard draw, but this is not the Patriots’ defense of old.  While they are giving up the 5th fewest passing yards per game, this largely is a function of game script for a five-loss team limiting passing volume of opponents.  The Patriots’ defense rank dead last in the NFL in passing yards per attempt (8.8) to opposing throwers.  New York and Seattle have been destroyed by passing offenses.  Increase expectations for the Rams usual suspects in the passing game (Goff, Kupp, and Woods) during playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts

Philip Rivers might have the ugliest throwing motion of any quarterback in the history of the NFL.  It has not stopped him from putting up big passing yardage yet.  His lack of arm strength makes for some very poor throws, particularly when pressure gets to him.  The Indianapolis offensive line does a fairly good job in pass protection however.  Most of the Colt’s wide receiver options have been hit-or-miss due to injuries or inexperience.  The running backs and tight ends have been used in a committee with none really getting enough consistent work to truly be trust-worthy.

Rivers should be a quality streaming option for most of the remaining season.  Each of the Colts defensive opponents ranks among the bottom half of the league in Football Outsider’s passing DVOA until week 16.   Nyheim Hines is fresh off another two touchdown performance Thursday night versus Tennessee.  His role dependency makes for a boom/bust flex play going forward.  It’s difficult trusting any of the receiving options given how Rivers spreads the rock and struggles pushing the ball downfield, but keep an eye on rookie Michael Pittman who emerged with some quality outings the last couple of weeks.

Tennessee

Tennessee finds itself in a rough stretch of games over the next few weeks.  The schedule becomes much easier throughout the fantasy playoffs however.  Jacksonville, Detroit, and Green Bay do not scare many offenses.  Tannehill should be a viable option at quarterback and Davis gets a boost in the flex while teams may expect increased production from Henry and Brown. 


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

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Week 11 SOS Targets

Updated: November 16th 2017

With the fantasy regular season nearing the end in most RSO leagues, owners with competitive teams need to begin thinking about reinforcing their squads for the final push into the playoffs.  Below I lay out some NFL teams with particularly favorable offensive schedules for the rest of season (ROS*).  Not all teams have notably great offenses, but RSO owners should at least entertain obtaining certain players from each team based on the schedule ahead.

*Rest of Season Rankings obtained from Sharp Football Stats for weeks 11-16.

Hold Your Nose

Buffalo Bills (LAC, KC, NE, IND, MIA, NE)

ROS Pass Rank: 1         ROS Rushing Rank: 1

No team has a softer fantasy schedule going forward than the Buffalo Bills.  The remaining schedule includes no opponent better than the 17th ranked rush defense and five games against 22nd ranked or lower pass defenses.  The end-of-season schedule is especially juicy with 25th or lower ranked pass defenses in each game for weeks 13 through 16. Running Back LeSean McCoy makes for an intriguing buy-low to end the year, particularly after Buffalo’s week 10 disaster against New Orleans.

One must keep expectations under control though, especially on the passing front.  This is still a team with Tyrod Taylor* at QB which is ranked 31st in pass attempts, 30th in yards, and 24th in yards per attempt despite playing against one of the softest passing schedules so far.  It is difficult to trust any Bills receiver going forward with the Bills getting tight end Charles Clay back and adding Kelvin Benjamin to a low-volume passing attack.  Buffalo will continue as a run dominated offense as much as possible although a defense which has imploded over the last month may alter the equation somewhat.

*Taylor was benched for rookie Nathan Peterman.  Peterman is worth a speculative add in 2QB leagues based on the upcoming schedule but with low expectations.  He is a virtual unknown at this stage.  The outlook does not change much for Buffalo receivers given the limited passing production with Taylor at quarterback.  The lack of Taylor’s rushing threat hurts McCoy’s rushing expectations slightly.

Denver Broncos (CIN, OAK, MIA, NYJ, IND, WAS)

ROS Pass Rank: 2         ROS Rushing Rank: 16

I feel kind of queasy even mentioning the Brock Osweiler-led Denver Broncos here. Osweiler, while playing better last week, is not an option in anything but the deepest of superflex/2QB leagues.  The running backs are avoids right now as the Broncos have gone with a full blown three-man committee recently.  With that being said, one must at least give consideration to a part of the passing game that features matchups against the Raiders, Dolphins, Jets, and Colts in consecutive weeks.  This means taking a look at Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in your league.  You could very well get each at a big discount with Osweiler currently starting and loads of uncertainty at the quarterback position going forward.

Good Bets

Oakland Raiders (NE, DEN, NYG, KC, DAL, PHI)

ROS Pass Rank: 8         ROS Rushing Rank: 5

The remaining schedule sets up nicely for Oakland’s passing game on the volume end.  The Raiders figure to be an underdog against many high scoring opponents who struggle against the pass.  Even the vaunted Broncos defense no longer looks as dominant as prior years.  While Denver locks down wide receivers, they have struggled covering running backs and tight ends in the passing game.  You likely will not want to get to involved in an Oakland three-way committee in the backfield that figures to trail a lot but Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Jared Cook are all solid starts for most of the season going forward.

Los Angeles Chargers (BUF, DAL, CLE, WAS, KC, NYJ)

ROS Pass Rank: 4         ROS Rushing Rank: 7

This is one of the safest groups for fantasy purposes going forward without the upside of some other offenses.  Phillip Rivers threw for at least two touchdowns or 250 yards in all but two games this season.  Wide receiver Keenan Allen averages nearly nine targets per game.  Running back Melvin Gordon accumulated less than 15 touches in a game just once this season.

The schedule is a nice blend of good matchups for both the pass and run games mixed with almost no “avoid” contests.  The Chargers project competitively in most games going forward which should help maintain a balanced offensive approach.  Phillip Rivers also targets running backs extensively which maintains their value when the run game is not working well and during stretches where Los Angeles falls behind.  Rivers, Allen, and Gordon make for quality trade targets with the remaining schedule.

Pay Up

Kansas City (NYG, BUF, NYJ, OAK, LAC, MIA)

ROS Pass Rank: 3         ROS Rushing Rank: 2

Kansas City surprisingly possesses one of the top fantasy units in the NFL.  Quarterback Alex Smith, running back Kareem Hunt, and tight end Travis Kelce are all top-five scorers so far and wide receiver Tyreek Hill is a top-10 performer.  This wealth of fantasy goodness largely is the result of an unlikely season in which Smith projects for career bests in virtually every major passing category.

Look for the good times to continue as the season finishes.  This could easily look like the best fantasy schedule at the end of the year.  The remaining slate is filled with sub-.500 teams giving up big yardage totals in both the passing and run games.  Kansas City also figures to be the favorite against each opponent moving forward.  Feel confident making offers for every significant Kansas City player.

New England Patriots (OAK, MIA, BUF, MIA, PIT, BUF)

ROS Pass Rank: 5         ROS Rushing Rank: 3

This one is almost too obvious.  The NFL’s passing yardage leader, Tom Brady, gets four intra-division games with two matchups against an imploding Buffalo Bills defense and another two against a Miami defense which can not cover the pass.  Adding in next week’s game against Oakland’s bottom ranked defense cements the Patriots great outlook.  Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks are all worth the heavy price needed to acquire with huge weeks possible ahead.

The New England backfield, on the other hand, has “too many cooks in the kitchen”.  Dion Lewis took control of the rushing work from Mike Gillislee with 11 to 15 carries in each of the last four games but only three receptions over that time.  James White remains a significant receiving threat on passing downs.  Rex Burkhead received more work each game so far taking touches away from both Lewis and White.  The value from Patriots’ backs comes primarily from the touchdown potential and receiving game work but trying to figure out who will get that production on a given week could be frustrating.  They are all worth speculative adds in this offense but depending on any to regularly start will be problematic.


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1

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SOS Targets

Updated: August 7th 2016

Fantasy players frequently must choose between players they have rated closely for the upcoming season. Looking at the schedule of those players might assist us making the choice between them.  Knowing the schedule helps fantasy owners because good defenses tend to give up less fantasy points to opponents than poor defenses do.  Strength of schedule (SOS) is not the overriding trait that determines player value but provides one factor we should consider.  Defensive personnel and coaching changes must also be taken into account.  I give a few examples of similarly ranked players I am targeting and avoiding below, in part due to SOS.

*SOS ranks listed below were taken from Scout Fantasy SOS at the time of writing.

*Running back ranks listed below were taken from Fantasy Pros PPR ADP at the time of writing.

Fade Ryan Tannehill (QB22, SOS: 28th), Target Jay Cutler (QB25, SOS: 6th)

Both Tannehill and Cutler present fine cheaper options for backups/streamers in 1QB leagues or second starters in 2QB leagues. New Miami head coach, Adam Gase, is widely considered a coaching guru for his work with Manning in Denver and Cutler in Chicago (though Manning is Manning and Cutler’s “resurgence” was somewhat overblown).  The fantasy results for Cutler, however, were not particularly good with Gase as the offensive coordinator.  Cutler lost 78 attempts resulting in a reduction in yardage and touchdowns from the previous season.  Cutler ended the season as just the 27th ranked fantasy quarterbacks in PPG.  Tannehill could likewise see a reduced workload this season with Miami emphasizing the run game more.

Miami’s schedule also projects poorly for its quarterback. Tannehill faces one of the more difficult intra-division schedules in the league for quarterbacks with the Jets, Buffalo, and New England all projecting as bad matchups.  The out of division schedule also includes tough games against Cincinnati, Seattle, and Arizona.  The fantasy playoff schedule only makes matters worse for Tannehill with poor matchups from week 14 on.

Chicago and Cutler receive a “cupcake” schedule by comparison playing the NFC East as its intra-conference division and the AFC South for its inter-conference division. The Bears play just three games (two against the Packers and one versus Houston) against defenses with defensive passer ratings inside the top 14.  We should also remember Cutler played last season without all of his receiving weapons for a good portion of the year.  Chicago’s top five expected targets going into the season (Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, Kevin White, and Eddie Royal) all missed significant time due to injury.  Expect a nice bounce back campaign from Cutler this season.

Fade Carlos Hyde (RB17, SOS: 25th), Target Ryan Mathews (RB24, SOS: 15th)

You can read my bold prediction for Ryan Mathews, but I will concentrate on Hyde here.  The third year running back faces a tough challenge this year.  San Francisco projects as one of the worst offensive teams in the league with questions at quarterback and lack of playmakers at wide receiver.  The offensive line also graded out as one of the worst run-blocking units in the league last year.   Game flow may reduce the expected Chip Kelly induced bump in volume for Hyde with the 49ers predicted to be behind in so many games.  Hyde provides very little in the passing game with just 23 receptions in 21 career games averaging a meager 5.3 YPC.

The schedule does not present any favors to San Francisco either.  Hyde and the running attack face multiple “avoid” matchups including Seattle (2), Arizona (2), Carolina, and the Jets.  The beginning of the year is particularly brutal with the Rams, Carolina, Seattle, Dallas, and the Cardinals in the first five contests.

Hyde is a player to avoid in fantasy at his current price. The situation in San Francisco offers little scoring opportunities and probable game script dictates a projected workload that is less than many expect.  The bad offensive line and tough schedule should keep Hyde’s efficiency low.  Hyde’s lack of prowess in the receiving game and the situation around him present an atrocious weekly floor and a low ceiling that fantasy player should not want a part of.

Fade Tyler Lockett (WR34, SOS: 17th), Target DeSean Jackson (WR38, SOS: 8th)

The Lockett hype exploded this offseason along with his cost. There is a lot to like about Lockett including smooth acceleration and easy separation from defenders.  Target volume works against Lockett however.  He will likely need another thirty targets on the season to move into the consistent WR3 core.  Part of the narrative is that Seattle will abandon their run-first mentality and start airing out the ball more.  Don’t count on it.  Seattle is the only team that has maintained a run percentage greater than 50% over the last two seasons.  The Seahawks are unlikely to suddenly become a pass dominated offense, particularly with the incredible defense they possess and after taking multiple running backs in the draft.  Russell Wilson, who had an outstanding season last year, could see a small jump in attempts to cross the 500 threshold but probably will not see a big boost in attempts

There are not many unaccounted for targets from last year especially if Jimmy Graham comes back from his patellar injury. Seattle re-signed fellow wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse to long term deals this offseason.  The Seahawks also drafted running back C.J. Prosise in the third round who is expected to be a major contributor in the passing game.

Desean Jackson has conversely seen his draft capital sink to the WR4 range after an injury-plagued 2015. He provides one of the better values in fantasy football this season.  Jackson is still the preeminent deep-threat in the NFL with smooth, top-end speed that few corners can match.  There should be plenty of volume for Jackson with Washington expected to rely heavily on the pass next season.  There is very little talent in the backfield with Washington seemingly committed to Matt Jones, one of the worst graded running backs from last season, as the lead back.  Washington’s faces a few tough matchups in 2016 as a division winner, but generally sees an easy schedule versus the pass with divisional matchups against the NFC North and AFC North.

Lockett’s price is not bad, but does not really compare to the exceptional value of DeSean Jackson this year. Jackson has proven to be a borderline WR2/3 throughout his career, even with low target numbers.  A fantasy owner who invests in Lockett bets that he makes the jump to what Jackson already is and pays a premium to make the gamble.  Do not be that owner.  Look for Jackson to take advantage of a favorable schedule and produce somewhere around a 60 reception, 1000 yard, 6 TD stat line with upside for more.


Bio: Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

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