The NFL has a strength of schedule formula that's very simple to understand ... take the opponents' records from the previous season, add up the wins and losses and calculate a percentage for all 17 opponents. In the world of fantasy football, we use a similar method. Instead of using team records, we use the number of fantasy points allowed (FPA) by defenses the previous season against a single position (both at home and on the road) and rank the teams/players according to the average.
For example, the Philadelphia Eagles allowed an average of 17 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks overall last season. However, their defense was tougher on the road (13.0 PPG allowed) than at home (21.5 PPG allowed). Therefore, a road field general who faces the Eagles receives 21.5 points. On the flip side, a home quarterback who faces Philadelphia receives 13 points. This goes one step deeper than typical FPA analysis, which is based on a total average of the home and road numbers. The bigger the overall point total per team, the easier the projected schedule for 2022.
As you can see, the difference between the easiest schedule (Giants – 18.3 PPG) and the toughest slate (Dolphins – 15.7 PPG) is not significant (2.6 PPG). However, strength of schedule isn’t the be-all, end-all in determining a player’s value. Instead, it should be seen as a useful tool in making decisions between non-elite players with similar value. Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz, for example, will be listed in close proximity in most rankings, but Ryan gets a slight edge since his schedule is easier between the two.
I’ve also included a comparison between the FPA totals in 2020 and 2021 to find any increases or decreases in fantasy points allowed against a particular position. A total of 11 teams were tougher against quarterbacks by at least two points per game compared to 2020. On the flip side, 10 teams allowed one or fewer more points in 2021. This all makes sense, as the quarterback position wasn’t as productive overall last season.
• Dak Prescott and Daniel Jones have the two best schedules based on FPA data. They benefit from playing the Eagles and Commanders twice, not to mention the AFC South.
• Russell Wilson has the best schedule among the four AFC West signal-callers, due in large part to the fact that the Broncos were the toughest team in the division against the position last season. While it will mean little in terms of his value, Patrick Mahomes has the toughest schedule in the division and the third-toughest slate overall.
• All four AFC South quarterbacks are ranked in the top 11 easiest schedules. That’s due to the fact that all four teams were among the top 12 in terms of allowing the most fantasy points to the position last season. The quarterback quartet also face off against the Washington Commanders, who allowed the most points to the position last season.
• The value of Deshaun Watson remains a question mark based on his off-field issues, but he has the best schedule among AFC North quarterbacks and the seventh easiest overall. That could be a bit deceiving though, because the Ravens allowed the fifth-most points to the position last season. That stat could flip in 2021. Still, Watson will face off against favorable teams like the Jets, Falcons, Texans and Commanders.
• The value of Tua Tagovailoa is on the rise after the Dolphins acquired Tyreek Hill in the offseason, but his schedule is the toughest among quarterbacks. Part of that has to do with a schedule that includes a pair of games against the Bills and Patriots, plus one game apiece against the AFC North (Browns, Steelers, Bengals ranked 20th or better against fantasy quarterbacks last season). This could affect Tua’s rise to stardom.
More fantasy football coverage:
- Fabiano's 2022 Dynasty Rankings
- Fabiano's 2022 Rookie Rankings
- Updated Dynasty Rankings
- Rookie Landing Spots Winners & Losers
- Post-Draft Veteran Winners & Losers
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!