Early Strength of Schedule: QBs (Updated)

QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DT | RB (PPR) | WR (PPR) | TE (PPR)

A few days ago, I started releasing early SOS data, but since the NFL announced the full schedule yesterday, we can now start to look at week-by-week matchups and try to determine which players have the best overall schedules.

Below is a full season SOS table for the quarterback position. Here is what each column means:

2011: The total SOS (excluding W17 since a vast majority of leagues do not play in W17) for 2011.

%CH: The percent change from 2010. A positive number means that the team has an easier schedule, while a negative number means that the schedule projects to be tougher.

P3: The team’s average SOS for a W14-16 playoff.

P2: The team’s average SOS for a W15-16 playoff.

If a particular matchup is listed in green, it means that it is at least 5% better than the average for that week. If it’s listed in red, it’s 5% worse than the mean.

I use SOS as a tiebraker between two similarly ranked players or as a way to rank players within a tier. It’s important to note that this is just preliminary SOS. Things will change as the draft and free agency occur, and they’ll change week by week during the season as some defenses get better while others get worse. Typically, a defense won’t go from terrible to great (vice versa) in one year, so if you’re expecting a great matchup from your QB in W16, there’s a very good chance that it will be easy to mediocre at that point in the season.

Click on the chart to see a bigger version.

A few takeaways:

– From a “stud” QB standpoint, Mike Vick looks primed for another great year. His schedule projects to be 2.5% better, which isn’t insignificant. Plus, he has a pretty nice matchup in W16 versus the Cowboys, who were pretty bad against the pass last season.

– Tony Romo also appears ready for a bounce-back season after an injury-shortened 2010. His schedule looks to be the 4th-most improved of any QB in the league, so we shouldn’t sleep on Romo on draft day.

– Tom Brady was very good last year and his schedule is projected to lighten considerably in 2011. His playoff matchups (WAS, DEN, MIA) is pretty nice as well. If the Patriots add some receiving help, he could be a threat to finish QB1.

– Things are also looking good for Ben Roethlisberger. He’s going in the QB8-QB10 range, but is a real threat to finish in the Top 5. With CLE, SF, and STL in the fantasy playoffs, he’ll likely be a must-start at that point.

– Eli Manning should once again be a nice pick in the 7th or 8th round. He has eight easy matchups and only two tough ones. Plus, his playoff schedule looks favorable, though the Jets in W16 is a little worrisome. The Jets’ pass defense numbers are a little misleading due to Darrelle Revis’s injury last season.

– Ryan Fitzpatrick’s schedule should go from tough in 2010 to mediocre in 2011, and that could mean big things fantasy-wise. If you elect to draft Fitzy, be sure to draft a couple of other solid QBs as a backup plan, because if the Bills draft a rookie and the losses start to pile up, Fitzpatrick could be benched.

– SOS says that Rex Grossman might be a nice sleeper in 2011 as well. The Redskins’ schedule is 2.9% better and that makes it pretty favorable. Plus, Grossman was decent down the stretch (7 TDs, 4 INT, two 300+ yard games in three starts) in 2010.

– If the light goes on for Chad Henne, he could have a nice year for the Dolphins. The schedule is much improved and the playoffs look favorable as well. The same goes for whoever is QB’ing the Bengals.

– On the flip side, these numbers don’t look particularly good for guys like Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel or Kyle Orton/Tim Tebow, who will be facing a considerably tougher schedule in 2011.

– Matthew Stafford’s schedule is worrisome, especially considering a pretty brutal series of games down the stretch (CHI, CAR, GB, NO, MIN and SD).

– Philip Rivers schedule looks quite a bit tougher in 2011 and given that he was outscored by Big Ben on an adjusted per game basis, I’m not sure why he’s going almost two full rounds earlier. I’d probably take Roethlisberger given the schedules and recent performance.

Click here to download a CSV file of this data.

If you like this kind of information, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@FantasyShrink) and “like” the site on Facebook. I will be publishing a ton of content over the next few months and throughout the season.

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