Early 2011 Strength of Schedule: WRs

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

Below is a full season SOS table for the wide receiver 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 3% better than the average for that week. If it’s listed in red, it’s 3% 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 WR in W16, there’s a very good chance that it will be at worst mediocre at that point in the season.

A few takeaways:

– This is another reason to love Mike Wallace heading into 2011. He finished WR8 last season in adjusted points per game, and now his schedule projects to be 9.4% easier, including two great matchups in W15-16. He’s going in the early third as the 10th WR off the board and probably should be going WR6 or so.

– Jerome Simpson could be the Bengals’ WR1 heading into the season and if that’s a case, he’s certainly a super-sleeper, especially if Cincy can find a decent QB to throw him the ball. In his final two games, he caught 18 passes for 247 yards and three TDs against Baltimore and San Diego.

– Dez Bryant and Miles Austin should get off to a good first half with four easy matchups and no tough matchups in the first eight games. Getting Tony Romo back won’t hurt either. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin look to have an improved schedule as well. (By the way, Maclin looks to be the better value considering his ADP is a full round later.)

– Be wary of Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Lloyd, especially Lloyd. His new head coach (John Fox) is run-oriented and he may be dealing with Tim Tebow at QB instead of Kyle Orton. Bowe’s schedule is looking much tougher, and at this point he doesn’t look to have a single favorable matchup all season…though things can and will change.

– There’s also reason to be cautious with Greg Jennings. He’s a good bet to finish in the Top 15, which makes him a solid 3rd round pick, but he’s currently going in the middle of the 2nd. GB’s schedule might also temper some enthusiasm about Jordy Nelson’s prospects. He could absolutely justify a 7th round pick, but the schedule combined with the presence of Donald Driver (and possibly James Jones), along with the return of Jermichael Finley…be cautious.

Click here to download a CSV file of this data.

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