Another week with our honorary stat boy, Zach Fein of Fein Sports. A contributor with as much stat muscle as anyone in the business. You may not understand what he's says and use it for your fantasy leagues, but if you're in the mood to be baffled and confused, then boy does he have you covered. Because life is one big spreadsheet. This week he takes a close look at strength of schedule. The Morse code distress signal (...---...) is called an SOS. Yet when Morse code was around, SOS was not an acronym nor an abbreviation. In popular culture SOS is commonly referred to as "Save Our Ship," but that phrase was added later on. I, however, refer to SOS as strength of schedule, the topic of this article. Much was made in the preseason of the Steelers having the toughest schedule and Patriots having the easiest schedule, yet so far the Steelers' opponents are a combined 13-24 and the Pats' opponents are 15-24. So what, you say? The "so what" is that the Steelers' players haven't had as tough a schedule as they were expected, and same the with the Patriots. It's time to check out the strength of schedule stats so far in 2008— But not on the team level. I'm talking about individual players. Is Marion Barber playing easy or hard rushing defenses? Does Larry Fitzgerald have an advantage because he plays in a division with the Rams, Seahawks and 49ers, all of whom are in the bottom ten in terms of fantasy points allowed towards wideouts? I love normalizing stats. So I calculated each player's fantasy points per game—if the team he was playing was an average defense that gave up the average fantasy points to opposing players at that position. Say LT plays the Chiefs and scores 16 fantasy points. The Chiefs give up 30 fantasy points to RBs each game, and the average team gives up 15. So to normalize LT's stat line, multiply his output by 0.5. Capiche? Consider these adjusted points a player's real talent level. (FYI: I looked at the top 20 QBs, the top 40 RBs, the top 40 WRs plus four other intriguing names [Driver, Ocho Cinco, Torry Holt, and Anthony Gonzalez], and the top 12 TEs plus Kellen Winslow, Heath Miller, and Dallas Clark.)
|Name||Fan. Pts||Adj. Pts||Difference|
- Tony Romo gets a 1.61-point boost in his points per game due to his playing the Eagles, Redskins, Browns, and Packers.
- Aaron Rodgers' four 200-yard passing games have all come against teams in the bottom 11 in fantasy points allowed to QBs. With Tennessee, Minnesota, Chicago, and Carolina all coming in the next five weeks, I'd sell him high if I could.
- Brett Favre has only two 200-yard games, against the Chargers and the Cardinals, who rank Nos. 5 and 6 respectively in fantasy points allowed to QBs. That said, I would keep him a few more weeks before I sell high (he plays the Chiefs and Rams in two of his next three games).
- Matt Schaub has piled his stats on the Lions, Dolphins, and Jaguars, all of whom are in the bottom ten in fantasy points allowed to QBs.
|Name||Fan. Pts||Adj. Pts||Difference|
- Steven Jackson has played all of the NFC East plus the Bills (and the Seahawks), yet is still third in unadjusted fantasy points per game. I think he's the best RB going forward, unless...
- Clinton Portis beats him. His schedule is pretty tough going forward, but as you can see above, he's done very well even with a hard schedule thus far.
- Consider how tough Jamal Lewis' schedule has been: He's played the Ravens (1st in fantasy points allowed to RBs), the Steelers (2nd), the Giants (3rd), and the Redskins (5th), along with the Cowboys who are 16th. In his next six games he gets four teams in the bottom 13 of that stat.
- Michael Turner has averaged 150 rushing yards per game against the Lions, Chiefs and Packers (average rank is eight-worst against RBs), and 50 yards against the Bears, Bucs, and Panthers (average rank is eight-best against RBs).
- LenDale White has a 3.12 decrease, compared to Chris Johnson's 0.56 decrease, because White had a monster game against the Chiefs and barely played against the Ravens (three carries), so he didn't get a boost from the Ravens game like Johnson (18 carries) did.
- Aside from Anquan Boldin, no one else had a change of more than 1.7. I'm not sure why that is, though I'd guess that it has more to do with the volatility of wide receivers than the strength of schedule.
- Speaking of Boldin, his decrease is mainly due to his 140-yard, three-touchdown game against the Dolphins, worst in the league against WRs.
- It's interesting to see that Andre Johnson has an increase while Schaub has a decrease, but that is because Johnson had 130 yards against the best team against opposing WRs, the Colts.
- Santana Moss has the second-biggest decrease in fantasy points, but don't sell him high—he has the Lions, Cowboys, Seahawks, and Giants in four of his next five games, and all of those teams are in the bottom 11 in fantasy points allowed to WRs.
- John Carlson averaged 6.7 fantasy points against the Bills, 49ers and Bucs; those three teams have given up an average of 2.7 fantasy points to TEs on the year, the reason Carlson is so high.
- Winslow averaged 8.1 fantasy points against the Steelers and Cowboys, who have allowed opposing TEs to only score 3.3 fantasy points.