6 Quarterbacks With an Easy Fantasy Strength of Schedule
It would be foolish to assume just simply using last year’s fantasy points allowed statistics would carry over to this year. Painting with a broad brush is generally the trait of a fool in fantasy football. Here's what John Paulsen found on quarterbacks when he did an in-depth study on the dependability of preseason strength of schedule:
“We can be reasonably be sure that a defense that is very good (or very bad) against the pass isn’t going to suddenly become bad (or good)...Take the “very bad” group against the pass — just 17% of teams finishing in that category managed to finish in the “good” or “very good” groups the following season."
More recently, TJ Hernandez studied year-to-year correlations of fantasy points allowed to each position and found that the year-to-year correlation for top-five defenses in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks over the past ten years was twice as strong as that of all defenses when ranking is not taken into account.
4for4 subscribers have a very powerful tool to take advantage of the above information - fantasy points allowed adjusted for strength of schedule, or aFPA, which we should assume is a bit better than raw fantasy points allowed. Below are the quarterbacks with the most matchups against bottom-five opponents (not including Week 17), which were the Titans, Lions, Falcons, Colts, and Bills. (Since quarterback is much easier to stream than running back or wide receiver, we don’t care as much about tougher matchups, but for the record, the five best teams were the Broncos, Giants, Texans, Vikings, and Ravens.)
- Fantasy Strength of Schedule at Other Positions: RB | WR | TE
Drew Brees - Saints (4)
As if finishing ten consecutive seasons with 28 or more passing touchdowns wasn’t enough of an advantage for those that draft Brees (the next closest quarterback has four straight seasons with 28+ passing touchdowns). While you’ll see below that there are two other quarterbacks that boast four matchups against teams that finished bottom-five in QB aFPA, Brees' track record combined with his overall schedule gives him the edge for the top spot. Not only does Brees get to play Detroit, Buffalo, and Atlanta twice (with both Falcons matchups in the fantasy playoffs), the Saints also have the third-easiest schedule overall in QB aFPA.
Brees has an ADP anywhere from the late-third to the late-fifth round, depending on which site you use. If your strategy is to draft a quarterback early -- mine isn't in leagues that award four points per passing touchdown -- Brees provides one of the highest floors at a slightly cheaper cost than Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.
Jameis Winston - Buccaneers (4)
Because he is in the same division as Brees, Winston also gets to face those same four bottom-five defenses from last year’s QB aFPA: Detroit, Buffalo and Atlanta twice. Also like Brees, Winston draws two of those matchups in the fantasy playoffs, with Detroit and Atlanta in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively -- an attractive road for potentially reaching your fantasy championship. Overall, Tampa Bay has the ninth-easiest schedule in QB aFPA.
Winston’s composite ADP is in the seventh round, but he is going in the ninth round on ESPN and Yahoo as of mid-July. He is a fantastic target if you want to load up on running backs and wide receivers early in your draft when considering not only his schedule, but also the weapons the Buccaneers' front office has assembled around him.
Andy Dalton - Bengals (4)
Dalton is the third and final signal caller to have a lovely four games against last season’s bottom five in QB aFPA. He will face Buffalo, Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Detroit, with the Lions matchup sandwiched in the fantasy postseason between two top-five defenses, Minnesota and Baltimore. For that reason, I would make sure to have another reliable quarterback on your roster.
Dalton’s ADP should make that an easy assignment. He’s being overlooked as the 18th quarterback off the board, on average. His composite ADP is sitting in the 11th round of 12-team drafts, with his ESPN ADP in the 12th round, and Yahoo ADP in the 17th round.
Sam Bradford - Vikings (3)
I’m not here to start a Sam Bradford sleeper campaign, but his schedule is definitely attractive; I can’t argue with that. He faces Detroit twice and Atlanta once, with two of those matchups coming in Weeks 12-13, which could be critical weeks to your fantasy playoff run. Overall, the Vikings have the easiest schedule according to last year's QB aFPA.
Bradford has a composite ADP in the 15th round, which means he can be had in the last two rounds of most drafts.
Cam Newton - Panthers (3)
Newton shares three bottom-five matchups with Bradford, and is right on Bradford’s heels in overall strength of schedule, as Carolina's is the second-most favorable. Newton’s easiest matchups are against Buffalo, Detroit and Atlanta. Sadly, his second matchup against Atlanta is in Week 17.
Newton’s ADP across all sites sits in the sixth round of 12-team leagues as of mid-July. MyFantasyLeague drafters might be surprised by that, considering his ADP in the ninth of those best-ball leagues; however, casual drafters on sites like CBS, ESPN, Yahoo, and NFL.com are drafting Cam much earlier.
Carson Palmer - Cardinals (3)
If you want to employ a quarterback streaming strategy in 2017, Palmer may be your guy. His ADP across all sites sits in the 12th round. Not only does he have three bottom-five opponents (Detroit, Indianapolis, Tennessee), but two of those are to open the season. Palmer might be a good chance to help you get off to a fast start if you opt to readdress the position on a weekly basis.
The Bottom Line
Since so much changes year to year, it’s important to not place too much of an emphasis on preseason strength of schedule, but the data from research presented at the top of this article emphasizes that there is evidence suggesting we should seek out bottom-five opponents from last year for quarterbacks.