2013 Fantasy Football: Is It Worth Analyzing Strength of Schedule?

By Brad Berreman
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is obviously a big business, and the fact the release of the 2013 regular season schedule garnered so much interest on Thursday night proves that there is no such thing as too much football. It’s easy for fans to go down their favorite team’s schedule and mark off wins and losses, but that can be a slippery slope.

Another angle when looking at the regular season schedule deals with fantasy football. Now many fantasy analysts, a group which I am among, will bump players up or down their rankings based on strength of schedule. But I’ve always felt it was illogical to alter an opinion of a player, which is typically rooted in sound logic and reasoning along with maybe a bit of pure personal preference, based on something as shaky as the perceived strength or weakness of opponents.

One example from my experience as a fantasy owner comes from 2009. Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson had what was thought to be a tough schedule in terms of run defenses. I was aware of it, admittedly did not give it much regard, and took Johnson with a first-round pick in the league that is most important to me.

Johnson’s Week 1 performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with 57 yards on 15 carries and one catch for 11 yards, threatened to make me look foolish for ignoring his strength of schedule. If that wasn’t enough, his having just one 100-yard rushing game and three total touchdowns (all in that same game) over the first five games seemed to further condemn my lack of diligence regarding Johnson’s schedule.

But Johnson took off after that, rushing for at least 100 yards in each of the season’s final 11 games with 13 total touchdowns (12 rushing). He finished with 2,006 rushing yards (5.6 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns, and added 50 receptions for 503 yards and two more scores to further bolster his fantasy point total. Oh, and Johnson virtually single-handedly propelled me to a second place finish in my league.

Analyzing strength of schedule for fantasy football purposes has it’s place, minimal as it is in my view, but only when analyzing two players that are closely ranked. A favorable schedule in terms of late-season weather is worth noting at times, as is the potential for six games against weak defenses within a division. But as a whole, I will continue to give virtually no weight to strength of schedule when preparing for my drafts .

 Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.

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