Most Fantasy Strength of Schedule (SOS) rankings utilize data points from the previous seasons defensive fantasy points allowed to determine who will have the easy or hard schedule in the upcoming season.
This gives you a decent baseline, but obviously you need to apply some human intervention to the purely stat-based rankings to come up with the top winners and losers.
It’s hard to know how each defense will perform in 2013, many rise and fall each season, and of course, you have the “dynasty” type teams that seem to have a solid unit each year.
Taking all of this into consideration, I feel the following list of players are significantly above or below the fold enough to use their schedule as a consideration come draft time.
2013 Fantasy Strength of Schedule
Quarterbacks: Easy Schedule
Peyton Manning, Denver: The toughest matchup he has in 2013 is the Baltimore Ravens, then it’s a cake walk after that. Last year, he threw for 204 yards and 1 TD against the Ravens, but this year he has a secret weapon, Wes Welker.
Tony Romo, Dallas: He reportedly eased off of playing golf and focused on football this offseason. Outside of Denver and Chicago his schedule is softer than warm butter — just don’t count on him in the NFL Playoffs.
Running Backs: Hard Schedule
Solid defensive lines usually are easy to predict and don’t change that much from season to season, usually only impacted by free agency and injury. With that said, let’s look at the running backs that face the hardest schedule.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia: Not only do I not like his 2012 production, having to learn a new system coupled with a hard schedule make for a possible train wreck. He only has one easy game against Tampa Bay and the rest are middle of the road and up, based on last year’s data.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas: Murray has multiple knocks against him. Even if you contribute his lackluster performances last year to his offensive line, he has been pegged as “injury prone,” which I don’t really believe in. But the more I get burned, I tend to think otherwise. Nevertheless, Murray’s schedule is extremely tough in 2013, minus Week 10 in New Orleans, which is why we’re low on him in our fantasy football rankings.
Wide Receivers: Easy ScheduleDez Bryant & Miles Austin, Dallas: The quarterback’s easy schedule pretty much makes the wide receivers a shoe-in. But what makes these two guy extra special is Dez seems to have finally turned the corner, and some believe he could push Megatron for the No. 1 spot by the end of 2013. He is in David’stop 20 overall rankings. Austin was plagued by injury most of 2012 and enters 2013 injury free. He’ll be available cheap in the draft and is worth consideration depending on your needs.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City: Bowe gets more than a handful of juicy matchups and, believe it or not, Alex Smith is a nice sized upgrade at QB. He is being drafted in the mid-to-late fourth round, which could be a touch early depending on the other wide receivers on the board, but I like him in the fifth, for darn sure.
Tight Ends: Easy Schedule
Antonio Gates, San Diego: He was an afterthought in Norv Turner’s offense, so thank goodness he’s gone, and now the Chargers find themselves without a true No. 1 wide receiver. Hmmm, sounds like Gates could be the guy. Not to mention they have the easiest strength of schedule for tight ends, based on last years data.
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City: I know he and Gates are old farts, but they can still perform at a high level and help you bring home that championship. Especially when Big Tony has one hell of a juicy schedule and has Roddy White and Julio Jones clearing lanes for him. Expect more of the same from Gonzalez as he tries to end his career with a Super Bowl title.
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