Strength of Schedule – The Winning Edge

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A New Way of Looking at Strength of Schedule (SOS) and How it Could Benefit Your Dynasty Drafts.


I’ve always been a fan of “strength of schedule”, and have used it to my advantage in fantasy football league drafts, sit/starts, etc. This year there’s a new style of SOS I’m using, which I think will give fantasy owners a greater edge.

Old Strength of Schedule (SOS)

Briefly, the old SOS is a widely known system based on how many wins (winning percentage) a team’s opponents had the previous season.  The cumulative record of all 2020 opponents based on their 2019 W-L results.

An example of this: The Baltimore Ravens 2020 SOS is .438, “easiest” in the NFL, as their 2020 opponents had a combined record of 112-144, in 2019.

Seems a bit unfair for a team that had 14 wins to have the statistically “easiest schedule,” but things like division opponents (Browns twice and Bengals twice), and a rotating system of non-division games (the AFC North plays the NFC East this year), help decide who plays who.

New Strength of Schedule:

People that ‘poo-poo’ the old SOS usually point to teams improving (or getting worse) year-to-year, through the draft, coaching changes, free agency, etc.  A 2019 version of a team could be vastly different from the 2020 version.  So basing 2020 expectations on 2019 results seems futile.

Thus, the new way of looking at SOS is not by how many wins teams got LAST YEAR, but how many wins teams are projected (by Vegas) to win, THIS YEAR.  This factors in current rosters, coaches, and schedules.  So, again going with the Ravens, they go from having the “easiest,” via the old SOS, to 4th easiest with the new SOS.

Not too much of a change for the Ravens, but a team, like the NY Giants, go from having the 7th easiest schedule (with the old SOS) to 2nd hardest (with the new SOS).  That’s a BIG difference and one that can really affect fantasy rosters.

Old vs. New SOS:

Top 10 Best Teams Old SOS              Top 10 Best Teams New SOS
  1. Ravens                                   1. Colts
  2. Steelers                                  2. Titans
  3. Cowboys                                3. Browns
  4. Browns                                  4. Ravens
  5. Redskins                               5. Chargers
  6. Bengals                                 6. Bears
  7. Giants                                   7. Steelers
  8. Eagles                                   8. Lions
  9. Saints                                    9. Cowboys
  10. Chargers                               10. Chiefs
Top 5 Worst Teams Old SOS      Top 5 Worst Teams New SOS
  1. Patriots                                1. Falcons
  2. Jets                                       2. Giants
  3. Dolphin                               3. Jets
  4. 49ers                                    4. Raiders
  5. Bills/Lions/Falcons          5. Broncos

Players Affected by New SOS

So let’s look at some of the teams, and players, who could be positively affected by the significant swing in SOS:

Colts: Philip Rivers, Jonathan Taylor, and TY Hilton.

An easier schedule could make Taylor a rookie sensation, also an overlooked Philip Rivers (QB 28th and 320 ADP) and T.Y. Hilton (28th WR and 72 ADP) are so cheap, it’s almost gross.

Lions: Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, D’Andre Swift, and TJ Hockenson

If Matthew Stafford is healthy, all season, these guys already get a bump, but with a top 10 easiest SOS…they guys can pop up and win you a league.  Stafford QB 17 and ADP 226, Marvin Jones WR 46, and ADP 155 (Marvin Jones had 9 receiving TDs last year-Tied for 4th in the NFL).  Great bargains with big upsides

Bears: David Montgomery, Allen Robinson, and Anthony Miller.

New SOS, along with giving the Bears a top 6 easy schedule, also gives the Bears a top 2 schedule from Weeks 13-16.  Fantasy Playoffs! Allen Robinson is WR 11 and an ADP of 32, which is already a bargain for a player that got 150+targets, last year.

Conclusion:

SOS has never been a perfect system, too many variables go into a football season to depend on one data point, but SOS can give you a nod to players who have a schedule that give them additional upside for the season.

If you want to dig further into the new SOS system, I recommend Warren Sharp who has additional cool resources on the topic.


Follow me and hit me up on twitter @Flavorizethis. We talk about fantasy football: redraft, best-ball, and dynasty leagues, as well as DFS fantasy football. You can read more of my articles here.