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Fantasy Ease of Schedule - The Dorey Rule
David Dorey
June 1, 2006
Main | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | The Dorey Rule

Back in the early 90’s, I used to score my entire league by hand every week. It was during that time that I recognized the advantages of playing an easier schedule and how fantasy teams would start and finish their seasons.  While some teams finish strongly, invariably the better teams always have a hot start and then maintain their advantage or even improve upon it. After reviewing how a fantasy season began versus how it ended, it continually pointed at the first six weeks as being the most critical time to build a good record.

This is for many reasons. Player injuries begin to affect teams more starting in the seventh week as the season starts to wear on players. Bye weeks are underway and immediately change the make-up of starting lineups. Players that begin hot often do so thanks to an easier schedule and those too often don’t last the entire season. Predictable performances last more often to that mark before the dynamics of a team begin to change in ways that could not be forecasted.

There are a variety of reasons why six weeks works out as optimal, but none so compelling as having compared all the other sets of weeks and finding that six weeks is the magic mark. You do well in your first six weeks; you will be primed to coast to the playoffs. And those are the weeks that are the most accurately forecasted before offenses and defenses start to gel and injuries begin to change up the dynamics.

QUARTERBACKS   Most Favorable QB Schedules 
Team EOS Good Bad Team EOS Good Bad   Team 1 2 3 4 5 6
SF 5 5 0 OAK 0 3 3   SF @ARZ STL PHI @KC OAK SD
CHI 4 5 1 SEA 0 3 3   CHI @GB DET @MIN SEA BUF @ARZ
NYJ 4 4 0 BAL -1 2 3   NYJ @TEN NE @BUF IND @JAX MIA
STL 4 5 1 HOU -1 2 3   STL DEN @SF @ARZ DET @GB SEA
ARZ 3 4 1 IND -1 2 3                
PIT 3 4 1 SD -1 2 3   Least Favorable QB Schedules
BUF 2 4 2 TEN -1 2 3   Team 1 2 3 4 5 6
DET 2 4 2 CIN -2 2 4   CAR ATL @MIN @TB NO CLE @BAL
KC 2 4 2 MIN -2 2 4   CLE NO @CIN BAL @OAK @CAR BYE
MIA 2 4 2 PHI -2 2 4   NO @CLE @GB ATL @CAR TB PHI
NE 2 4 2 CAR -3 1 4   TB BAL @ATL CAR BYE @NO CIN
DAL 1 3 2 CLE -3 1 4   ATL @CAR TB @NO ARZ BYE NYG
DEN 1 3 2 NO -3 1 4   JAX DAL PIT @IND @WAS NYJ BYE
WAS 1 3 2 TB -3 1 4                
GB 0 3 3 ATL -4 1 5                
NYG 0 2 2 JAX -5 0 5                

Alex Smith in San Francisco starts the year with the easiest schedule of anyone – too bad he only managed one touchdown in the nine games he played last year and has the most lackluster wideouts of anyone. The Bears are not going to pass anymore than they need to and the soft early schedule sadly says they likely will have almost no need to air out the ball. The Rams may end the season on a bumpy ride, but they get to start the year with almost a cakewalk for a new offense there in posting quarterback points. Marc Bulger should begin the year looking strong.

Byron Leftwich has been less than durable in his career so far and in those first six games this season, he’ll be healthy and yet facing a brutal passing schedule. Chances are best he won’t be helping many fantasy owners much to begin the year. Same could happen to Michael Vick though his legs should provide the fantasy points to keep him fantasy relevant. The new offense in New Orleans gets to start the Sean Payton era by having new quarterback Drew Brees learning the new scheme while passing against what should be a daunting opening stretch.

RUNNING BACKS   Most Favorable RB Schedules 
Team EOS Good Bad Team EOS Good Bad   Team 1 2 3 4 5 6
PHI 4 5 1 MIN 0 3 3   PHI @HOU NYG @SF GB DAL @NO
CHI 3 4 1 NE 0 2 2   CHI @GB DET @MIN SEA BUF @ARZ
NO 3 4 1 NYG 0 3 3   NO @CLE @GB ATL @CAR TB PHI
CAR 2 3 1 SD 0 3 3                
DAL 2 4 2 BAL -1 2 3   Least Favorable RB Schedules
GB 2 4 2 CLE -1 2 3   Team 1 2 3 4 5 6
IND 2 4 2 HOU -1 2 3   DEN @STL KC @NE BYE BAL OAK
MIA 2 4 2 KC -1 2 3   JAX DAL PIT @IND @WAS NYJ BYE
SEA 2 4 2 NYJ -1 2 3   OAK SD @BAL BYE CLE @SF @DEN
SF 2 4 2 TB -1 2 3   CIN @KC CLE @PIT NE BYE @TB
STL 2 4 2 TEN -1 2 3   PIT MIA @JAX CIN BYE @SD KC
ATL 1 3 2 DEN -2 2 4                
DET 1 3 2 JAX -2 2 4                
WAS 1 3 2 OAK -2 2 4                
ARZ 0 3 3 CIN -3 1 4                
BUF 0 2 2 PIT -4 0 4                

Using the Dorey Rule with running backs has always been productive. If there is any part of this analysis you should take to heart in drafting this summer, the Dorey Rule applied to running backs is by far the most accurate and telling.  As long as Brian Westbrook’s Lis Franc injury is healed, he should provide very nice numbers in those critical first six games this year as will whichever Bear’s tailback gets the call unless both Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson share enough to prevent either from enjoying a hot start to the season. Oddly enough, the other best schedule belongs to Deuce McAllister who also returns from injury and his easy opening schedule coupled with a new offense that will want to run more could be impacted from the almost certain lingering effects of his knee injury.

Early byes contribute to all the worst opening schedule but making things even worse are the opening slates for the World Champion Steelers who manage to go the first six week and yet never once play against a defense in the easier half of the league from last year. Nearly the same fate awaits Rudi Johnson who has only one home stand against the Browns against a most challenging grouping of games. There is little chance that by week six, the Jaguars will be leading the league in rushing as well.

WIDE RECEIVERS   Most Favorable WR Schedules 
Team EOS Good Bad Team EOS Good Bad   Team 1 2 3 4 5 6
NYJ 5 5 0 HOU 0 2 2   NYJ @TEN NE @BUF IND @JAX MIA
PIT 4 5 1 OAK 0 3 3   PIT MIA @JAX CIN BYE @SD KC
WAS 4 4 0 PHI 0 2 2   WAS MIN @DAL @HOU JAX @NYG TEN
CHI 3 4 1 SEA 0 2 2                
SF 3 4 1 TEN 0 2 2    Least Favorable WR Schedules
STL 3 4 1 NYG -1 2 3   Team 1 2 3 4 5 6
ARZ 2 4 2 BAL -2 2 4   ATL @CAR TB @NO ARZ BYE NYG
BUF 2 4 2 CIN -2 2 4   CAR ATL @MIN @TB NO CLE @BAL
DAL 2 4 2 MIN -2 2 4   CLE NO @CIN BAL @OAK @CAR BYE
DET 2 4 2 SD -2 2 4   JAX DAL PIT @IND @WAS NYJ BYE
MIA 2 4 2 ATL -4 0 4   NO @CLE @GB ATL @CAR TB PHI
NE 2 4 2 CAR -4 1 5   TB BAL @ATL CAR BYE @NO CIN
IND 1 3 2 CLE -4 1 5                
KC 1 3 2 JAX -4 0 4                
DEN 0 3 3 NO -4 1 5                
GB 0 3 3 TB -4 1 5                

Receivers are always hard to gauge as individuals but at least the Jets start their new era with the easiest schedule. To bad they are installing a new offense that will take time. Both Hines Ward and Santana Moss get to begin their year with an easier set of games than normal. Both are clear #1 wideouts on their teams though additions in Washington could water down what Moss will accomplish this time.

Once again, Jacksonville and Atlanta players are taking it in the shorts thanks to the schedule and neither team were producing fantasy wideout studs as it was. Steve Smith opens his season with a statistically rough stretch but he proved last year to be far more than what the schedule would allow.

Main | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | The Dorey Rule