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Strength of Schedule Swings
David Dorey
August 10, 2009
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Finally.

Maybe about 15 years ago or so, I scored my fantasy league by hand and once I had those statistics, I applied them to the schedule as my secret tool to see which players would be good or bad to own. When we created The Huddle in 1997, I published my own strength of schedule in a world that had never seen schedule analysis beyond just wins and losses. It was great. It's been copied all over the internet (though in fairness someone else would have eventually came up with the same concept). I was the first though and while I happily hang my hat on that and other innovations we've had on The Huddle, I have to admit that strength of schedule always bothered me as a tool because something was missing.

I finally realized what it was. And with that, I present to you an entirely new way to view schedules and one that is the most helpful and accurate to understanding players this year. You see, each summer you determine what you think of players based on a host of variables. It is valuable to see how a player's schedule stacks up against others in his position. BUT... it is just as important to note how a schedule stacks up against what the player had the previous season. Probably more important since only that can indicate how likely a player is to produce more or less fantasy points. It doesn't really matter so much if a player has a good schedule this season if he had a much better one last year. He'd only do as well and maybe a bit worse (depending on other variables). It would potentially be misleading to only consider this year's schedule without comparing it to the previous year.

First off, here's how the numbers were initially created. For each defense and venue (home and away), the total points were determined and then divided into per game numbers. Below is for quarterbacks and the median value was 18.7 points allowed by a defense to opposing quarterbacks. The median value is then subtracted from the "per game" to show how each defense (home or away) allowed more or less points than the average defense.

The best place of all to start a fantasy quarterback in 2008 was playing at home against the Cardinals. They allowed 26.8 fantasy points on average to quarterbacks which was 8.1 points more than the "average" defense. Conversely, playing at Indianapolis was the worst place a quarterback could play. On average, he would only produce a league low of 9.8 points per game. That was 8.9 points worse than average. So in 2008, the difference between hosting the Cardinals or playing at the Colts was the biggest extreme - 17 points per game!

Fantasy Points Allowed to Quarterbacks 2008

DEF Total Per Gm Vs. Avg. DEF Total Per Gm Vs. Avg.
ARI 214.20 26.8 8.1 @STL 148.70 18.6 -0.1
SEA 199.70 25.0 6.3 @TB 147.65 18.5 -0.2
@CHI 194.90 24.4 5.7 @CIN 146.10 18.3 -0.4
@JAC 194.65 24.3 5.6 MIN 146.00 18.3 -0.4
NE 191.70 24.0 5.3 PHI 145.50 18.2 -0.5
NYJ 188.80 23.6 4.9 NO 144.55 18.1 -0.6
@ARI 187.80 23.5 4.8 JAC 144.20 18.0 -0.7
@DET 183.00 22.9 4.2 @TEN 143.85 18.0 -0.7
SD 180.30 22.5 3.8 ATL 143.15 17.9 -0.8
SF 176.50 22.1 3.4 @DAL 142.30 17.8 -0.9
CAR 171.25 21.4 2.7 TB 141.85 17.7 -1.0
@SD 168.00 21.0 2.3 DAL 140.55 17.6 -1.1
@ATL 165.40 20.7 2.0 @OAK 140.20 17.5 -1.2
HOU 164.80 20.6 1.9 @GB 139.80 17.5 -1.2
NYG 162.80 20.4 1.7 @SF 138.60 17.3 -1.4
DET 162.35 20.3 1.6 @MIA 138.05 17.3 -1.4
MIA 162.15 20.3 1.6 @NE 136.40 17.1 -1.7
GB 161.40 20.2 1.5 WAS 135.30 16.9 -1.8
@NO 160.65 20.1 1.4 CHI 134.90 16.9 -1.8
@KC 159.90 20.0 1.3 @MIN 131.65 16.5 -2.2
@SEA 159.90 20.0 1.3 CLE 129.90 16.2 -2.5
@HOU 159.10 19.9 1.2 @CAR 123.10 15.4 -3.3
@DEN 157.40 19.7 1.0 @WAS 121.60 15.2 -3.5
BAL 155.95 19.5 0.8 @PHI 120.75 15.1 -3.6
CIN 154.95 19.4 0.7 IND 118.10 14.8 -3.9
STL 154.00 19.3 0.6 @PIT 117.65 14.7 -4.0
@CLE 152.25 19.0 0.3 @NYG 109.70 13.7 -5.0
BUF 152.05 19.0 0.3 @BUF 104.00 13.0 -5.7
DEN 152.05 19.0 0.3 @BAL 102.65 12.8 -5.9
KC 150.45 18.8 0.1 TEN 101.05 12.6 -6.1
OAK 149.95 18.7 0.0 PIT 97.00 12.1 -6.6
@NYJ 149.45 18.7 0.0 @IND 78.45 9.8 -8.9

Above shows just how defenses treated home and away quarterbacks. After all the positions were done like above, the per game allowed points can then be applied to the 2008 schedule to see how easy or tough each fantasy position per team actually had last year. This shows the actual total fantasy points that the position was above or below the average schedule for that position in 2008.

Here is how the schedules actually were for teams last year based on how close to average they were. After calculating the points allowed for all positions and determining the average, the numbers were applied against the schedule last year to see just how hard each NFL team had for the fantasy positions. The bigger the number, the greater the advantage over all other teams. The lower the number, the bigger the disadvantage was. Any score around zero means the schedule was not a factor since they played against the average set of defenses.

Actual Schedule Advantage of 2008

QB's RB's RB + Rec. Pts WR's WR + Rec Pts TE's TE + Rec Pts
BUF 28.1 CAR 33.7 CAR 29.8 STL 32.1 STL 48.3 OAK 19.9 OAK 25.1
MIA 26.7 NYJ 24.7 MIN 28.2 BUF 28.8 BUF 36.6 TB 17.1 TB 24.8
TB 24.8 NE 23.1 NO 27.9 SF 25.3 TB 34.0 TEN 14.0 TEN 22.9
MIN 21.7 MIN 22.9 TB 25.1 TB 21.2 SF 30.0 MIN 12.4 NO 16.3
SF 21.5 DEN 20.7 NE 25.0 MIA 19.9 ARI 26.3 MIA 11.7 MIN 16.1
STL 15.3 ATL 19.0 NYJ 23.3 DEN 14.5 MIA 24.3 NO 11.6 IND 13.1
NO 14.6 TB 18.8 JAX 20.9 ARI 13.6 DEN 22.5 IND 10.1 MIA 12.2
GB 12.5 CHI 18.7 SD 17.7 MIN 12.9 GB 16.2 SD 8.8 KC 11.6
OAK 12.3 NO 17.2 CHI 14.8 GB 12.1 NYJ 14.3 BUF 8.4 SD 10.8
IND 10.1 JAX 14.5 OAK 13.9 DAL 11.1 NE 13.4 GB 5.2 BUF 10.1
NYJ 7.9 KC 12.7 BUF 13.6 IND 7.9 KC 9.5 KC 5.2 JAX 8.9
SEA 7.7 SD 11.1 DEN 13.4 NYG 7.7 MIN 8.7 PIT 4.7 PIT 7.2
TEN 6.9 OAK 8.7 ATL 13.0 NYJ 7.5 NYG 4.5 ATL 3.1 GB 6.6
NYG 4.5 TEN 7.4 TEN 11.2 SEA 3.7 IND 4.1 JAX 2.5 ATL 6.2
DEN 2.2 BUF 6.3 KC 10.5 NO 2.7 DAL 3.8 HOU 1.7 HOU 5.3
DAL 1.9 MIA 2.4 MIA 5.9 KC 0.8 NO 3.4 DEN 1.4 DEN 4.6
CAR 1.4 SF 1.5 SF -0.6 NE 0.2 PHI -0.4 CAR 1.1 CHI 3.5
NE 1.0 HOU -0.7 GB -2.6 ATL -1.0 SEA -1.4 CHI -1.8 CAR 2.7
SD 0.5 DET -5.8 HOU -3.2 CAR -1.1 WAS -1.5 NYJ -2.0 CLE -3.0
KC -1.4 GB -7.9 DET -4.9 WAS -1.9 ATL -4.9 NYG -2.1 NE -3.4
PIT -4.9 PHI -10.7 PHI -9.1 PIT -2.2 PIT -5.6 NE -2.3 NYJ -3.6
ARI -5.3 WAS -10.8 SEA -11.7 OAK -6.4 OAK -6.7 CLE -2.4 NYG -8.8
ATL -5.7 SEA -11.0 DAL -16.4 PHI -7.5 CAR -7.4 SF -4.8 DET -9.0
WAS -10.3 IND -12.6 IND -16.9 TEN -11.8 DET -14.9 SEA -9.6 SF -10.9
PHI -10.4 DAL -16.4 WAS -18.7 CHI -14.0 TEN -17.1 DET -10.3 ARI -16.9
JAX -12.7 ARI -19.4 STL -21.4 DET -16.0 JAX -19.7 DAL -10.8 SEA -17.5
CHI -14.8 BAL -21.4 BAL -21.7 SD -16.2 CHI -26.6 STL -11.3 DAL -17.8
DET -16.8 STL -21.4 CLE -22.6 HOU -16.6 HOU -28.2 ARI -11.4 STL -18.6
HOU -17.2 CLE -24.9 ARI -22.8 JAX -20.9 SD -29.2 WAS -14.3 WAS -19.5
CLE -19.4 NYG -25.4 NYG -27.0 CLE -23.9 CLE -35.6 CIN -14.4 CIN -20.4
BAL -34.7 PIT -33.5 PIT -36.4 BAL -30.0 BAL -36.3 BAL -16.2 BAL -22.4
CIN -39.3 CIN -37.7 CIN -42.7 CIN -36.1 CIN -40.8 PHI -17.7 PHI -26.6

2008 - The Actual Advantages and Disadvantages

Remember - the numbers above show how many points away from average the schedule was for each position. DeAngelo Williams had the best for running backs with a 33.7 point advantage (non-PPR scoring) while Cedric Benson faced a -37.7 point disadvantage with the Bengals last year. That means that there was a 71.4 point difference in schedules for running backs between CAR and CIN.

Quarterbacks - Whether they took advantage of it or not, the easiest schedules for any quarterback went to Trent Edwards in Buffalo and Chad Pennington in Miami. Interesting that the Saints and Packers both had big years from their quarterbacks but the top six teams did not feature any great passing. The worst schedules went to most of the AFC North with CLE, BAL and CIN as the most challenged and none featured any major stats. It harkens well for the Ravens to have Joe Flacco perform as well as he did against what was actually one of the worst schedules in the league.

Running Backs - This was pretty interesting and the schedule always impacts the running backs the most. The best schedules belonged to DeAngelo Williams, Thomas Jones and Adrian Peterson who all had career best seasons. Michael Turner and Matt Forte also had very nice schedules to play against. The worst schedules belonged to the Bengals (mostly Cedric Benson), Willie Parker, Brandon Jacobs and Jamal Lewis. Only Jacobs had a decent year. The Bengals turned in league low rushing stats and none of the bottom teams had runners with a big season. Adding in reception points to the equation really did not change too much other than the Saints got a big benefit. The toughest schedules all remained about the same.

Wide Receivers - Closely mirroring the quarterbacks, the wideouts that statistically had the best schedule just did not deliver much. The Rams, Bills and 49ers did not feature any notable wideouts. But just under those were Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Greg Jennings and Terrell Owens. The worst schedules seemed more aligned with what happened with the Bengals (without Palmer too) having a horrible season as did the Browns (again with QB injuries). The first deviations of bad schedules were Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson and Calvin Johnson. But whether with or without reception points considered, the teams with the worst schedules turned in mostly lower receiving totals across the board.

Tight Ends - Mildly interesting but NFL teams do not use tight ends consistently enough from team to team to make any truly definitive statements here. The extremes saw Zach Miller of the Raiders with the best schedule - and he had a decent year despite being a Raider - and the NFC East actually had tougher schedules even though Chris Cooley and Jason Witten still had good years.

Forecasted Schedule Advantage for 2009

QB's RB's RB + Rec. Pts WR's WR + Rec Pts TE's TE + Rec Pts
STL 29.8 SEA 33.4 SEA 31.7 MIN 26.7 ARI 35.7 OAK 16.5 OAK 20.7
ARI 21.1 WAS 30.4 ARI 29.5 ARI 25.8 MIN 29.8 PIT 10.3 PIT 16.4
IND 19.8 ARI 23.9 WAS 22.1 STL 23.3 STL 27.9 CLE 8.8 MIA 14.2
MIN 19.7 SF 19.6 STL 21.5 GB 19.2 ATL 25.8 NYG 8.4 CLE 11.9
GB 14.0 SD 18.5 SD 19.5 BUF 19.1 BUF 21.9 IND 7.9 IND 10.5
BUF 12.4 JAX 15.4 SF 17.5 ATL 12.5 GB 21.7 DAL 7.3 KC 7.8
NYG 6.9 CIN 15.3 JAX 14.7 SEA 10.0 CAR 15.4 MIA 6.3 DAL 6.3
MIA 6.5 BAL 14.0 PIT 14.3 CAR 8.5 TEN 12.9 NO 5.9 BAL 6.1
PIT 5.1 MIN 13.3 MIN 13.0 IND 8.2 JAX 12.2 GB 5.2 BUF 5.9
OAK 4.8 STL 12.4 CIN 11.2 MIA 6.5 MIA 11.8 KC 5.0 NO 5.8
TEN 3.6 PIT 10.8 BAL 11.1 TB 5.0 SEA 11.3 MIN 3.8 NYG 5.5
DAL 3.1 CHI 10.2 CHI 10.0 TEN 4.9 PHI 3.5 NE 3.1 DEN 5.3
TB 2.4 PHI 8.7 PHI 7.1 JAX 0.6 TB 2.9 BAL 2.5 MIN 3.7
SEA 2.4 TEN 8.1 DAL 7.1 PHI 0.2 IND 2.7 DEN 2.3 GB 3.3
NO 1.7 OAK 3.2 TEN 5.3 WAS 0.1 DET 2.2 TEN 1.4 STL 2.6
SF -0.5 DAL 1.3 OAK 5.1 DAL -0.4 SF -3.4 SF 0.7 HOU 1.0
PHI -1.0 DET -3.7 CLE 2.3 SF -0.8 WAS -3.7 ARI 0.4 NE 0.7
CAR -1.2 NYG -4.1 NYG 0.5 DET -1.0 OAK -3.9 BUF 0.4 TEN 0.6
HOU -1.9 GB -4.6 HOU 0.2 PIT -5.0 DAL -4.1 HOU 0.0 SF -0.3
DET -2.9 IND -5.5 DET -2.2 NYG -5.5 PIT -5.5 STL -0.2 ARI -0.3
CLE -3.0 CLE -5.7 IND -3.9 HOU -5.5 NYG -8.2 CIN -1.0 CIN -1.3
CHI -5.1 HOU -6.3 GB -6.5 SD -6.1 SD -9.6 SD -1.6 TB -2.4
SD -5.1 KC -7.3 BUF -8.4 CHI -7.3 HOU -11.2 NYJ -1.6 SD -3.6
JAX -6.6 BUF -9.2 KC -8.5 NO -8.3 CHI -12.1 TB -2.9 PHI -3.8
WAS -7.4 NO -10.2 NO -11.1 OAK -10.5 NE -12.3 PHI -4.6 NYJ -4.6
KC -9.6 NYJ -13.2 DEN -13.3 NYJ -11.6 BAL -15.6 CHI -6.6 CHI -7.1
NE -10.1 DEN -13.9 NYJ -19.9 NE -13.2 NYJ -18.3 WAS -7.4 WAS -7.4
ATL -10.9 NE -21.2 NE -20.5 BAL -13.5 KC -20.2 CAR -8.5 JAX -11.0
NYJ -13.1 MIA -21.3 MIA -21.7 CIN -16.0 CLE -21.9 JAX -9.3 CAR -14.2
CIN -16.9 ATL -22.4 ATL -27.7 KC -17.1 NO -22.4 SEA -11.9 DET -15.5
BAL -17.9 CAR -30.1 CAR -31.6 CLE -18.1 CIN -24.4 DET -12.0 SEA -20.3
DEN -18.1 TB -31.1 TB -33.0 DEN -25.6 DEN -31.8 ATL -18.7 ATL -26.2

2009 - The Projected Advantages and Disadvantages

Quarterbacks - The Rams keep having great schedules so maybe Marc Bulger can turn in decent numbers somehow without any decent receivers. Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning are also facing the nicest schedules in the league with Aaron Rodgers not that far behind. For the worst schedules, the AFC North once again takes it on the chin with Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer both facing well below average schedules and Kyle Orton shows up in Denver at apparently the wrong time. Just to make it tough on both second-year quarterbacks, Matt Ryan also is facing a tough schedule this year.

Running Backs - Always the most interesting analysis, Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett get to install a new offense against the most above average schedule in the NFL. Clinton Portis also faces a very nice slate of games and the rookie Chris Wells gets his chance to bring a rushing attack back to the Cardinals while going against one of the most accommodating schedules in the league. Several of the top backs - Frank Gore, LaDainian Tomlinson and Maurice Jones-Drew should be mostly running downhill this season. Not so for DeAngelo Williams and Michael Turner who come off tremendous efforts in 2008 only to face the worst set of defenses for running backs. Derrick Ward in Tampa Bay? He'll need to be extra good to compensate for statistically the worst schedule of all. The AFC East all are well below average this year.

Wide Receivers - Good year for the Cardinals and Packers wideouts should be in store and if the Vikings and Rams do not throw well, it will have nothing to do with the schedule. Terrell Owens gets a boost here with the Bills facing a surprisingly easy schedule and Roddy White should be a big factor once he is happy with his contract situation. Brandon Marshall should probably start focusing on the season since he and Eddie Royal get the worst slate of games of any wide receivers right when they lost Jay Cutler. As always, the AFC North has all teams facing bigger challenges than most teams for wideouts. The Saints drop pretty low considering reception points but it's the NFL's most vaunted passing attack and should still be bigger than the schedule.

Tight Ends - Oakland grabs the top spot again this year but that is largely a function of all the AFC West teams that have good tight ends and that in turn makes it appear that the defenses are weak against them (Gonzalez, Gates, Scheffler and Miller). The only really notable here is that the Falcons acquired Tony Gonzalez and yet statistically have the worst schedule for him to go against. Again - for tight ends it is much more about the quality of the tight end than any extrapolation of what defenses do when they face them. The position just has a handful of highly productive players that skews the results too much.

The Epiphany

Now that is all very interesting and objectively an accurate view of how each team and position will fare against the average schedule. All alone this is worthwhile. But it bugs me - why do you care what a schedule strength is? Because you want to establish your set of expectations for all the players. But you already know what the player was like last year and now know what his schedule in 2008 really was. And what his current schedule projects out to be. What we can do now is pure fantasy nirvana. Like a forehead-slapping epiphany when the lights are suddenly turned on. Let's put it all together and see exactly what the difference will be for players from what they did in 2008 and what they face in 2009. That should be the best indicator of production than anything you have ever used. Including that ridiculous lucky coin you like to flip.

I present unto to you...

Schedule Swings

What we want to do is take what we already know about a player and apply how his schedule strength is changing from the previous season. There are other variables worth noting of course, but perhaps nothing is as telling as what you already know about a player based on last season and then how his schedule is changing this year.

  2008 2009 CHG   2008 2009 CHG
ARI -5.3 21.1 26.4 MIN 21.7 19.7 -1.9
CIN -39.3 -16.9 22.4 CAR 1.4 -1.2 -2.6
BAL -34.7 -17.9 16.8 TEN 6.9 3.6 -3.3
CLE -19.4 -3.0 16.4 ATL -5.7 -10.9 -5.2
HOU -17.2 -1.9 15.3 SEA 7.7 2.4 -5.3
STL 15.3 29.8 14.5 SD 0.5 -5.1 -5.6
DET -16.8 -2.9 14.0 OAK 12.3 4.8 -7.4
PIT -4.9 5.1 10.0 KC -1.4 -9.6 -8.2
IND 10.1 19.8 9.7 NE 1.0 -10.1 -11.1
CHI -14.8 -5.1 9.7 NO 14.6 1.7 -12.9
PHI -10.4 -1.0 9.4 BUF 28.1 12.4 -15.6
JAX -12.7 -6.6 6.2 MIA 26.7 6.5 -20.2
WAS -10.3 -7.4 2.9 DEN 2.2 -18.1 -20.3
NYG 4.5 6.9 2.5 NYJ 7.9 -13.1 -21.0
GB 12.5 14.0 1.5 SF 21.5 -0.5 -22.0
DAL 1.9 3.1 1.2 TB 24.8 2.4 -22.3

Quarterbacks

Biggest Positive Swings

Kurt Warner
Carson Palmer
Joe Flacco
Brady Quinn
Matt Schaub

Warner is aging like a fine wine. Palmer and Flacco still have below average schedules but at least they are nothing nearly as bad as 2008.

Biggest Negative Swings

Tampa Bay (To be named later)
Shaun Hill
Mark Sanchez
Kyle Orton
Chad Pennington

Kyle Orton could have timed his trade better and Mark Sanchez will probably look nothing like Favre who had a much easier schedule last year.

No Reception Points With Reception Points
  2008 2009 CHG   2008 2009 CHG
CIN -37.7 15.3 53.0 CIN -42.7 11.2 53.9
SEA -11.0 33.4 44.4 ARI -22.8 29.5 52.3
PIT -33.5 10.8 44.2 PIT -36.4 14.3 50.7
ARI -19.4 23.9 43.3 SEA -11.7 31.7 43.4
WAS -10.8 30.4 41.2 STL -21.4 21.5 42.8
BAL -21.4 14.0 35.4 WAS -18.7 22.1 40.8
STL -21.4 12.4 33.8 BAL -21.7 11.1 32.8
NYG -25.4 -4.1 21.3 NYG -27.0 0.5 27.5
PHI -10.7 8.7 19.3 CLE -22.6 2.3 24.8
CLE -24.9 -5.7 19.2 DAL -16.4 7.1 23.5
SF 1.5 19.6 18.1 SF -0.6 17.5 18.1
DAL -16.4 1.3 17.7 PHI -9.1 7.1 16.2
SD 11.1 18.5 7.4 IND -16.9 -3.9 13.0
IND -12.6 -5.5 7.0 HOU -3.2 0.2 3.5
GB -7.9 -4.6 3.3 DET -4.9 -2.2 2.7
DET -5.8 -3.7 2.0 SD 17.7 19.5 1.9
JAX 14.5 15.4 1.0 GB -2.6 -6.5 -4.0
TEN 7.4 8.1 0.7 CHI 14.8 10.0 -4.8
OAK 8.7 3.2 -5.6 TEN 11.2 5.3 -5.9
HOU -0.7 -6.3 -5.7 JAX 20.9 14.7 -6.2
CHI 18.7 10.2 -8.5 OAK 13.9 5.1 -8.8
MIN 22.9 13.3 -9.5 MIN 28.2 13.0 -15.2
BUF 6.3 -9.2 -15.5 KC 10.5 -8.5 -19.0
KC 12.7 -7.3 -20.0 BUF 13.6 -8.4 -22.0
MIA 2.4 -21.3 -23.6 DEN 13.4 -13.3 -26.7
NO 17.2 -10.2 -27.4 MIA 5.9 -21.7 -27.6
DEN 20.7 -13.9 -34.6 NO 27.9 -11.1 -39.0
NYJ 24.7 -13.2 -37.9 ATL 13.0 -27.7 -40.7
ATL 19.0 -22.4 -41.3 NYJ 23.3 -19.9 -43.2
NE 23.1 -21.2 -44.4 NE 25.0 -20.5 -45.5
TB 18.8 -31.1 -49.8 TB 25.1 -33.0 -58.1
CAR 33.7 -30.1 -63.8 CAR 29.8 -31.6 -61.4

Running Backs

Biggest Positive Swings

Cedric Benson
Julius Jones/T.J. Duckett
Willie Parker/Rashard Mendenhall
Chris Wells
Clinton Portis
Ray Rice/Willis McGahee
Steven Jackson
Brandon Jacobs

The swings here are very encouraging since almost all of them came from being heavily negative in 2008 to being significantly positive in 2009. They go from being well below average to now well above average. Consider too that Benson, Jones, Parker and Wells all come rather cheaply in drafts this year. Portis and Jackson are the only players who would be highly drafted anyway. Those deeply drafted RB's can be a huge help to your fantasy team.

Biggest Negative Swings

DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart
Derrick Ward/Ernest Graham
New England RB's et al
Michael Turner
Thomas Jones
Knowshon Moreno
Pierre Thomas/Reggie Bush

This could be telling. Williams, Turner and Jones were all three huge surprises last year who happened to be playing great schedules which led to career best seasons. Now they go to the other end of the spectrum. Derrick Ward and Knowshon Moreno are both new to their teams but they'll no doubt be compared to runners from last year and that won't be fair or accurate since the schedule was far kinder in 2008. Pierre Thomas was another nice surprise to finish 2008 but he and perpetually gimpy Reggie Bush won't have as nice a rushing schedule for 2009.

No Reception Points With Reception Points
  2008 2009 CHG   2008 2009 CHG
JAX -20.9 0.6 21.6 JAX -19.7 12.2 31.9
CIN -36.1 -16.0 20.2 ATL -4.9 25.8 30.7
TEN -11.8 4.9 16.6 TEN -17.1 12.9 30.0
BAL -30.0 -13.5 16.5 CAR -7.4 15.4 22.8
DET -16.0 -1.0 15.0 MIN 8.7 29.8 21.1
MIN 12.9 26.7 13.8 BAL -36.3 -15.6 20.8
ATL -1.0 12.5 13.5 SD -29.2 -9.6 19.7
ARI 13.6 25.8 12.2 DET -14.9 2.2 17.1
HOU -16.6 -5.5 11.1 HOU -28.2 -11.2 16.9
SD -16.2 -6.1 10.1 CIN -40.8 -24.4 16.4
CAR -1.1 8.5 9.7 CHI -26.6 -12.1 14.5
PHI -7.5 0.2 7.7 CLE -35.6 -21.9 13.7
GB 12.1 19.2 7.1 SEA -1.4 11.3 12.7
CHI -14.0 -7.3 6.7 ARI 26.3 35.7 9.5
SEA 3.7 10.0 6.3 GB 16.2 21.7 5.6
CLE -23.9 -18.1 5.8 PHI -0.4 3.5 4.0
WAS -1.9 0.1 2.0 OAK -6.7 -3.9 2.8
IND 7.9 8.2 0.3 PIT -5.6 -5.5 0.1
PIT -2.2 -5.0 -2.8 IND 4.1 2.7 -1.4
OAK -6.4 -10.5 -4.0 WAS -1.5 -3.7 -2.2
STL 32.1 23.3 -8.8 DAL 3.8 -4.1 -7.9
BUF 28.8 19.1 -9.7 MIA 24.3 11.8 -12.5
NO 2.7 -8.3 -11.1 NYG 4.5 -8.2 -12.7
DAL 11.1 -0.4 -11.5 BUF 36.6 21.9 -14.7
NYG 7.7 -5.5 -13.2 STL 48.3 27.9 -20.4
NE 0.2 -13.2 -13.4 NE 13.4 -12.3 -25.7
MIA 19.9 6.5 -13.4 NO 3.4 -22.4 -25.8
TB 21.2 5.0 -16.2 KC 9.5 -20.2 -29.7
KC 0.8 -17.1 -18.0 TB 34.0 2.9 -31.1
NYJ 7.5 -11.6 -19.1 NYJ 14.3 -18.3 -32.6
SF 25.3 -0.8 -26.1 SF 30.0 -3.4 -33.4
DEN 14.5 -25.6 -40.1 DEN 22.5 -31.8 -54.3

Wide Receivers

Biggest Positive Swings

Torry Holt/Mike Walker
Chad Ochocinco/Laveranues Coles
Justin Gage/Nate Washington
Derrick Mason/Mark Clayton
Calvin Johnson/Bryant Johnson
Bernard Berrian/Sidney Rice

The success of a passing game has less to do with the schedule than it does the scheme, quality of players and game situations. The top five positive swings are just players coming from a very bad season to one that is only average at best. The Jaguars, Titans and Ravens are all rushing teams that are among the less productive passing attacks in the league each season.

The Bengals are still well below average but at least no longer have the worst schedule this year. The two teams that seem to have the best fantasy news would be the Vikings and Cardinals who both enjoy a nice positive increase and also have one of the best schedules overall.


Biggest Negative Swings

Brandon Marshall/Eddie Royal
Josh Morgan/Isaac Bruce
Jerricho Cotchery/Chansi Stuckey
Dwayne Bowe/Mark Bradley
Antonio Bryant/Michael Clayton

Even with the reality that schedules have a lesser effect on wideouts than other factors, it is disappointing to see Marshall and Royal in a new scheme with Kyle Orton and with the worst shift in schedules. The Jets are rebuilding as well and Jerricho Cotchery had better learn to be a #1 receiver quickly because it's not going to be as easy as 2009 and he'll likely have a rookie QB. Bowe is another with a new QB and scheme and he has no Gonzalez to worry the secondary.

No Reception Points With Reception Points
  2008 2009 CHG   2008 2009 CHG
BAL -16.2 2.5 18.6 BAL -22.4 6.1 28.5
DAL -10.8 7.3 18.1 DAL -17.8 6.3 24.1
CIN -14.4 -1.0 13.4 PHI -26.6 -3.8 22.9
PHI -17.7 -4.6 13.1 STL -18.6 2.6 21.2
ARI -11.4 0.4 11.9 CIN -20.4 -1.3 19.1
CLE -2.4 8.8 11.2 ARI -16.9 -0.3 16.6
STL -11.3 -0.2 11.2 CLE -3.0 11.9 15.0
NYG -2.1 8.4 10.5 NYG -8.8 5.5 14.4
WAS -14.3 -7.4 6.9 WAS -19.5 -7.4 12.0
PIT 4.7 10.3 5.6 SF -10.9 -0.3 10.6
SF -4.8 0.7 5.5 PIT 7.2 16.4 9.2
NE -2.3 3.1 5.4 NE -3.4 0.7 4.2
DEN 1.4 2.3 0.8 MIA 12.2 14.2 2.0
NYJ -2.0 -1.6 0.4 DEN 4.6 5.3 0.7
GB 5.2 5.2 0.0 NYJ -3.6 -4.6 -1.0
KC 5.2 5.0 -0.2 IND 13.1 10.5 -2.7
HOU 1.7 0.0 -1.6 SEA -17.5 -20.3 -2.8
DET -10.3 -12.0 -1.8 GB 6.6 3.3 -3.3
IND 10.1 7.9 -2.3 KC 11.6 7.8 -3.8
SEA -9.6 -11.9 -2.3 BUF 10.1 5.9 -4.2
OAK 19.9 16.5 -3.4 HOU 5.3 1.0 -4.3
CHI -1.8 -6.6 -4.8 OAK 25.1 20.7 -4.4
MIA 11.7 6.3 -5.4 DET -9.0 -15.5 -6.5
NO 11.6 5.9 -5.7 CHI 3.5 -7.1 -10.5
BUF 8.4 0.4 -8.0 NO 16.3 5.8 -10.6
MIN 12.4 3.8 -8.6 MIN 16.1 3.7 -12.4
CAR 1.1 -8.5 -9.5 SD 10.8 -3.6 -14.4
SD 8.8 -1.6 -10.4 CAR 2.7 -14.2 -16.9
JAX 2.5 -9.3 -11.8 JAX 8.9 -11.0 -19.8
TEN 14.0 1.4 -12.6 TEN 22.9 0.6 -22.3
TB 17.1 -2.9 -20.0 TB 24.8 -2.4 -27.2
ATL 3.1 -18.7 -21.8 ATL 6.2 -26.2 -32.4

Tight Ends

Biggest Positive Swings

Todd Heap
Jason Witten
Chase Coffman
Brent Celek
Randy McMichael

Take this with a big grain of salt since as discussed, the tight end reviews are too heavily skewed by the handful of good tight ends in the league. About all you want to take from this is that Witten remains a very safe pick (with Owens gone, even more so) and the rookie Coffman might actually be noticeable this year if the Bengals finally start to throw to the tight ends again. Brent Celek steps up in Philadelphia but there are other receivers on the team that likely can get into the way. Take this position schedule swings as only mildly interesting at best.

Biggest Negative Swings

Tony Gonzalez
Kellen Winslow Jr.
Bo Scaife
Marcedes Lewis
Antonio Gates

This is likely more misleading than anything though take a little hint from the Buccaneers schedule being a drop because the quarterback situation is unsettled there. Winslow cost too much not to be used extensively and the same obviously goes for Tony Gonzalez who shows up in Atlanta right when their schedule seemingly gets worse for tight ends. Matt Ryan only had 18 completions to tight ends last year so there is already fundamental changes afoot when the team acquired Gonzo.

Again - only mildly interesting here and don't let it mislead you.

I found this all to be fascinating and next summer will again be tracked and reviewed with some track record to rely on. This is what we want to know this summer - how has a player changed from last year? For most - not that much.

For a few - this is going to be a long year. Why have it happen on your roster?

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