FFL: Analyzing Schedules

Updated: August 14, 2006, 10:28 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN Fantasy Games
Strength of schedule is an important factor in evaluating an NFL team's or player's potential for any given season. Perhaps more than in any other sport, weekly matchups are a critical thing to examine every preseason, as the NFL schedule is considerably shorter than that of any of the other major sports and it's specifically designed to give better teams from the previous season a tougher time in their quests to repeat.

You'll probably read a lot of columns and charts breaking down strength of schedule this preseason, and while they're helpful, I find they can often be a bit misleading. Most take into account only 2005 statistics, meaning offseason roster changes aren't reflected. Also, most only look at opponents' win-loss records, while in fantasy football, it'd be more helpful if they took a look at the talent of the defenses those teams are scheduled to face.

As a result, in order to devise a more helpful strength of schedule report for fantasy owners, I took a look at each team's schedule taking into account only the strength of the defenses they're scheduled to face. Rankings for the 32 defenses take into account a consensus ranking between my rankings as well as those of colleagues Scott Engel and Eric Karabell. For instance, Scott and I both ranked the Indianapolis Colts defense fourth overall, Eric ranked it sixth, for an average ranking of 4.67. That's good enough to rank the Colts fourth on our consensus list, behind the Bears, Panthers and Steelers.

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