Apr 13, 2007
In case you haven’t noticed, we posted our initial look at our projected strength of schedule for 2007, along with some analysis. Some people have trouble with how we come up with our figures, but it really is quite simple. First, we give all 32 teams numbers grades against the run and the pass. These are not based on last year, but are projections of how effective each team will be in 2007. Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Jacksonville, and San Diego were the teams with the highest grades against the run. Denver, Chicago, and Oakland were the top teams against the pass. We then take each team’s schedule and average out all their opponent’s grades against the run and pass to come up with a single average grade for their 16 opponents against the run and the pass. The lower the grade, the easier the schedule, and the higher the grades the harder the schedule.
Now, I normally don’t like to do our initial SOS charts until after the draft, because teams will find some starters on defense in the draft get better, so the grades for each team – and, of course, the SOS ranks – will change. But I’ve found that some hardcore readers don’t exactly care if information is accurate; they just want information. So with the NFL schedule being released this week, it was a good time to appease those starving for information. I don’t expect there to be any dramatic changes in the SOS ranks and analysis, but there will likely be some.
You can see all the analysis here:
But today I figured I’d give my Top-10 list of players who could benefit from his 2007 SOS, based on my findings.
#10: Vince Young – I have some doubts about him because I think defenses will be better prepared for him, so he must offset that by taking a large step forward as a passer. But it’s hard to argue with the results he presented last year. A favorable schedule should be one factor that helps him get over the hump in 2007.
#9: Byron Leftwich – I have very little faith in this passing offense at the end of the day, and I’ve ripped Leftwich pretty hard the last two years. But my criticism has nothing to do with Leftwich’s passing because he can throw the rock as well as most QBs and he has a cannon. That slow delivery does prohibit his passing at times, and it usually does lead to injuries. But if he can manage to stay healthy – and keep in mind I’m not holding my breath on that – he will likely put up strong numbers given his favorable schedule. If you look at his numbers, he has done well for fantasy the last two years when he’s actually on the field and close to 100%.
#8: Jay Cutler – His schedule isn’t fantastic, but it’s still considered favorable, and that’s good to see. I don’t want to go crazy over Cutler a la Carson Palmer in 2005, but I’m really feeling him as the guy to get if you hold off on your QB in 2007. The guy’s going to be a stud, no doubt, so it’s just a matter of when: this year or next. It’s probably next year, but I’ll take my chances just the same considering the value he’ll likely present.
#7: Steve Smith – I’ll put him here over Jake Delhomme, who I have lost faith in. But the bottom line is the Panthers have a cake schedule this year, and I expect a rebound from this team offensively. That might be good news for Delhomme, but it’s definitely good news for Smith. I have a sneaking suspicion the Panthers will be back in a big way this year.
#6: Michael Vick – My gut feeling on Vick is that he will have a good year, maybe even a great year. We’ve seen him do well for fantasy the last two years in a shaky situation and system, and despite his not being able to pass the ball consistently. This year his receiving corps will be better, and I do have faith in Bobby Petrino to at least put him in the best position to succeed. I also like that schedule.
#5: Edgerrin James – He came on strong at the end of the season last year, finally, and now his team will place a greater emphasis on the (physical) running game. His QB will be better off in his second year, and this team as a whole should be stabilized and more focused with Ken Whisenhunt running the show, not that joke of a coach Dennis Green. And James deserves a shot this year based on those factors and what looks like a very favorable schedule, particularly in the second half of the season.
#4: Willis McGahee – His schedule has never been all that great in Buffalo, having to play the Patriots and Dolphins twice a year, but he’s now going to get a feel for how Jamal Lewis was able to rush for 2000+ yards a few years ago: it’s nice playing the Browns and Bengals twice a year. Clearly, the schedule will help McGahee do what he needs to do for fantasy owners.
#3: Maurice Jones-Drew – I am concerned about him being a little overvalued this year, because I think it’s dangerous to assume a player in a timeshare will be worth, for example, a 2nd round pick. But I do feel a little better about his 2007 season now that Fred Taylor will be back and now that I see his team’s schedule is favorable, once again.
#2: Cadillac Williams – I have serious concerns about him, like how he runs hard but doesn’t seem to go anywhere, but if everything around him falls into place, he can certainly be a strong #2 fantasy back this year. The line is improved and the QB situation is much, much better this year, two big issues. I also like his schedule, and how can you not? Take a look at it; it’s very favorable. If he slips far enough in drafts (3rd round at least, even in a RB-hungry league), he might be worth a flyer, if all is going well here this summer.
#1: DeAngelo Williams – I like him a lot, but I’m not yet ready to declare him this year’s Frank Gore. I believe he’s in that realm, however, since his talent and work ethic is obvious, and since his #1 concern is injuries. If all is going well this summer, I might tab him as this year’s Gore, and his ridiculously soft schedule is one of the reasons why. It would be great if the Panthers would ship off DeShaun Foster this summer, like the 49ers did Kevan Barlow last year.