First SOS Impressions

There’s something to be said for first impressions, and when it comes to the NFL schedule, a first impression may be better than the alternative, which is paralysis by over-analysis. So when the schedule came out last night, I thought I’d give a fast glance at each team and come up with a quick first impression.

Keep in mind I’m not really looking at these in NFL terms, in term of wins and losses. I’m looking strictly from a fantasy perspective.

Here’s what I got.

ARI - The schedule usually looks good for them based on their division, and this year is no exception. There are several tough matchups, but overall the schedule is their friend again in 2009.

ATL – It looks pretty tough. 9 or 10 of their opponents are capable of slowing Michael Turner down, and we saw in 2008 that he can be limited by a good defense. I’ll have to look at this one more closely because the schedule could dictate a little bit of a fall back for the Falcons.

BAL – At first glance, the schedule looks great. Take away the two necessary games against the Steelers, and I see only 1-2 potential problems – and a ton of favorable matchups. This helps a lot, especially their young QB. RB Willis McGahee usually does well against inferior opponents, and they have many on their schedule.

BUF – Their division isn’t brutally tough, so that helps, but the Jets will be better this year, for sure. Otherwise, it’s a mixed bag. It’s either a break even, or it leans to the tougher side.

CAR – The schedule doesn’t look very good. They have at least 8 out of division games against run defenses that are good or better, so that’s not exactly good news for their running backs. They would obviously be helped if the Falcons fall off, which is very possible, and the Bucs may not be as tough this year, which does help.

CHI - It’s no cakewalk, with games against the Steelers, Ravens, and Eagles, as well as the Vikings twice, but otherwise it does look favorable, so overall I’d feel okay about their schedule. At least the Ravens could be shaky on the back end this year, and the Bears will be throwing it a lot more. By 2008 records, their schedule actually comes up as the best in the league this year.

CIN – Playing the Steelers and Ravens twice is always tough, but the Bengals do get a break overall with a pretty favorable schedule on paper. This helps, and they need all the help they can get.

CLE – Similarly, their schedule doesn’t look all that bad other than those four tough division games and a few hard ones here and there.

DAL – Looks pretty good to me, other than their tougher divisional opponent of course. That’s good news, since they have a lot of fantasy stars here still.

DEN – They have several tough matchups, but their division is pretty bad, which helps a lot. It’s still a favorable schedule. It’s hard not to be playing in the AFC West.

DET – Pretty damn good, and it better be after they went 0-16. They need help, and they get some help in the form of a favorable schedule. Great news for Calvin Johnson, and also Kevin Smith.

GB – They get the Steelers and Ravens, but otherwise I like it. That’s good news for an offense I’ll be high on this year.

HOU – This could be the year. Their schedule had some brutal spots early last year, and it slowed down their momentum. They get the Titans in Week Two, but it could be smooth sailing from there for the most part. I liked the way it’s set up for them, so all they have to do now is actually get the job done from start to finish.

IND – There are a couple of problem areas, but overall this looks like a nice schedule. Great news for a team still loaded with potential fantasy studs.

JAC – Pretty solid, not tough, that’s for sure. This is good to know for MJD, who will finally get the high number of touches from Day One he so very much deserves.

KC – It’s good on the back end, but it’s going to be tough early on, which makes QB Matt Cassel a little scarier as a starter. Those who take him need to get a top backup just in case he’s slow off the mark. If they can get through it, however, they could start rolling.

MIA – This is another team that has some rough spots sprinkled in, but overall I’d say it’s a medium schedule that shouldn’t be overly-prohibitive overall.

MIN – It’s not great, since they get the Ravens, Steelers, Giants, and Panthers. That’s what you get for winning your division.

NE – Looks pretty damn good, which is great news for Tom Brady’s comeback.

NO – Looks about average to me, perhaps leaning to the difficult side. Doesn’t look brutal, at least.

NYG - I think they catch a little bit of a break with the schedule, especially since probably their toughest out of division game (Min) is in Week 17, which might not mean anything

NYJ – Overall, the schedule looks pretty damn good, and it helps that their divisional opponents aren’t very scary overall.

OAK – Other than their easier divisional schedule, it looks pretty brutal, with games against the Steelers, Ravens, Giants, Eagles, Jets, and Cowboys. It’s not good.

PHI – It’s always a challenge playing in their division, but the schedule looks pretty good to me.

PIT - The schedule looks much easier this year, good news for all their players. We may see Ben Roethlisberger put up good numbers this year, which would basically make him an every-other-year kind of player.

SD – It’s not great, with some tough out of division games, but they do always get their easier divisional opponents. They also have an easier schedule early in the season, which could help them avoid another slow start.

SEA - Pretty darn solid, which is good news because they could use some help. Of course, they’re always helped by being in the lame NFC West.

SF – Also not bad at all, and they always need help, so that’s good. They of course also benefit from playing in their division.

STL – Again, playing in this division and coming off a brutal season, there’s nothing terribly prohibitive about their schedule.

TB – There are a few rough spots, but I’d classify this schedule as a wash. It could have been better, but it certainly could have been worse.

TEN – Surprisingly, it looks more favorable than not, which is good news for their running game.

WAS – It’s not too bad, but they of course have six tougher games in their division, which makes their schedule medium at best.

Top-5 Teams helped by a favorable schedule:

  1. Hou – Great news for their players. Starting last season off with Pit, Bal, and Ten took a toll on them, for sure. They still did okay, so an easy schedule could put them over the top.
  2. Bal – I really don’t see any major problems, other than Pit twice. It’s nice when you don’t ever have to play your own defense.
  3. NE – Shaky division, and an overall great schedule helps them, yet they may not even need the help.
  4. Ind – Good bet to bounce back and have a better offensive season than last year.
  5. GB – A couple of problem areas, but I liked what I saw.

Top-5 Teams hurt by an unfavorable schedule:

  1. Atl – I am concerned about this schedule. Their defense may be bad, and there are 8-9 team that could potentially limit RB Michael Turner.
  2. Car -  A fall-off from 2008 could be in the cards here, and it’s not great news for RB DeAngelo Williams. I know he was brilliant last year, but he previously disappointed, so he’s done it only one season, has this problematic schedule, and will have to share time with Jonathan Stewart.
  3. Oak – They need all the help they can get, and they’re really not getting it in the form of a favorable schedule. It could be another long season.
  4. Min - They look better on paper offensively, but they could easily remain a team that fails to excel offensively, particularly throwing the ball. A shaky schedule won’t help.
  5. KC – It does get easy later, but I am concerned with that schedule early on with a new coaching staff and QB.

Category: Fantasy Football

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7 Responses

  1. JOOCE says:

    I disagree with your assessment of Minnesota’s sched. They do get BAL, PIT, CAR and NYG, but they get the Giants in week 17 when most fantasy seasons are over.

    Minny sched weeks 1-16:

    @CLE, @DET, SF, GB, @STL, BAL, @PIT, @GB, BYE, DET, SEA, CHI, @ARI, CIN, @CAR, @CHI

    Minny is also tied for easiest 2009 sched in the NFL based on opponents’ 2008 records.

    I don’t call that a top-5 bad sched.

  2. Rudy says:

    I agree w\ Jooce. I like A.P. getting his owners off to a good start through wk 5.

  3. Stretch says:

    The Strength of Schedule can be overrated. Atlanta & Minnesota in the top 5 as far as offensive lines. A.Peterson and M.Turner are still #1 & #2 overall picks on my board.

    I don’t think anyone foolish enough to let these stud RBs fall pass the 3rd pick in any FFL draft because of SOS.

  4. PackFan says:

    There’s a chance the Vikes will be missing their two big defensive tackles for perhaps the first four games due to last season’s positive tests on some sort of diuretic that contained a banned substance. Maybe an innocent mistake, but the NFL usually gets their pound of flesh.

    If this does occur the defense will have its hands full, and it may put a little more pressure on the Viking passing game to put up more points than would normally be expected of them. The question is, will Sage or TJ be up to the task – especially with questions at right tackle, and a receiving corp that may not rank as one of the better groups in the league.

  5. awoltexas says:

    For several years I did a post season analysis to see if the preseason SOS had a significant impact on a player’s performance. What I found was it had virtually no impact on the studs and only occasionally helped players known to be marginal starters(for fantasy).

    As we all know, it is so hard to predict how defenses will perform that it is almost a waste of time picking the consensus top defense.

    As a result, I recommend using the preseason SOS only when I am on the fence about whether I like that player to have a better or worse year than last year. Or I use it when I set up my draft tiers to move the guy up a notch or two within the tier.

    The playoff SOS is perhaps most important but it is just too difficult how banged up a defense will be by week 14 that it too does not have much value. Again, I use it as a tie breaker between players.

  6. awoltexas says:

    John,

    Where there any playoff SOS schedules that gave you a favorable or unfavorable first impression?

  7. John Hansen says:

    I will do a complete overview shortly to see the playoff teams. I agree that SOS can mean little, but I hardly think it’s worthless. We’ve talked for years about how it’s just one other factor to consider. We *project* SOS based on how we project defenses to be against the run and the pass, not based on last year’s numbers. Last year’s was a wash basically, but the prior two years our SOS projections were actually quite accurate.

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