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Strength of Schedule Adjusted QB Scores for 2013

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by Mike Horn, Staff Writer

Published, 2/12/14

 

It’s been a while since I did one of these but you can probably find them back in the archives somewhere. This is my attempt to look at player performance in their fantasy points (FP) adjusted by factoring in their strength of schedule (SoS). The idea is to see more clearly how well players performed in order to better predict their performance next season. I look at all the offensive fantasy positions, starting with QBs.

 

I start by calculating the fantasy points allowed (FPA) to QBs by each team. I divide those FPAs by the league average FPA to get adjustment factors for each team, which reflect how good their defense was against QBs. I then apply those adjustment factors to the FP actually scored by QBs when they played them. Those new results I call Strength of Schedule Adjusted (SOSA) FP. To keep a player’s own performance from affecting the calculations, I excluded the games he played against a team when calculating that team’s adjustment factor for him.

 

QB Scoring used: Pass TD =4 FP; 25 Pass Yd = 1 FP; Rush TD = 6; 10 Rush Yd = 1 FP; Turnovers = minus 1

 

For example, to calculate Peyton Manning’s SOSA FP, I start with his Week One game against Baltimore. You may remember he played quite well: he scored 46.5 FP in the scoring system I’m using. Baltimore’s FPA vs. QBs was 16.4 for all games, but 14.4 when I exclude the game against Peyton. The league average FPA was 17.3. When I divide 14.4 by 17.3, I get an adjustment factor of 0.83. Peyton’s 46.5 FP divided by 0.83 equals a SOSA FP of 56.0. Because Peyton played a defense (much) better than the league average, the adjustment suggests his numbers would have been better against an average defense (a scary thought) – his SOSA FP adjusts his score upwards to account for that. By doing this for every game, I can get a better picture of how each could have performed for fantasy if he played an average schedule.

 

Obviously, teams make adjustments, suffer injuries, and get better or worse throughout the year, but this study gives a statistical basis for what QBs were helped or hurt by their schedules in 2014.

 

Here are the results for the top 50 QBs. The table includes the actual FP totals and ranks as well as the SOSA FP figures. The final column is a percentage (SOSA PCT) that equals the SOSA FP divided by Actual FP. A SOSA FP of 100% would mean that a player had an exactly average schedule. If the percentage is over 100%, it means he played a harder than average schedule and that his Actual FP understates how well he played. For example, Peyton’s 102% show that he played a slightly harder than average slate of opponents – he would have been expected to score 7 more FP total against a neutral schedule. On the other hand, a percentage less than 100% means a QB had an easy schedule and his scoring was inflated.

Actual vs. Strength of Schedule Adjusted (SOSA) QB Fantasy Points and Ranks

Player

Actual FP

Actual Rk

SOSA FP

SOSA Rk

SOSA PCT

Manning, Peyton

429

1

436

1

102%

Brees, Drew

373

2

401

2

107%

Newton, Cam

312

3

317

5

102%

Dalton, Andy

311

4

320

4

103%

Rivers, Philip

302

5

293

8

97%

Stafford, Matthew

301

6

290

9

96%

Luck, Andrew

300

7

324

3

108%

Wilson, Russell

284

8

294

7

103%

Roethlisberger, Ben

280

9

288

11

103%

Kaepernick, Colin

276

10

289

10

105%

Romo, Tony

271

11

264

15

97%

Ryan, Matt

271

12

296

6

109%

Brady, Tom

265

13

279

12

105%

Smith, Alex

264

14

249

16

94%

Foles, Nick

263

15

244

17

93%

Tannehill, Ryan

260

16

268

13

103%

Palmer, Carson

244

17

266

14

109%

Flacco, Joe

230

18

227

18

99%

Griffin III, Robert

228

19

212

20

93%

Smith, Geno

219

20

223

19

102%

Manning, Eli

200

21

177

26

88%

Fitzpatrick, Ryan

181

22

177

25

98%

Cutler, Jay

181

23

185

22

102%

Henne, Chad

176

24

182

23

104%

Rodgers, Aaron

176

24

181

24

103%

Glennon, Mike

173

26

188

21

109%

Pryor, Terrelle

157

27

150

27

96%

Manuel, E.J.

143

28

141

28

98%

McCown, Josh

137

29

125

32

91%

Campbell, Jason

125

30

130

30

104%

Bradford, Sam

124

31

119

33

96%

Ponder, Christian

121

32

116

34

96%

Schaub, Matt

120

33

135

29

112%

Cassel, Matt

118

34

126

31

107%

Keenum, Case

112

35

106

37

95%

Vick, Michael

106

36

106

38

99%

Locker, Jake

105

37

111

35

106%

Weeden, Brandon

100

38

101

39

101%

Clemens, Kellen

96

39

109

36

114%

McGloin, Matt

88

40

88

40

100%

Flynn, Matt

83

41

72

41

86%

Lewis, Thaddeus

65

42

72

42

110%

Hoyer, Brian

43

43

41

43

95%

Cousins, Kirk

43

44

36

44

86%

Tolzien, Scott

39

45

35

46

89%

Freeman, Josh

35

46

36

45

101%

Orton, Kyle

23

47

20

47

88%

Gabbert, Blaine

19

48

20

48

102%

Daniel, Chase

19

49

18

49

94%

Jackson, Tarvaris

16

50

15

50

92%

Some observations:

 

  • QB scoring really isn’t affected all that much by SoS. Only three of 50 QBs had SOSA PCTs over 110% and just 5 had one under 90%.
  • On the other hand, a difficult opponent can make a big difference in a given week. The Seahawks (average FPA = 11.2) only allowed QBs to score FPs above the league average two times: Matt Schaub, 20.7 FP in Week Four (SOSA FP = 34.6) and Andrew Luck, 18.1 in Week Five (29.6). That’s right: Schaub had the best fantasy game of any QB against Seattle this year.
  • Peyton’s season opener was the best SOSA FP game of the year by a huge margin. The next best performance was Nick Foles with 42.2 SOSA FP vs. Oakland. However, Oakland had a below-average fantasy defense so Foles’ actual FP of 45.6 (the 2nd best actual FP of the season) was adjusted down a bit.
  • Drew Brees was a lot closer to Peyton Manning in SOSA FP than in actual FP because of the Saints’ tough schedule of fantasy defenses (SOSA PCT 107%).
  • Andrew Luck jumped up quite a bit in the SOSA Rk, from 7th in Actual Rk to 3rd in the adjusted scoring. He won’t have to face the NFC West next year (average FPA of 14.9) and although he will add the 2nd-hardest division in 2013 (AFC North, FPA 16.4), that set of teams was nowhere near as hard to play. And while he’ll drop the easy AFC West (18.8, 2nd-worst FPA), he’ll add the even easier NFC East (19.1).
  • Matt Ryan’s SOSA Rk was 6th; with an easier schedule next year and presumably fewer injuries to his receivers, look for him to be underrated based on a disappointing 2013.
  • Only Carson Palmer (SOSA PCT 109%) had a harder schedule than Ryan among year-long starters.
  • I’m not a huge Mike Glennon fan, but his fantasy performance was deflated by a schedule as hard as Palmer’s.
  • Kellen Clemens played the toughest set of opponents of any Top 50 QB (SOSA PCT 114%) – he had to play a much harder part of the schedule than Sam Bradford (96%).
  • Nick Foles suffers in these rankings, which are based on total FP. From Week Nine on, his actual FP per game (FP/G) was the best in the league. Since he benefitted from an east schedule, his SOSA FP/G in that span dropped to 23.8, still good for an adjusted rank of 3rd behind Peyton and Brees.
  • Tom Brady’s SOSA FP with Rob Gronkowski projects to 341 for a full season (3rd) while without him he would only project to 216 (20th). If Gronkowski isn’t fully healthy for 2014, that is a huge blow to Brady’s FP.
  • Philip Rivers was a pleasant surprise with his #5 Actual Rk; he was helped by an easy schedule (SOSA PCT 97%) but still his SOSA Rk of 8th was good.
  • Mathew Stafford was also boosted a bit by an easy schedule (SOSA PCT 96%).
  • Tony Romo dropped from a marginal starter (Actual Rk 11th) to a fantasy back-up (SOSA Rk 15th) when his schedule adjustment (97%) is factored in.
  • Ryan Tannehill was a better fantasy QB than Romo when schedule is considered (SOSA Rk 13th).
  • Alex Smith was helped by an easy schedule too (SOSA PCT 94%) although it didn’t change his ranking much.
  • Robert Griffin III was even worse than you thought; he had an easy schedule (SOSA PCT 93%) although his backup Kirk Cousins had an even easier one (86%); Griffin outscored Cousins 16 to 12 on a SOSA FP/G basis.
  • And if you thought Griffin was bad with an easy schedule, what about the other Manning: Eli was 29th despite the easiest schedule of any full-time QB (88%).
  • Only Cousins and Matt Flynn (both 86%) faced easier opponents than Eli.
  • Of the four rookies who played extensively, I’ve already noted that Glennon had a hard schedule. Geno Smith had a slightly tougher than average set of opponents (102%); E.J. Manuel a bit easier than average schedule (98%), and Matt McGloin faced a completely average set of foes.

 

The caveats on this article are:

  • Players like Cousins who played a limited number of games show bigger swings in SOSA FP due to the small sample size.
  • Weather and injuries are not factored into the calculations.
  • Nor are teams sitting out starters in Week Seventeen, although that probably on helped Rivers (vs. KC).
  • A team with a poor running defense and weak offense, like Tennessee, might appear to have a better defense against QBs than it really does because teams didn’t need to throw a lot against them, distorting the adjustments.
  • Since QB FP scoring includes rushing points as well as passing, FPA for a team that played several good running QB might not be a good number to use for calculating the SOSA FP of a static QB like Peyton Manning.

 

When thinking about your 2014 fantasy drafts, don’t over-rate the SOSA FP numbers. For example, I’d say Ryan is an attractive starter option in 2014 because he was better than he looked in 2013 and will be under-ated. But I’d be careful of moving him up too far on my draft board. He’s a value as the 10th or so QB taken, not the 6th (his SOSA Rk). Similarly, unless Ryan Tannehill gets a better offensive line, I’d be hard pressed to draft him over Tony Romo, who has quite a good set of receivers. I would move Tannehill higher on my back-up list though.

 

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