How To Utilize The NFL Strength of Schedule Rankings For Fantasy Football

There are only 80 days until NFL kickoff and there’s no time like the present to start working on you draft strategy. While SOS shouldn’t be the primary source to influence your draft scheme it can be extremely helpful when deciding between players. When combined with offensive rankings you can pick teams with players who are more likely to produce fantasy football studs. But that doesn’t mean that teams with a tough schedule should be overlooked

Teams in the bottom third of rankings will have more games where they are playing ahead. This benefits running backs who will be used to run out the clock. It creates a more difficult environment for quarterbacks who will be more likely to play more conservatively to maintain their lead. Teams with the toughest SOS will be playing from behind. This benefits wide receivers. Quarterbacks will take the biggest hit due to tough defenses.

The site FFtoolbox took it a step farther by breaking it down by points allowed by position by opposing team.

I just brought all this info to one accessible place!

The main benefit though (as stated before) is using SOS to choose between players that you already like. So, if there are two RBs that you really like and one has a tougher schedule, it makes more sense to go for the guy with the easier schedule. Easy Peasy.

Start your draft day engines boys and girls. It’s right around the corner.

Rank Team Offensive Rank Position To Target
1. San Francisco 49ers 32nd
2. Atlanta Falcons 21st KR
3. Los Angeles Rams 29th
4. New Orleans Saints 6th TE
5. Seattle Seahawks 8th RB
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20th RB/TE
7. Arizona Cardinals 2nd
8. New York Jets 10th
9. New England Patriots 3rd KR
10. Buffalo Bills 12th
11. Miami Dolphins 27th
12. Carolina Panthers 1st TE
13. San Diego Chargers 25th TE
14. Denver Broncos 18th
15. Oakland Raiders 16th DEF
16. Kansas City Chiefs 9th TE
17. Washington Redskins 11th K
18. Minnesota Vikings 19th DEF
19. Houston Texans 26th DEF
20. Baltimore Ravens 24th K
21. Cleveland Browns 30th KR
22. Indianapolis Colts 23rd DEF
23. Pittsburgh Steelers 7th WR
24. Tennessee Titans 28th DEF
25. Jacksonville Jaguars 14th DEF
26. Philadelphia Eagles 13th K
27. Cincinnati Bengals 5th WR
28. Detroit Lions 17th QB
29. Dallas Cowboys 31st WR
30. Chicago Bears 22nd DEF
31. New York Giants 4th QB/RB
32. Green Bay Packers 5th QB

*SOS from ESPN Offensive Rankings from OddsShark Rankings based on FFtoolbox

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Dynasty Drafting 101

Let’s get down to business.

From my research there are three overall types of fantasy drafters:

  1. In it to win it/Go big or go home
  2. Playing for next season
  3. Some combination of the two

Go Big or Go Home

These drafters aren’t worried about anything more than drafting big name players who can offer immediate results. There primary basis for draft selection is recent fantasy success, as opposed to long term potential.

Pros:

  • You get instant results: You don’t have to worry about how a rookie is going to fit into a new system, or have to speculate about production. Of course, not all players are gong to play up to their last season potential, but it’s very similar to a typical draft. You just have to use your best judgement
  • It’s easy to do: For new players who are intimidated by a new format or a new league. drafting in this manner can offer some level of comfort. There’s also less research involved.

Cons:

  • You will need to draft based more on position: When you’re taking all the “brand name players” you’re going to have to fill your starting roster positions in order to get the most bang for you buck. This means that you may have to pass up that extra wide receiver you have your eye on in order to land a top tier quarterback.
  • Your team will not be a strong in the long run: Every player comes with an expiration date, and by focusing on the current best options you will miss out on players that offer more long term value. Dynasty leagues are suppose to be a long term investment, so this is definitely something to keep in mind if you decide to use this strategy.

Playing For Next Season

These drafters are playing the long game. They focus on rookies and players that can help them for years to come.

Pros:

  • Stronger team as the years progress: By picking players that will contribute to your team for multiple years you don’t have to worry about having an off season. You’re not picking players who will soon retire, or are at the peak of their fantasy prowess. You’re pick young fantasy players who still have a lot to give.
  • You’ve researched your team: Taking the road less traveled means you’re going to have to do some extra mapping. You’re not planning for a battle, you’re plotting a war. By putting in the extra effort that comes with picking players based on long term potential, you’re going to have a better understanding of your players, and the strengths and weaknesses of your team.

Cons:

  • You have to research your team: Yes, this is a double edged sword. Novice dynasty drafters (not to mention those new to fantasy football in general) may find all the research required tedious and over whelming. There’s a lot of stats that will have to be sifted through. My advice, especially if you’re new to fantasy, is to find a fantasy author you trust, and base your rankings primarily on their advice, tweaking for your own preference. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • The first year may be tough: If your passing up on big name players in favor of their younger and sometimes untried counterparts, your first season may not be as productive as some of the other managers. Of course, you may knock it out of the park and pick only the most productive rookies, who go on to have ridiculous fantasy years, but it’s a pretty big risk for your first season

Some Combination Of The Two: 

Then there are those drafters who try to balance out their teams with veterans and rookies. This seems like the obvious choice right? But, it’s tough to do. When is it better to take a risk than bet on the sure thing? What positions are more risky than others? If you’re going for the combo, my advice is to have a sound drafting strategy that you feel comfortable with and stick to it. I’ll delve farther into some modified dynasty drafting strategies in the next post.

If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. There’s no better way to prepare for a draft than MOCK DRAFTS, MOCK DRAFTS, MOCK DRAFTS. This is especially true for those starting a new league, and those that are new to the dynasty format. This is the site I am currently using:

https://fantasyfootballcalculator.com/mockdrafts

Until next time, you know what to do!

Fantasy Football: How to Evaluate a Trade

Trading is a necessity in the business of fantasy football. It is a great way to improve your team and manage injuries and bye weeks. But trading can be intimidating for novice fantasy football players, and before you know it, you may be faced with some fast and furious trade offers. That’s why I’m here to help. Here is a quick guideline on how to analyze a trade.

A fantasy team comes with responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is checking your league emails. Scattered in those league emails will be trade offers. There is nothing worse than spending time trying to research a trade to better your team, only to have it go unnoticed. So always observe. Check your emails, check your texts. Someone is spending time to improve their team. The least you can do is look at the offer. Trust me, when you have two running backs down with injury, you will want someone to listen to your trade offers to rebuild your team.

First, you need to identify the skill level of each player. If you click on the players name it will bring up the fantasy scores by week. Check the player being offered first because you should have a pretty decent idea of the fantasy value of your own players. The two main things you will need to check are: the health of the player(s) offered, and the average points per game. Don’t just go by name recognition. Be sure to evaluate the player. Next, compare the player being offered to the player you would have to give up. Never take a player whose average points per game are much lower than who you are trading away. A couple of points difference is fine. Especially if you have a need for that particular position. But a fair trade is going to be pretty balanced. If a trade seems too good to be true, it probably is. Now this will be about the only time in fantasy football that bye weeks matter. If you are desperate for a tight end, you’re not going to want a tight end fast approaching a bye week. Not only that but check match ups. If a player is going up against some really tough defenses (just check the current defensive rankings) then it’s going to affect their fantasy value. There’s a lot to evaluate in a fantasy trade. Don’t take it lightly. 

Of course, there will be times that you will be desperate for a player or a particular position, and if a suitable player can’t be found on the waiver wire, you may end up with a trade that is a little more unbalanced than you would like. These will be a little harder to analyze. To make some headway into solving this tricky situation, you will first need to determine just how badly you’re in need. Rank your situation from 1:You need a player but you can afford to find a subpar replacement off the waiver wire if you can’t make a trade happen, to 10: Your season will END if you don’t make this trade. If the player’s game average falls within one point of your above ranking then the trade is an option. Here’s some more advice. A kicker and a defense will pretty much always be of less value than any other position. And the inverse to this player dilemma is true as well. If you know a fellow league manager is scrambling for a position that you have some depth at, make them an offer. You may end up getting a great value out of the deal.

But for every good trade that goes through, you will see plenty that you’re going to decline. Here’s the deal though; Even if you don’t like a trade at first glance, don’t just click the “deny” button, take the time to analyze the offer. This is as much for your benefit, as for the benefit of other league members. Even if a trade seems unbalanced, take five minutes to study and consider it. Yeah I know, there is no way that you’re trading your stud quarterback for a kicker. But by analyzing the offer you can deduce a few things. First, it reveals the needs of other teams, and what they have to offer for value. Second, it can show you the value of the players you have. So even a dead end trade offer can be enlightening. The opposite is true as well. Never automatically accept a trade. Always analyze the offer.

If you have sat staring at your screen, switching back and forth between ESPN and Yahoo, and you really can’t decide if a trade is in your best interest, you can always check out fantasy football trade analyzers. There are more than a few out there. Google it, try out a few, find one you like and stick with it. They will analyze your trade offer for free, and give you some good feedback. And if you want to crowdsource an assessment, check out twitter. Use the #fantasyfootballhelp to encourage people to weigh in. People love to share their opinion and one or two may have some really insightful criticism.

The key is to take your time and make the most educated decision you can. Even a bad trade can be remedied with some quality time on the waiver wire. Fantasy football is constantly changing, so just make sure you’re ready when it does.  

A Beginners Guide to the Waiver Wire

For those just starting out, the Waiver Wire can be tricky to navigate. Not only do you have to decide who you’re going to pick up but you may not even know how to take advantage of it. I’m reblogging an article I wrote last season around this time, because it’s still just as relevant. For those just starting out, I’ve broken down the waiver wire into the 5 W’s. Who, What, When, Where, Why. Check it out here:

https://footballfemme.com/2014/09/01/the-5-ws-of-the-wavier-wire/

Streaming Defenses: What it is, and Why it matters

If you’ve read any of my articles on draft strategy, you know I advocate for taking a defense and kicker in the last two rounds. The reason I lump kickers and defenses into the same category is that they have similar value. But, what makes up a players value? Basically three things: Points they produce, scarcity of position, and how many roles they can fill for your team: basic supply and demand. (More on that later). But what if the defense you draft, suffers some injuries, has a tough matchup week one, or just plain looks like crap during the preseason? No problem. As a matter of fact there will be multiple games where even the top defenses are absolutely unplayable. Opponents such as The Packers, The Steelers, and The Broncos are tough no matter who you are. But does this mean you need to draft a back up defense? Uh NO! Due to the reasons I will outline later, this is just silly. So what do I recommend instead? Streaming Defenses. This is simply picking up a favored defense on a weekly basis. Easy as that. Defenses that play teams such as The Rams, The Jaguars, or The Buccaneers are going to perform better quite frankly because these are pretty sub par offensive teams. Now, these are the best and the worst from last season, so things may change, but it’s a really good place to start.

Why Streaming Defenses is the best strategy.

Okay let’s go back to those three things I mentioned before, points, scarcity, and role fulfillment. These are things are how we decide how valuable a position is. We’ll get into points and scarcity later, but let’s talk about role fulfillment. A defense can only play in one roster spot for your team. You don’t have to play multiple defenses. A defense can’t fill a flex spot on your roster. One spot, that’s it. Now let’s look at points and scarcity. These are last season’s top performing defenses.

1. Bills

2. Eagles

3. Seahawks

4. Texans

5. Lions

6. Panthers

7. Ravens

8. Packers

9. Rams

10. 49ers

Between these top guys, there was a four point difference in game average between numero uno The Bills, and the tenth best guys the 49ers. Not too much of a spread. But the kicker is that after that there isn’t much of a fall off. The team that was 12th from the bottom. (20th overall) There was only a 1.5 point difference. And even the worst of the worst, The Raiders, had at least one game where they scored in the double digits. (against the 49ers, who last season were the 25th ranked offensive team) This tells us that as far points go, defenses don’t have a lot of value. (Not much point discrepancy) It also tells us that there is a lot of available teams to fill your roster needs. Every single team was playable at least once during regular season, and the top twenty were all within about 5 points of each other. This is why you don’t want to draft a defense early, and why it doesn’t make sense to carry more than one on your roster. They don’t have a lot of positional value. Instead stock up on receiver, or running back depth. Speaking of….

For reference lets check out running backs. You hear a lot about running backs right? They seem pretty important? Well these are last season’s top performers:

1.Demarco Murray

2. Le’Veon Bell

3. Marshawn Lynch

4. Matt Forte

5. Arian Foster

6. Eddie Lacy

7. Jamaal Charles

8. Justin Forsett

9. Lamar Miller

10. Jeremy Hill

Now between these guys there is almost a nine point discrepancy in points per game. (*ahem* double the point spread between defenses) And the discrepancy between the 10th RB Hill, and the 35th ranked RB LeGarrett Blount? 5 points. More than the spread between the top ranked kickers. The worst ranked RB literally had a negative PPG average, -.1. It wasn’t until the 154th ranked RB that a running back had a positive PPG average. It was a whopping .1. But what about role fulfillment? While defenses can only fill one role on standard rosters, running backs can fill three. You are required to start at least two running backs, and they can also fill your flex position. So while standard 10 team leagues only require 10 defenses, they can need up to 30 running backs. So their point production is more relevant, and their role fulfillment is three times as useful. How about scarcity? The number of running backs available affects the scarcity. You have a 1 in 250 chance of drafting the top running back (based on rankings for 2014). You have a 1 in 32 chance of drafting the top defense. Simple. Drop that extra defense and get more depth at running back, or wide receiver. That’s an order.

So what did we learn?

1.To stream a defense means to pick up a defense based on weekly matchups

2. DON’T carry more than one defense on your fantasy team. (seriously)

Good luck!

 

The Waiver Wire W’s; What you need to know

We’re going back to grade school to answer some common questions about the waiver wire using those famous W’s; Who, What, When, Where, Why. So breakout the friendship bracelets because you and the waiver wire are going to get very close throughout your fantasy season.

Who: Who does the waiver wire consist of and who can use it?

The waiver wire consist of players available to be added to your team. Players who already belong to another league member will not be shown. All members of your league has access to the waiver wire, but the waiver wire order (who has priority) differs depending on your league preference. The most common system is reverse ranking order. Ideally this allows the “worst” team the first opportunity to improve their team. So whoever is last in the rankings at the end of the week, will have first priority when choosing players off of waivers. Be sure to check your league rules to determine how waiver order is decided.

What: What is the waiver wire and what is its purpose?

The waiver wire is the place to go to check which players remain undrafted, and to fulfill all of your player needs. If you have a player that needs to be replaced due to injuries, bye weeks, or poor performance the waiver wire is where you will find these replacements. To add a player, there will be a plus (+) sign next to the player information. Click it to add the player. Just keep in mind that you will have to drop a player to add a player to keep a balanced roster.

When: When is the best time to use the waiver wire? 

Two words; Early and Often. By early I mean that you need to be decisive, as you will be battling against 10-14 other people to get the players you want. Waiver order is going to play a large part in this of course, but make sure to stake your claim as soon as possible. There is even a term “waiver hawk” which refers to a player who will stay up all night and into the morning to claim a player as soon as they become available. Some call these people “obsessed”; Some call them “dedicated”…either way don’t be afraid to use the waiver wire to your advantage. I have personally never seen a playoff team with more than half of the original team they drafted. There’s a reason for that. In the ever changing world of fantasy football there are those who adapt and those who are left behind. Don’t fall into that second group.

Where: Where is the waiver wire located?

It’s about the same for every website I have used. There will be a bar of tabs that will read something like: League, My Team, Players, Matchup, Score Board, etc. The tab you will want to focus on is the Players tab. Click on the players tab and that will bring you to the wavier wire page. Find a player you like, add them, and drop someone else. Easy Peasy. (If you want to drop a player, click on the desired player, and there will be a red minus (-) sign near their name. Click this to drop the player. Websites will offer you a prompt asking if you are sure you would like to drop the player at this time, so you don’t have to worry about accidently dropping a player.)

Why: Why should I use the waiver wire?

Beside the previous statement before, “I have never personally seen a playoff team with more than half of the original team they drafted”, you will have to use the waiver wire for bye weeks and in case of injury. Another sneaky way to use the waiver wire is to pick up players that you know other players are targeting. Say another players main QB goes down with an injury and you have waiver wire priority. If you have an opening to pick up, you could aim for the highest ranked QB on the waiver wire. Particularly if there is a big gap in projected production between him and the next available quarterback. This creates a possible trade scenario, or simply handicaps your opponent. (extra sneaky points if your next match is with the now quarterbackless adversary) But be warned, make sure the player your drop is not providing value for your team.

*BONUS* Which one: What’s the difference between a player on waivers and a free agent?

A player on waivers can not be immediately picked up, and are subjected to waiver wire priority. Free agents can be picked up at any time. Free agents commonly are marked by an “FA” listed somewhere near their name. Also when searching under players there will be a way to specify your player results to include players on waivers, free agents, or both.

Wishing you Well on your Waiver Wire Wandering!

~draftdaydame