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Fantasy Football Matchup Analysis and Draft Prep: AFC East Strength of Schedules

The time around July 4th weekend is an annual reminder to me that it’s time to start thinking about football season. The preseason, as longwinded and useless as it is for us fans and fantasy footballers, is only about a month away and by the time you know it, Week 1 in Seattle will be underway.

Welcome to the Rotoballer Strength of Schedule series! Over the course of eight beefy diesel articles, we will examine every team’s schedule with an eye toward how it will impact your fantasy football aspirations and how it should impat your 2014 fantasy football draft strategy and preparation.  After reading this series, you will have a solid outlook on which teams have favorable schedules, which players could potentially be great 2014 fantasy football sleepers, and which players can be buy-low or sell-high options based on the timing of their NFL matchups.

At this point, all we can do is look at how teams performed last year, and consider offseason adjustments, and use that as an indicator for this upcoming season.  I’m sure there will be teams that were terrible defensively last year who will be much improved this season, just as the 2012 Saints were consistently one of the best matchups for fantasy offenses as their defense was terrible, while the 2013 Saints had one of the best defenses in the league, but huge changes like that are extremely difficult to predict.

In the subsequent charts, you will see rankings for each position in relation to a team’s schedule. These rankings are based on how many average fantasy points per game a particular team gave up last season to a specific position.  You can use these charts as a reference when reading the analysis for each team. If you see a team is ranked 1st under a position, this means that they gave up the most amount of fantasy points of any team to that position, and are a great matchup. Similarly, if you see a team is ranked 32nd under a position, this means that they gave up the fewest amount of fantasy points of any team to that position, and they are a bad matchup. All rankings are based on fantasy points in standard Yahoo leagues from last year. Hopefully you can also use the color codes as a guide. In sum, green = “plus” matchup, orange = “average” matchup, and red = “minus” matchup.

In this first article, we take a look at the AFC East.

 

Buffalo Bills

QB RB WR TE DEF
1. @CHI 22nd 1st 15th 7th 16th
2. MIA 27th 9th 29th 5th 9th
3. SD 9th 21st 8th 21st 26th
4. @HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd
5. @DET 20th 26th 3rd 30th 14th
6. NE 11th 15th 20th 15th 24th
7. MIN 1st 8th 2nd 2nd 8th
8. @NYJ 14th 28th 6th 12th 5th
9. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
10. KC 18th 16th 16th 32nd 29th
11. @MIA 27th 9th 29th 5th 9th
12. NYJ 14th 28th 6th 12th 5th
13. CLE 13th 14th 23rd 18th 6th
14. @DEN 8th 11th 13th 9th 32nd
15. GB 10th 13th 4th 8th 19th
16. @OAK 6th 5th 11th 19th 7th
17. @NE 11th 15th 20th 15th 24th


Key Takeaway:
 Take advantage of the Bills’ skill players this year.

By Mr.schultz (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsDeeper Analysis: The Bills offensive players will be happy to see that their schedule is pretty soft, and so fantasy owners should take note come draft time. E.J. Manuel has a great playoff schedule, and while he obviously isn’t a viable starter yet in single QB leagues, he can provide great value in two-QB leagues, or as insurance for your starting QB.

Word on the street is that CJ Spiller will get more touches this season; that could be scary-good, as he only has three “minus” matchups all season, two against the Jets. And for those in favor of streaming TE, Scott Chandler will be an attractive play more weeks than not, as he has only one “minus” matchup and has a favorable playoff schedule, getting the Broncos and the Packers, who each gave up over 8.5 fantasy points per game to TE last year. The Bills sometimes get overlooked, but they should be better this year, especially with the addition of rookie WR Sammy Watkins into the lineup.

 

Miami Dolphins

QB RB WR TE DEF
1. NE 11th 15th 20th 15th 24th
2. @BUF 25th 19th 5th 26th 11th
3. KC 18th 16th 16th 32nd 29th
4. OAK 6th 5th 11th 19th 7th
5. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
6. GB 10th 13th 4th 8th 19th
7. @CHI 22nd 1st 15th 7th 16th
8. @JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th
9. SD 9th 21st 8th 21st 26th
10. @DET 20th 26th 3rd 30th 14th
11. BUF 25th 19th 5th 26th 11th
12. @DEN 8th 11th 13th 9th 32nd
13. @NYJ 14th 28th 6th 12th 5th
14. BAL 24th 25th 18th 24th 10th
15. @NE 11th 15th 20th 15th 24th
16. MIN 1st 8th 2nd 2nd 8th
17. NYJ 14th 28th 6th 12th 5th

 

Key Takeaway: Stay away from Lamar Miller.

Deeper Analysis: I beg of you. He will be torture to deal with. As a 2013 fantasy owner of Lamar Miller, just don’t do it and save yourself the sleepless nights.  I don’t care that he’s expected to carry more of a workload this season. I don’t care that it’s his third year in the league, when running backs are supposed to take giant steps forward. I don’t care that another year of Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace together will spread the field out and open up more running lanes.

While all of those things might be true, Joe Philbin is still the head coach of the Dolphins, and his usage of Miller last season, in conjunction with Daniel Thomas, was incredibly baffling.  In 2014, Knowshon Moreno-- a much better running back than Thomas-- is in the mix, and I’m not about to enter another year of Russian Roulette with Philbin and his nonsense. Furthermore, the back-end of Miller’s fantasy schedule (including playoffs) is pretty brutal, including four “minus” matchups from Week 10 on, so I would stay as far away from him as possible and let someone else take on the risky proposition.

 

New York Jets

QB RB WR TE DEF
1. OAK 6th 5th 11th 19th 7th
2. @GB 10th 13th 4th 8th 19th
3. CHI 22nd 1st 15th 7th 16th
4. DET 20th 26th 3rd 30th 14th
5. @SD 9th 21st 8th 21st 26th
6. DEN 8th 11th 13th 9th 32nd
7. @NE 11th 15th 20th 15th 24th
8. BUF 25th 19th 5th 26th 11th
9. @KC 18th 16th 16th 32nd 29th
10. PIT 21st 17th 21st 20th 22nd
11. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
12. @BUF 25th 19th 5th 26th 11th
13. MIA 27th 9th 29th 5th 9th
14. @MIN 1st 8th 2nd 2nd 8th
15. @TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th
16. NE 11th 15th 20th 15th 24th
17. @MIA 27th 9th 29th 5th 9th

 

Key Takeaway: CJ2K could be CJ2K again.

Rotoballer-Fantasy-Football-Advice-Chris-JohnsonDeeper Analysis:  OK maybe not 2K, but Chris Johnson can easily have a very good first season in New York. I think the change of scenery will benefit him, and if the Jets are going to be anything approaching successful this year, they’re going to need to run the ball more, given their lack of skill players on the outside (Eric Decker notwithstanding).

CJ’s schedule sets up very nicely for him. Aside from one tough home matchup against the Lions, he faces a ton of bad and middle-of-the-road defenses leading up to the fantasy playoffs, at which point he gets “plus” matchups against Minnesota in Week 14 and a revenge matchup versus his former team in Week 15.  These teams averaged over 20 points per game to RB last year. Johnson's not a first-rounder anymore, but don’t overlook him when you’re thinking about RB2.

 

New England Patriots

QB RB WR TE DEF
1.  @MIA 27th 9th 29th 5th 9th
2. @MIN 1st 8th 2nd 2nd 8th
3. OAK 6th 5th 11th 19th 7th
4. @KC 18th 16th 16th 32nd 29th
5. CIN 26th 31st 22nd 29th 21st
6. @BUF 25th 19th 5th 26th 11th
7. NYJ 14th 28th 6th 12th 5th
8. CHI 22nd 1st 15th 7th 16th
9. DEN 8th 11th 13th 9th 32nd
10. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
11. @IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th
12. DET 20th 26th 3rd 30th 14th
13. @GB 10th 13th 4th 8th 19th
14. @SD 9th 21st 8th 21st 26th
15. MIA 27th 9th 29th 5th 9th
16. @NYJ 14th 28th 6th 12th 5th
17. BUF 25th 19th 5th 26th 11th

 

Key Takeaway: I hope people continue the “Tom Brady is done” talk, so that I can buy low on him after Week 8.

rotoballer-fantasy-football-advice-TOM-BRADYDeeper Analysis: Yes, Tom Brady was not vintage Tom Brady last year. But I am prepared to make several excuses for him. He lost Shane Vereen, arguably New England’s most versatile and dangerous offensive weapon, in Week 1. Gronk was out for all of about 10 minutes last season. The Patriots had virtually zero running game, aside from a few surprise weeks from LeGarrette Blount. And Brady lost his go-to security blanket in Wes Welker to the Broncos-- while Julian Edelman filled in more than admirably, he was pretty much Brady’s only option.

A new season, a new schedule, and a fresh start for Brady, who will hopefully have most of his cast of characters back healthy and his young WR core another year more polished. Brady’s schedule includes some tough matchups in the first half of the year, but after that, it really opens up and he should have some huge games, especially since at that point Gronk will be fully back and recovered. A smart move would be to pounce on Brady after he faces some tough defenses during the middle of the season and maybe has a few mediocre games; buy low from the concerned owner after Week 8 when the schedule opens up.

 

The next post will be on the NFC East so stay tuned!