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Strength of Schedule Analysis – AFC South: Fantasy Football Draft Strategy



AFC South Strength of Schedules

Fantasy Football Matchup Analysis and Draft Prep

Welcome back to the Rotoballer Strength of Schedule series! We recently examined the NFC NorthAFC NorthNFC East, and AFC East. Today, we take a look at the AFC South.

We've been examining every team’s schedule to bring you matchup previews with an eye towards how it will impact your fantasy football aspirations your 2014 fantasy football draft strategy.  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 to make some predictions 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 that a team is ranked first under a position, this means that they gave up the most fantasy points of any team to that position, and thus they present a great matchup. Similarly, if you see a team is ranked 32nd under a position, this means that they gave up the fewest fantasy points of any team to that position, and consequently they present a difficult matchup. All rankings are based on fantasy points in standard Yahoo! leagues from 2013.

You can also use the color codes as a guide. In sum, green represents a “plus” matchup, orange an “average” matchup and red a “minus” matchup.

Houston Texans

QB RB WR TE DEF
1. WAS 12th 3rd 9th 10th 3rd
2. @OAK 6th 5th 11th 19th 7th
3. @NYG 21st 18th 28th 17th 1st
4. BUF 25th 19th 5th 26th 11th
5. @DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st
6. IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th
7. @PIT 21st 17th 21st 20th 22nd
8. @TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th
9. PHI 5th 22nd 1st 28th 20th
10. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
11. @CLE 13th 14th 23rd 18th 6th
12. CIN 26th 31st 22nd 29th 21st
13. TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th
14. @JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th
15. @IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th
16. BAL 24th 25th 18th 24th 10th
17. JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th

Key Takeaway: The Texans play Jacksonville in Week 14, first round of fantasy playoffs.

Deeper Analysis: Personally, I am going to stay away from all Houston Texans this season. I don't really trust Arian Foster to have a big bounce back year after major back problems, especially when I would have to draft him in the 2nd round of a draft and he was considering retirement as recently as a few months ago. And while the Andre Johnson situation seems to be all settled at the moment, who knows how it might spark up again if the Texans lose a few games at the beginning of the season. And with journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick now leading the offense, the passing game on a weekly basis could be shaky, which doesn't bode too well for Johnson or second year receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

With all of that said, the Texans do have some soft matchups throughout the season. And in week 14, when most fantasy playoffs are starting, they get to face the Jaguars, who were and should continue to be one of the weaker defenses in the league. Then, in week 15, they go up against an Indianapolis defense, on a fast track, that had their fair share of issues last year. So if you do happen to end up with Foster, Johnson, or Hopkins, there should be some productive weeks in there, and they do have a favorable fantasy playoffs schedule.

 

Indianapolis Colts

QB RB WR TE DEF
1. @DEN 8th 11th 13th 9th 32nd
2. PHI 5th 22nd 1st 28th 20th
3. @JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th
4. TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th
5. BAL 24th 25th 18th 24th 10th
6. @HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd
7. CIN 26th 31st 22nd 29th 21st
8. @PIT 21st 17th 21st 20th 22nd
9. @NYG 21st 18th 28th 17th 1st
10. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
11. NE 11th 15th 20th 15th 24th
12. JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th
13. WAS 12th 3rd 9th 10th 3rd
14. @CLE 13th 14th 23rd 18th 6th
15. HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd
16. @DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st
17. @TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th

Key Takeaway: Trent Richardson scares me; the Colts defense could be a great streaming option late in the season.

Deeper Analysis:  Word around training camp is that Richardson is more comfortable with the offense now, and he is expecting to be much improved this season from his dismal 2013 campaign. I would still be very cautious, however. Ahmad Bradshaw is still in the mix (until he inevitably gets hurt), and Andrew Luck also takes away some goal line rushing opportunities, as he's known for being able to run it in from close yardage. But the schedule also isn't so favorable for Richardson, as only Jacksonville and Tennessee twice (the Titans once in the irrelevant week 17), Washington in week 13 and Dallas in week 16 pose truly "plus" matchups on paper. In addition, the Houston defense should be improved with the addition of Jadeveon Clowney opposite side J.J. Watt. I'm not so high on Richardson in the first place, and lack of a plus schedule really doesn't help his cause either.

On a separate note, if you take a look at the Colts' opponents from week 12 on, you will see a lot of  good matchups to use Indianapolis's defense, especially if you're the type of player to stream defenses on a weekly basis. Weeks 12-15 are filled with teams that have question marks at the QB position, and hardly potent offenses. This is definitely something to monitor as the season goes on.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

a QB RB WR TE DEF
1. @PHI 5th 22nd 1st 28th 20th
2. @WAS 12th 3rd 9th 10th 3rd
3. IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th
4. @SD 9th 21st 8th 21st 26th
5. PIT 21st 17th 21st 20th 22nd
6. @TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th
7. CLE 13th 14th 23rd 18th 6th
8. MIA 27th 9th 29th 5th 9th
9. @CIN 26th 31st 22nd 29th 21st
10. DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st
11. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
12. @IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th
13. NYG 21st 18th 28th 17th 1st
14. HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd
15. @BAL 24th 25th 18th 24th 10th
16. TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th
17. @HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd

Key Takeaway: The only real viable pass catching option, Cecil Shorts, has a brutal schedule.

Deeper Analysis: Let's be honest. If you are starting a plethora of Jacksonville Jaguars in the first place, you probably don't have a very good fantasy team. But nonetheless, Cecil Shorts, despite all of the Jacksonville quarterback issues over the past couple of seasons, has actually been decent, especially in PPR formats. It helps that, except for the few instances of Justin Blackmon on the field, he has been the Jags only consistent wide receiving option, so his target numbers are usually off the charts.

But despite that, his schedule this year is pretty brutal. After week 2, he only has one "plus" matchup (week 4 in San Diego), to seven "minus" matchups. Even in his average matchups, he's going to be shadowed by the opponent's main cover guy. And when you factor in that the Jags may have a rookie QB starting week 1 in Blake Bortles, you just have to wonder how many legitimate opportunities Shorts will see. On top of that, he has been hampered this preseason by a hamstring injury that I could see being an issue all season long. The bottom line is all of the variables involving Shorts are pointing downward, including a rough schedule, so I would simply stay away, even in PPR formats.

 

Tennessee Titans

a QB RB WR TE DEF
1. KC 18th 16th 16th 32nd 29th
2. DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st
3. @CIN 26th 31st 22nd 29th 21st
4. @IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th
5. CLE 13th 14th 23rd 18th 6th
6. JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th
7. @WAS 12th 3rd 9th 10th 3rd
8. HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd
9. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
10. @BAL 24th 25th 18th 24th 10th
11. PIT 21st 17th 21st 20th 22nd
12. @PHI 5th 22nd 1st 28th 20th
13. @HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd
14. NYG 21st 18th 28th 17th 1st
15. NYJ 15th 28th 5th 14th 5th
16. @JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th
17. IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th

Key Takeaway: Take a look at the Titans defense.

Deeper Analysis:  Streaming defenses alert. Based on last year's stats, the Titans play nine of the best 10 teams for fantasy defenses this season. And three of the top five in weeks 14-16, most league's fantasy playoffs. That is pretty unbelievable. Like we have been saying throughout this entire strength of schedule series, last year's performances are simply that: last year. But if you take a look at some of these teams, many of them, such as Jacksonville, Cleveland, and New York Jets, will likely continue to have problems on the offensive side of the ball in 2014. The Titans will probably struggle to win a lot of games this season, but that doesn't mean their defense can't still be effective, especially against poor competition. If last year is any indication, the Titans will often be the streaming defense of choice more weeks than not.

Check back soon when we will take a look at the NFC South schedules!