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Strength of Schedule Analysis - NFC East: Fantasy Football Draft Strategy


 

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

Welcome back 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 impact 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 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.

Last week, we examined the AFC East. This week, we take a look at the NFC East.

 

Dallas Cowboys

  QB RB WR TE DEF

1. SF

30th 24th 24th 22nd

30th

2. @TEN

28th 4th 31st 6th

15th

3. @STL

23rd 6th 19th 31st

17th

4. NO

30th 23rd 27th 23rd

28th

5. HOU

16th 12th 25th 11th

2nd

6. @SEA

32nd 29th 32nd 25th

23rd

7. NYG

19th 18th 28th 17th

1st

8. WAS

12th 3rd 9th 10th

3rd

9. AZ

16th 32nd 26th 1st

18th

10. @JAC

3rd 10th 12th 3rd

4th

11. BYE

BYE BYE BYE BYE

BYE

12. @NYG

19th 18th 28th 17th

1st

13. PHI

5th 22nd 1st 28th

20th

14. @CHI

22nd 1st 15th 7th

16th

15. @PHI 5th 22nd 1st 28th

20th

16. IND

17th 20th 14th 27th

27th

17. @WAS 12th 3rd 9th 10th

3rd

 

rotoballer-fantasy-football-advice-dez-bryantKey Takeaway: Tony Romo and Dez Bryant could be great buy-low targets after Week 7.

Deeper Analysis: The Cowboys have a pretty brutal schedule to start the season, facing off against tough defenses like the 49ers and Seahawks within the first six weeks.  Both Romo and his WR group could struggle out of the gate, as neither position faces “plus” matchups until the middle of the season.  Obviously if you draft Romo, Dez Bryant and other bona fide fantasy starters, you’re not going to sit them just based on tough matchups.  But if might be a wise strategy to let someone else in your league draft these guys, and try to buy low on them after Week 6, when the schedule eases up tremendously for Romo and his WR group, particularly later in the season around fantasy playoffs time.

The running back position-- specifically DeMarco Murray-- is a bit of a different story, as he has several good matchups mixed in throughout the season, along with a few toughies. Especially looking towards the playoffs, Murray will get face the Bears in Week 14 (when most fantasy playoffs start), who were the worst defense against RB last year, allowing a whopping 141 yards per game on the ground, worst in the league by far.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

QB RB WR TE DEF
1. JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th
2. @IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th
3. WAS 12th 3rd 9th 10th 3rd
4. @SF 29th 24th 24th 22nd 30th
5. STL 23rd 6th 19th 31st 17th
6. NYG 19th 18th 28th 17th 1st
7. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
8. @AZ 15th 32nd 26th 1st 18th
9. @HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd
10. CAR 31st 30th 30th 13th 25th
11. @GB 10th 13th 4th 8th 19th
12. TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th
13. @DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st
14. SEA 32nd 29th 32nd 25th 23rd
15. DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st
16. @WAS 12th 3rd 9th 10th 3rd
17. @NYG 19th 18th 28th 17th 1st

 

Rotoballer-Fantasy-Football-Advice-Analysis-LeSean-McCoyKey Takeaway:  The Eagles play Seattle in Week 14, more than likely your first round of playoffs.

Deeper Analysis:  As a fantasy owner, you’re clearly not going to base your draft around playoff scheduling, let alone scheduling in general. However, I don’t think you can overlook the fact that the Eagles will face the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14, and if you have a team that relies on Nick FolesLeSean McCoy or any Eagles’ pass catchers, you could be looking at an early playoff exit. I am definitely not saying to avoid these guys, but it’s something to keep in mind as the season goes on. To make matters even trickier, the Eagles have two favorable matchups in Weeks 15 and 16, so if your team survives the first round of playoffs in Week 14, your Eagles’ players will have great matchups against Dallas and Washington.

Looking at specific positions, the Eagles’ TE duo of Zach Ertz and Brent Celek could be really good streaming options (if you play the TE stream game) after their Week 7 bye, as they only face one “minus” matchup (Week 14 against Seattle) after that point.

 

New York Giants

QB RB WR TE DEF
1. @DET 20th 26th 3rd 30th 14th
2. AZ 16th 32nd 26th 1st 18th
3. HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd
4. @WAS 12th 3rd 9th 10th 3rd
5. ATL 4th 7th 10th 14th 12th
6. @PHI 5th 22nd 1st 28th 20th
7. @DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st
8. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
9. IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th
10. @SEA 32nd 29th 32nd 25th 23rd
11. SF 29th 24th 24th 22nd 30th
12. DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st
13. @JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th
14. @TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th
15. WAS 12th 3rd 9th 10th 3rd
16. @STL 23rd 6th 19th 31st 17th
17. PHI 5th 22nd 1st 28th 20th

 

"Eli Manning Giants QB" by Taken by Alexa (Flickr profile), cropped and touched up by CPacker - Original webpage:[1] Website publisher: Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eli_Manning_Giants_QB.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Eli_Manning_Giants_QB.jpgKey Takeaway: Take a good, hard look at Rashad Jennings for your team, or try to buy low from a panicky owner after Week 2. 

Deeper Analysis: Forgetting the fact that Jennings is being vastly overlooked in many mock drafts that I have seen so far, his schedule sets up very nicely for 2014. After two tough matchups to begin the season, he has several good ones until his bye week. After that, sure-- back-to-back games against the Seahawks and 49ers is far from attractive, but then it’s all downhill from there. Jennings doesn’t face a bad defense from Week 12 on (discounting Week 17, during which most fantasy leagues do not play).  Jennings has the type of back-end schedule that can carry you to a championship, so I wouldn’t get scared when you see his matchups early in the season against the tough NFC West defenses, because you will be quite sorry if you've sold come Week 12.

Taking a look at some other positions, unless you’re in a two QB league, Eli Manning probably shouldn’t see your starting lineup, though he has a favorable schedule until his bye week in Week 8. Perhaps if you draft him as a backup and he has some success early on, you can attempt to sell high before he faces some tougher matchups later in the year. Victor Cruz could be a “hit or miss” candidate from week to week, as there are only three games on the schedule in which he doesn’t face either a “plus” or “minus” defense against WR. Additionally, we've seen how Cruz’s production last year (or lack thereof) was directly tied to Manning's performance, so Cruz could certainly provide some frustrations this year, depending on the week.

 

Washington Redskins

QB RB WR TE DEF
1. @HOU 16th 12th 25th 11th 2nd
2. JAC 3rd 10th 12th 3rd 4th
3. @PHI 5th 22nd 1st 28th 20th
4. NYG 19th 18th 28th 17th 1st
5. SEA 32nd 29th 32nd 25th 23rd
6. @AZ 15th 32nd 26th 1st 18th
7. TEN 28th 4th 31st 6th 15th
8. @DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st
9. @MIN 1st 8th 2nd 2nd 8th
10. BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE BYE
11. TB 7th 27th 17th 16th 13th
12. @SF 29th 24th 24th 22nd 30th
13. @IND 17th 20th 14th 27th 27th
14. STL 23rd 6th 19th 31st 17th
15. @NYG 19th 18th 28th 17th 1st
16. PHI 5th 22nd 1st 28th 20th
17. DAL 2nd 2nd 7th 4th 31st

 

Keith Allison - http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/7687510666/in/set-72157630845044624Key Takeaway: Jordan Reed could be a good sell-high candidate after his bye week.

Deeper Analysis: Quite honestly, there’s nothing too discernable about the Redskins schedule at first glance. Aside from two “plus” matchups against Dallas and Minnesota in the middle of the season, the overall schedule seems more difficult than easy.

One thing, however, that caught my attention was how the Redskin’s schedule is set up to perform against TE. Jordan Reed burst onto the scene last season and had some great games until he was ultimately sidelined with concussion symptoms. New head coach Jay Gruden loves utilizing his TE in the passing game (see Tyler Eifert’s and Jermaine Gresham’s target numbers last year for the Bengals), and the schedule sets up favorably for Reed to have some big games early on this year. But after the bye week comes several consecutive tough matchups against teams that defended the TE position well in 2013, possibly making Reed a perfect sell-high candidate after he has a fantastic first part of the season, especially since many of those tough matchups comes during fantasy playoffs.

 

Be sure to check back soon for the next installment in the Strength of Schedule analysis series!

 




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