Tuesday, August 28, 2012

5 QBs With The Worst Fantasy Playoff Schedules

Evaluating each player’s strength of schedule (SOS) should be a vital component in the overall preparation that occurs with all fantasy owners prior to your various drafts. Even though many events will take place between now and the onset of your fantasy postseason, it can still be beneficial for your draft planning to determine which QBs appear to have the most formidable schedules during weeks 14-16, which is the three week stretch that encompasses the playoffs in most fantasy leagues. This is true for owners who plans to exercise patience before drafting a QB, or for those who will be selecting early enough in round one to have the opportunity of securing Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. In either case,  the SOS can assist you with this important decision. Not only is it wise to utilize this information as you prepare for draft day, but you should also keep these weeks in mind as the season proceeds.

Once we have progressed through the first three weeks of the regular season, the statistics that are utilized to determine each defense’s strength can shift to what is actually taking place in 2012. And that could alter the SOS for various QBs. But we will address that when those adjustments have occurred. For the sake of collecting data that can be beneficial for your draft planning now, the strength of every opponent’s pass defense has been determined by employing last year’s overall pass defense ranking, the number of yards that each team allowed, and the number of TDs that these same units surrendered. The amount of fantasy points that were given up by each defensive unit in 2011 was also used in the equation, and was tabulated with the help of our friends at fftoolbox.com. The final element of consideration in this process included the improvements in personnel that have been made in the off season by each franchise.

For a comprehensive look at the SOS for the entire season, including projections regarding how many fantasy points will be allowed by defenses in 2012, Kurt Turner has created an extremely comprehensive breakdown:  http://fantasyknuckleheads.com/strength-of-schedule-fantasy-football-positional-sos/

Meanwhile, here is a rundown of the 5 QBs who will be provided with the worst matchups during weeks 14-16. The members of this select group all happen to be high profile QBs, with the most arduous schedule appearing first. The level of difficulty then decreases slightly as the list continues. Analysis of the 5 QBs who possess the most favorable schedules can be found right here: http://fantasyknuckleheads.com/5-qbs-with-the-best-fantasy-playoff-schedules-2/
Week 14  
Pass D  Ranking
Week 15  
Pass D  Ranking
Week 16  
Pass D  Ranking
         Robert Griffin III         Ravens
        at Browns
     at Eagles
             Tom Brady          Texans
    at Jaguars
            Philip Rivers         at Steelers
      at Jets
          Peyton Manning        at Raiders
        at Ravens
            Tony Romo        at Bengals

Robert Griffin III
RGIII will have navigated through nearly his entire rookie season by this time, only to be greeted by the league’s most torturous schedule during this three week stretch. He will first encounter the always formidable assemblage of Ravens, who despite some transition will remain very sturdy. They only allowed 196 YPG through the air last season, while generating the NFL’s third highest number of sacks (48). Next on the agenda will be the Browns’ second ranked pass defenders from 2011, led by Joe Haden. The Pro Bowl level CB appears poised to seize his place among the elite. And he performed a primary role in Cleveland becoming one of just two teams to permit less than passing 3,000 yards throughout the entire regular season. RGIII will then complete this trilogy with a meeting against division rival Philadelphia, who surrendered 212 YPG and 27 TDs through the air last season. But the Eagles should be stingier this year. Not only did they improve substantially as the 2011 regular season progressed, but their talented secondary will have played an entire year together, with full comprehension of a system that was implemented last year. Plus, Griffin will have to contend with the same unit that registered an NFL best 50 sacks in 2011.     

Tom Brady
Brady has been supplied with even more weaponry this season, to supplement a Patriot offense that amassed over 5,000 passing yards in 2011, while generating 39 TDs, and averaging 318 YPG. He is of course expected to respond by once again accumulating massive amounts of yardage, TDs, and fantasy points because of it. But he must remain upright, and in New England’s lineup in order to accomplish that. Therefore, it is incumbent upon his offensive line to protect him. Brady was sacked 32 times last season, and in weeks 14-15 he will matchup against two units who ranked among the top seven in taking down opposing signal callers. Starting with the Texans, who not only ranked third versus the pass last season (190 YPG), but accumulated the sixth best sack total (44). Then, Brady will face San Francisco, whose defensive prowess in 2011 has certainly been well documented at this point. It included their outstanding ability to limit opponents’ scoring, as they permitted just 14.3 points per game. They tied for the NFL lead with 38 takeaways, and also pilfered 23 passes, which was the second best INT total. Plus, the 49ers finished seventh with 42 sacks. Brady’s three game challenge will then conclude with a matchup versus Jacksonville. While the Jaguars do not receive the same level of respect as San Francisco or Houston, the fact remains that they finished an impressive eighth against the pass last season, surrendering just 209 YPG.  

Philip Rivers
Rivers will be well into his ninth year with the Bolts once this portion of the schedule arrives, and fantasy owners hope that he will also be closing in on his fifth consecutive 4,000 yard season. However, the yardage and fantasy points won’t come easily in week 14, when he bumps into a Steeler team that was the NFL’s best at defending the pass in 2011. Even though Pittsburgh’s most recent postseason appearance ended abruptly when they surrendered an 80- yard pass in OT, their unit only permitted 172 YPG during the regular season. They still have the depth and talent to overcome age in certain areas, and will be formidable once again. Carolina ranked 24th in overall pass defense, while allowing 247 YPG, but the team enters 2012 believing that they have fortified both their line and secondary. Plus Panthers’ HC Ron Rivera was the Chargers’ DC from 2008-2010, and will know Rivers’ strengths and weaknesses intimately. The Jets were stellar versus the pass in 2011, permitting only 201 YPG. Plus, they yielded just 15 TDs all season, which tied them with Pittsburgh for the second fewest among all defensive units. Rivers also struggled mightily when he lined up up against them last season, completing just 50% of his passes (16-32), generating only 179 yards, and suffering two INTs.

Peyton Manning
We watched the four-time NFL MVP’s streak of 208 consecutive regular season starts come to a sudden  conclusion in 2011. But barring any setbacks, he will have performed under center in 13 straight contests, prior to squaring off against this trio of adversaries during the fantasy postseason. And despite the challenges during this stretch, his unquestioned abilities as an adept technician, strategist and leader, will hopefully be supplemented by  a full return of his capability as a pure passer by that point of the season. Manning will have already battled divisional rival Oakland prior to their week 14 encounter, and they will not resemble the unimposing defense that yielded 251 YPG, and 18 TDs through the air in 2011. All current indications are that this unit has improved markedly, thanks to a long needed transformation toward less predictability, and far more aggressiveness in the application of schemes. The Ravens’ pass defense has struggled during the preseason, permitting an uncharacteristically high 255.5 YPG, which ranks 29th. However, the belief here is that they will not unveil their most complex schemes until the regular season commences, and will therefore present a far more daunting challenge when the games count. Manning will also discover that week 16 opponent Cleveland’s greatest strength is still the ability to thwart opposing signal callers. The good news for his owners, is that the Browns’ woeful offense will suffer numerous three and outs, and supply Manning with sufficient opportunities to exploit a tiring defensive unit.

Tony Romo
You can only hope that by the time this portion of the schedule rolls around, Romo won’t be throwing only to Dwayne Harris and Kevin Ogletree, which is the case as this is being written. Injuries to Dez Bryant (patella tendinitis), Miles Austin (hamstring) and Jason Witten (spleen) have only made Romo’s task of moving the Cowboys’ offense more difficult. And when ongoing concerns about the offensive line are blended into the mix, there are reasons to question how successful Romo can be amid the collection of issues that surround him. Which makes the thought of him lining up to face his opponents during this critical three week stretch even more sobering. The Bengals finished ninth against the pass last year, while generating the NFL’s fifth highest number of sacks (45). As mentioned previously, the Steelers had the top ranked pass defense in 2011, while allowing a grand total of just 15 TDs. While New Orleans was not nearly as impressive statistically, new DC Steve Spagnuolo is instituting more zone coverage, with less reliance on the man coverage that was prevalent under Gregg Williams. That will reduce the number of big plays that have been surrendered by the secondary in recent years. He will also avoid exposing the defensive backs quite as often by moderating the blitz packages. All of which will make production more difficult for Romo.     
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