2017 Fantasy Football Quarterbacks: Strength of Schedule Breakdown
Jonathan Impemba takes a look at the strength of schedule rankings for the QB position and gives his take on players being taken with favorable, neutral and bad schedule matchups for the upcoming fantasy season.
When it comes to drafting a quarterback for my fantasy team there a few factors that I tend to take into consideration. One of those factors happens to be the projected strength of schedule, especially if I plan on waiting until the later rounds to draft a few quarterbacks to mix and match based off the opponent they will face. With that said let’s take a look at some quarterbacks that find themselves with favorable, neutral and unfavorable strength of schedule matchups for the upcoming fantasy football season.
At The Top
Sam Bradford, MIN: Bradford has the second-best projected schedule for fantasy QB’s heading into this season which will be his second as a member of the Vikings. Last season Bradford was acquired just before the start of the regular season following Teddy Bridgewater’s season ending injury and though he had little time to study the system before being thrown into the fire he still turned in a very respectable season in which he set career highs in yards (3,877), completion percentage (71.6) and rating (99.3). Bradford also threw for 20 touchdowns which is just one shy of his career high mark and five interceptions which is his lowest total in a season which he has played at least 10 games. Bradford currently has an average ADP of 202.4 and is being drafted as the 25th QB off the board which makes him a low end QB2 in two-QB formats but with weapons like Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and rookie running back Dalvin Cook who can make plays in the passing game out of the backfield all at Bradford’s disposal with the second-best fantasy schedule it is very possible he exceeds expectations this upcoming season for fantasy owners.
Jameis Winston, TB: A popular breakout candidate heading into this upcoming fantasy football season, Winston checks in with the No.5 ranked strength of schedule for fantasy quarterbacks this season. The Buccaneers added receiver DeSean Jackson and drafted tight end O.J. Howard this offseason to bolster Winston’s receiving corps that already boasts pro bowl receiver Mike Evans, tight end Cameron Brate and slot receiver Adam Humphries all three of whom are coming off career years. The one thing that could hold Winston back this season is the play of their offensive line which heads into this season ranked 30th in the league according to Pro Football Focus. Winston currently has an average ADP of 75.2 and is being taken as the 11th QB off the board in standard league formats. Given the opinion that this will be a breakout season and the fact that he has a favorable schedule this season, fantasy owners should expect him to exceed his current positional draft position this season.
Middle of the Pack
Marcus Mariota, TEN: Mariota is another QB that enters the 2017 fantasy football season with plenty of hype around a potential breakout season. He currently has the 16th best strength of schedule for fantasy QB’s heading into the upcoming season which is likely due to his divisional opponents as both the Jaguars and Texans boast some of the leagues better pass defenses last season as well as out of division matchups against the Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams who were also some of the best against the pass last season. Fortunately for Mariota he will have some new toys to throw to this season after the Titans went and drafted receiver Corey Davis and signed Eric Decker in free-agency to go along with the likes of Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker who were the two leaders in receiving last season. Mariota is also capable of producing fantasy points with his legs, an added bonus for those who draft him as he can earn some extra points in some of those tougher matchups without having to throw the ball. Mariota currently has an ADP of 76 and is the eighth QB to come off the board in standard league formats. It’s a situation like this where I would look at both Mariota and Winston who have nearly identical ADP’s and take Winston’s strength of schedule advantage as a reason to decide between the two for this upcoming season.
Andy Dalton, CIN: Dalton is coming off an interesting season which saw him throw a career low 18 touchdown passes while nearly setting a career high with 4,206 passing yards. He also threw just eight interceptions which is his lowest total in a season that saw him play all 16 games. The lack of touchdowns was certainly frustrating to fantasy owners and likely the reason for his depressed pre-season ranking. Another reason for is 147.8 ADP could be that he will have the 22nd best strength of schedule for fantasy QB’s this upcoming season. Tough matchups against Houston, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Denver, Chicago, Minnesota and Baltimore are all reasons for concern if you believe those defenses will perform as well as they did last season. Still, Dalton has proven to be a reliable NFL quarterback during the regular season and he certainly has the weapons with receiver A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert leading the way. Dalton is currently going as the 18th quarterback off the board which makes him a starter in two-QB formats but a likely backup in standard formats.
At The Bottom
Dak Prescott, DAL: Prescott is coming off quite the rookie season which saw him throw for 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns and four. He completed 67.8-percent of his passes and finished the season with a 104.9 QB Rating. All of those numbers are well and good but the crux of the Cowboys’ offense was based off the running attack behind fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot. With Elliot suspended for the first six games of the season pending appeal the Cowboys offense will likely have to fall on the shoulders of Dak Prescott a bit more than they were expecting. The team did little to upgrade their receiving group heading into the 2017 season as they hope a fully healthy Dez Bryant will be the weapon Prescott needs to improve the Cowboys passing attack. Unfortunately, Prescott will have the 6th worst schedule for fantasy quarterbacks this season as the Cowboys impressive record last year will have them facing some tougher opponents this season than they did last year when they were coming off a 4-12 record. Prescott currently has an average ADP of 98.2 and is the 13th QB to come off the board which makes him a borderline QB1 in standard league formats. If you trust in the development of Prescott in year two then go ahead and draft him but at his ADP and given his schedule I would probably not rely on him to be my every week starter.
Derek Carr, OAK: Whelp somebody had to have the worst strength of schedule for this upcoming season and that person is none other than Derek Carr. Carr gets the short end of the stick likely due to his division which boasts the Chiefs and Broncos who have some pretty solid defenses and makeup a quarter of his regular season schedule. Carr currently has an average ADP of 77.2 and is being drafted as the 9th QB to come off the board which makes him a QB1 in standard league formats. While the schedule for Carr may not be in his favor he will benefit from having one of the league’s best offensive lines as well as a receiving group that consists of Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and newly signed tight end Jared Cook. The Raiders offense will also feature Marshawn Lynch who could potentially open up the passing game if he forces teams to stack the box against him should Beast Mode truly return in 2017.
You can see the Strength of Schedule rankings in the chart below which was provided by FantasyPros.
|1||New Orleans Saints||Drew Brees|
|2||Minnesota Vikings||Sam Bradford|
|3||Carolina Panthers||Cam Newton|
|4||Chicago Bears||Mike Glennon|
|5||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Jameis Winston|
|6||Baltimore Ravens||Joe Flacco|
|7||Atlanta Falcons||Matt Ryan|
|8||Buffalo Bills||Tyrod Taylor|
|9||Seattle Seahawks||Russell Wilson|
|10||New York Jets||Josh McCown|
|11||Green Bay Packers||Aaron Rodgers|
|12||Miami Dolphins||Jay Cutler|
|13||Jacksonville Jaguars||Blake Bortles|
|14||Pittsburgh Steelers||Ben Roethlisberger|
|15||Houston Texans||Tom Savage|
|16||Tennessee Titans||Marcus Mariota|
|17||Detroit Lions||Matthew Stafford|
|18||Arizona Cardinals||Carson Palmer|
|19||New England Patriots||Tom Brady|
|20||Cleveland Browns||DeShone Kizer|
|21||Denver Broncos||Trevor Siemian|
|22||Cincinnati Bengals||Andy Dalton|
|23||New York Giants||Eli Manning|
|24||Indianapolis Colts||Andrew Luck|
|25||San Francisco 49ers||Brian Hoyer|
|26||Los Angeles Rams||Jared Goff|
|27||Dallas Cowboys||Dak Prescott|
|28||Los Angeles Chargers||Philip Rivers|
|29||Kansas City Chiefs||Alex Smith|
|30||Philadelphia Eagles||Carson Wentz|
|31||Washington Redskins||Kirk Cousins|
|32||Oakland Raiders||Derek Carr|