Strength of Schedule Fallacy

Clinton Portis, if he stays healthy, should put up good fantasy totals.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Look in almost any fantasy guide these days, and one of the charts you will find is "Strength of Schedule." It supposedly tells you which teams/players have a tougher schedule and which teams play an easier schedule.

They don't.

Here's the problem with the theory. They are all based on the won/loss percentage of the opposing teams. The theory might work if the 8-8 New Orleans Saints defense was the equal to the 8-8 Washington Redskins. The Saints defense gave up 117.8 yards-per-game on the ground last year while the Redskins' defense yielded just 95.4 ypg. The New Orleans defense gave up 221.7 ypg through the air while the Washington "D" gave up just 193.4 ypg.

Or if the 5-11 Oakland Raiders defense had identical statistics to the 5-11 Jacksonville Jaguars. The Raiders yielded 159.7 yards on the ground against just 106.8 for Jacksonville.

Which team do you want your running back playing against, Oakland or Jacksonville?

Just because their records are the same, their defenses are not. They are not even close to being equal. Therefore, the "Strength of Schedule" based on won/loss record must be ignored.

Instead, I have based my "Strength of Schedule" for running backs on the rushing defenses (and in a later article for quarterbacks and receivers on the passing defenses) of the teams on their respective 2009 schedules (I have used only the first 16 weeks because most fantasy leagues end in Week 16).

Based on the chart below, the team with the weakest opponents rush defense is the Washington Redskins. Their opponents yielded 124.0 yards-per-game on the ground last season. It means that Clinton Portis, if he stays healthy, should put up good fantasy totals. It means that while Portis' RapidDraft ADP (Average Draft Position) is currently at 14.1, he has the potential to produce much better results than a mid-second round pick.

The remainder of the top-five includes: San Diego (123.5), Pittsburgh (122.5), Minnesota (122.5) and Baltimore (121.1). You should consider moving each of these team's primary running back up a few slots. Of course, that will be tough for Minnesota's Adrian Peterson since he is already a consensus No.1 pick, but think about moving LaDainian Tomlinson and Willie Parker higher on your "want list."

At the other end of the spectrum is the San Francisco 49ers, who will face a tough schedule, at least for trying to "establish the running game." Frank Gore and Co. will face defenses which yielded just 105.4 ypg in 2008. Perhaps if you are sitting at No.10 and Gore (RapidDraft ADP 10.2) and Chris Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald are still available you should shy away from Gore.

It's also interesting to note that Michael Turner of Atlanta and DeAngelo Williams will face the second and third-toughest running back schedules, respectively, in 2009.

Do you still want to select Turner at No.3 overall as his current "RapidDraft ADP" (3.2) says you will have to do if you want him on your roster?

Next Week we will go over the "Passing Defense Strength of Schedule."

Rushing Defense Strength of Schedule
Team Rushing SOS
Washington 124.0
San Diego 123.5
Pittsburgh 122.5
Minnesota 122.5
Baltimore 121.1
Seattle 119.7
Cincinnati 119.4
Indianapolis 119.3
Dallas 118.4
Oakland 118.3
Arizona 117.6
New Orleans 116.9
Jacksonville 116.9
New York Jets 116.7
New York Giants 116.6
Philadelphia 116.0
Denver 115.8
Houston 115.7
Chicago 115.5
Cleveland 115.1
Buffalo 115.0
Green Bay 114.9
Kansas City 114.8
St. Louis 113.2
Tennessee 112.3
Miami 112.0
New England 111.3
Tampa Bay 111.1
Detroit 109.8
Carolina 107.5
Atlanta 107.3
San Francisco 105.4

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