Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Oct 2011

DVOA-Based Fantasy Strength of Schedule

In Thursday's fantasy matchups column for ESPN Insider, I discussed the easiest and toughest remaining schedules in the NFL from a fantasy perspective. For quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends, I simply averaged the pass defense DVOAs for opponents from Weeks 7 to 16. Similarly, I averaged run defense DVOAs to come up with schedule strength for running backs. Because it only takes me about 10 sentences to reach the column's 2,000-word limit, there wasn't enough space to list the schedule strengths for every team. Therefore, I'm listing them here.

The table below is pretty self-explanatory, with run and pass offenses ranked from hardest to easiest remaining schedule (i.e., No. 1 is the toughest). It's meant to be used as one more piece of information to consider while you contemplate trade offers and free agent acquisitions in your league(s). Cleveland's offensive players, for instance, will probably be as cold as the wind off Lake Erie over the next 10 weeks thanks to their strength of schedule, so you're better off avoiding them just the same.

One final thing I'll note -- because I know it will come up -- is that, no, that's not a typo. The average opponent DVOAs for all 32 pass offenses are above zero percent, and the average opponent DVOAs for 29 of 32 run offenses are below zero percent. That's because pass offenses in 2011 are increasingly divergent from the era on which baseline efficiencies are based. It's something Aaron's mentioned previously as an issue we'll be addressing this upcoming offseason. Not to worry; regardless of the NFL average, a ranking of one is still a ranking of one, and so on.

Good luck the rest of the way.

OFF PASS
SCHED
RANK RUN
SCHED
RANK
ARI 2.6% 2 -6.0% 8
ATL 15.3% 24 -1.8% 24
BAL 13.7% 19 -4.6% 16
BUF 5.1% 4 -2.3% 23
CAR 14.0% 21 -6.5% 5
CHI 19.5% 31 -5.0% 14
CIN 8.0% 7 -2.8% 18
CLE 1.5% 1 -8.2% 1
DAL 17.4% 28 0.9% 32
DEN 13.7% 18 -1.1% 27
DET 18.4% 29 -1.7% 25
GB 16.4% 26 -5.8% 12
HOU 17.4% 27 -6.0% 9
IND 10.6% 11 -6.3% 6
JAC 12.7% 14 -5.9% 10
KC 13.8% 20 -0.1% 29
OFF PASS
SCHED
RANK RUN
SCHED
RANK
MIA 13.1% 17 -2.5% 22
MIN 12.9% 15 -2.6% 19
NE 10.2% 10 0.7% 31
NO 14.7% 23 -6.8% 3
NYG 6.8% 6 -3.0% 17
NYJ 14.1% 22 0.6% 30
OAK 20.3% 32 -2.6% 20
PHI 12.2% 13 -6.1% 7
PIT 10.1% 9 -5.7% 13
SD 6.7% 5 -6.6% 4
SEA 4.6% 3 -4.7% 15
SF 9.0% 8 -2.6% 21
STL 13.1% 16 -6.9% 2
TB 16.4% 25 -1.6% 26
TEN 19.0% 30 -1.1% 28
WAS 11.7% 12 -5.9% 11
NFL AVG 12.3% -- -3.8% --

Posted by: Danny Tuccitto on 20 Oct 2011

22 comments, Last at 08 Nov 2011, 3:04pm by dw123

Comments

1
by dbt :: Thu, 10/20/2011 - 10:47pm

Wow the Bears have it pretty easy in the opposing pass def category. The teams that make up that +19.5% 31st ranked schedule? Tampa 32nd, Philly 13th, Detroit 5th, San Diego 17th, Oakland 20th, KC 31st, Denver 22nd, Seattle 27th and Green Bay 18th. (Minnesota at 15th rounds out the schedule).

In the computed range, you have the two dead-worst teams vs one above 10th (Detroit) and only two above the median (Philly). Get ready for a lot more slobbery apologies to Jay Cutler in the next few months.

Interestingly enough, Oakland has the 32nd toughest, playing the NFC North and AFC West (like chicago), but having already gotten through the difficult AFC East portion of the schedule. KC twice, and Miami, makes up for not playing Tampa I guess.

2
by Danny Tuccitto :: Thu, 10/20/2011 - 11:00pm

Cutler was one of the featured players I discussed based on this stuff. You don't know hard it was to not make an MCL joke.

3
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/20/2011 - 11:03pm

Wow Cleveland has a brutal schedule remaining. Sorry Colt.

On the other hand, not a single team faces defenses which would be considered above average against the pass in 2006.

5
by zlionsfan :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 8:52am

Well, that's the thing. It isn't the overall schedule, it's just the defenses. Cleveland's remaining schedule is actually 22nd, it's just that the opposing offenses are apparently as bad as Cleveland's.

Detroit is in a mirror-image position: they're playing some pretty bad defenses the rest of the way, but those include Green Bay twice, New Orleans, Oakland, and Carolina, all teams with significantly better offenses than defenses, so even though Detroit has a schedule that looks kind of good from a fantasy perspective, it's actually sixth-toughest overall. (Carolina doesn't pose the same threat as the rest, but they have the same impact: something of a challenge for the defense, something to look forward to on offense.)

4
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 2:14am

Carson Palmer may impress a lot of people on a shaky basis.

6
by krugerindustria... :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 10:06am

before you go waiver wire hunting and gut your fantasy team, adjust this list by adding in the current passing & rushing DVOA for each team to get the biggest mismatches.

sez here, the Giants have the 6th hardest pass D schedule, but once their DVOA of 43% is factored in, they become the 25th hardest (7th easiest).

Now that DVOA has opponent adjustments, isn't this a better way to find mismatches, imperfect such as it is.

13
by ltdm206 :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 4:15pm

Good call. Where are you finding the current passing and rushing specific DVOA?

14
by krugerindustria... :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 4:25pm

Head to the Statistics section on the Banner. Offense & Defense are further split out there.

7
by Todd S. :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 10:29am

Is this something that could be added to the Premium Content section on a weekly basis? (I understand it would be hard to do this year, but maybe for 2012?)

8
by nick thunderdome (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 11:25am

Based on the strength of schedule information (and that Peyton is hurt) is it worth trading Peyton Hillis for Shonn Greene?

10
by 0tarin :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 1:07pm

I'm no expert, but I'd make that trade even without having looked at this post. Hillis has been an underperformer for the most part anyway, and the injury isn't going to add to him. In contrast, the Jets appear to be trying to steer back towards their run-first philosophy, and while Greene has been underperforming as well, I still think he has more upside at this point.

9
by Anon (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 12:03pm

Maybe I don't understand DVOA that well, but how come no team plays a pass-defense with DVOA < 0? Isn't that counterintuitive? I mean, there must be a collection of teams whose pass-defense DVOA is above-average.

11
by dbostedo :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 1:14pm

From the intro :

"The average opponent DVOAs for all 32 pass offenses are above zero percent, and the average opponent DVOAs for 29 of 32 run offenses are below zero percent. That's because pass offenses in 2011 are increasingly divergent from the era on which baseline efficiencies are based. It's something Aaron's mentioned previously as an issue we'll be addressing this upcoming offseason. Not to worry; regardless of the NFL average, a ranking of one is still a ranking of one, and so on."

12
by Sifter :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 3:55pm

Very interesting table - thanks for posting. Is it possible to keep this updated every couple of weeks as well?

15
by Danny Tuccitto :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 7:53pm

Maybe in a couple of weeks I'll post the playoff schedule strengths. Stay tuned.

16
by skibrett15 :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 7:59pm

Why the concern over the passing offenses taking over hence the defenses all having positive DVOA? Doesn't that show that the baseline is just different? Is total offensive DVOA increasing? Or is it just the ratio of Pass:Run DVOA.

Either way, seems like it's more a case of "the times are changin'" than OMG we need to fix this.

17
by tuluse :: Fri, 10/21/2011 - 8:08pm

18th ranked defense this year: 8.8%
2006: 3.2%
2001: -2.7%
1996: -4.9%

18
by Danny Tuccitto :: Sat, 10/22/2011 - 2:12am

This is another one of those times where I'm going to stick my neck out as the newbie, and say something about the inner workings of DVOA that Aaron knows far more about (it's his baby, after all).

I think the point is that, lost amid all the acronymization (new word), is that DVOA stands for "defense adjusted value over average." The average in force here is a baseline efficiency that's computed from data related to several years in the recent past.

When someone reads that team X has a "-10% pass offense DVOA," the interpretation is supposed to be that, after adjusting for opponent and game situation, team X's pass offense is 10% less efficient on a play-by-play basis than the average NFL pass offense. So, the most important question is, "What's 'average'?" Is it the average pass offense in 2011? The average pass offense from 2006-2010? It's a methodological decision that must be made because it's fundamental to interpreting and applying the statistic.

In the not-so-distant past, the "average" pass offense from one season to the next wasn't different enough from baseline to get all that concerned. Over the past few seasons however, "average" has become so out of whack that it's getting to the point that "average" no longer means "average." Hence, the need for tweaking this offseason.

19
by Charly in SJ (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2011 - 5:20pm

Re: "acronymization" As a technical writer in the computer biz with over two decades of experience with TLAs (Three-Letter Acronyms) and their kin, the term I prefer is "acronymania."

Now, I'm off to The Cloud...!!

20
by Shattenjager :: Mon, 10/24/2011 - 4:41pm

Those words are both awesome.

21
by arnoldca79 :: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 5:33pm

Is there anyway to make this a recurring data set? This was really helpful in finding trade/FA value to bolster my depth, and would love to see an update...

22
by dw123 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2011 - 3:04pm

Agreed. Would love to see an up-to-date version of this.