Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Aug 2003

Do 2003 Schedule Changes Affect Fantasy Football Value?

by Aaron Schatz

In our article on the NFC East, we note that NFC East quarterbacks will play a hellish schedule this year.  They exchange two divisions that are generally favorable for passing -- the NFC West and AFC South -- for two divisions that are very good at defending the pass -- the NFC South and AFC East.  Reading this, you may be asking yourself, "should I avoid Donovan McNabb in my fantasy draft this year?"

The answer is, probably not, but the change in schedule from last year will have an effect on the fantasy value of many NFL players.  Just not as much of an effect as the schedule change will have in the team's actual offense and defense.

Before we look at which players face easier or harder fantasy schedules this year, it is worth looking at why schedule differences from year to year affect fantasy performance less than actual value. 

Let's look at Kerry Collins of the Giants.  He makes a good example because he played every game last year, meaning that the Giants' 2002 fantasy scoring at quarterback is all Collins.  He scored 256 fantasy points last year, or 16 points in an average week.

This chart shows the Giant's schedule in 2002 and 2003.  The first two columns show the average affect of that team's defense on QB fantasy points in 2002.  The second two columns show the OVOA, or offense-adjusted value over average, for that team's defense against the pass in 2002.


NEW YORK GIANTS SCHEDULE
 
NEW YORK GIANTS SCHEDULE
QB FANTASY POINTS vs. AVERAGE
 
ADJ. VALUE OVER AVERAGE vs. PASS
2002 OPPONENTS
2003 OPPONENTS
 
2002 OPPONENTS
2003 OPPONENTS
DAL
0.39
DAL
0.39
 
DAL
0.1%
DAL
0.1%
DAL
0.39
DAL
0.39
 
DAL
0.1%
DAL
0.1%
PHI
-0.95
PHI
-0.95
 
PHI
-10.4%
PHI
-10.4%
PHI
-0.95
PHI
-0.95
 
PHI
-10.4%
PHI
-10.4%
WAS
-1.31
WAS
-1.31
 
WAS
-12.7%
WAS
-12.7%
WAS
-1.31
WAS
-1.31
 
WAS
-12.7%
WAS
-12.7%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ARI
1.49
ATL
-0.27
 
ARI
16.7%
ATL
-16.4%
SEA
-1.63
CAR
-1.56
 
SEA
8.4%
CAR
-13.0%
SFO
0.57
NOR
3.85
 
SFO
13.2%
NOR
1.2%
STL
-2.68
TAM
-8.22
 
STL
-2.0%
TAM
-55.4%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HOU
-0.70
BUF
1.27
 
HOU
3.9%
BUF
4.6%
IND
-0.92
MIA
-2.60
 
IND
9.9%
MIA
-21.4%
JAC
1.98
NWE
-0.31
JAC
6.2%
NWE
-17.8%
TEN
2.67
NYJ
-2.41
 
TEN
5.9%
NYJ
2.1%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ATL
-0.27
STL
-2.68
 
ATL
-16.4%
STL
-2.0%
MIN
5.52
MIN
5.52
 
MIN
27.9%
MIN
27.9%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
AVERAGE
0.14
AVERAGE
-0.70
 
AVERAGE
1.7%
AVERAGE
-8.5%

The change in schedule from 2002 to 2003, if teams stay relatively the same as last year, will cost Collins less than a fantasy point per week.  That's not a lot.

Last year, Collins averaged 16 points per week.  Since Giants opponents allowed an additional 0.14 fantasy points to the quarterback each week, they added only 0.9% more points to Collins' fantasy scoring each week.  Should things stay the same in 2003, this year's Giants opponents will cost Collins 0.70 points, or 4.4% of his scoring, each week.  Compare those two percentages to the OVOA averages from the right side of the table, and it looks like a team's schedule affects fantasy points about half as much as it affects actual performance.  Of course this is just for one team; we haven't looked at the other 31.  But in general, schedule changes will not shift your fantasy draft sheets as much as they will shift your favorite team's chances of snagging a wild card spot.

With that in mind, here are some players who you may want to move up and down your draft sheets because of the difference between this year's schedule and last year's schedule.  Remember, just because I say to move Emmitt Smith up and Ricky Williams down does not mean to move Emmitt Smith past Ricky Williams, unless your league has a prize for last place.

QB UP:
Kordell Stewart, CHI
Jake Plummer, DEN
Trent Green, KAN
Kurt Warner/Marc Bulger, STL
Rich Gannon, OAK
QB DOWN:
Tom Brady, NWE
Patrick Ramsey, WAS
Chad Pennington, NYJ
Drew Bledsoe, BUF
Sacrificial Lamb, DAL
RB UP:
Shawn Alexander, SEA
Marshall Faulk, STL
Garrison Hearst/Kevan Barlow, SFO
Edgerrin James, IND
Emmitt Smith, ARI
RB DOWN:
T.J. Duckett/Warrick Dunn, ATL
Duce Staley, PHI
Curtis Martin, NYJ
Ricky Williams, MIA
Tiki Barber, NYG
WR UP:
Kansas City WR
Denver WR
Chicago WR
St. Louis WR
Minnesota WR
Oakland WR
David Boston, SDG
WR DOWN:
New England WR
Buffalo WR
Laverneus Coles, WAS
Peerless Price, ATL
New Orleans WR
New York Jets WR
Carolina WR
TE UP:
Stephen Alexander, SDG
Jerramy Stevens, SEA
Doug Jolley, OAK
Sterling Sharpe, DEN
Todd Heap, BAL
TE DOWN:
Ernie Conwell, NOR
Anthony Becht, NYJ
Christian Fauria/Daniel Graham, NWE
Kyle Brady, JAC
Ken Dilger/Rickey Dudley, TAM

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 06 Aug 2003

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