Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Oct 2010

On The Chiefs and Strength of Schedule

Something I discovered last night -- Look at the ranks in pass defense DVOA for the Chiefs' next five opponents:

- Week 6: Houston (31st)
- Week 7: Jacksonville (30)
- Week 8: Buffalo (32)
- Week 9: Oakland (29)
- Week 10: Denver (28)

It doesn't get too much better after that, either. They follow that with Arizona (20th), Seattle (19th), and Denver again (28th) before finally facing a pass defense that currently rates as above-average, San Diego (second).

Of course, the Broncos could get a lot better between now and Week 10. Any of these defenses could improve. But at the moment, it sure looks like Matt Cassel and company have an incredible slate of matchups ahead of them.

Now, the big question: Can a Chiefs passing offense that has looked dysfunctional at best take advantage of these opportunities? Let's go back to the fantasy matchups research that we published in Pro Football Prospectus 2007, but with updated data.

It's difficult to plug in pass defenses quite as bad as Buffalo or Houston -- both teams have pass defense DVOAs above 40%, and only one team in DVOA history (the 2009 Lions) hit that rate. Let's estimate that these teams will end up with pass defense DVOA figures in the bottom ten percent of the league. That would mean that they'd end up with a pass defense DVOA higher than 22.4%. We'll use teams with that level of performance as the baseline.

At the moment, the Chiefs have a 12.8% passing DVOA, which is good for 18th in the league. Let's assume for a moment that they're actually playing at a level worse than that; we'll say that their actual performance is between the 20th and 40th percentile of teams. That would be a range of pass offenses with a DVOA between -11.2% and 2.1%.

In the DVOA Era, there have been 168 starts with that level of pass offense versus that level of pass defense. In those games, starters have gone 19-of-31 for 221 yards with 1.4 touchdowns and 0.7 interceptions. Throw in an average of 11 rushing yards, 0.1 rushing touchdowns, and half a fumble lost, and you end up with an average of 16.5 fantasy points. On average, that's the 13th-best quarterback performance of the week.

Does that make Cassel a quarterback who's suddenly going to engender MVP votes? No. But he should be a worthwhile starter over the next few weeks for fantasy teams that need a quarterback.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 15 Oct 2010

34 comments, Last at 20 Oct 2010, 10:14am by CrizzleColts


by Matt Bowyer :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 12:33pm

As far as fantasy goes, I have Cassel, Brett Favre, and Jay Cutler. I don't like any of them.

As far as regular football goes, I'm really hoping Kansas City plays as well as FO thinks they will. It's the first time I've enjoyed a season since Priest Holmes was running the ball.

by chemical burn :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 12:42pm

+1 on the second half in isolation of your opening sentence.

Cassel, Brett Favre and Jay Cutler: I don't like any of them.

by Sean McCormick :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 12:37pm

Yes, but will Dwayne Bowe catch anything?

by tally :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 12:59pm


by chemical burn :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 1:16pm

the ire of disappointed fantasy owners?

by Whatev :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 3:11pm

The disappointment of irate fantasy owners!?

by Kibbles :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 3:24pm

The ownage of fantastic IRA disappointers?

by AudacityOfHoops :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 3:50pm

Th fantasies of disappointed IRA owners?

by Dean :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 3:57pm

The intimacies of disapointed NRA members?

by AudacityOfHoops :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 4:08pm

The members of intimate NRA disappointers?

EDIT: I guess if any Chief were catching members, it would be Shaun Smith.

by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 11:11pm

Do intimate NRA disappointers misfire? Or do they have cold, dead hands?

by MCS :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 1:30pm

That is the question.

by tuluse :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 1:40pm

Whether tis nobler in the mind to catch the slings and arrows of Matt Cassell or alligator arm in the midst of a sea of defenders.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 10/16/2010 - 11:49am

It's Todd Haley's contumely I'd be really worried about . . .

by Happy Fun Paul :: Sat, 10/16/2010 - 1:43pm

Someday he'll find it...
The Dwayne Bowe connection...

by CrizzleColts (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:14am

The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Pioli.

by Holdie (not verified) :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 1:44pm

I noticed this on Tuesday and basically shoved as many Kansas City chips into the pot as I could. Of my eight starters, five are Chiefs -- Bowe, Moeaki, Charles, Succop and the defense. I picked up Moeaki and the D this week. Was gonna sit Bowe, but I think he will yield more fantasy points than the alternatives, Santana Moss and Greg Jennings.

I've seen a few pundits ranking Santana Moss relatively high, but one look at FO tells you that you definitely don't want to use a No. 1 wide receiver against the Indy D.

by Andrew Potter :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 2:06pm

So let me get this straight...

If we pretend that the defenses the Chiefs are about to face are better, then pretend that the Chiefs themselves are worse, we get a mediocre result. Great.

What about if we pretend they're each as good as DVOA says they are?

I know you aren't posting to my exact preferences, but I'd much prefer you to run the actual numbers then say "but I don't think it'll work out like that because of x, y, and z" than you to run with numbers you've already adjusted through your preconceptions. At least in the former, I can agree or disagree with your qualifiers when I see the figures - here, I instead have to discount basically the entire set of figures because they're using Barnwell-Adjusted VOA instead of Defense-Adjusted.

by tuluse :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 2:10pm

It sounds like he can't run the actual numbers because historical numbers for pass defenses that bad don't exist.

by Andrew Potter :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 2:24pm

I get that re: the bad pass defenses, so if it was left at that then I wouldn't have an issue. I don't see the need to pretend KC is worse than their numbers indicate though. A middle-of-the-pack pass offense (they're 18th of 32) vs. a bottom five pass defense, sure. Why the need to knock 10% off their offensive DVOA?

(Not a Chiefs fan here, the outcome doesn't bother me. The process seems flawed to me though, unless there's something I'm missing.)

by jimbohead :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 4:08pm

Having watched only one Chiefs game, I'm guessing that their passing DVOA is propped up significantly by the screen game. While those count for QB stats, I wonder if screen passing yards are better predicted by run defense DVOA than pass defense DVOA.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 6:00pm

Maybe because opponent adjustments are still only at about 50%?

EDIT: I see DeltaWhisky already suggested it.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 3:26pm

Agree, my guess is it has something to do w/ the relatively low value of Defensive Adjustments right now and it is BVOA, which would have been nice to hear about how those adjustments get factored in, but why expect transparency at this point of the game?

by Thok :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 4:40pm

What about if we pretend they're each as good as DVOA says they are?

If regression to the mean is appropriate anywhere, then it's appropriate here. Barnwell isn't doing an exact regression to the mean, but it's probably close enough for government work.

by countertorque :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 5:01pm

He's shoving everything to one side so you can see the worst end of the expectation. The chiefs should only exceed those numbers.

by Scott de B (not verified) :: Sun, 10/17/2010 - 11:05am

"I don't see the need to pretend KC is worse than their numbers indicate though. "

He's not. He's projecting their QB stats to be very solid the next five weeks. Maybe Cassel will throw up 20 TDs and 4 INTs, but that's wishful thinking.

by Andrew Potter :: Sun, 10/17/2010 - 1:20pm

At the moment, the Chiefs have a 12.8% passing DVOA, which is good for 18th in the league. Let's assume for a moment that they're actually playing at a level worse than that; we'll say that their actual performance is between the 20th and 40th percentile of teams.

He very definitely is pretending that they're worse than their numbers indicate. He explicitly states as much.

by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 2:26pm

Forget Bowe, will Moeaki and McCluster get targets in the Red Zone?

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 6:50pm

Cgiefs probabky goin to be 6-10 or 7-9. Should win once vs denver once vs chargers and will beat a nfc west yeam or maybe two. Play cards rams ans seahawks.

by joechief2 :: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 10:08pm

The Chiefs could very well win all of their home games. That's 6 more games. 9-7? They could win in Seattle, Saint Louis and Denver. 12-4? How about in Oakland. 13-3? Wow! What about this weekend in Houston? 14-2? Fantastic!! Is San Diego unraveling? 15-1? Whoa!!!

by secan (not verified) :: Sat, 10/16/2010 - 1:50pm

Alright, calm down.

by nat :: Sat, 10/16/2010 - 2:11pm

Time travel invented? 16-0? Giddyup!

by Dean :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:42am

They're not going to beat the Rams, let alone all those other teams.

by Steve G. (not verified) :: Sun, 10/17/2010 - 5:02pm

So, uh, I guess Dwayne Bowe read this article and the light bulb went on over his head...