Draft Engine Expert Analysis

NFL, fantasy football, strength of schedule, quarterbacks, carson wentz, lamar jackson, philip rivers, drew brees
Strength of Schedule: Quarterbacks
Knowing more about opposing passing defenses might make the difference in helping you win your fantasy leagues.
Zachary Cohen
27 July, 2020

At DraftEngine, we use unique and proprietary algorithms to assess how a player’s fantasy output will be affected by the quality of their opponent. On a very basic level, we do not use popular “fantasy points against” stats, but rather we factor in the caliber of previous opponents when assessing a defense. Over the course of a season, teams will face differing degrees of opponent quality at every position, making fantasy points against easy to misuse. Oversimplifying for clarity: Allowing 400 passing yards to the Chiefs and Falcons is calculated far differently than allowing 400 passing yards to the Colts and Bears.

While we realize a lot can change once the 2020 season gets started—and rest assured our calculations are adjusted after every game—here’s a look at some fantasy strength-of-schedule considerations going into the season. We’ll tell you which opponents to target or avoid if you’re streaming or have a deep bench at each position, and highlight some players whose schedules project to affect their fantasy value.

Defenses to target

New York Giants: Take away two games versus a pathetic Washington offense and the Giants were the most generous fantasy pass defense in the NFL last season.

Houston: We're less concerned with Patrick Mahomes making the Texans defense look foolish in the playoffs and more concerned with Houston's inept pass-rush and uneven secondary play making Drew Lock and Jacoby Brissett look like MVPs last season.

Miami: No team gave up more QB passing touchdowns (39) than Miami did last season.

Washington: In their last three games of 2019, Washington allowed 12 passing touchdowns and didn't have one interception.

Detroit: Only Arizona allowed more QB passing yards than Detroit last year, and their best defensive player, CB Darius Slay, was traded to the Eagles in March.

Defenses to avoid

Baltimore: In their final eight games of last season, the Ravens allowed an average of 141 passing yards.

New England: With arguably the league’s best secondary, the Patriots allowed the fewest fantasy points to QBs last season while intercepting six more passes than any other team.

Buffalo: The Bills allowed the fourth fewest passing yards and second fewest passing TD in 2019.

Los Angeles Chargers: The Bolts allowed the third fewest QB passing yards last season, and that was without All-Pro safety Derwin James healthy for their first 11 games. In the second half of the season, they allowed an average of 183 passing yards, including holding Patrick Mahomes to 356 yards and 2 TD in two games.

QBs with favorable schedules

Carson Wentz (PHI): Along with playing in a division with three of our top-10 most-generous fantasy defenses for QBs, Wentz faces the Cardinals in Week 15.

Lamar Jackson (BAL): Baltimore’s schedule is light on travel and light on tough defenses. Jackson’s fantasy playoff matchups versus the Browns, Jaguars and Giants in Weeks 14, 15 and 16 couldn’t be any softer.

Philip Rivers (IND): Coming into a division with Houston and Jacksonville will be favorable for Rivers, and trips to Detroit and Las Vegas (Weeks 8 and 14) will further make Rivers a late-round streaming option.

QBs with tough schedules

Drew Brees (NO): Brees has a tough overall schedule, and with fantasy playoff matchups versus the Eagles, Chiefs and Vikings, you should think twice before making him our every-week starter.

Sam Darnold (NYJ): Playing in the same division as Buffalo and New England limits Darnold’s breakout upside.

Derek Carr (LVR): In Weeks 2 through 5, Carr faces the Saints, Patriots, Bills and Chiefs. He’s not worth rostering, even as a streamer in deep leagues, until after his Week 6 bye.

Ryan Fitzpatrick/Tua Tagovailoa (MIA): Owners trying to be cute with FitzMagic to start their season should note that Fitz starts the year in New England before traveling to Buffalo in Week 2.