Using Strength of Schedule in Your Late Round Picks
We are talking tradition fantasy football today, specifically how using strength of schedule can be used to help you craft your draft strategy. For years I have been screaming from the mountain top that the last three picks of your draft need to be defense, defense, kicker. I know, I know, we shouldn’t waste an extra roster spot on a backup defense… hear me out.
In Matthew Berry’s Draft Day Manifesto he outlined the differences between winning and losing roster structures last season. While his point was that they were virtually exactly the same, I would argue he missed on the point that guys that won their league last year on average had one extra defense and one fewer quarterback than losing teams. The reason why winning teams had two defenses on their roster, while losers had only one? I would argue it is because winning owners understand how to draft using strength of schedule. Let’s take a look at what I mean.
Here is FantasyGuru’s SOS map for defenses for the 2014 season. If you go into your draft with a list of 4-6 defenses with matching schedules, you can set your up to have a perfect matchup every week. Here is an example: Buffalo is the number 10 ranked defense overall, meaning you will definitely be able to draft them. They also have the third easiest schedule this season, with the easiest matchup in the league for weeks 4,7,8,12 and 16. They have difficult matchups on weeks 3,10,14 and I would add that I wouldn’t want to start them against Detroit and New England in weeks 5 and 6. So, let’s look for a team with a solid defense and good match-ups for those five weeks.
A quick look over the schedule and we really like the match-ups that New England, Houston and Philadelphia have those weeks. So you will rank those three teams, take Buffalo in the 3rd to last round, your highest ranked defense out of the other three teams with your second to last pick, and then your kicker.
You certainly won’t win or lose your season with your last three picks but coming in with this strategy can be the difference between 5 or 6 points out of your defense every week. It also gives you more early round picks to use on building depth at your position players.
This same strategy can be used to accompany the wait on QB strategy that a lot of guys are using. By cross analyzing late round quarterback schedules, you can pair a solid backup with a favorable schedule with your starting quarterback. So, if you wait and grab Romo as your number 1 quarterback, you can pick up Big Ben late as he has great match-ups the weeks that Romo has tougher games.
We subscribe to the forget about the bye week and draft the best player available early in drafts, but late in drafts, when you are deciding between backups with similar capabilities, we recommend that you spend some time analyzing schedule strengths and week by week match-ups.