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NFL Strength of Schedule 2016

It is best to not overthink strength of schedule numbers, but do keep them in mind. Weeks 14-17 can be crucial for your fantasy playoff schedules, and if you're quarterback faces three top ten secondaries you are in trouble. That is an area I do circle when looking at the schedule. Some teams are sort of matchup proof. New England's efficiency continues to overmatch most opponents - while teams like Cleveland might draw a friendly schedule, yet still continue to be bad. Strength of schedule is a small piece of the pie when determining who to draft.


Strength Of
Schedule Rank
(#1 = Hardest)
Team Opponent's
Win-Loss
Passing SOS
(#1 = Hardest)
Rushing SOS
(#1 = Hardest)
Notes
1 San Francisco 49ers 142-114 3 9 Chip Kelly and the 49ers draw the toughest schedule in the NFL, which is no surprise given they play Seattle and Arizona twice. They also play at Carolina and at Buffalo. Given the defense is average at best for San Francisco, it is tough to see their offense being able to take advantage of garbage time. San Francisco's schedule is just another knock against their overall fantasy value.
2 Atlanta Falcons 142-114 14 22 Atlanta will have some avoidable weeks, and most of them come in October. They face the Carolina, Seattle, Denver, and Green Bay. This does not bode well for fantasy owners who are planning to rely on Falcons on a week-to-week basis. Outside of that stretch, they have a relatively average fantasy strength of schedule, which is a little easier for the run game.
3 Los Angeles Rams 141-115 12 19 Much like San Francisco, the newly relocated Rams will square off against Arizona and Seattle a total of four times, which puts them at a disadvantage already. St. Louis also has a London game week 7. Rams also will draw New England and Carolina, adding to a total of six games where they will be tremendous underdogs. Game-flow could be what hurts Todd Gurley the most, because the 19th ranked rushing defense isn't all that bad.
4 New Orleans Saints 140-116 1 17 New Orleans is a better home team than on the road, and you can see it in Drew Brees' numbers. They close out the season with three games on the road. Carolina (x2), Kansas City, Seattle, and Denver all will face the New Orleans, putting their offense at a serious disadvantage those weeks. You can probably see why Brees has the toughest schedule among fantasy quarterbacks.
5 Seattle Seahawks 139-117 16 32 No surprise for Seattle ranking with one of the tougher strength of schedules, but a lot of it comes at the backend of the year. I am not overly concerned, as the ground-and-pound style should work with the easiest rushing schedule of any team. Whoever getting touches for Seattle should have an easy going. Seattle will head out east against New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and New York. Given their time zone struggles at times, these are still three winnable games.
6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 139-117 2 31 Tampa Bay really gets a bad draw playing the NFC West and the AFC West. The good thing is these games are mostly in the first half, so if you can hold on for a bad start, things lighten up later on. Tampa is going to have a favorable running back schedule for Doug Martin, but Jameis Winston will not enjoy the secondaries he facing, with the second hardest schedule for fantasy quarterbacks.
7 Arizona Cardinals 136-120 11 21 The last of the AFC West teams is the Cardinals, and will get a tough game right off the bat against New England. I do believe the ranking is a little misleading here, as after week 6 they can enjoy a relatively soft schedule. David Johnson is in a great spot to finish the season strong, as is Carson Palmer. Out of all the AFC West teams, the Cards will enjoy their schedule a bit more.
8 New York Jets 136-120 15 8 There is not a lot to like for this New York schedule, facing the Bills and Patriots twice. They also play against Cincinnati, Arizona, Kansas City, and Seattle — Three very tough non-division opponents. If Ryan Fitzpatrick is not under center come week 1, the Jets will likely take a big step backwards from their 2015 production. New York could be a team to stream defenses against. There is a lot up in the air, and the strength of schedule is not in the Jets favor.
9 New England Patriots 134-122 8 4 New England will have their cupcake opponents, but games against Cincinnati, Denver, Seattle, and Arizona are four very tough secondaries. Remember, Tom Brady will come back from suspension in week 5. New England's second half is very friendly, outside of Denver in week 15. The positional strength of schedule doesn't bother me too much with the efficiency of the New England offense.
10 Buffalo Bills 133-123 20 5 Jets and Patriots are both four games that are always a war for the Bills, and more so the Patriots, who have their number. Buffalo faces Seattle, Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. Given Buffalo's average play, this is much more of a hit for them than other teams who draw these opponents. There will be plenty of lows in 2016, and likely the occasional benching for starters.
11 Miami Dolphins 132-124 17 1 Ryan Tannehill has an average strength of schedule, which is good for him. The running game, that is now without Lamar Miller, will have a very tough schedule. Miami has tough starts and finishes to the season, facing their three divisional opponents, and Seattle in the last four weeks. Fantasy playoff owners will likely not be happy with Miami players. I do think Miami's schedule should be ranked much higher, beware.
12 Carolina Panthers 131-125 10 27 There has been reference to the Carolina Panthers in previous notes, but finally we see where they matchup. There are really only three games that are tough for Carolina — At Oakland, at Seattle, and their opener against Denver. They will draw favorable matchups against Atlanta, New Orleans, and Tampa all twice this season, which was a big boost to their 2015 success. With no real threats there, expect six divisional games that give a boost to Carolina.
13 San Diego Chargers 130-126 13 13 The AFC West division seems to be miles ahead of the Chargers at this point, and yes even Oakland. Playing Kansas City, Denver, and Oakland twice a year is going to give them a very schedule to start. They have a slightly below average schedule for their backs, and Phillip Rivers. With the rise of Oakland's defense, it could be two more tough secondaries for him. This is another team where I thought about a higher ranking.
14 Denver Broncos 129-127 21 15 There is a lot to be curious about in Denver with Peyton Manning out of the picture. They do have an average passing/rushing strength of schedule, so with that strictly considered, things should remain positive. The defense is going to take the blow off the offense, when facing Carolina, Indy, and Cincinnati out of division. I do believe there will be a lot of grind it out games, which doesn't exactly scream fantasy production.
15 Oakland Raiders 128-128 4 11 Oakland's offense should jump out hot, facing four bottom ten pass defenses in the first five weeks. It is the second half that is the biggest concern, and will be a team that plays in Mexico City in week 11 (which is counted as a home game). I would not be surprised to see a second half stall post week 11.
16 Kansas City Chiefs 127-129 5 14 Home-and-away games are the key to Kansas City's schedule this season. They are at home for their easy opponents, but things get tough on the road — at Houston, Indy, Carolina, and Denver. This possesses a mini-stretch of possible downside, but there should be more good weeks than bad ones. They do finish the season strong, facing Atlanta, Oakland, Tennessee, and San Diego.
Washington Redskins 126-130 24 25 Redskins are one of the few teams playing in London this year, which comes in week 4. Washington will take the bulk of their tough opponents at home, which is a plus. Fantasy production should remain positive, given the NFC East isn't necessarily loaded with defense. Six games should provide plenty of fantasy relevance. There is nothing I am too worried about, outside of matchups with Minnesota and Carolina.
18 Minnesota Vikings 125-131 22 24 Minnesota has a middle of the road schedule this year, but a very tough stretch with Green Bay, Houston, and Carolina all in a row. They also will head to Green Bay late in week 16, and Arizona in week 11. In between is no concern for what should be a heavy fed Adrian Peterson team. Minnesota draws a favorable rushing schedule, which should set them up with a 9-10 win season.
19 Houston Texans 124-132 18 7 Winning your division is going to cause some trouble for you in the next year's schedule. They play Oakland in Mexico, which has to be viewed as somewhat of a downside. They play Minnesota, Denver, New England, Green Bay, and Oakland. Very tough divisional games for the Texans, in what is still a transition team. The schedule is going to test for Houston — and we will see if they are the real deal or not.
20 Baltimore Ravens 124-132 31 16 Joe Flacco is going to have the second easiest passing schedule among fantasy quarterbacks. The schedule sets them up for success early, and a mediocre schedule in the middle. The closing weeks of the season they have three road games in the last four — At New England, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. Given those divisional games in the past, we could be looking at a sluggish fantasy finish from Baltimore.
21 Cleveland Browns 123-133 26 10 Browns schedule is middle of the road, but more on the bad side given just their overall ability. They are the less superior in their division, so six games against playoff caliber teams doesn't bode well for them. They also face New England, Buffalo, Miami, and New York. I wouldn't be thrilled here if you are a Browns fan.
22 Indianapolis Colts 122-134 7 2 The biggest note for Indy is the fact they play in London in week 4, but do not have a bye week until week 10. If they can manage that, this is a relatively easy schedule for Indy to come away with some points. Now that Andrew Luck is healthy, games against Green Bay and Kansas City don't seem as daunting compared to some other teams. However, the backs might have a tough time getting anything going, with the second hardest schedule for fantasy running backs.
23 Pittsburgh Steelers 121-135 28 12 This seems to be fairly standard, but Pittsburgh draws a friendly schedule. Their passing attack should thrive with one of the better passing schedules in the league. Pittsburgh has a few road games, but Indy, Buffalo, and Philadelphia are not far travels, nor stout defenses. Look for Pittsburgh to boast a top offense most weeks of the 2016 schedule.
24 Tennessee Titans 121-135 6 20 Tennessee will have a little luck on their side, but their overall state of team puts them as underdogs most weeks. They do open up against two divisional opponents (Indy and Jacksonville), then play Cleveland and San Diego. This could be a very nice stretch for Tennessee. The last few games versus Denver, Kansas City, and Houston will be a different story. The strength of schedule is average, but it won't be a difference maker.
25 Jacksonville Jaguars 121-135 9 3 Jacksonville is another London team, but they do have their bye week right after in week five. Weeks 13-17 offer up a very tough finish for Jacksonville, playing Minnesota, Denver, Houston, Indy, and at Tennessee. I don't believe the passing production will dwindle from 2015, just due to the nature of them playing from behind. An underdog schedule is good for Jacksonville's fantasy nature.
26 Philadelphia Eagles 120-136 23 18 The NFC East defenses will give Philly a soft fantasy schedule, as you can see by both positional rankings. The toughest opponents Philly will see this year is at Cincinnati and Seattle, while home to Green Bay and Minnesota. The majority of their games will give them a chance to get some sort of offense going. There will be four weeks of avoiding, but Philly's schedule is a positive for fantasy production.
27 Cincinnati Bengals 119-137 30 6 Cincinnati has a tough opening to the season, facing New England, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Washington (In London). The last stretch of the season is going to be a positive for Cincinnati players. They play the Browns twice, and have the Steelers/Ravens at home. Andy Dalton will also sit with a soft passing schedule, which is a big bonus to him.
28 Detroit Lions 119-137 25 29 The Detroit Lions have to be thrilled with their away opponents. Colts, Texans, Saints, Cowboys, and Vikings all will give the Lions another chance to keep playing indoors. In the post Calvin Johnson Era, Detroit will have favorable fantasy schedules, and will play in good environments for most of the year. This is definitely a bonus for Detroit's fantasy players.
29 Dallas Cowboys 119-137 32 28 Dallas will draw a very easy schedule, and definitely have some winnable games. They have away games at San Francisco and Cleveland, which is definitely a plus. As mentioned with all the other NFC East teams, the scoring and defenses in this division gives a big boost for fantasy production. You are also getting multiple primetime games, because you know, Dallas..
30 Chicago Bears 118-138 27 26 Chicago draws a tough road schedule this year, facing Houston, Dallas, Indy, and Green Bay. The only defense that scares me is in Minnesota, which is a knock for Chicago facing them twice a year. Outside of that, they face fantasy friendly defenses. There is no reason for me to believe they have too many down weeks.
31 New York Giants 118-138 29 30 New York will dodge a bullet facing teams like Arizona and Carolina. They do face Minnesota and Green Bay on the road, but that is about it. New York will welcome six games against their NFC East neighbors, which is always a plus. They also have one of the easiest fantasy schedules. Expect this high-volume offense to keep things up in 2016.
32 Green Bay Packers 117-139 19 23 You know what Aaron Rodgers needs? The easiest schedule in the league. Green Bay faces the AFC South and the NFC East. Four games against the NFC East is a big plus for the Green Bay offense, and is one of the reasons why I am so high on them. They play Seattle, Minnesota, and Houston (their toughest opponents), but all at home.

Strength Of Schedule For Fantasy Playoff Weeks 14-17

Top Five QB - DAL, TB, WAS, NYG, MIN

Bottom Five QB - TEN, NE, OAK, LAR, SF

Top Five RB - TB, ATL, NYG, DAL, NYJ

Bottom Five RB - JAX, CIN, GB, DEN, MIA

Top Five WR - DAL, CIN, BUF, PIT, PHI

Bottom Five WR - TEN, KC, GB, LAR, SF

Top Five TE - TB, ARI, DAL, KC, WAS

Bottom Five TE - NYJ, NE, BAL, MIA, PIT