Want something else to like about Cam Newton? His 2019 schedule seems to stack up pretty nicely.
Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand? He could see trouble early and late.
If you read our QB Strength of Schedule article last summer, then you might notice a different approach this time around as I try to improve. (Isn’t that what we all want to do in fantasy year to year?)
For starters, we’re looking beyond total fantasy points allowed to QBs this time around, cutting out the rushing.
Did it make the Falcons a more favorable matchup for QBs because they happened to allow a pair of rushing TDs to Drew Brees in Week 3 or a 17-75-1 rushing line to Lamar Jackson in Week 13? Of course it didn’t.
Atlanta allowed the league’s most fantasy points to QBs last season, but the D dropped to 3rd in that category if you remove rushing points.
Want a more extreme example?
The 49ers allowed the NFL’s 2nd-fewest QB rushing points last season. Just 4.7% of the total fantasy points they allowed to QBs came from rushing, the league’s lowest percentage. Remove all rushing points, and San Francisco jumped from 11th-friendliest QB defense to #5.
On the other side, Cleveland finished 2018 as the league’s 12th-friendliest QB defense by total fantasy points. But the Browns ranked 2nd in rushing points allowed to the position and 2nd in percentage of total points allowed attributed to rushing.
Take only the passing side, and Cleveland was the league’s 11th-toughest matchup for QBs. The Browns tied for 3rd-fewest TD passes allowed despite tying for 2nd most pass attempts faced.
Look at total points, and you might have thought facing Cleveland was a nice spot for your QB. Turns out it wasn’t.
Here are the full 2018 rankings for total fantasy points allowed and just passing points allowed. The #1 team in this chart allowed the most points, while the #32 team allowed the fewest. So keep in mind that if a team’s ranking dips in the last column, that means it was a tougher matchup for fantasy QBs after we took away rushing points.
As you can see, most teams didn’t make big movements. But some did. And we want to be as accurate as we can.
Of course, this exercise really only matters for projecting into the coming season. So let’s start trying to figure out 2019.
In last year’s article, I pointed out that the tops and bottoms of the points-allowed rankings featured the biggest gains or losses in what opponents allowed to QBs. This hasn’t proved true when we look at only passing points allowed.
The past 5 years have tended to see a little more separation between the toughest QB defenses and the rest of the pack. But the differences between other ranking spots have been more spread around and inconsistent.
As we get into the season, it’ll be worth avoiding the toughest 2 or 3 QB defenses in many cases. Beyond that, though, we shouldn’t worry too much about the bottom half.