There’s a highly drafted QB – with even more highly drafted WRs – who just might face a brutal close to his schedule.
There’s an upside QB going late in drafts who might be unusable come fantasy playoffs time.
And there’s a near-forgotten QB whose schedule finish looks excellent.
We’ll get to all 3 … and much more. But first, the path.
The primary thing I’ve found through several years of trying to project QB strength of schedule is that no single stat (at least that I’ve uncovered) does a good job of carrying over year to year and revealing good/bad matchups. We see wide swings every year. Sometimes injuries take hold. Sometimes it’s sheer luck, with TD rates and/or INT rates swinging otherwise modest points totals. Some defenses prove efficient vs. high pass-attempt totals. Others prove generous on fewer attempts. And even the attempt volume hasn’t been sticky.
What I have settled on over the past couple of years is passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (PFP/PA) as a decent measure. And it makes intuitive sense.
We strip away the rushing production, which can depend heavily on the QB and TD luck. Not every defense faces Lamar Jackson … while others get him twice. The Chiefs allowed the 2nd most QB fantasy points last season, but ranked just 14th in passing fantasy points allowed per attempt. Jackson’s 107 yards and 2 scores on the ground in Week 2 played a large role in that difference.
Additionally, breaking it down by attempt allows us to better compare teams such as Seattle and Chicago. The Seahawks allowed 28.1 more passing points for the season, but they also faced 181 more attempts.
The quality of those 2 defenses is more likely to carry over into 2022 than the specific attempt totals.
The goal here is to project positive and negative QB-scoring matchups for the coming season. Let’s see how I fared in making those picks last year, with passing points per attempt as the driver …
Atlanta (8th most passing points allowed per attempt)
Las Vegas (31st)
Pretty good overall, and even the 2 bad outcomes here still don’t look like terrible picks in hindsight. The Bengals finished last season just 24th in Football Outsiders pass-defense DVOA, and the Raiders checked in 21st. So neither was actually a good pass defense, and neither motivated us to bench QBs last season. Cincinnati managed to finish below the league average in passing-TD rate, while the Raiders proved generous to ground scoring (6th most RB rushing TDs allowed on 14th most carries faced).
Baltimore (4th most passing points allowed per attempt)
L.A. Rams (10th)
New England (24th)
The biggest misses here were obviously Washington and Baltimore. The Ravens struggled with injuries throughout their secondary. That included losing CB Marcus Peters to an ACL tear before the season and CB Marlon Humphrey to a pectoral tear in early December. The leading corner in playing time was Anthony Averett, who the team has since let walk in free agency.
Washington dealt with some injuries as well, but the defense also just stunk.
The Rams didn’t prove as stingy as expected on fantasy points, but they delivered the league’s #6 defense in passing DVOA. So it was a good unit.
I’ve kept all of this in mind for projecting 2022 …