2022 WR Strength of Schedule
This year, we can’t assume too much.
My whole point in doing these strength-of-schedule preview has obviously been to highlight potential boosts and pitfalls in a player’s upcoming schedule.
But I also want to make sure that we’re not assuming too much, forcing positive or negative projections. Even if we’re making sure not to overrate this factor on whole and merely breaking ties between closely ranked players, we don’t want to break those ties in the wrong direction.
And there’s plenty of misdirection when it comes to these WR numbers.
I’ve mentioned in previous iterations that it’s tough to find projectable stat categories here. Last year brought us to PPR points allowed per target, which was a little stickier year to year than other categories. As I mentioned then, however, even that correlation wasn’t strong enough to count on.
So we’ll continue to look at per-target points allowed, but we’re not counting it too heavily.
In last week’s RB SoS article, I highlighted the value of Vegas lines in helping RB matchups. You might think the opposite would prove true for passing offenses – more trailing games, more production. But I did not find anything close to the same connection as we got for RBs.
For WRs, we’ll run through some stats and take a look at the schedule. But we’ll stop short of projecting that impact on WR scoring.
Last Year’s Results
Before jumping into this year, let’s check back on last year’s picks for positive/negative WR matchups. Here are the 6 I picked each way and where they finished in most total points allowed and points allowed per target. (So higher ranking = weaker defense.)
Not terrible, but certainly mixed. Just 2 of the “negative” picks landed among the bottom 6 in points per target allowed. And only 1 of the 6 “positive” finished among the top 6.
So I’m forgoing the team picks and schedule-impact projections off those this time around. Instead, let’s look at where each defense ranked in points allowed per target in recent seasons.
Here’s how they finished in 2021:
And here are the past 5 years of finishes:
We can certainly see some defenses more likely to land on one end or the other. I’d bet on Buffalo checking in as a negative WR matchup again. The Chargers added talent – led by CB J.C. Jackson and EDGE Khalil Mack – to a unit that might have already been trending toward negative matchup.
On the other end, Jacksonville and Houston don’t seem likely to scare fantasy managers any time soon. Those 2 face each other in Week 17, which could be a sneaky good source of fantasy production for the championship round of many best-ball tournaments on Underdog and FFPC.
Are you benching Bengals or Rams for their matchups with the Bills and Chargers (respectively), though?
Neither am I.
Finally, let’s take a look at the schedule, minus the green/red shading for matchups.
We might not be specifically benching Cincinnati wideouts for that Week 17 Buffalo clash. But as I pointed out in the QB article, the Bengals’ closing stretch doesn’t look easy: at Tampa Bay, at New England, home for Buffalo in what will be the fantasy playoffs for most leagues.
That’ll at least be worth keeping in mind during the season as we move toward those final weeks in our lineup-setting formats.
One final item to consider here is setting. Late-season games in cold-weather cities could present tougher passing situations.
New Orleans, for example, follows a nice Week 15 home date with Atlanta by traveling to Cleveland and then Philadelphia.
Seattle’s final 7 games (after the Week 11 bye) include 5 home dates and a Week 16 trip to Kansas City. Weather could factor into any of those.
Miami has visits to Buffalo and New England sandwiching a Week 16 home date with Green Bay. A late December trip to Massachusetts for this warm-weather team doesn’t look particularly attractive for championship week.