2015 Strength of Schedule and Who Cares

2015 Strength of Schedule and Who Cares by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator & Doug Bowles

I’ll admit it. I tend to be the “over-thinker” in regards to the NFL and fantasy football.

Every fantasy draft has a few of me…..the fantasy football drafter who researches everything and anything in order to draft the best possible fantasy team. ( Every fantasy draft also has the “unprepared” team owners….who “wing it” from the start, and who maybe studied an hour before the draft. )
As the “over-thinker”, I look at everything from statistics, trends, player contracts, offensive lines…and even NFL drafts dating back 10 years. You name it, I usually research it. But one area I think I’ll stop considering is “Strength of Schedule”….also called “Projected Difficulty of Schedule”. After researching my research, I’ve concluded that 2015 Strength of Schedule and Who Cares!

The following is a list of 14 teams…..7 teams which had the hardest NFL schedules for 2015, and 7 teams which had the easiest NFL schedules for 2015. It is very interesting to see how their seasons turned out. It appears that if a team is good enough, it ultimately doesn’t matter who they are playing.

NFL – In 2015, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati had the 1st and 2nd hardest schedule respectively. As you know, these 2 teams with the most Difficulty of Schedule, got into the playoffs.

The Strength of Schedule is based on statistics from the previous year. With all the changes that NFL teams go through, from the Super Bowl in February to kickoff in September, the information for determining the Strength of Schedule almost becomes obsolete and irrelevant.

The Strength of Schedule did not seem to help the teams that were terrible the year before either. Atlanta who was given the easiest schedule, was 6-10 in 2014, and 8-8 in 2015, ( not much of an improvement) Jacksonville, New Orleans and Tennessee also had some of the easiest of schedules and yet they combined for only 15 wins. 7 teams listed below with very tough schedules all went to the playoffs. (The Carolina Panthers actually fell into the “Easy Schedule”, at #6 (easiest) for 2015, but they would have gone to the playoffs regardless.)

Strength of Schedule…TEAM…2015 Record

#32 (hardest)…PITTSBURGH………..10-6
#31 (hardest)…CINCINNATI…………12-4
#29 (hardest)…SEATTLE…………….10-6
#28 (hardest)…ARIZONA…………….13-3
#25 (hardest)…KANSAS CITY……….11-5
#23 (hardest)…DENVER………..……12-4
#21 (hardest)….MINNESOTA………..11-5

#10 (easiest)…PHILADELPHIA……….7-9
#9 (easiest)…DALLAS………………….4-8
#8 (easiest)…JACKSONVILLE……….5-11
#7 (easiest)…TENNESSEE………..…..3-13
#5 (easiest)…NEW ORLEANS………..7-9
#2 (easiest)…INDIANAPOLIS…….….8-8
#1 (easiest)…ATLANTA………………..8-8

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL – Strength of Schedule also doesn’t seem to matter in fantasy football. One would think that if a team has a very difficult schedule, then scoring would be more difficult. Not true! The Arizona Cardinals, with the #28 (hardest) Schedule was tops in the NFL in scoring points ( 489). Seattle (423), and Pittsburgh (423) also had tougher schedules while scoring in the top 10 of NFL teams for points in 2015.

So, going into the 2016 season, I will ignore any “Strength of Schedules” statistics that I happen to stumble on, and I will concentrate on what really matters…“Strength of Talent”.