In this edition of the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast, Matt Harmon and Andy Behrens explain why fantasy managers shouldn’t worry about a player or team's strength of schedule.
ANDY BEHRENS: People get hung up on strength of schedule all the time. And they particularly talk about, like-- you know, I've seen this a little bit lately with Najee Harris, a discussion about Najee Harris's strength of schedule. Oh, it's really bad. You got to avoid this guy-- can't be a first-round pick.
Like, this is just sort of the illusion of foreknowledge, right? Like, we have no idea who the great defenses are gonna be in December. You can have an inkling based on, like, what personnel looks like right now.
But, you know, going into last season, for example, we would have sworn up and down that, like, man, you got to steer clear of that Ravens defense. And then, by the end of the year, they're last in the league in passing. Everybody in the secondary is hurt. Teams are clowning them in December, right? It was really bad.
Like, we're just bad at predicting defensive strength generally. We're bad at doing it for fantasy purposes. We're kind of sneaky bad at doing it for real-life purposes.
But the idea, in a league that-- you said it before-- a league that is absolutely ruled by chaos, that is ruled by injury and all sorts of things that are difficult to predict, you just can't make November and December plans in August and September. It's just a total fool's errand.
And to use season-long strength of schedule as any sort of-- even a tiebreaker is, to me, sort of nonsensical. I'll grant you that, like-- and here's the exception for me-- when I'm drafting, like, a defense, I'll look at the September schedule for that.
Like, the Colts happen to have a really-- what seems like a friendly schedule. The Browns have what seems like a pretty friendly schedule early in the season. So that'll be a little bit of a tiebreaker for me. I'm trying to avoid, you know, really difficult matchups in week one, something like that.
But beyond-- I don't know. Beyond defensive matchups, I'm just not I'm not looking at this at all with regard to players that I'm drafting.
MATT HARMON: Yeah, I agree. It's not even a tiebreaker. Honestly, Andy, your first three mistakes here-- like, trying to get the right backup running back, trying to focus on bye weeks, looking at the strength of schedule. Like, your first three lessons could all be grouped in, like, we don't actually know anything. And, like, your hubris to predict that far in the future can really set you back.
Just a few examples-- like, you mentioned the Ravens. That's a really good example. How about Washington?
Like, we came into the year--
ANDY BEHRENS: Oh, yes.
MATT HARMON: --last year thinking about, oh, man, Washington is gonna have a great pass defense. They have all these guys up front-- you know, Chase Young, Montez Sweat, a bunch of defensive tackles that they draf-- like, Allen. Like, they're gonna get after it.
And they were like-- they were a-- you could destroy them in the passing game. Like, they were a joke. The Chargers became, like, the easiest team you could just run the hell over all season long.
But nobody was really-- I mean, obviously, like, looking at defensive DVOA, the bottom three teams-- the bottom four teams-- Detroit, Atlanta, Jacksonville, the Jets-- we could probably see-- we could probably see all of those coming. But there are other teams, too, like, that are at the bottom.
The next three teams at the bottom-- Baltimore, Washington, and--
ANDY BEHRENS: Yeah.
MATT HARMON: --the Los Angeles Chargers. Like, we didn't really see those ones coming.
ANDY BEHRENS: I had drafted the hell out of Washington, too. I was like, well, there's no way that this thing anchored by Chase Young-- talent at different levels of the defense. They'd finished the prior season pretty strong. Like, I was pretty all in on Washington.
They were, you know-- I don't know if they were my most commonly drafted defense. But they were up there, and I, you know, dropped them almost immediately.
MATT HARMON: On the other end of the extreme, Dallas was second in defensive DVOA last year. And no one saw that coming. Defensive performance is-- we say it all the time. Offense is more stable than defense. Defense can be more volatile year to year.
And then people still do this, well, yeah, I don't want to draft that guy because of his December schedule. It's like, give me a break. You don't know anything from either side of the perspective, strong or weak.