2016 Strength of Schedule

It is best to not overthink strength of schedule numbers, but do keep them in mind. Weeks 14-17 can be crucial for your fantasy playoff schedules, and if you’re quarterback faces three top ten secondaries you are in trouble. That is an area I do circle when looking at the schedule. Some teams are sort of matchup proof. New England’s efficiency continues to overmatch most opponents – while teams like Cleveland might draw a friendly schedule, yet still continue to be bad. Strength of schedule is a small piece of the pie when determining who to draft.

Strength Of
Schedule Rank
(#1 = Hardest)
Team Opponent’s
Win-Loss
Passing SOS
(#1 = Hardest)
Rushing SOS
(#1 = Hardest)
Notes
1 San Francisco 49ers 142-114 3 9 Chip Kelly and the 49ers draw a difficult schedule in the NFL, they play Seattle and Arizona twice. They also play at Carolina and at Buffalo. Given the defense is average at best for San Francisco, it is tough to see their offense being able to take advantage of garbage time. San Francisco’s schedule is just another knock against their overall fantasy value.
2 Atlanta Falcons 142-114 14 22 Atlanta will get the Carolina, Seattle, Denver, and Green Bay. This does not bode well for fantasy owners who are planning to rely on Falcons on a week-to-week basis. But the NFC South is winnable for the dirty birds in 2016!
3 Los Angeles Rams 141-115 12 19 Much like San Francisco, the Rams draw a tough schedule due to their division. They get Arizona and Seattle a total of four times, which puts them at a disadvantage already. St. Louis also has a London game week 7. Rams also will draw New England and Carolina
4 New Orleans Saints 140-116 1 17 New Orleans is a mixed bag in 2016 but they still hold a hazard laden schedule. They close out the season with three games on the road. Carolina (x2), Kansas City, Seattle, and Denver all will face the New Orleans, putting their offense at a serious disadvantage In fantasy playoff territory. Seek a backup if you hitch your wagon to Brees.
5 Seattle Seahawks 139-117 16 32 No surprise for Seattle ranking with one of the tougher strength of schedules. Seattle will head out east against New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and New York. Given their time zone struggles at times, these are still three winnable games.
6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 139-117 2 31 Gets the Falcons, Panthers and Saints twice… a recipe for fantasy points and upsets. These would be easy games for the Buccs as the try to grapple for control of the NFC South.
7 Arizona Cardinals 136-120 11 21 The Cards play in a difficult division, but also get some cake walks this year as well. David Johnson should be a huge reason the Arizona Cardinals make the playoffs in 2016.
8 New York Jets 136-120 15 8 Bills and Patriots twice, Cincinnati, Arizona, Kansas City, and Seattle — Three very tough non-division opponents. The Jets better hope that Ryan Fitzpatrick and those big, aging wide receivers can stay on the field in 2016.
9 New England Patriots 134-122 8 4 New England will have their overmatched opponents, but games against Cincinnati, Denver, Seattle, and Arizona are four very tough secondaries. Tom Brady will come back from suspension in week 5. New England’s second half is very friendly, outside of Denver in week 15.
10 Buffalo Bills 133-123 20 5 Jets and Patriots are both four games that are always a difficult for the Bills, and more so the Patriots, who have their number. Buffalo faces Seattle, Arizona, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. Tyrod Taylor and Watkins need to be productive for the Bills to make some noise.
11 Miami Dolphins 132-124 17 1 Ryan Tannehill has an average strength of schedule, which is good for him. The running game, that is now without Lamar Miller, will have a very tough schedule. Foster hasn’t played a full season in a while. RT will have to go to the air a lot in 2016. Maybe Phins receivers are a bit undervalued in fantasy drafts.
12 Carolina Panthers 131-125 10 27 The Panthers face Atlanta, New Orleans and the Saints all twice. These NFL South games can go either way because every team has powerful offenses. The Panthers are clearly the best defense in the NFL South though and they will be the favorite to win the division.
13 San Diego Chargers 130-126 13 13 Playing Kansas City, Denver, and Oakland twice a year is going to give them a very difficult schedule to start. Phillip Rivers is an elite QB, and now finds himself the only elite QB in the AFC West. He’s going to move the football. Consider the Chargers an underdog in 2016. This is a winnable division for the Chargers. Their defensive strength is their secondary… Alex Smith, David Carr and Trevor Seimian aren’t scaring them. If Denver regresses due to recent roster moves, the Chiefs struggle and Oakland is being severely overhyped… Go Chargers Go.
14 Denver Broncos 129-127 21 15 The defense is going to help a lot, when facing Carolina, Indy, and Cincinnati out of division. But the NFL is a passing league and the Broncos may struggle in that department in 2016. They’ve got a middle of the pack schedule… and the Raiders, Chargers and Chiefs are all winnable games.
15 Oakland Raiders 128-128 4 11 Oakland’s offense should jump out hot, facing four bottom ten pass defenses in the first five weeks. But don’t get caught to too much in the Raiders Hype. There’s a lot to be desired on this roster and they could just as easily be dead last in the NFC West as they are to be top dog. Cooper should be very productive. Outside of that, proceed with caution.
16 Kansas City Chiefs 127-129 5 14 Houston, Carolina, and Denver… are hazards for the Chiefs.  They do finish the season strong, facing Atlanta, Oakland, Tennessee, and San Diego.
Washington Redskins 126-130 24 25 The NFC East isn’t necessarily loaded with defense. Six games should provide plenty of fantasy relevance. Minnesota and Carolina are really the only hazards on the Redskins schedule. .
18 Minnesota Vikings 125-131 22 24 Minnesota has a middle of the road schedule this year, with a tough stretch with Green Bay, Houston, and Carolina all in a row. They also will head to Green Bay late in week 16, and Arizona in week 11. Minnesota draws a favorable rushing schedule, and AP will be ridden like the warhorse that he is.
19 Houston Texans 124-132 18 7 Houston gets Minnesota, Denver, New England, Green Bay, and Oakland. The Houston Defense should be dominant in 2016. They need to be because the offenses that they face can sling the rock all up and down the football field. Regardless, that D should help them win games and take the pressure off of Osweiler.
20 Baltimore Ravens 124-132 31 16 Joe Flacco is going to have the second easiest passing schedule among fantasy quarterbacks. The schedule sets them up for success early, and a mediocre schedule in the middle. Fantasy playoff look a little stiff for the Ravens so plan accordingly.
21 Cleveland Browns 123-133 26 10 Six games against playoff caliber teams doesn’t bode well for them. They also face New England, Buffalo, Miami, and New York. This is a team that you want your fantasy players to play AGAINST, not FOR.
22 Indianapolis Colts 122-134 7 2 Green Bay and Kansas City don’t seem as daunting compared to some other teams. 2nd most difficult rushing schedule of 2016 for a RB… sorry Frank Gore. Andrew Luck is healthy and should be very productive through the air. More of the same for the Colts!
23 Pittsburgh Steelers 121-135 28 12 This seems to be fairly standard, but Pittsburgh draws a friendly schedule. Their passing attack should thrive with one of the better passing schedules in the league. Pittsburgh has Indy, Buffalo, and Philadelphia… are not far travels, nor stout defenses. Look for Pittsburgh to be a contender!
24 Tennessee Titans 121-135 6 20 Tennessee opens up against two divisional opponents (Indy and Jacksonville), then play Cleveland and San Diego. The last few games versus Denver, Kansas City, and Houston will be a different story. The strength of schedule is average, Mariota is poised to take the next step, locked and loaded at RB, could this be a cinderella story in the making?
25 Jacksonville Jaguars 121-135 9 3 Weeks 13-17 offer up a very tough finish for Jacksonville, playing Minnesota, Denver, Houston, Indy, and at Tennessee. Jacksonville is set up nicely but will have a difficult stretch at the end of the season. This will be a productive team, but not a championship team.
26 Philadelphia Eagles 120-136 23 18 The NFC East defenses will give Philly a soft fantasy schedule. The toughest opponents Philly will see this year is at Cincinnati and Seattle, while home to Green Bay and Minnesota.  There will be four weeks of avoiding, but Philly’s schedule is a positive for fantasy production. The Eagles should be good until Ryan Mathews craps out… remember, they’re starting a rookie QB in 2016.
27 Cincinnati Bengals 119-137 30 6 Cincinnati has a tough opening to the season, facing New England, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Washington (In London). The last stretch of the season is going to be a positive for Cincinnati players. They play the Browns twice, and have the Steelers/Ravens at home. Andy Dalton will also sit with a soft passing schedule, which is a big bonus to him.
28 Detroit Lions 119-137 25 29 Colts, Texans, Saints, Cowboys, and Vikings all will give the Lions another chance to keep playing indoors. There aren’t a whole lot of scary defenses on the Lions schedule. This should been a boom for Stafford…. who should once again throw for over 4,000 yards.
29 Dallas Cowboys 119-137 32 28 Dallas will draw a very easy schedule, and definitely have some winnable games. They have away games at San Francisco and Cleveland, cakewalk. Dallas is starting Dak Prescott and we don’t expect he’ll relinquish that role when Romo returns. The Cowboys should once again be a treasure trove of fantasy points.
30 Chicago Bears 118-138 27 26 Houston, Dallas, Indy, and Green Bay. Poor Jay Cutler opens the year facing that Houston D. IE, Clowney and JJ Watt. Minnesota has the Bears number… or should I say, Adrian Peterson. Other than that, they have a favorable schedule for 2016. They are not expected to be a strong enough team to capitalize on the advantage.
31 New York Giants 118-138 29 30 Minnesota and Green Bay on the road, but that is about it. 2 Dallas games which are always a slugfest. New York will welcome six games against their NFC East neighbors that bodes well for them. This offense should be extremely productive in 2016.
32 Green Bay Packers 117-139 19 23 Aaron Rodgers… easiest schedule in the league for 2016. Dare I say more?

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