I've always believed that Fantasy Football is all about the matchups, and I've always hated the concept of Strength of Schedule.
One day about four years ago, I thought about what it would take to make a Strength of Schedule that would be beneficial to Fantasy managers.
Obviously it meant analyzing each defense. Because, hello, defenses are what make the matchups.
But it had to be more than that. It meant having to dig into every single defensive player, how they fit into the defensive scheme they're playing in, who they're playing for, who's backing them up, how each team defends certain positions, and so on.
That seemed like a lot of work.
But I tried it. And it wasn't perfect, it did help.
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In the years since I've perfected the process, and while injuries and surprising play -- both in a good way and in a bad way -- will alter how defenses do, I like the concept of what I've built: The Projected Strength of Schedule (or PSoS) for every position on every team. At minimum, it will give you a potential tiebreaker when debating between two players in your drafts. At most, it's a warning sign to avoid certain position groups across the league.
If you're reading this, you're on the page that breaks down the PSoS for tight ends. You'll find out about the players who have easy projected schedules, difficult projected schedules, and everyone in between. If you're interested in the methodology behind these numbers,.
For now, here's a look at how each offense's tight ends rank in term of PSoS, with 1 being the easiest and 32 being the toughest. There's a table for the whole season, the first four weeks of the season (who might get off to a hot start?!) and Weeks 15 through 17 (Fantasy playoffs).
- Full PSoS rankings by position: | | |
I'll highlight some players after these ranks so please remember to scroll all the way through.
Season-long PSoS for TEs
Weeks 1-4 PSoS for TEs
Weeks 15-17 PSoS for TEs
Dalton Schultz, Texans: Not only did Schultz draw the best overall projected schedule for tight ends, but he also has a top-five sked for the first four weeks. Much of it has to do with the Colts and Jaguars in Weeks 2 and 3. Schultz is the tight end I'll fall back for in Round 9 or 10 if I don't get my hands on one sooner.
Juwan Johnson, Saints: The biggest headline involving Johnson this offseason suggested he'd been watching Julian Edelman film, hinting at a role as a big slot receiver. He might struggle to find targets given Chris Olave and Michael Thomas on the roster, but if he's going to get an uptick in routes and connects with new quarterback Derek Carr (who has loved his tight ends through the years) then he's got a shot to be solid. The second-easiest projected schedule figures to help him quite a bit.
TJ Hockenson, TE, Vikings: There's a lot working against Hockenson this year. Six matchups are against top-12 projected pass defenses against tight ends, six more are divisional matchups (his only NFC North score last year came against Minnesota when he was still with the Lions; he only has four career scores against the Bears and Packers). And it's highly likely that the 21.8% target share he had last year will sink with rookie Jordan Addison aboard. Is he a top-six tight end? Yep. A top-three? The schedule is some of the evidence against it.
Darren Waller, TE, Giants: Truthfully, the Giants' schedule will present problems for everyone including Saquon Barkley. Waller will see plenty of good cover safeties and linebackers against the Cowboys and 49ers early on before dealing with the Eagles (twice), Commanders (twice), Patriots, Bills, Saints and another date with Dallas. Considering Waller's declining production, you might be better off letting someone else draft him.
Don't draft them, trade for them
Chig Okonkwo, Titans: The advanced-stat superstar that sleuthy Fantasy savants are salivating over has a real tough beginning against the Saints, Chargers and Browns (two of which were top seven against tight ends last year; the other has Derwin James). After that, Okonkwo has an easy schedule complete with all of his divisional showdowns and should emerge as a consistent target for Tennessee.
David Njoku, Browns: Njoku is another low-risk, modest-reward tight end with a good schedule, though it won't be easy early. By Week 7 he'll be done with his bye and half of his dreaded AFC North matchups. Forget about trades -- you might find him on the waiver wire at that point!
Draft them, then consider selling high
Evan Engram, Jaguars: Jacksonville opens with the Colts and Texans in two of their first three games, both of which project to be incredible matchups for Engram. It will get harder for him after that, and by October we should hopefully see Calvin Ridley round into his old form. If that happens then the dispersal of targets in Jacksonville could get lean for everyone but Ridley.
Gerald Everett, Chargers: He's only draftable because of his first four games against the Dolphins (tough but a potential scoreboard show), Titans (good matchup), Vikings (potentially great matchup) and Raiders (great matchup he crushed for at least 13 PPR points twice last year). After that he has a bye and dates with the Cowboys, so you won't want to use him for two weeks after. Stream him, then sell high on him if you can.