Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule: Running Backs

Written by John Ferguson
June 3, 2020
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As part of our 2020 Fantasy Football Draft Kit here at FantasyData, we have created a custom strength of schedule projection model with in-depth analysis to help you in your quest for a championship title. Strength of schedule (SOS) is a tool I have used ever since I started playing fantasy as a part of draft preparation. This, along with personal rankings and ADP are cornerstones of conducting a solid draft. One of the best parts about using SOS is being able to compare two players you have ranked pretty much identically with similar ADPs to see which one might have a slight edge with an easier schedule, especially in the final quarter of the fantasy season (Weeks 13-16) when wins matter the most.

Method of Projection and Numbers to Know

There are a few different ways people project SOS for an upcoming fantasy season. The way I prefer to do this is by using a recent sample of the last two seasons' fantasy points allowed ranks and points per game (PPG) allowed ranks. I compare these side-by-side to find an average that I am happy with and use that for the upcoming season to determine where a team could potentially rank against a position in fantasy points allowed. It's a fairly simple method, but in doing this, I have found that most teams don't have a drastic change in fantasy points allowed from one season to the next. To back that up, here are some key numbers worth knowing before we dive into this more:

When looking at the top of the ranks of teams who have given up the most fantasy points to RBs over the last two seasons, we see some pretty strong consistency within the top eight we have projected heading into this season. Only two of these teams moved more than 12 spots between the 2018-19 season. The Cardinals went from allowing the most fantasy points (25.3 PPG) in 2018 to 13th in 2019 at 19.6 PPG, a difference of 5.7 PPG. The Panthers made a huge jump in the opposite direction going from 26th in 2018 (16.2 PPG) to allowing the most overall in 2019 at 28.4 PPG, a difference of 12.2 PPG which was the biggest jump in the league across all positions. None of the other six teams inside the top eight moved more than 3.3 PPG between the last two seasons.

Comparing this to the teams that we have projected to give up the fewest fantasy points to RBs doesn't show quite as strong consistency, though the teams in the bottom eight have almost entirely finished below average between the last two seasons. The only outlier here is the 49ers who ranked 13th in 2018 allowing 19.8 PPG to 30th in 2019 at just 12.5 PPG, a difference of 7.3 PPG. Five of the teams who are inside the bottom eight moved less than 4 PPG between the last two seasons.

To put this into perspective, the average amount of movement in points allowed ranks between the last two seasons is 9.2 spots and 3.8 PPG. Depending on where the team ranks though makes a difference between how many PPG they will actually move. For example, the Bengals have allowed the most PPG to RBs over the lasts two seasons on average at 23.6 PPG. If they were to move the average nine spots, that would put them at 20.4 PPG, a difference of 3.2 PPG. If the Jaguars who are ranked 9th at 20.4 PPG moved down nine spots to 18th, they would have allowed 18.4 PPG, a difference of just 2 PPG. So, the average swing from season-to-season is usually pretty marginal. Only nine teams in the league moved more than 12 spots between the last two seasons which for fantasy would mean a difference of enough points to change their caliber of points allowed from being worthy of an RB1 performance, RB2 performance, Flex, etc. 

Now that we have gotten some of the technical stuff out of the way, let's take a look at the best and worst schedules this season for team backfields! 

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John Ferguson

John Ferguson is an avid Fantasy Football fanatic with 10+ years of experience in friends and family leagues, paying public leagues, and DFS Tournaments. Ferguson specializes in draft strategies, trade negotiations (Buy Low/Sell High) and DFS value picks amongst other parts of fantasy football analysis. When Ferguson isn’t spending time skimming over stats while at the beach, he follows the Oakland Athletics closely as a diehard fan and enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife and three children. A native of Monterey, California, Ferguson now calls Quintana Roo, Mexico home.