Summer is not quite here yet, but it’s never too early to start preparing for next fantasy football season. One of the tools every player should have in their tool kit for draft season is an accurate strength of schedule cheat sheet.
Our SOS cheat sheet is hand crafted using a weighted algorithm that combines last season’s defensive stats (adjusted for defensive SOS), with offseason moves (both personnel and coaching). We never recommend drafting solely off the previous season’s defensive rankings alone as there are a ton of factors that can quickly turn a bad defense into a good one. We saw that this past NFL season when Cleveland moved to a bottom-5 pass defense to a top-5 pass defense in one offseason.
The other thing to consider with strength of schedule is that it is just one of several factors to consider while drafting. For instance, of the 7 teams with the easiest QB SOS last season, only one ended up with a top 15 fantasy QB. The player and scheme are far more important than strength of schedule, but when stuck between two players, the schedule acts as a great tie-breaker.
The next update to our strength of schedule rankings found below will release once the final schedules are out for the 2022-23 NFL season.
How to Use Strength of Schedule in Fantasy Football
A strength of schedule cheat sheet is the type of fantasy resource that absolutely has to be in your tool kit, but is not something you will draft solely off of. For instance, we are not going to pass on Russell Wilson because he has the 4th toughest QB schedule, but we may draft Lamar Jackson over him because he has the 14th easiest.
Similarly, if we are comparing two players that have a similar strength of schedule ranking, we may use their playoff schedule to determine which player we ultimately draft. It is also smart to at least check matchups for your backup QB and TE for your starter’s bye week.
The last, and arguably most important use for a strength of schedule cheat sheet is as a tool to compare a player’s schedule from the previous season to his schedule this season. One may think Teddy Bridgewater will benefit from his QB1 schedule, but the numbers he played the second-easiest QB schedule last season as well.
Patrick Mahomes finished 2020 as a top-3 QB despite playing the third hardest schedule. This season he has the 10th easiest schedule amongst all quarterbacks. Cleveland has the 2nd easiest RB schedule this season, but they played the third-hardest last season.
This same strategy is effective when looking at player props for the 2021 NFL season. One of our favorite bets this season is Nick Chubb to lead the league in rushing, and it is easy to see why after breaking down the disparity between his schedule last season vs this season.