Fantasy: 2022 strength of schedule matrix

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The fantasy strength of schedule matrix is used to determine the overall difficulty of players' matchups from Week 1 to Week 18.

The No. 1-ranked team is forecasted to see the easiest slate, while the No. 32-rated side will face defenses projected to allow the fewest fantasy points to that position.

Our model takes into account several variables, including historical defensive data, offseason roster changes, new coaching staffs, home/road splits, and individual player matchups.

You shouldn't decide whether you draft someone based on this table. Rather, it should serve as an additional data point to help break ties between players you're considering. The impact on players at the extremes (green or red) will be far greater than the differences among those in the middle range (yellow).

Fantasy Strength of Schedule

Quarterbacks

  • Quarterback is incredibly deep this season, but there are a couple of late-round targets who should get a boost from their improved situations and favorable schedules. In addition to new coaching staffs, Daniel Jones (first) and Trevor Lawrence (second) will also get the benefit of the two easiest slates. Veteran Matt Ryan (fifth) is another name to keep an eye on now that he's surrounded by a better offense in Indianapolis, and he gets the fifth-softest string of fantasy opponents.
  • As Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson try to adjust to life without their former top receivers in Tyreek Hill and Marquise Brown, respectively, they'll be forced to contend with two of the most challenging defensive schedules. The arms race that took place this offseason in the AFC West and AFC North is partially to blame for Mahomes (30th) and Jackson (32nd) landing in the red in the table above. That isn't a reason to shy away from two of the league's best fantasy quarterbacks, but it should make you strongly consider drafting Josh Allen and Justin Herbert over them if you plan on spending an early pick on a quarterback.
  • While there are a lot of signs pointing to Tua Tagovailoa (29th) and Zach Wilson (31st) as potential breakout candidates this season, the schedule isn't one of them. The upgraded talent around both young passers should be enough to overcome even the most brutal matchups, but the degree of difficulty remains high based on their opponents.

Running Backs

  • Fantasy managers were disappointed to find out Javonte Williams has to share touches with Melvin Gordon for at least one more season. However, there's still plenty of hope for Denver's star sophomore, including the arrival of a true franchise passer in Russell Wilson and the second-friendliest running back slate. In fact, the Broncos are the only team to finish among the top-eight easiest schedules at every position. Make sure you invest in this offense for fantasy.
  • Spending early picks to acquire ball carriers in bad offenses can be a dangerous fantasy approach, so it's understandable if people want to avoid David Montgomery. It's worth noting, though, that the Bears have been 11th and 12th in terms of running back schedules the last two years, and Montgomery has delivered as the RB9 in fantasy points per game in 2020 and the RB20 in 2021. Now, he'll enter this year with the best possible schedule of any back. Even if his ceiling is somewhat limited, Montgomery is capable of producing as a mid- to high-end fantasy RB2.
  • Draft Falcons running backs at your own risk. Starter Cordarrelle Patterson is 31 years old and coming off an extremely late breakout campaign that might end up being an outlier season. Other managers may look to veteran Damien Williams or rookie Tyler Allgeier as sleeper candidates, but with the hardest schedule for fantasy backs in 2022, keep your expectations low for this entire backfield.

Wide Receivers

  • With Amari Cooper traded away and Michael Gallup still recovering from a torn ACL, CeeDee Lamb has a chance to be among the leaders in targets per game - a category he finished 30th in a year ago. Combine that with a top-three fantasy schedule among receivers, and we could be talking about Lamb as a league winner in 2022. The Cowboys are also tied for the fourth-most positive rest edge this season, according to Warren Sharp.
  • A.J. Brown's move from Tennessee to Philadelphia helped him go from the 10th-hardest schedule at his position to the easiest. That should help offset the effects of joining the league's lowest-volume passing attack from 2021. With Brown around, it's likely the Eagles will build on last year's total of 494 pass attempts. They could even finish ahead of the Titans, who were 25th with 535. Either way, Brown should be set for a bounce-back season as a low-end fantasy WR1.
  • If you were planning on searching the Patriots' receiving corps for a discounted fantasy option, you might want to look elsewhere. New England has the sixth-toughest slate for wideouts, while its running backs and tight ends are both in the green with top-eight schedules. It might be obvious, but this offense will operate primarily through its backfield, led by Damien Harris, and its starting tight end Hunter Henry. It's unlikely that any of the Patriots' receivers will get enough volume to be consistent fantasy options.

Tight Ends

  • Outside of a couple of elite players at the position, you could make a case for 15-20 other tight ends having a legit shot to post top-12 fantasy numbers this season. Dalton Schultz (fifth) and Pat Freiermuth (fourth) should be prime targets in your drafts, as they have the right mix of prior production, upcoming opportunity, and favorable schedules.
  • Darren Waller won't fall off the fantasy radar anytime soon, but his days as a top-three fantasy tight end might be over with target-hog Davante Adams joining the Raiders. Waller, who'll turn 30 this season, will try to make up for the looming dip in targets with more trips to the end zone. Unfortunately, he'll also be battling the second-stiffest collection of opponents among fantasy tight ends. It's time to shift our evaluation and start viewing Waller as more of a mid-range TE1 in fantasy.
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Fantasy: 2022 strength of schedule matrix
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