Holding a wideout in fantasy football because of a tough matchup is impossible when the receiver is really good, possible when the receiver is just good, and easy when the receiver is just meh.
But what if a receiver had a gauntlet of tough matchups in their future? Secondaries full of quality cover men and pass rushes that would haunt the passer – would that matter to you?
For me it would be, if only a touch. None of the top five teams that ranked highest in fantasy points awarded to opposing receivers conceded more than nine games with greater than 15 PPR points to opposing players over the course of any 17 games. That’s very good. Compare that to the worst team, Minnesota, who conceded 10 15-plus appearances in their first 10 games.
Not only do I want to avoid the toughest secondaries, I want to avoid as many of those Minnesota matchups as possible. How can I find them before they actually start playing? Simple – the schedule is out there and I’m certainly able to study the defense to see which teams have improved and which haven’t.
So I created the Projected Strength of Schedule (PSoS) for each team’s games, tailored specifically for wide receiver matchups. You can read a full explanation of the methodology if you like, but know that I’ve spent a lot of time studying defenders, plans and anything else that would go into a wide receiver’s matchup.
The PSoS is not the most important thing for receivers – goals, explosiveness and quality of the quarterback are much more important. However, before you call up a player, it would be good to know if they have a lot of tough matchups ahead of them, especially early in the season.
Use this as a bit of research to give you an extra edge in your draft day decision making. It could end up being the tie-breaker between two players you are debating. Don’t forget this information before entering your designs.
Seasonal PSoS for WRs
Weeks 1-4 PSoS for WRs
Weeks 15-17 PSoS for WRs
AJ Brown, Devonta Smith: Here’s hoping Philadelphia throws more in 2022 and that Jalen Hurts improves his accuracy. Those factors will be far more important than the schedule, but it definitely helps that the Eagles’ only tough matchups are against the Cowboys, Packers, and Saints. It really is.
Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick: Already adorned with the addition of Russell Wilson, these three have the second easiest PSoS for the entire season and early season. Three of their first four are playing the Seahawks, Texans and Raiders, and they have a dream five-game streak starting in Week 7. And one of their toughest divisional matchups against the Chargers comes in week 18. I’m rather encouraged to draft these men.
Mike Williams: I expect Keenan Allen will be successful regardless of opponent, but Williams has proven far too inconsistent. Perhaps a projected schedule for the full season top 5 will help allay those concerns. I also don’t think he’s going to see a challenging outside cornerback until week 5.
Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk: The 49ers are the only team to finish in the top 12 in all three PSoS categories, a surprise considering they will play the Rams twice along with the Broncos, Chargers, Saints and Buccaneers. I assume that’s what happened because they’re playing a runner-up and the Cardinals and Seahawks runner-ups didn’t do very well.
DrakeLondon: The Falcons are one of two teams whose early-year, fantasy playoffs, and all-season PSoS recipients are bottom-8 (Cincy is the other). This is a huge blow to London, who are already facing the prospect of inaccurate downfield shots from Marcus Mariota and/or Desmond Ridder. His first two games are against the Saints and Rams. I will lead Treylon Burks over London in every draft.
Diontae Johnson: Not only does Johnson have to adjust to two new quarterbacks and a refreshed version of the offense, but he also faces the second-toughest PSoS of the entire season. Volume has saved his stat line in the past and seems to be the only thing that can save him this year.
Rashod Bateman: You might feel good about drafting Bateman after his Week 1 game against the Jets, but then he’ll see the Dolphins, Patriots and Bills back-to-back weeks. And that just starts with a very challenging schedule for the recipient in year two through after they leave at week 10. You won’t see me reaching out for him.
Gabriel Davis: Like Bateman, Davis has a really tough schedule early on that continues throughout the year. Unlike Bateman, Davis has a proven penchant for big plays and works with a cannon-armed quarterback on a pass-heavy offense. I won’t love starting Davis against the Rams, Titans, Dolphins, Ravens and Steelers to start the year.
Don’t draft them, act for them
(These receivers have hard PSoS early in the season, but their schedule improves dramatically starting in October.)
- Brandin Cooks
- Adam Thielen
- Christian Kirk
Design them and then swap them out
(These receivers have a basic PSoS at the beginning of the season, but their schedule gets more difficult starting in October.)
- Amari Cooper
- Michael Thomas, Chris Olave
- Tyler Lockett