The National Football League has a strength of schedule formula that's very simple to understand. You take the opponents' records from the previous season, add up the wins and losses and calculate a percentage for all 16 opponents. In the world of fantasy football, we use a similar method. Instead of using team records, we use the number of fantasy points allowed (FPA) by defenses the previous season against a single position (both at home and on the road) and rank the teams/players according to the average.
For example, the Green Bay Packers allowed an average of 27.2 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs overall last season. However, their defense was much tougher at home (23.1 PPG allowed) than on the road (31.3 PPG allowed). Therefore, a roadrunner who faces the Packers at Lambeau Field in 2021 receives 23.1 points. On the flip side, a home runner who faces Green Bay received 31.3 points. This goes one step deeper than typical FPA analysis, based on a total average of the home and road numbers. The bigger the overall point total per team, the easier the schedule.
Note: Numbered columns in spreadsheet don't represent specific weeks.
Jonathan Taylor was one of the top running backs in fantasy football last season, and the schedule looks good for his chances of a successful sophomore campaign. Among his easier opponents are the Texans (2), Jaguars (2), Titans (2), Chiefs, and Jets.
The Broncos backfield is clouded after the selection of Javonte Williams in the NFL draft, but both the rookie and Melvin Gordon face the second-easiest schedule among running backs. They'll face the Raiders (2), Chiefs (2), Lions, Giants, and Bengals, all of which allowed 24-plus fantasy points to opposing running backs last season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire also has a nice schedule, facing the Raiders (2), Broncos (2), Titans, Packers, and Bengals. But can he sustain a featured role in his second season?
Saquon Barkley is matchup proof for the most part, but he does have the toughest schedule among running backs based on 2020 fantasy points allowed data.
Not only do the Raiders have a potentially confusing backfield with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake, but they'll also face the second-toughest schedule, including games against the Rams (2), 49ers (2), Browns, Football Team, and Colts, this season.
D'Andre Swift is considered a massive breakout candidate, but he will have the fifth-toughest schedule with games against the Bears (2), 49ers, Steelers, Rams, and Ravens among his more formidable opponents. He'll be a second rounder in 2021 drafts.
- Orr: The 15 Best Games to Look Forward to in the 2021 NFL Season
- Pickman: 2021 NFL Schedule - Key Games, Dates for Every Team
- Orr: Six Teams Stiffed by the NFL Schedule
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!