3 min read

Fantasy Football 2023 Guide: Strength of Schedule for Secondaries

In a collaborative effort throughout June, Jordan Vanek and Mark Garcia are joining forces to curate a comprehensive set of rankings for the coming year's secondaries. We intend to provide valuable insights into best ball strategies, early season targeting and fantasy football preparations. This is part two of a three-part series.

Below, we’ll provide a detailed, step-by-step explanation of the methodology behind creating a point system to measure the strength of schedule. By prioritizing defensive matchups, this approach offers valuable insights while excluding the influence of the offenses the teams will face.

Step 1: Tier Every NFL Secondary

The first thing to do was assemble a tier list for where each team belongs, so we came up with the list below.

Chart ranking the secondary tiers in the NFL

For the reasoning behind the tiers, you can read part one of this series.

Step 2: Assign a Value to Each Tier

Tier # Name Teams Points
1 Elite MIA DAL PHI NYJ 10
2 One Piece Away SF SEA NE LAC CIN BUF 9
3 Above Average but Lots of Moving Pieces ATL BAL CAR NYG DEN NO 7
4 Bend but Don’t Break PIT CLE TB KC 6
5 Real Potential with Major Question Marks WSH GB DET JAX 5
6 Missing the Talent HOU TEN IND MIN CHI 3
7 Long Road Ahead LV ARI LAR 2

For simplicity and usefulness, the point allocation system for the secondary tiers was devised to assign 10 points to the highest tier and two points to the lowest tier. Instead of a linear decrease per tier, we opted for an approach based on careful observation. It became evident that Tier 2 teams displayed a closer resemblance to Tier 1 than Tier 3 did. Additionally, Tiers 3-5 showed minimal disparities in perceived strength, warranting a narrower margin. To establish clear distinctions between Tiers 2-3 and 5-6, we introduced a two-point gap between them.

Step 3: Factor in Dome Games

We adjusted the point system to consider the impact of playing in a dome, where passing conditions are typically favorable and deducted one point from teams playing in a dome to account for the potential difference in passing totals. We avoided assigning a zero or negative value to ensure consistency in averaging.

Step 4: Add Up All The Numbers

Table showing how strength of schedule was calculated

Analyzing the 2023 opponents, it became evident some teams will face particularly challenging strength of schedules. This doesn't necessarily imply that Josh Allen will endure his worst season, but he will undoubtedly encounter numerous formidable matchups. Notably, the AFC East and NFC East find themselves among the top eight regarding the toughest schedules in terms of secondary opposition. Additionally, the New Orleans Saints have the advantage of playing an impressive 14 games in domes this year, leading to a significant gain of 14 points in their value. These factors shed light on the demanding nature of the coming season for several teams and highlight the potential for spike weeks with some undervalued teams.

In the upcoming part three of this series, we’ll give our takeaways from the strength of schedule for the passing offenses we put together.

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