The fantasy football strength of schedule is a useful tool, comparing the games for each team against what those defenses allowed the previous season. But what is even more useful is to compare that against 2020.
Simply put – you know what a player did last year. Will he face an easier or tougher schedule? Only the extremes are worth noting given how teams and players change from year to year. So, the best comparison is between what their schedule strength was last year versus this year.
Since this compares all tight end and wide receiver production each week, there are a lot of points at play and how they are distributed within an offense has obvious variation. The schedule strength has the least accuracy with receivers, so consider this as a minor tool in valuing wideouts and tight ends.
Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith (NE) – The Patriots’ first season without Tom Brady went against the worst schedule strength in the NFL last year, so rising to the No. 10 should yield significant improvement. Now the only issue is an all-new set of receivers catching passes from either Cam Newton or the rookie Mac Jones.
Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims (NYJ) – The Jets are another team that suffered a horrible schedule strength in 2020 and now improve for this year. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson installs a new offensive scheme that will be a bigger success factor, and the receivers haven’t been upgraded either.
Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle (SF) – The 49ers’ passing game fell apart last year thanks to injuries to almost everyone. If they can stay healthy, the schedule becomes their friend in this complex passing game that may end up manned by a rookie quarterback.
Kenny Golladay, John Ross, Darius Slayton (NYG) – Daniel Jones looked significantly worse in his second season, but the No. 30 schedule hampered his mediocre set of receivers. The crew was upgraded this year and the slate of games clears up nicely for 2021.
DJ Moore, Robby Anderson (CAR) – Moore and Anderson were both productive last year even under a bad schedule. That won’t be an issue for 2021, but now they’ll rely on Sam Darnold trying to get a mulligan on his career.
Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry (CLE) – The Browns draw no favors from the schedule with a serious decline from 2020. Throw in that they prefer to run the ball, and Beckham and Landry will be challenged to improve.
Keenan Allen, Mike Williams (LAC) – Justin Herbert was the rookie of the year and his schedule helped a bit. Allen and Williams won’t have that benefit but they will have a year’s worth of experience with Herbert and the Chargers’ passing scheme doesn’t employ a lot of receivers in most plays.
A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, Josh Reynolds (TEN) – Brown broke out in the second half of the 2020 season with impressive performances, though that was mostly facing the rest of the AFC South. This year, there are still meetings with the Texans and Jaguars, but the rest of the schedule is far less inviting.