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The fantasy football season is quickly approaching, and it is time to get your fantasy football cheat sheets together. Although there is still a lot of time before the NFL season kicks off (IF it kicks off), it is never too early to do your homework. These are just the first round of the Fantasy Football Strength of Schedules, and there will undoubtedly be some developments during the offseason that will shake up the rankings.
How the SOS Is Calculated
Every year when we get together to make our fantasy football positional rankings, projections and cheat sheet we have to take a few variables in to mind. We have to take in to mind offseason acquisitions and also results based on injuries in the previous season. In years past, we have looked at the average points allowed per position per team to determine whose schedule puts them in position for the most success. This year we will be going one step further, calculating points against averages based on home and away games.
How does this affect the SOS compared to years passed? The Dallas Cowboys allowed nearly ten more points per game to opposing quarterbacks playing in Dallas. Their secondary must be getting caught checking out the big screen. On the other hand, a team like the Jets was stellar at home, but allowed almost three times as many points to opposing quarterbacks when they were on the road.
As the season progresses you will be able to see the change in SOS as we continue to tweak the projections. Players will move in free agency and affect the strength of their respective defenses, and that effect will be reflected in the SOS.
1. Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins gave Henne one more year to work things out when they elected not to draft a quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft. Henne has one of the best receivers in football and a very good offensive line as well. This is a make-or-break year for Henne, and he knows it. Henne could be a very valuable No. 2 who could end up being trade bait sometime in the year. Take advantage of what should be a relatively low average draft position.
2. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
The Titans may have shocked the world when they made Jake Locker the second quarterback drafted. The Titans will likely look to free agency to find a viable veteran to take the reins until Locker is ready, until then he is the best on the roster. Locker will likely be without Kenny Britt for some time because of a suspension. Locker could end up being the equivalent to Sam Bradford last year if he starts from Week 1.
How many games will Jake Locker start in 2011?
3. Eli Manning, NYG
Manning has improved his yards and touchdown count now three years in a row, but saw his interception rate jump up last year. He threw 25 interceptions, or one more than he did in the previous two seasons combined. He still ended the year ranked eighth in interceptions and posted a 30-touchdown year. Looks like Manning should only continue to improve.
4. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Last year Vick came off the bench and once again became the most dangerous man in football. As the year wound down, Vick started to look human, taking more hits and making more mistakes. The Eagles invested in the offensive line with their first pick, and they also have an easy schedule. Vick rightfully starts the year as the No. 1 rated quarterback.
5. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
It was a disastrous year for Romo in 2010, but like the Eagles, the Cowboys also invested their first-round pick in protecting their quarterback. Romo wasn’t the best quarterback in fantasy before he got hurt, but he still has an upside better than most and a talented receiving corps. Romo was all the buzz because some expected 4,500 yards. Maybe they were a year too early.
Can Tony Romo bounce back as one of Fantasy Football's best?
6. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
Fitzpatrick, like Henne, was also bought an extra year as a starter when his team passed on a quarterback in the draft. Fitzpatrick was a very capable passer last season, despite facing a tougher schedule. The Bills defense is still far from being the dominant 3-4 defense they’re hoping for, so expect Fitzpatrick to throw a lot at the end of ball games.
7. Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins
Grossman fully expects to be the starter next year, while we fully expect the Redskins to use a carousel all season. Of course Grossman has had some strong performances in his career; he even led a team to a Super Bowl. No matter how easy this schedule is though, I wouldn’t bet on Grossman taking the 'Skins to the Super Bowl this year.
8. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
How high will Rivers be ranked at year's end?
At one point last year Rivers was on pace to throw for over 5,000 yards, and he did it all without a No. 1 receiver until the last three weeks of the season. Rivers and the Chargers have had nothing but bad luck in the postseason, so his name isn’t in the conversation of top five quarterbacks. Another year like 2010 could change that, and the schedule is in his favor.
9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Had Roethlisberger not missed the first four games of the season last year, he would have ended the year fifth for most points. He had a very consistent season and found some new dangerous weapons in Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger has the added value as a mobile QB, and his schedule fits his penchant to run the ball.
10. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
The Sanchise proved he could win in crunch time last year but again fell short in the playoffs. His fantasy value went up with added help at receiver, but he still wasn’t worthy of being the starter in fantasy last year. Sanchez wasn't able to get past the sophomore slump, so it either will never happen, or he is doomed. We’re leaning toward never.