For the last several weeks, I’ve been providing season-to-date Strength of Schedule (SOS), and as the data set has continued to grow, I’ve noticed very little variation in the rankings week to week. So I’ve modified the calculation to include only the last 30 days of games. This will ensure we’re looking at fresh numbers while at the same time keeping our sample size at a level we can trust.
In the adjacent table, you’ll find the average adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) — using DraftDay’s scoring system — for every team in the league. The reason the averages are adjusted is to remove schedule bias. For example, if a team has played mostly high-scoring teams (like the Blazers and Spurs have over the last 30 days) then their raw fantasy points allowed (rFPA) would be inflated. By removing this schedule bias, we have more of an “apples to apples” comparison to use when evaluating matchups.
The lower the average, the better the defense. Daily and weekly fantasy owners will want to avoid the teams indicated in red, especially the Sixers, Heat, Grizzlies, Hawks and Bulls. The Clippers, Magic, Raptors, Mavs and Suns have also been playing good defense over the last month.
Each week, I’ve been comparing these aFPA rankings to John Hollinger’s Defensive Efficiency (DE) rankings, which simply calculates the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions. These rankings will start to diverge even more now that I’m using the last 30 days as my time span. Still, five of these 10 teams are in the top 10 in DE as well.
Defensive Efficiency and aFPA will never match up perfectly because DE doesn’t remove schedule bias and a team with a strong DE could still yield a lot of fantasy points if they play at a high pace (# of possessions per game). The best example of this is the Knicks, who have the 8th-best DE, but play at the 2nd-fastest pace in the league. Simply stated, more possessions equal more chances for the opponent to rack up fantasy points. The Knicks check in at #17 in aFPA, so they have been a mediocre fantasy matchup over the last month.
Owners should target the Kings, Wizards, Cavs, Timberwolves, Bobcats, Nuggets, Bucks, Spurs, Warriors and Lakers. The Nets, Hornets, Pistons and Knicks are also below average in terms of fantasy points allowed over the last 30 days.
Matchups are key when deciding who to start. If you have to pick Player A who faces the Sixers (-10.3%) or Player B who plays the Kings (8.8%), you’re generally better off going with Player B, because all else being equal, he should produce at a much higher rate, which can be expected to be around 19% in this case. This is the most extreme comparison, but even a 4%-6% swing is significant when making tough lineup decisions.
For full-season owners who set their rosters once a week, it would be helpful to know how one player’s upcoming schedule compares to another. The table below shows each team’s schedule for the upcoming week along with the weekly average.
The Nets, Warriors, Hawks, Mavs, Timberwolves, Sixers and Jazz all have favorable matchups (on average) this week. Conversely, owners may want to avoid fringe players from the Knicks, Bulls and Cavs given the relative difficulty of their weekly schedules.