The National Football League has a strength of schedule formula that's simple to understand ... take the opponents' records from the previous season, add up wins and losses and calculate a percentage. In fantasy football, there's a different method that evaluates a player's value.
Instead of team records, we use the number of fantasy points surrendered by opponents the previous year against a single position. For example, the Cleveland Browns allowed an average of 11.33 fantasy points per game to running backs in 2016. As a result, any running back who faces them in 2017 receives 11.33 points. The bigger the overall point total, the easier the schedule.
While these ratings are not the be-all, end-all in determining a player's stock, owners can use them when picking between players with similar value and projecting potential sleepers or busts.
Notes (1-16): The difference between the best schedule (8.22) and the worst (6.73) is not excessive this season. Furthermore, it's less than a two-point separation from No. 1 to No. 16. ... Three of the top four teams (Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears) based on fantasy points allowed totals reside in the NFC North. The fourth team in the division, the Detroit Lions, ranked tied for ninth. That's due to the fact that two of those teams were in the top 12 in terms of allowing the most points to the position last season. The division also faces favorable opponents in the NFC South (Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons) and AFC North (Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals). This is good news for Martellus Bennett, who has top-10 potential with the Packers. ... Three of four AFC East squads (Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, New England Patriots) rank in the top half of the NFL, but neither Charles Clay nor Austin Seferian-Jenkins has much value. Rob Gronkowski, on the other hand, will be a top-30 pick and the first tight end picked in most 2017 drafts.
Notes (17-32): The Washington Redskins have the toughest schedule at the position, but the separation between the Skins and the Pittsburgh Steelers (T-16th) is about one point. Three of the four teams in the NFC East are in the bottom six of the league based on FPA rankings, which is a result of matchups against the Eagles (two), Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. These teams were among the four hardest for tight ends to score fantasy points against a season ago. ... The NFC West fielded three teams (Cardinals, Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams) that allowed six or fewer fantasy points per game to the position, so it's no surprise to see their "top" tight ends ranked near the bottom of our list ahead of the 2017 season. Fortunately the lone legitimate fantasy starter in the division is Jimmy Graham,, unless you're a believer in Tyler Higbee as a sleeper.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!