One of the more recent tools created to help in that quest for a fantasy league championship are fantasy points allowed (FPA) ratings. It's a statistical look at how an NFL team performed against each of the six major fantasy positions (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker, defense/special teams) the previous season. Using a Rotisserie-style formula, we have created a fantasy-focused rating for every team in 2010.
Each defensive unit was assigned a point value per position from 1-32, based on how it performed last season. Keep in mind, this rating has nothing to do with how a team finished in passing or rushing defense. Take into consideration the Vikings, who were in the top 10 against the pass last season but still allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Lions gave up the most fantasy points (22.5 PPG) to the position, so each signal-caller facing them received one point. If a quarterback plays the Jets, who surrendered the fewest points (10.1 PPG), he received 32 points. The lower the point total, the better the rating.
Of course, we all know that there is no fool-proof way to figure out which fantasy players will succeed and which ones will fail. Rosters and coaching personnel will change, defenses will improve or falter from one season to the next, and the unpredictable nature of the NFL will continue to frustrate and excite us.
But these FPA ratings can still be very useful when picking between players with similar value and looking for those ever-elusive sleepers that can help lead you to that ultimate goal – a fantasy title.
1. Donovan McNabb, Redskins: McNabb faces the Giants (2), Eagles (2), Vikings, Bears, Lions, Jaguars, Titans, Buccaneers and Rams. Those nine teams (11 games) were in the top 14 in terms of allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. The Giants, Bears, Lions, Jaguars and Titans allowed an average of 19.2 PPG or more to the position.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers: Rodgers is the top fantasy quarterback on NFL.com heading into next season, and his schedule just makes it even easier to take him in Round 1. He'll face the Bears (2), Lions (2), Vikings (2), Giants, Eagles, Dolphins and Falcons. All of those teams ranked 13th or worse in terms of allowing fantasy points to quarterbacks last season.
3. Kevin Kolb, Eagles: Kolb is a major sleeper in fantasy circles as the top signal-caller on the Eagles' depth chart. Aside from his own upside and the talent around him on offense, Kolb also has a very favorable schedule. Games against the Giants (2), Bears, Lions, Vikings, Jaguars, Titans and Falcons should help him produce some very attractive stat lines.
4. Tony Romo, Cowboys: Notice a trend with NFC East quarterbacks? Romo is the third field general in the division in the top five based on our FPA ratings. He'll start games against the Giants (2), Eagles (2), Bears, Lions, Vikings, Jaguars, Titans and Cardinals. None of those teams finished better than 15th in allowing the least fantasy points to signal-callers.
5. Trent Edwards, Bills: Whether it's Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brian Brohm, the Bills No. 1 quarterback has a nice schedule with games against the Dolphins (2), Browns, Bears, Lions, Jaguars, Vikings and Chiefs. Unfortunately, even a favorable slate like that isn't going to make any of this trio worth more than a late-round selection in drafts.
6. Matthew Stafford, Lions: Looking for a sleeper at the quarterback position? Stafford fits the bill. He showed flashes of potential as a rookie, and his 2010 schedule is very favorable. He'll face the Bears (2), Vikings (2), Eagles, Giants, Rams, Dolphins and Buccaneers. Those teams allowed an average of 17.8 fantasy PPG or more to quarterbacks in 2009.
7. Brett Favre, Vikings: Now that we knew Favre will be back in 2010, it's time to look at his schedule. The old gunslinger faces great matchups against the Bears (2), Lions (2), Giants, Eagles, Cardinals and Dolphins. Favre also faces the Packers twice - he threw for a combined 515 yards and seven touchdowns against them last season.
8. Matt Moore, Panthers: Moore will have some definite late-round sleeper appeal in all fantasy football drafts this season. Not only did he show flashes of potential down the stretch in 2009, but he also faces a very favorable slate of games that include matchups against the Falcons (2), Buccaneers (2), Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, Bears, Giants and Browns.
9. Jason Campbell, Raiders: Campbell is a major upgrade over JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski, so the Raiders now have a fantasy-relevant quarterback under center. Games against the Chiefs (2), Jaguars, Rams, Seahawks, Rams, Titans, Cardinals and Dolphins are favorable and will add to Campbell's appeal in drafts. He'll be worth a late- round pick in a No. 2 option.
10. Jay Cutler, Bears: Cutler's fantasy value is certainly on the rise after the addition of new coordinator Mike Martz, and a slate of games against the Lions (2), Vikings (2), Eagles, Giants, Dolphins, and Seahawks makes him even more attractive. Those six teams allowed an average of at least 17.8 fantasy PPG to opposing quarterbacks in 2009.
11. Eli Manning, Giants: Manning is coming off the best fantasy season of his career, and the talent around him in the Giants pass attack makes him a low-end starting option. He'll also have a favorable slate of games, including starts against the Eagles (2), Bears, Vikings, Lions, Jaguars, Titans and Seahawks to make him that much more of an option.
12. Peyton Manning, Colts: The schedule doesn't really factor much into the value of a quarterback of Manning's caliber, but it's still worth noting that he'll play games against the Jaguars (2), Titans (2), Chiefs, Eagles and Giants. Seven of Manning's starts will come against teams that allowed an average of 17.8 fantasy PPG or more last season.
13. Kyle Orton, Broncos: Orton, who finished 14th in fantasy points among quarterbacks last season, should find similar success in 2010 based on a schedule that includes games against the Chiefs (2), Jaguars, Titans, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks and Browns. Those seven teams finished 15th or worse in allowing fantasy points to signal-callers.
14. Alex Smith, 49ers: Smith emerged as a nice waiver-wire pickup last season and is now the unquestioned starter for the 49ers heading into the 2010 campaign. He has a number of favorable games, including starts against the Cardinals (2), Rams (2), Seahawks (2), Falcons, Chiefs, Buccaneers and Eagles. Smith will be a viable No. 2 fantasy option.
15. Drew Brees, Saints: Brees is one of the elite fantasy quarterbacks in the league, so even the most unfavorable schedule wouldn't affect his draft stock. But with games against the Falcons (2), Buccaneers (2), Rams, Seahawks, Cardinals, Browns, Bears and Vikings, Brees is almost guaranteed to find immense statistical success once again.
16. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks: Hasselbeck remains the favorite to start for new coach Pete Carroll, though Charlie Whitehurst will also have a chance to win the top spot in training camp. Whoever earns that coveted role will face a fairly favorable schedule with games against the Cardinals (2), Rams (2), Falcons, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Giants and Bears.
17. Vince Young, Titans: Young is the first quarterback in the lower tier based on out FPA rating. He has favorable matchups against the Jaguars (2), Chiefs, Eagles, Giants and Dolphins, but Young also has some tough tilts against the Colts (2), Broncos, Raiders and Chargers. Overall, his schedule doesn't alter his stock as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback.
18. Matt Schaub, Texans: One of the best draft values of 2009, Schaub posted career bests in yards and touchdowns and is now considered one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy football. His slate of games in 2010 is neither favorable nor unfavorable, as seven starts are against teams that finished 13th or worse in allowing fantasy points to his position.
19. Mark Sanchez, Jets: Sanchez's value rose as a result of the deal that sent Santonio Holmes to the Big Apple, but he's not going to see a change because of his 2010 schedule. He does have some favorable matchups against the Dolphins (2), Browns, Bears and Lions, but Sanchez also faces tougher teams like the Bills (2), Ravens, and Broncos as well.
20. Derek Anderson, Cardinals: Anderson has passed Matt Leinart in the depth chart, and playing in the defensively weak NFC West is an advantage. He also has games against the Falcons, Buccaneers, Chiefs and Vikings, but it's not all roses for the USC product. Anderson also has much tougher 2010 matchups to deal with against the 49ers (2), Saints, Panthers and Broncos.
21. David Garrard, Jaguars: Garrard is a No. 2 fantasy signal-caller, and that's not about to change based on his 2010 schedule. While starts against the Titans (2), Chiefs, Eagles, Giants and Browns are attractive, Garrard must also face the Colts (2), Redskins, Broncos and Bills. Those teams allowed an average of 16.1 or fewer fantasy PPG to quarterbacks.
22. Philip Rivers, Chargers: A top-10 fantasy quarterback, Rivers remains a surefire early-round selection despite what is a tough schedule. He does have some great matchups on the slate, but Rivers must also go up against the Broncos (2), Colts and 49ers. He also faces the Raiders (2) and Patriots, who allowed fewer than 17 points fantasy PPG to signal-callers.
23. Sam Bradford, Rams: Whether it's Bradford or A.J. Feeley, the Rams top quarterback isn't going to see a lot of attention in fantasy drafts next season. The level of games isn't going to improve that either, as the eventual starter will face the 49ers (2), Saints, Panthers, Broncos, Redskins and Raiders among it's tougher opponents.
24. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers: Freeman endured a tough rookie season, posting 10 touchdowns with 20 turnovers in his first 10 games. While he's destined to improve moving forward, owners shouldn't expect him to be much of a sleeper based on a schedule that includes games against the Panthers (2), Saints (2), 49ers, Ravens, Redskins and Steelers.
25. Tom Brady, Patriots: Brady is another elite quarterback who's going to be an early-round pick regardless of the schedule, and facing the Jets and Bills twice is enough to hurt any player's FPA rating. Those two teams allowed an average of 12.1 or fewer fantasy PPG to quarterbacks. Of course, Brady also faces the Dolphins (2), Browns, Bears and Lions.
26. Matt Cassel, Chiefs: The addition of new coordinator Charlie Weis is a real positive for Cassel. Unfortunately, his 2010 schedule makes his statistical potential a little less than stellar. He has tough matchups against the Broncos (2), Raiders (2), Colts, 49ers ad Bills. On a positive note, Cassel should produce against the Jaguars, Titans, Rams and Browns.
27. Chad Henne, Dolphins: Much like Brady, Henne's FPA rating is unfavorable due in large part to a combined four games against the Jets and Bills. However, games against the Patriots (2), Ravens, Steelers and Raiders aren't all that attractive, either. The addition of Brandon Marshall is huge for his value, just keep in mind that Henne has a very tough slate next season.
28. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: Roethlisberger has been suspended six games and lost one of his top options in the pass attack after the trade of Santonio Holmes. With tough games against the Ravens (2), Bengals (2), Patriots, Bills, Jets, Panthers, Saints and Raiders, it's possible that Big Ben could be a big disappointment for fantasy leaguers in 2010.
29. Matt Ryan, Falcons: Ryan is without question one of the better young quarterbacks in the league, and he should make strides in his rise to stardom in 2010. However, he does have one of the hardest schedules based on our ratings. Ryan faces what could be difficult games against the Panthers (2), Saints (2), 49ers, Ravens, Steelers, Bengals and Packers.
30. Joe Flacco, Ravens: Flacco should post the best fantasy numbers of his career next season, especially after the addition of Anquan Boldin, but his slate of games could hinder his overall level of success. Aside from playing the Steelers (2) and Bengals (2), he also faces difficult matchups against the Patriots, Bills, Jets, Saints, Panthers, Colts and Broncos.
31. Carson Palmer, Bengals: If you think Palmer is guaranteed to bounce back and put up much-improved numbers compared to his 2009 totals, you might want to think again. The veteran will face the Ravens (2), Steelers (2), Bills, Patriots, Jets, Panthers, Saints and Colts. Six of his games come against teams that allowed 15.5 or fewer fantasy PPG to quarterbacks.
32. Jake Delhomme, Browns: As if you needed another reason not to draft Delhomme. As you can see, the AFC North quarterbacks have a brutal schedule based on the success of teams within their own division and matchups against the AFC East. He'll also face teams from his former division, the NFC South, including the Saints and his old squad, the Panthers.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!