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 Buccaneers, who were ranked sixth in receiving yards allowed last season but still surrendered the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. The Titans gave up the most fantasy points (25.6 PPG) to the position, so each wideout facing them received one point. If a receiver plays the Jets, who surrendered the fewest points (11.6 PPG), he received 32 points. The lower the point total, the better the rating.
Of course, we all know 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. Miles Austin, Cowboys: Austin came out of nowhere to become a fantasy superstar last season -- he scored more fantasy points than the great Larry Fitzgerald -- and his 2010 schedule bodes well for him to find continued success. Of the 16 games he's slated to play, nine will come against teams that allowed an average of 20.4 fantasy PPG last season.
2. Louis Murphy, Raiders: Murphy isn't going to be seen as one of the elite receivers in fantasy football anytime soon, but that doesn't mean he can't be a decent late-round value pick on draft day. He faces a very favorable slate of games against the Chiefs (2), Jaguars, Titans, Cardinals, Rams, Colts, Seahawks and Dolphins, so consider Schilens with a flier pick.
3. Steve Smith, Panthers: Had it not been for a late-season injury, Smith would have likely posted his fifth straight 1,000-yard season. He should start a new streak in 2010, as the veteran wideout faces favorable matchups against the Saints (2), Buccaneers (2), Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks and Bears. Consider Smith a high-end No. 2 fantasy wideout in most leagues.
4. Santana Moss, Redskins: Moss' value is clearly rising, as the addition of Donovan McNabb coupled with a very attractive FPA rating makes him far more attractive in drafts. The veteran out of Miami will play games against the Giants (2), Bears, Lions, Colts, Jaguars, Titans, Rams and Buccaneers, so look for Moss to once again reach the 1,000-yard mark.
5. Lee Evans, Bills: The prospect of Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brian Brohm under center is anything but attractive for Evan's fantasy outlook, but at least he has a favorable slate of games on tap. Aside from tough games against the Jets (2) and Bengals, Evans has tremendous matchups against the Dolphins (2), Bears, Lions, Jaguars and Chiefs.
6. DeSean Jackson, Eagles: Jackson is one of the league's most explosive playmakers, and a schedule that includes games against the Giants (2), Bears, Lions, Jaguars, Titans and Colts make him that much more valuable in fantasy drafts. Even with Kevin Kolb under center, Jackson should be seen as a top-level fantasy wideout and worth an early-round pick in drafts.
7. Percy Harvin, Vikings:Sidney Rice is out at least six games after hip surgery, so Harvin is now the top option in the team's passing game. With Brett Favre back under center and Rice sidelined, Harvin and Bernard Berrian will both see a spike in targets and fantasy value in the meantime. Games against the Bears (2), Lions (2), Giants, Dolphins, Cardinals and Saints are very favorable as well.
8. Malcom Floyd, Chargers: Floyd has a ton of sleeper value, and a 2010 schedule that includes favorable games against the Chiefs, Titans, Cardinals, Rams and Colts would have made him even more attractive in all drafts. With Vincent Jackson out at least three games and potentially many more, Floyd now has value as a potential No. 3 fantasy wideout on draft day.
9. Laurent Robinson, Rams: Question marks at the quarterback position will limit the value of Robinson, who has some low-end sleeper value. The schedule will be very favorable for each of these young wideouts, as they'll face a slate of games against favorable opponents like the Cardinals (2), Seahawks (2), Saints, Chiefs, Buccaneers and Lions.
10. Jabar Gaffney, Broncos: The trade that sent Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins has Gaffney's value on the rise. He should see an increase in targets in 2010, which means he'll have a good chance to be far more productive overall. Favorable matchups against the Chiefs (2), Jaguars, Colts, Titans, Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals make Gaffney an even nicer option.
11. Michael Crabtree, 49ers: One of the most talented young wideouts in the league, Crabtree could turn into a viable No. 2 fantasy receiver in his second season. Aside from his considerable skills and abilities, the Texas Tech product also has a favorable slate of games against the Cardinals (2), Rams (2), Seahawks (2), Saints, Buccaneers and Chiefs.
12. Kenny Britt, Titans: A potential fantasy sleeper in 2010, Britt has the size and tools to make a nice impact in his second NFL season. The Titans offense will continue to be based on the run, but games against the Colts (2), Jaguars (2), Chiefs, Giants and Dolphins are favorable for Britt, Nate Washington and Justin Gage heading into the 2010 campaign.
13. Steve Smith, Giants: The "other" Steve Smith might have a better FPA rating, but the Big Apple's version remains a more valuable fantasy asset. Smith and his talented teammates, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, have a number of attractive matchups on the 2010 slate including games against the Bears, Lions, Jaguars, Titans, Colts and Seahawks.
14. Reggie Wayne, Colts: Wayne is already one of the better wideouts in fantasy land, so the fact that he faces a relatively favorable schedule isn't going to change his value. Though he does have some tough games, Wayne also faces easier opponents like the Jaguars (2), Titans (2), Chiefs and Giants. This also favors Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez.
15. Greg Jennings, Packers: Jennings didn't meet heightened expectations in 2009, but he's still a valuable option in a Packers offense that's one of the league's most explosive units. The veteran is also slated to face favorable opponents like the Lions (2), Bears (2), Giants and Dolphins. Fellow wideouts Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson will also benefit.
16. Andre Johnson, Texans: Johnson, the top-ranked fantasy wide receiver on NFL.com, won't lose any of his luster regardless of the opponents he'll face in 2010. It bears noting, though, that this talented wideout plays the Jaguars (2), Titans (2), Chiefs and Giants among his more favorable matchups. Look for Johnson to be a second-round pick in many drafts.
17. Santonio Holmes, Jets: Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery all in the same pass attack? Talk about a confusing situation from a fantasy perspective. Not only will this trio be prone to inconsistent stat lines, but their schedule also includes tough games against the Bills (2), Ravens, Bengals, Broncos and what should be a better Steelers defense.
18. Calvin Johnson, Lions:Megatron was a mega-disappointment from a fantasy perspective in 2009, but that's no reason to turn your back on him. Though he does face some difficult games against the Cowboys, Bills and Jets, Johnson also has great matchups against the Bears (2), Giants, Rams, Dolphins and Buccaneers. He's still a No. 1 fantasy option.
19. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks: Houshmandzadeh's best fantasy numbers appear to be in the rearview mirror, as he's failed to post 1,000 yards in two consecutive seasons. What's more, he's scored a combined seven touchdowns in his last 31 games. Houshmandzadeh also faces some tough games against the 49ers (2), Chargers, Panthers and Broncos in 2010.
20. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: Much like Johnson, Fitzgerald would be a top-rated wideout in fantasy land even with one of the league's most difficult slates. His schedule includes some very favorable games against the Rams (2), Seahawks (2), Saints, Buccaneers and Chiefs, but starts against the Panthers, Broncos and Chargers will be more formidable tests.
21. Johnny Knox, Bears: A viable sleeper in fantasy circles, Knox now has Mike Martz as his new offensive coordinato and is worth a middle-round pick. The schedule won't help the value of Knox, Devin Aromashodu, Devin Hester or any of the Bears wideouts, though, as matchups against the Cowboys, Eagles, Bills, Panthers and Jets aren't favorable.
22. Mohammed Massaquoi, Browns: Massaquoi showed flashes of potential in his rookie season, but he's not likely to make a major leap forward in terms of fantasy appeal in 2010. Not only has Jake Delhomme been dreadful over the last two years, but Massaquoi also faces difficult opponents like the Ravens (2), Bengals (2), Steelers (2), Jets and Panthers.
23. Mike Williams, Buccaneers: Can anyone name the No. 1 wideout in Tampa Bay? For now, Williams has the most value of all their receivers. Regardless, there isn't a single receiver on this team that will warrant more than late-round consideration in drafts. A schedule that includes games against Panthers (2), Steelers, Ravens and Bengals won't help their cause, either.
24. Roddy White, Falcons: No one will dispute the fact that White is one of the best wide receivers in fantasy football and warrants an early-round pick. He does face a difficult slate of games, though, as White matches with the Panthers (2), Steelers, Ravens, Bengals and Eagles. Still, it's hard to see him falling based on his poor FPA rating alone.
25. Anquan Boldin, Ravens: The fact the Boldin moves from the mostly-defenseless NFC West to the more formidable AFC North is something to think about when weighing his fantasy value. The veteran out of Florida State goes up against tough teams like the Bengals (2), Steelers (2), Bills, Jets, Broncos and Panthers. Consider Boldin more of a No. 2 fantasy option.
26. Marques Colston, Saints: The dynamic offense of coach Sean Payton is going to produce points regardless of the weekly opposition, so the value of Colston and Robert Meachem shouldn't take a major hit as a result of the schedule. It is worth noting, though, that games against the Panthers (2), Steelers, Ravens, Bengals and Cowboys are all very formidable.
27. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars: Sims-Walker took over a prominent role in the Jaguars offense last season, posting career bests across the board and becoming more fantasy relevant. He could be hard pressed to make a major improvement in those numbers, however, as Sims-Walker will face the Broncos, Chargers, Raiders, Eagles, Cowboys and Bills.
28. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs: A viable breakout candidate last season, Bowe failed to meet fantasy expectations before a league-imposed suspension shelved him for four games. While he's still a No. 2 fantasy wideout, owners should keep in mind that Bowe and Chris Chambers must face the Chargers (2), Broncos (2), Raiders (2) and Bills in 2010.
Brandon Marshall, Dolphins: Marshall's move from Denver to Miami shouldn't have a major effect on his fantasy appeal, but it's interesting to note that he faces the fourth-toughest schedule among wide receivers. Not only does he have to face the Jets and CB Darrelle Revis twice, but Marshall must also go up against the Bills (2), Steelers, Ravens and Bengals.
30. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals: Ochocinco has been "Dancing With the Stars" and running his OCNN Web site, but he'll soon have to deal with some tough matchups on the field. Aside from a game against the Jets and Revis (who shut him out last season), Ochocinco and Terrell Owens must also face the Ravens (2), Steelers (2), Bills, Chargers and Panthers.
31. Randy Moss, Patriots: Moss might be getting a little long in the tooth, but he still has plenty of yards and touchdowns in the tank for fantasy leaguers. However, it should be mentioned that the future Hall of Famer has a schedule that includes difficult games against the Bills (2), Revis and the Jets (2), Ravens, Steelers, Bengals and Chargers.
32. Hines Ward, Steelers: Is it safe to say that members of the Steelers passing game are in for a long season? No, but the schedule for Ward and Mike Wallace is absolutely brutal. Aside from games against the Bengals (2) and Ravens (2), this duo must also face the Bills, Jets, Panthers and Raiders. Keep that in mind when it's time to draft your team.