The NFL.com FPA ratings are based on the strength of a player's schedule using the average fantasy points their opponents allowed against the six major fantasy positions the previous season. For example, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers allowed an average of 26.66 fantasy points per game to running backs in 2011. As a result, any runner that faces them this season is rewarded 26.66 points. Since Michael Turner faces them twice as an NFC South opponent, he receives 53.32 points. The bigger the point total, the easier the schedule. While these ratings are not the be all, end all in determining a player's stock, they can still be useful when picking between players with similar value and looking for those ever-elusive sleepers.
Did FPA work for running backs in 2011?: Exactly half of the 32 NFL teams saw a 2.5-point decrease or increase in FPA from 2010-2011, so the theory's effectiveness was a push for all intents and purposes. The biggest change came in Denver, where the Broncos allowed 9.10 fewer fantasy points per game to running backs and were one of five teams to allow fewer fantasy points to the position compared to 2010. On the flip side, the biggest increase in points allowed came in Tampa Bay, where the Buccaneers gave up 6.42 more per game. In all, just three teams surrendered 4.68 or more points compared to the previous season. Furthermore, 56.2 percent of defenses allowed more fantasy points to backs at some level.
Note: Favorable opponents allowed an average of 20 or more fantasy points in 2011. Unfavorable opponents allowed an average of fewer than 17 fantasy points.
7. Evan Royster, Redskins (301.46 points)
Favorable opponents - Eagles (2), Giants (2), Browns, Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints, Rams.
Unfavorable opponents - Cowboys (2), Ravens, Steelers, Falcons.
2012 Outlook: If Mike Shanahan uses Royster as a featured back, the schedule improves his overall stock.
10. Willis McGahee, Broncos (297.59 points):
Favorable opponents - Chiefs (2), Raiders (2), Browns, Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints.
Unfavorable opponents - Chargers (2), Ravens, Steelers, Falcons, Texans.
2012 Outlook: The slate is favorable, but the return of Knowshon Moreno could mean an imminent committee.
12. Darren McFadden, Raiders (291.75 points)
Favorable opponents - Chiefs (2), Browns, Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints.
Unfavorable opponents - Chargers (2), Ravens, Steelers, Falcons, Jaguars, Dolphins.
2012 Outlook: McFadden is a risk due to his proneness to injuries, but a favorable slate does help.
T-28. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals (276.40 points):
Favorable opponents - Browns (2), Chiefs, Raiders, Eagles, Giants.
Unfavorable opponents - Ravens (2), Steelers (2), Chargers, Cowboys, Dolphins, Jaguars.
2012 Outlook: The Law Firm has value as a No. 2 or 3 fantasy back, but he'll face a difficult slate of games in 2012.