Strength of schedule and breakout predictor 2017 part 2

By Adam Hall
Adam Hall Who you should target
This model allows us to find who has the easiest path to success and which teams are most likely to have a breakout candidate amongst them. This article runs down a slew of my favorite players to target this year based on the statistics. Many of these will be values, or individuals that you may feel uncertain about. The good news is that many of them will be so cheap that it will cost you nearly nothing to pick them up. I’ll refer to “spread scores” in this article. That is simply referring to the scores in my statistics depicting how easy or difficult their schedule is. Higher scores indicate easier schedules, negative scores indicate harder schedules.

1. Cam Newton— Spread scores: +6.35 pass (rank-4), 8.2 rush ((rank-4) and +14.55 combined (rank-3)

ADP: 100.8, early to middle 9th round

Cam is coming off of the worst year of his career from a fantasy perspective, which already means he’s in for some positive regression to the mean. With the additions of Kalil at left tackle, Christian McCaffery, and Curtis Samuel, Cam not only has more weapons to use in the passing attack, but has better blind side protection. This means that even if he doesn’t run as much, he’s still likely to get a large boost in the passing game. Furthermore, not one thinks that Cam is going to lose out on rushing TDs to CMC in a meaningful way. Prepare for him to have a significant bounce back year against some of the easiest competition in the NFL.

2. Dak Prescott—Spread Scores: 4.85 pass (rank 7), -4.77 rush (rank 21), and .08 combine (rank 13).

ADP: 123.6, early to middle eleventh round.

Dak is coming off a QB1 year and one of the most efficient by a rookie in NFL history. Although he has lost a couple players on his incredible offensive line, and rookie phenome Ezekiel Elliot is likely gone for the first large chunk of the season, Dak has what it takes to repeat and expand on his rookie campaign. Collins has moved to right tackle where he is projected to play even better, largely ameliorating a question mark on the line. Furthermore, both backs in Dallas who aren’t suspended have had multiple 1000-yard seasons and are more than capable of keeping an extra man in the box out of respect. With the most efficient receiver on a per-drop basis in Cole Beasley on the team and an addition in another reliable slot player in Ryan Switzer, Dak has the players he can go to if things get a bit overwhelming. Finally, with new tight end Rico Gathers and Jason Witten around, Dak has safety blankets in the seam to target on third-downs to keep drives alive. All of this amounts to another QB1 season for

Dak, target him in the 10th round and profit .

3. Carson Wentz—Spread Scores: 3.6 pass (rank 9), .08 rush (rank 16), 3.68 combined (rank 9)

ADP—140.4 (end of the 14th round)

After realizing what the Eagles had in Carson Wentz they went on a tear in free agency. The eagles acquired Alshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith, and Legarrette Blount to shore up the offensive side and with the extra depth leftover, they traded for a legitimate corner (which they were in dire need) in Ronald Darby. With one of the top offensive lines in the league and a battering-ram in Blount, already weak defenses are going to have to focus much of their attention to the run, allowing the supped-up receiving corps to have a renewed impact. Wentz is likely to be a high-end QB2 that you can get for pretty much nothing.

4. Paxton Lynch (Hopefully) or Trevor Siemian—Spread Scores: 11.05 passing (rank 1), 1.2 rushing (rank 12), 12.25 combined (rank 4)

ADPs—both undrafted

Paxton Lynch is a first round QB who stands above 6’5” tall and throws a 59MPH football. He has everything he needs to be a great fantasy QB considering he is also a QB that loves to use his legs. If he is to win the QB competition, he has the easiest passing schedule in the NFL this year to work with. With two great receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to work with, he can be torching teams left and right. From a pure upside perspective, you should consider taking a last round flyer on whoever wins this competition because the odds are in your favor.

5. Jay Cutler—Spread Score: 6.1 pass (rank 5).

ADP—162.3 (end of the 15th round)

This may seem crazy, but Jay Cutler has shown before that he can put up big numbers. The last time Jay Cutler and Adam Gase (Dolphins head coach) Jay had the second-best year of his career, posting efficient games week in and week out. It’s easy to argue that Cutler has a better offensive unit around him in Miami than he did in Chicago. Cutler has recently called Davante Parker a “faster version of Alshon Jeffery” which he plans on making a superstar. Next he has a top of the line RB in Jay Ajayi to keep pressure in the box, and according to PFF, the NFL’s most dangerous slot receiver in Jarvis Landry. Cutler has everything he needs to be a top-end QB2 or even a bottom end QB1 and you can get him for nothing.

6. Alex Smith—Spread Scores: 5.3 passing (rank 6), 4.3 rushing (rank 5), 9.6 combined (rank 5)

Alex Smith rushed for nearly 500 yards two years ago and had 5 TDs on the ground last year. It is little known that Alex Smith is one of the most efficient running QBs in the NFL. This provides enormous upside at the QB position. Not only do the Cheifs have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL from a fantasy perspective, but he’s stacked with weapons as well. With the flash-like Tyreek Hill (4.24 40-yard dash) and Chris Conley (4.35 40-yard dash), breaking teams down on slants and go routes Alex has real reasons to turn to the air this year. Furthermore, he has one of the league’s best tight ends in Travis Kelce patrolling the middle. These three factors mixed with the potent running attack in Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt spells another high-end QB2 year for Alex Smith.

Expensive QBs with great schedules:

1. Tom Brady—Spread Scores: 4.6 passing (rank 8), 11.5 rushing (rank 2), 16.1 (combined (rank 2)

2. Matt Ryan—Spread Scores: 8.3 passing (rank 2), .1 rushing (rank 15), 8.4 combined (rank 6)

3. Russell Wilson—Spread Scores: .75 passing (rank 12)

4. Kirk Cousins—Spread Scores: .15 passing (rank 13)

* All ADP values come from and are assuming a 12 team PPR league