As usual, strength of schedule (SOS) is always a tricky business as to how much you can trust it. But I'm a fan, especially when we look at the ends of the SOS spectrum. Today, I'll be looking at wide receivers SOS, and as you can see below, the Broncos lead my rankings, while the Packers are last. I think we can safely assume that we'd rather our fantasy wide receiver face the Packers rather than the Broncos. So looking at the extremes for defenses in a wide receiver's schedule can be useful. You can see how they came out below.
These numbers reflect last year's statistics with an eye toward the second half of the season. There were plenty of changes this offseason that will push a team to be better or worse against the rush, but I think these stats get to the extremes of last year, which will be difficult to turn around completely. So there is my long caveat! Let's see who gets the easiest and toughest schedules this season.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
Seattle gets the best fantasy wide receiver schedule for the season, which gives Doug Baldwin a boost. I do worry about the Rams improving their pass defense under Wade Phillipsm and the Cardinals should also improve, which makes for what should be a tougher schedule than what the numbers predict. Overall though, I think we can target Baldwin this season without worrying that he's going to have a glut of impossible games.
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, Vikings
The Vikings get a nice schedule, which is helped by Green Bay's futility and matchups with the NFC South. The Vikings also have some productive receivers with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen starting. Sam Bradford isn't going to help his receivers to huge numbers, but is consistent enough to give them a chance each week to put up useful fantasy numbers.
Cameron Meredith and Kevin White, Bears
The Bears also get a similar schedule as Minnesota and should be in line for some weak pass defenses, but I like their receivers a bit more due to where you can get them in drafts and the fact that the Bears will likely be trailing quite a bit this season - like last season - and will be throwing the ball often in the second half of games. That pushes Cameron Meredith into what should be a heavily targeted role, and if Kevin White can stay healthy, he would be up there with Dandy Cam.
Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, Giants
The Giants should throw the ball a ton this year, and they also should be successful with an easy schedule. Of course, Eli Manning looked awful last season and will need to turn things around, but at the very least there will be opportunity, and we know Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall get the job done.
Michael Thomas and Willie Snead, Saints
Michael Thomas and Willie Snead are set up well, which was already true in the Saints' offense with Drew Brees at the helm, but a good schedule, especially in the second half of the fantasy season, should make these two strong cogs in your fantasy machine this year.
Quincy Enunwa, Jets
The Jets are a mess, and their SOS for wide receivers is awful. The hope is that they will need to throw a bunch due to game script turning them into a team that needs to make up points and a ton of targets allocated for Quincy Enunwa. Of course, that's just a hope for Enunwa, but one I'll hold on to as long as he's not too expensive on draft day.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
Kansas City has two pass catchers in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill who should see the majority of the targets, so maybe Hill can overcome a tough schedule due to targets, but I'm not sold on Hill as a No. 1 receiver and could see Chris Conley taking away some work. For the most part, I'm staying away from Hill at his current ADP and only targeting Kelce, who could easily be their No. 1 receiving weapon this year.
Eric Decker, Titans
I would be higher on the Titans' playoff schedule if their easiest statistical games didn't come against the Rams and Cardinals, who I believe will improve their pass defense this season. As it is, I think Eric Decker is the only receiver in Tennessee who you can feel confident about.
Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, Bucs
Tampa Bay gets a nice playoff schedule, especially if you toss Week 13 against the Packers in there. Unfortunately, the Bucs get their home game against the Saints in Week 17, negating the fantasy implications there. But overall, it's a strong stretch for Tampa Bay's receivers, so expect the duo of Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson to be strong plays during the most important part of the fake season.
Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel, Falcons
The Falcons will face the Saints twice in the fantasy playoffs, which should be useful for both teams. You of course already want Michael Thomas and Julio Jones on all your teams, but Willie Snead is set up for a great year if he can stay healthy and Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel will have good upside in the playoffs.