So far this offseason, I've reviewed QB and RB fantasy performance in 2016 after adjusting for their strength of schedule (SoS) in standard formats. In this article, I’m going to apply the same method to last year’s WR fantasy scoring (in point-per-reception (PPR) formats).

WR Scoring used: Rushing/Receiving TD = 6 Fantasy Points (FP); 10 Rush/Receiving Yd = 1 FP; Reception = 1 FP; Turnovers = minus 2. Return TDs also counted for 6 FP, which had one obvious effect.

Here’s the top 75 WRs. The table includes the actual PPR FP totals and ranks as well as the Strength of Schedule Adjusted (SOSA) FP figures (how this is calculated can be found in the QB article on this topic ). The final column is a percentage (SOSA Factor) that equals the SOSA FP divided by Actual FP. A SOSA Factor of 100% would mean that a player had an exactly average schedule. If the percentage is over 100%, it means he played a harder than average schedule and that his Actual FP understate how well he played. On the other hand, a percentage less than 100% means a WR had an easy schedule and his scoring was inflated.

Actual vs. Strength of Schedule Adjusted (SOSA) WR Fantasy Points and Ranks, PPR Scoring

Player

Actual FP

Actual Rk

SOSA FP

SOSA Rk

SOSA Factor

Brown, Antonio

307.3

1

315.0

2

103%

Nelson, Jordy

304.7

2

325.5

1

107%

Evans, Mike

304.1

3

295.7

4

97%

Beckham, Odell

296.6

4

297.6

3

100%

Hilton, T.Y.

273.8

5

277.6

5

101%

Jones, Julio

259.9

6

259.4

7

100%

Thomas, Michael

255.7

7

254.6

9

100%

Baldwin, Doug

255.6

8

245.3

13

96%

Adams, Davante

246.7

9

256.4

8

104%

Cooks, Brandin

246.3

10

259.5

6

105%

Fitzgerald, Larry

243.8

11

244.2

14

100%

Crabtree, Michael

239.3

12

251.0

11

105%

Cooper, Amari

232.3

13

251.0

10

108%

Landry, Jarvis

231.3

14

241.4

15

104%

Edelman, Julian

230.3

15

237.2

16

103%

Thomas, Demaryius

226.3

16

231.0

17

102%

Tate, Golden

223.1

17

224.5

18

101%

Hill, Tyreek

217.0

18

247.2

12

114%

Williams, Tyrell

216.9

19

217.4

20

100%

Pryor, Terrelle

213.4

20

212.7

23

100%

Sanders, Emmanuel

212.6

21

219.5

19

103%

Matthews, Rishard

211.5

22

217.0

21

103%

Wallace, Mike

202.8

23

214.4

22

106%

Garcon, Pierre

201.1

24

200.9

26

100%

Robinson, Allen

199.3

25

198.1

29

99%

Crowder, Jamison

197.5

26

203.6

25

103%

Hopkins, DeAndre

197.4

27

197.9

30

100%

Benjamin, Kelvin

197.1

28

200.2

27

102%

Britt, Kenny

196.2

29

188.6

33

96%

Thielen, Adam

195.2

30

187.8

34

96%

Snead, Willie

193.5

31

209.9

24

108%

Diggs, Stefon

193.3

32

180.5

40

93%

Beasley, Cole

189.0

33

187.4

35

99%

Green, A.J.

186.4

34

198.8

28

107%

LaFell, Brandon

186.0

35

194.6

31

105%

Shepard, Sterling

184.4

36

183.8

37

100%

Smith, Steve

183.9

37

194.4

32

106%

Bryant, Dez

182.0

38

181.3

39

100%

Meredith, Cameron

181.5

39

182.7

38

101%

Jackson, DeSean

180.5

40

179.8

41

100%

Lee, Marqise

180.4

41

184.7

36

102%

Boldin, Anquan

173.4

42

170.3

44

98%

Jones, Marvin

172.3

43

162.9

47

95%

Matthews, Jordan

171.4

44

165.9

46

97%

Enunwa, Quincy

168.9

45

178.4

42

106%

Stills, Kenny

168.6

46

177.6

43

105%

Inman, Dontrelle

163.0

47

166.5

45

102%

Ginn Jr., Ted

159.0

48

156.2

51

98%

Marshall, Brandon

155.8

49

161.9

48

104%

Parker, DeVante

154.4

50

159.9

49

104%

Sanu, Mohamed

148.8

51

146.6

54

99%

Cobb, Randall

148.3

52

159.3

50

107%

Austin, Tavon

146.8

53

144.6

55

98%

Kerley, Jeremy

146.7

54

134.1

58

91%

Jeffery, Alshon

146.1

55

146.9

53

101%

Montgomery, Ty

140.5

56

149.7

52

107%

Gabriel, Taylor

140.0

57

132.0

59

94%

Nelson, J.J.

139.1

58

134.7

57

97%

Humphries, Adam

133.0

59

127.0

63

95%

Benjamin, Travis

132.4

60

143.0

56

108%

Hogan, Chris

128.9

61

129.4

62

100%

Fuller, Will

128.2

62

124.2

65

97%

Rogers, Eli

126.0

63

130.5

60

104%

Williams, Terrance

125.4

64

124.7

64

99%

Boyd, Tyler

124.1

65

129.9

61

105%

Lockett, Tyler

124.1

65

114.6

71

92%

Patterson, Cordarrelle

119.6

67

115.9

69

97%

Woods, Robert

118.9

68

118.7

66

100%

Floyd, Michael

115.8

69

116.4

68

101%

Quick, Brian

115.4

70

111.9

72

97%

Anderson, Robby

114.9

71

111.3

73

97%

Roberts, Seth

111.7

72

118.1

67

106%

Maclin, Jeremy

109.5

73

115.0

70

105%

Sharpe, Tajae

105.3

74

105.5

74

100%

Brown, John

103.7

75

100.6

75

97%

 

Some observations:

  • With QBs and RBs, scoring was not as affected by SoS as in 2015; with WRs this trend was only partly continued. Just one WR had a SOSA Factor greater than 110% or less than 90% in 2016, compared to 3 in the previous year. There were 24 WRs who had SOSA Factors more than 5 percentage points stronger or worse than 100% (90-95% or 105-110%), vs. only 18 in 2015. So there were fewer large SoS adjustments but more moderate changes.
  • The average WR FP PPR allowed by NFL defenses in a game was 35.7 FP, about three-quarters of a point more than in 2015. This includes all FP allowed to all the WRs on an opposing team. The Broncos had the toughest defense for fantasy WR scoring (23.1 PPR/game). In 2015 they were a close 2nd place (25.9), so they've been a very tough matchup for a while. To give you an idea of how dominant Denver was against WRs for fantasy in 2016, the #2 defense (CIN) was almost closer to the average than they were to #1.
  • Tyreek Hill single-handedly added an FP/G to Denver's total with two rushing and one return TDs, not normal fantasy WR points.
  • The Titans gave up the most FP/G to WRs (42.5, edging the Packers by 0.4 points per game).
  • Hill had the best SOSA FP game, with 53.8 FP in Week 12 against Denver (32.5 Actual FP).
  • Jordy Nelson's 46.0 SOSA FP in Week 16 vs. MIN (36.4 Actual) was the best adjusted "pure" receiving game. Note that he scored about 4 more points than Hill in his stellar game but the SOSA was so much weaker that Nelson had almost 8 fewer SOSA FP.
  • Julio Jones' Week 4 vs. CAR was the best real total (48.0 FP). That worked out to 45.8 SOSA FP, just behind Nelson's Week 16. On the year, CAR allowed 38.9 FP/G to WRs but the factor used to adjust Julio's score was based on the 37.4 FP the Panthers allowed in non-Falcon games. MIN gave up 31.1 WR FP/G overall, but only 28.5 when not facing the Packers.
  • Antonio Brown finished #1 in Actual FP for the third straight year, just edging Nelson. Brown's total came in just 15 games, his PPG edge over Jordy was a bit wider.
  • Nelson, thanks to playing one more game and a tougher schedule (107% SOSA Factor to Brown's 103%) took the SOSA FP title. Brown was better on a per game SOSA basis, 21.0 to 20.3.
  • Nelson had the 6th hardest schedule of the Top 75 WRs as measured by SOSA Factor.
  • Brandin Cooks was #10 in Actual FP, but a difficult schedule held down his scoring: he was #6 in SOSA FP thanks to a 105% SOSA Factor.
  • Elsewhere in the Top 20, the Oakland wideout pair of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, along with Hill of KC, got a SOSA boost thanks to playing Denver twice.
  • None of the Top 30 were particularly aided by their schedules; we have to look all the way down to Stefon Diggs at #32 in Actual FP to find a SOSA Factor of 95% or less.
  • However, Doug Baldwin's 96% SOSA Factor did drop him to #13 in SOSA FP from #8 in actual points.
  • Hill's 114% SOSA Factor was the largest among the Top 75 fantasy wideouts, although that comes with an asterisk. #2 was Willie Snead at 108% - and he got no rushing or return scoring affecting his numbers.
  • Jeremy Kerley (91%) edged Tyler Lockett by a one percentage point for the easiest SoS of the Top 75 WRs.

The previous two articles have discussed some of the shortcomings of this methodology. For WRs it's compounded by the fact that a defense with one good CB might be bad overall against WRs in general but still stop a particular WR. And this year, returns played a factor in a couple of cases. There were 17 punts and kickoffs returned for TDs, 13 by WRs, 2 by RBs, and 2 by DBs. The RB numbers were so small that they had no real affect. But Hill's 3 return TDs and 3 rushing scores, plus the fact that 3 came against Denver did noticeably skew his numbers (and the Broncos').

And while it wasn't as big a factor this year, a weak defense against QBs may not be as bad vs. WRs because they are so weak vs. RBs and TEs. The Browns are an example: they gave up the 3rd-most QB fantasy points but just ranked 17th in WR FP allowed. It's not clear whether that was because they were decent at playing WRs or so bad vs. RBs and TEs (top 3 allowed to both positions). NFL QBs will avoid defenses' strengths and seek out their weaknesses.