Trade Wins: Sending Out an S.O.S.
I’m a big proponent of strength of schedule (S.O.S.). I think it plays a major role in player performance, and with so many unknowns in fantasy football, you need every advantage possible. Unfortunately, defenses are notoriously hard to predict in pre- and early season.
But I like to start early – as early as draft day. I’ve certainly gotten myself into trouble chasing a weak defense early in the year only to see them surprise in the second half. But in my opinion, it’s no more variable than trying to predict the performance of someone like Larry Fitzgerald (remember how much Carson Palmer was supposed to help Fitz?) or Chris Johnson (remember reading about that improved O-line and his preseason performance?).
So on draft day, I highlight players who have favourable schedules, and refine that analysis as the season goes on. By midseason, it’s dictating a major part of my trade activity, and I almost exclusively won’t deal a player with a bad schedule.
Basing your selections on S.O.S. so early is still fraught with risk, so I mitigate that risk in two key ways:
First, I’ll look for players that have good early or late matchups. A 3-game window is much easier to rely on than a 16-game season. Players with good early matchups become prime sell-high candidates and they are less likely to be impacted by injuries, weather, coaching changes, etc. that occur later in the season. Late season matchups obviously are most valuable in having success in the playoffs. So much will change by then, but at least I’m giving myself the maximum amount of time to make adjustments to my roster.