Strength of Schedule (SOS): Week 13

What am I looking at?

Below you’ll see a table for each position with a list of team names on the left. If a square is pink, it means that the matchup is tough. If it’s green, it means it’s a favorable matchup. On the far right, the column “R16” shows the average SOS for the remaining weeks.

It’s important to note that this is NOT straight fantasy points allowed. I removed the bias of schedule by looking at the opponents of each defense and how they fared in their other games. For example, if a particular defense faced a series of great QBs, then that is taken into account in these tables.

How do I use these tables?

Generally speaking, I use strength of schedule as a tiebraker between two similarly ranked players. Let’s say I’m trying to decide between starting BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Ronnie Brown. All else being equal, these two players are very close in my mind. But if BGE has a great matchup and Brown has a bad matchup, the choice is clear. In fact, if BGE just has a mediocre matchup while Brown has a bad matchup, I’d probably go with the Law Firm.

Be careful not to read too much into these tables. You aren’t going to bench Chris Johnson in a bad matchup unless you somehow have Arian Foster waiting in the wings.

Note: I apologize for the size of the text, but there really is no other way for me to present this data, at least not at this point.

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NFL investigating whether or not Bucs’ corner Talib threatened official

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 14: Cornerback Aqib Talib #25 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches play against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Cornerback Aqib Talib is one of the many bright young stars on the Buccaneers’ roster. His six interceptions tie him for second in the league behind the Eagles’ Asante Samuel (who has seven), and Talib continues to play at a Pro Bowl level this season.

But he can’t help the Bucs if he’s suspended, which may be the result of his actions following last Sunday’s game against the Ravens.

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the NFL is looking into a run-in that Talib had with a game official following Tampa’s 17-10 loss at Baltimore. Talib was furious with field judge Boris Cheek during the game about a pass-interference call on teammate Myron Lewis. Per the report, Talib lobbed a couple of expletives at Cheek as he left the field.

As the story goes, a member of the officiating crew told Talib, “You play like a (expletive).” To which Talib intelligently replied: “I’ll (hit) you in your (expletive) mouth.”

This isn’t the first time that the young corner has been in trouble. He’s already hit a teammate with a helmet in practice and he also punched a taxi driver in August of this year (which earned him a one-game suspension earlier this season). One more strike against him and it’s not unrealistic to think that he could be suspended for multiple games.

Of course, the league can’t have officials taunting and cursing at players. Talib was wrong to say what he did, but part of an official’s job is to keep the peace. How can a referee be trusted not to be biased if he’s verbally fighting with players after a game?

However the situation turns out, Bucs coach Raheem Morris would be wise to sit Talib down and express to him how much Tampa needs him on the field. I don’t see how this (below) helps Talib grasp the situation:

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” said Morris. “He was just in conversation, so I’m not going to sit here and act like Aqib did anything wrong toward the official because I’m not into that. That’s between those two men, and whatever happened happened.”

Morris has done a great job in his second year and who am I to tell him how to run his team? That said, I’ve seen coaches play the role of friend with players before and it never works out. Teams can fracture when it’s perceived that one player is getting special treatment, especially when he acts like an idiot.

The Bucs have a good young team and it would be unfortunate if things were to unravel for Morris, who has transformed the Bucs into a competitor in only his second year. He has to find a way to get through to Talib so that these types of issues don’t keep surfacing.

LeBron’s camp behind Spoelstra ‘panic’ story?

Miami Heat forward LeBron James looks to the referee as he points towards the other side of the court after a foul against the Boston Celtics in the second half of the opening night game at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on October 26, 2010.  UPI/Matthew Healey Photo via Newscom

Yes, according to longtime LeBron-critic Adrian Wojnarowski, who referred to a Ball Don’t Lie piece by Kelly Dwyer. He alleges that LeBron’s camp planted the story to distract attention away from the hate-fest that’s about to occur upon LeBron’s return to Cleveland on Thursday night.

Meticulous in his preparation, Spoelstra spoke with several past coaches, and league sources said a clear and unequivocal picture appeared on how to proceed: End the cycle of enabling with James and hold him accountable.

And surprise, surprise: LeBron James has responded with a test of his own organizational strength, pushing to see how far the Heat will bend to his will.

Even within a month of the season’s sideways 9-8 start, the NBA witnessed a predictable play out of the James-Maverick Carter playbook on Monday morning. They planted a story and exposed themselves again as jokers of the highest order. They care so little about anyone but themselves. Still, no one’s surprised that they’d stoop so low, so fast into this supposed historic 73-victory season and NBA Finals sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. They want Spoelstra – and Pat Riley – to bend to them, to bow to the King the way everyone has before them.

You have to love Wojnarowski, who never seems to hide his disgust with LeBron and his camp. As you might imagine, he had a veritable field day after “The Decision.”

But here, he’s alleging that Carter is behind the Spoelstra panic story, but it doesn’t appear tha the accusation has any real basis. In his post, Dwyer just crossed out Carter’s name whenever referring to the source, because he obviously believes that Carter is Chris Broussard’s source. He doesn’t offer any proof, but just writes the piece with a “everybody knows who’s talking to Chris…” vibe.

This is fine for a sports blog because it’s funny and everyone knows it’s tongue-in-cheek, but Wojnarowski took it a step further by saying that LeBron’s camp planted the story as if it were established fact.

And it’s not. At least not yet. Broussard hasn’t revealed his source, and probably never will. The Yahoo writers are just making educated guesses.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this, if anything.

Why people have a hard time believing that the Falcons are the best team in the NFC

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  and Roddy White  of the Atlanta Falcons react after White's touchdown reception in the final seconds against the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The 2010 Atlanta Falcons can thank the 2009 New Orleans Saints for why people aren’t completely sold on their status as best team in the NFC, even though they currently own the best record in the conference.

Fans like it when one team blows its opponents out every week. The Saints led the league and/or NFC last year in passing yards, passing yards per game, rushing yards, rushing yards per game and points scored. It was easy to make claims that they were the best in the NFC (if not the league) when they were routing teams 38-7.

Points and big win margins make people feel all warm inside. But the Falcons don’t win big. In fact, three of their games came down to the final seconds and countless others came down to the fourth quarter before they were able to secure victory.

The Falcons aren’t the 2009 Saints. They don’t put up absurd offensive numbers and their only win by more than 10 points came in a 41-7 rout of the hapless Cardinals in Week 2. They lost to the Big Ben-less Steelers in the opening week of the season and were crushed by the Michael Vick-less Eagles in Week 6. They also were incredibly fortunate to beat the Saints in Week 3 after Garrett Hartley missed a field goal in overtime that would have won the game, as well as when Roddy White stripped Nate Clements when the cornerback was heading for the end zone after picking off Matt Ryan in the closing minutes of a Week 4 game against the 49ers. (In both cases, the Falcons took the gifts and drove down the field to win both games.)

But how many times do you hear someone ask, “Who have they beaten?” Well, the Falcons have already beaten playoff contenders like the Saints (on the road), Bucs, Ravens, Rams (on the road) and Packers, as well as everyone’s underdog of the year, the Browns (also on the road). They didn’t blow any of those teams out and they’re certainly not the most talented squad in the league, but they know how to win.

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Defensive Team By Waiver Wire (DTBWW): Week 13

SEATTLE - DECEMBER 20:  Running back Derrick Ward #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes against Aaron Curry #59 and Darryl Tapp #55 of the Seattle Seahawks on December 20, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Buccaneers defeated the Seahawks 24-7. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The strategy behind DTBWW is that each week you pick up a defense that is playing against a bad offense (preferably at home). And each week you get pretty good numbers out of your DT position.

Last season, my top pick averaged 9.8 fantasy points per game. My second pick averaged 9.1 and my third pick averaged 7.3. On the whole, DTBWW averaged 9.3 fantasy points per game, which equate to DT5 numbers — all for the price of a few waiver wire pickups. In 2008, my top two picks averaged DT6-type numbers. (Note: To calculate fantasy points, I use this scoring system.)

Unlike Defensive Team By Committee (DTBC), which is for those owners who prefer low maintenance teams, DTBWW strategy allows fantasy owners to virtually ignore DTs on draft day and focus on picking up an extra RB/WR flier instead.

To be eligible, defenses have to be available on the waiver wire in at least 40% of ESPN fantasy leagues.

Let’s see how my Week 12 picks fared:

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