Fantasy Football Playoff Schedules: RB and WRs
In this column we are going to look at the Fantasy playoff schedules that both benefit and hurt several teams, specifically for running backs and wide receivers in Weeks 14 through 16. Judging schedules can be dangerous. An injury or two can change things dramatically, and so can several other factors. If you’re just looking towards Week 13 or know you will have a bye in Week 14, this may not help you all that much. When doing a three-week composite ranking, keep in mind, one bad or good ranking can throw the composite off. What I mean is, that in Week 14 and 15 a team could be facing opponnets that are horrible versus the run, but in Week 16 face a foe that is great versus the run, but that one great ranking throws off the composite and they don’t make the list. Like so many other statistics, columns, and advice, this is just one in a number of helpful tools to aid in your decision-making of who to start and who to sit.
Best Playoff Schedules (RB)
- Carolina Panthers: @Cleveland, New Orleans, Atlanta: The Panthers are doing what they said they were going to do with Christian McCaffrey in the preseason. They are giving him the ball 20-plus times a game and he’s rewarding them with an extremely productive season. What’s really nice about CMC is even if there is a game in which the rushing attack isn’t working, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield will still make him a valuable start.
- Cleveland Browns: Carolina, @Denver, Cincinnati: As soon as the Browns traded Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars, Nick Chubb vaulted up the rankings to at least a high-end Fantasy RB2, if not a low-end RB1. Chubb has done nothing to change those opinions since that deal.
- Dallas Cowboys: Philadelphia, @Indianapolis, Tampa Bay: I’m not sure this would matter even if the Cowboys had a rough schedule. You are still starting Ezekiel Elliott, but this schedule along with the addition of Amari Cooper, giving the Cowboys a legitimate passing attack, has to be making Elliott’s Fantasy owners giddy.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: @Oakland, New England, @New Orleans: The Steelers reluctance to give James Conner the ball at the goal line in back-to-back weeks in the final two minutes has to be frustrating to some and it’s led to less than ideal Fantasy numbers for Conner, but you’re still starting him with confidence.
- Baltimore Ravens: @Kansas City, Tampa Bay, @Chargers: Alex Collins who? Gus Edwards has taken over for an injured Collins the past two weeks and is lighting up the NFL. Will Edwards hold onto the job once Collins returns? That may be your only worry here. Keep in mind, how much rushing can they do versus the Chiefs in the second half of that game. assuming they are trailing?
Worst Playoff Schedules (RB)
- New York Jets: @Buffalo, Houston, Green Bay: This may be addition by subtraction. You really didn’t want to start Isaiah Crowell anyway, at least not as anything more than a flex play. This schedule will confirm that you should look in another direction.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Baltimore, Chargers, @Seattle: I don’t think it matters if the Chiefs were playing the Top 3 rush defenses in the NFL. No NFL team has been able to stop the Chiefs offense. Everyone knows they have such a dynamic and dangerous pass offense, that the running game is an afterthought. The numbers say you should be worried about Kareem Hunt, reality says you shouldn’t.
- Washington Redskins: Giants, @Jacksonville, @Tennessee: We already know that Washington is in trouble. They lost their starting quarterback for the season. Their offensive line is decimated and put together with scotch tape. Their WRs are basically unknowns and the passing game can’t take any pressure off the run game. You’re likely still starting Adrian Peterson, but he will need a TD in order to be Fantasy worthy week in and week out.
- New England Patriots: @Miami, @Pittsburgh, Buffalo: The Patriots running game looked to have gotten untracked versus the Jets on Sunday, so you will want to start those players and I can’t blame you. Sony Michel looks like the best back that the Patriots had since Curtis Martin and we all saw that James White can be more than just a receiving threat out of the backfield. The schedule is not friendly, but probably not enough to force you in another direction. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Rex Burkhead was activated Monday. Burkhead will steal touches from someone and possibly be a goal-line vulture.
- Detroit Lions: @Arizona, @Buffalo, Minnesota: This is certainly not good news for an already hobbled Kerryon Johnson. He was just starting to get hot before the injury and now if and when he does get back, he’ll face tougher matchups after Arizona and it’s not like the Lions have the passing attack to force defenses off the line of scrimmage.
Best Playoff Schedules (WR)
- Carolina Panthers: @Cleveland, New Orleans, Atlanta: The best thing to happen to the Panthers may have been the deactivation of Devin Funchess on Sunday. D.J. Moore announced his presence two weeks ago, but now the Panthers may finally realize what they have. Funchess and TE Greg Olsen are slow. The Panthers need speed and Moore provides that. Curtis Samuel may be a sneaky pickup as well.
- Cleveland Browns: Carolina, @Denver, Cincinnati: Baker Mayfield is playing well and is proving that the Browns made the correct selection in the 2018 NFL draft, but the WRs aren’t taking advantage of it. Jarvis Landry has been quiet of late and although Antonio Callaway has made some highlight plays this season, he’s been wildly inconsistent. Even though the stats say start the Browns’ WRs, I may be looking in a different direction.
- Dallas Cowboys: Philadelphia, @Indianapolis, Tampa Bay: You’re starting Amari Cooper and he may have a few more highlight plays like he did on Thanksgiving versus Washington, but Dallas will still be a run-first team. What Cooper has done is take away some of the defense’s focus away from Elliott, but there isn’t another WR on the Cowboys who will be able to take advantage of it. Not this season anyway.
- Baltimore Ravens: @Kansas City, Tampa Bay, @Chargers: This just may not matter. Lamar Jackson is an incredible athlete, but it’s very obvious that he’s not ready to be a passing QB in the NFL right now. L-Jax is a runner playing QB. If he continues to start for Baltimore, I’d have a tough time starting any Ravens WR.
- Houston Texans: Indianapolis, @Jets, @Philadelphia: Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to give up on Demaryius Thomas after all. This has been a somewhat disappointing Fantasy season for Deshaun Watson and anyone other than DeAndre Hopkins. I wouldn’t have started Thomas on Monday night, but this schedule shows you that all may not be lost.
Worst Playoff Schedules (WR)
- Detroit Lions: @Arizona, @Buffalo, Minnesota: You’re likely still starting Kenny Golladay, but with Golden Tate traded and Marvin Jones on IR, I’m not sure what you can expect out of him. Passing defenses will be focused on making sure he can’t make the big play and if Johnson continues to be hobbled, this could be an ugly offense down the stretch.
- New York Jets: @Buffalo, Houston, Green Bay: Sam Darnold should return as the starting QB either this Sunday or next and that can be good or bad. Darnold had been struggling before the injury and no Jets WR has stepped up. This should just make your decision easier to just stay away from the J E T S.
- Washington Redskins: Giants, @Jacksonville, @Tennessee: Do they have any WRs? As mentioned above, the OL is shot, Colt McCoy is starting at QB, and the WR corps wasn’t very good to begin with. Move along, nothing to see here.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Baltimore, Chargers, @Seattle: Who cares. I don’t know if this offense can be stopped, especially when playing at home. You’re starting Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins depending on health. Until someone calms them down, I don’t care who they are playing.
- New England Patriots: @Miami, @Pittsburgh, Buffalo: It would be nice if Rob Gronkowski can continue take some of the pressure off of the WR group, but he looked really beat up before the bye. Josh Gordon is not the dynamic player he was in Cleveland and Tom Brady may finally be showing his age. Perhaps Bill Belichick saw this coming and that’s why he picked a RB in the first-round of the 2018 NFL draft.