The most-planned for event of the fantasy sports world is finally upon us – the fantasy football slate of postseason games. And with that comes the crunch time moves that need to be conducted perfectly in order to make sure you bring home that trophy.
Weeks 14-16 are the three remaining games in your reason that your postseason will play out in (unless you start later than most leagues / only run a four-team winner’s bracket / use Week 17 to finish your postseason), and these next three games are crucial for your wallets.
The five below teams have the five easiest remaining schedules left, an element that has a lot of say in how and who you play moving forward. Starting from the 5th easiest all the way down to the easiest, take a look at what some home-run expectations may look like moving forward.
Remaining Opponents – MIN/ATL(x2)/DET
Strength of Schedule – .396
For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the end to their season is a huge boost to their postseason chances, especially as they are looking up at the rest of the NFC conference with four games to play.
At times, both head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Tom Brady have been on different pages when they have need symmetry the most, leading to some questionable losses that have given this team a tough chance at getting into the postseason. Not to mention, coming off two consecutive defeats, at the hands of the Rams and Chiefs, certainly have been tough pills to swallow.
But finishing the last quarter of the year with home games against the Vikings and the Falcons, while also traveling to Atlanta and Detroit, certainly gives TB an outside chance of winning out and boosting their playoff odds – and your fantasy football roster.
Brady has been connecting with both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at semi-consistent rates lately, plus Rob Gronkowski has finally been getting his fair share of offensive attention, something that Brady’s favorite target should have been earning all along.
Positive law of averages is bound to work for the WR group due to their opponents, as a wide receiver has not had 100+ yards in a game since Scotty Miller did that back in Week 7 against the Raiders. Evans has had two 100+ yard performances this year, and Godwin has had zero, something that should improve as the season progresses.
An underrated element that should ultimately pick up is TB’s rushing attack, spearheaded by Ronald Jones II. While Leonard Fournette obviously projects as the team’s passing-situation back and will earn carries as well, Jones has proven (through his four 100+ yard performances and 162 carries on the year) that it is his role to lose. 52 carries over the past five games certainly is too low for the talent that Jones is, but game script should help involve Jones more moving forward.
Remaining Opponents – JAX/DET/GB/HOU
Strength of Schedule – .396
Putting 11 players in the box, and Derrick Henry will still beat you – that is just how good he and this Tennessee Titans offense is. And with the season turning over into the month of December, running the ball with the bruiser that Henry is is exactly what can help keep this team on track to win the AFC South.
All four of TEN’s remaining opponents have very exploitable rush defenses, even if they tailor their game plan to stopping Henry. That’s great news for all rosters that have Henry but really bad news for anyone facing a Henry-led squad in their fantasy football postseason.
Traveling for three of their final four games, the Titans head to the warm climate of Jacksonville, then host the Lions, travel to the frozen tundra in Green Bay two days after Christmas, and finish up down in Houston.
Most teams certainly fear traveling to Green Bay when snow is likely, yet the Titans are not built like most teams. Henry is enough of a factor that will keep them in this game, and every remaining game for that matter, and he will help run down that average GB unit that has been susceptible to the rushing attack for years.
The development of Ryan Tannehill from Dolphins castaway to Titans franchise QB is exactly the story arc that everyone knew would happen (sike), but this team will go as far as he does, even in a run-heavy offense. Being able to maintain consistent connections with A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, and others will help open up the running attack for Henry, keeping defenses on their heels, something that they should have no problem with as they prepare for the postseason. And of course, it all comes with massive fantasy football implications.
Remaining Opponents – NYJ/WAS/LAR/SF
Strength of Schedule – .375
“Let Russ Cook’ has turned into ‘Get Russ out of the kitchen’ lately, as the Seahawks have scuffled a bit. But Seattle is 8-4 on the year for a reason, one that begins and ends with Russell Wilson.
The former Badgers QB has cooled off from his MVP run earlier in the year, something that has actually helped make the Seattle offense a bit more evenly distributed. That’s helped fantasy football teams that employ Chris Carson, while slightly hurting those of the SEA receivers.
In all but three contests this year, D.K. Metcalf has led the team in receiving yards, cementing himself as Russ’s top wide receiver, a factor that has essentially pushed Tyler Locket into a weekly WR2 role. Lockett’s 200-yard, 3-score day against the Cardinals in Week 7 was the last time that Lockett has seemingly fulfilled that WR2 mantle, as Wilson has focused his passing efforts more on Metcalf.
But facing the New York Jets, Washington Professional Football Team, Los Angeles Rams, and the San Francisco 49ers can all help the Seattle offense get right and back to its successful ways as it tries to make the postseason. In a fight with the Rams for the NFC West crown, their Week 16 matchup in Seattle is going to have huge playoff ramifications, both for the league and your fantasy football team.
The Jets should offer up no defensive challenges in Week 14, Washington’s pass rush will be a big element in shutting down the rushing game (which should give Lockett/Metcalf more targets), the Rams will be tough across levels (but Metcalf’s verticality should be the big deciding factor for how well they perform), and the 49ers always play the Seahawks tough, even if SF has nothing on the line to play for.
The Seahawks will need to make up for their disappointing Week 13 loss to the New York Giants, and they should be able to make amends in the last quarter of the season, all the while providing you with big-time fantasy performances.
Remaining Opponents – CLE/JAX/CIN/NYG
Strength of Schedule – .365
Lamar Jackson has not lived up to expectations this year and has put teams in a rough spot moving into the postseason.
He is still a generational talent and is an MVP winner for a reason, but defenses seem to have caught on to Baltimore’s run-heavy attack that involves Jackson in every way. But the lack of passing game consistency has been the biggest reason that the Ravens are struggling to stay afloat in the AFC, sitting in third place in the AFC North entering Week 14.
Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown has certainly not lived up to the hype that followed him this offseason, as he was penciled in as a big-time breakout favorite for many people. Yet, the entire passing attack for BAL has been abysmal, and that certainly has hindered the efficiency of the rushing attack.
But, and this is more of a situational but, if you have J.K. Dobbins on any of your rosters at this point, congrats – you have a great shot to win your league.
Every year, there are certain players that factor into the most fantasy-winning rosters, and there are, at times, unexpected players that fill those roles. Dobbins, who has not ascended into fantasy football relevancy until the past few weeks, can easily fill the role of mid-season waiver wire extraordinaire, a role that every championship-winning team needs.
Dobbins looks to have taken the starting role over from Mark Ingram and does not seem to have to worry about Gus Edwards cutting into his carries. That’s a great outlook for someone who can be an RB2 with top-15 upside each of the final four weeks.
Jackson should be starting for you still, even if his play is a lot closer to his floor than his ceiling. Dobbins has a huge opportunity that will act as a job interview for next year, and Mark Andrews, who was just activated from the COVID-19 list, looks to be firmly planted as the TE3-7 for the remainder of the season (provided Jackson still has some passing efficiency).
Remaining Opponents – CIN/SF/PHI/NYG
Strength of Schedule – .333
The team with the easiest remaining schedule is also a team that plays two NFC East members still. Shocking, right? Yet, the Dallas Cowboys have struggled ever since losing Dak Prescott to a season-ending injury, and they have not yet been eliminated from postseason contention.
The NFC Least has given below-average squads hope all year, which has helped keep all four divisional squads competitive, which is also the case for the Andy Dalton-led Cowboys.
For Dalton, his QB2 status will not change for the remainder of the year, offering up value in Superflex and two-QB leagues, the only places that he should be rostered. But for fantasy purposes, Dalton has had a favorite target ever since he took over – Amari Cooper.
Of the six games that Cooper has led the team in receiving yardage, four of these have occurred when Dalton was on the field, including his 112-yard performance against Washington on Thanksgiving.
The most concerning element of this offense, however, is Ezekiel Elliott’s usage this year, as he has had a regular amount of touches, yet he has been so, so inefficient with his touches.
In every game that Zeke played in he led the team in rushing yards, but only one of those games (Week 11 against MIN) resulted in rushing for over 100 yards, showing that the injuries to both Prescott and the offensive line have severely affected his efficiency.
The Bengals, 49ers, Eagles, and Giants all boast defenses that can be exploited, even with the struggles that the Cowboys have had this year. So both Cincinnati and Philadelphia should produce the better fantasy games on the remaining schedule.
But for the Week 15 contest against SF, this game will come down to who wins in the trenches – the Cowboys should have the advantage in the secondary with their receivers, but Zeke’s performance will come down to if the maligned OL can hold their own against a unit for SF that is missing guys as well.
To end the season in Week 17, the Giants will give Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb all they can handle with their tough secondary, which hopefully will boost Zeke’s value in a game that unfortunately most leagues will not get to take advantage of.
The Cowboys are a tough team to project, yet their remaining slate of games should hopefully give them a strong base to provide some fantasy value to help you in your fantasy playoffs.