Fantasy football matchups to target and avoid based on remaining strength of schedule

Ryan McDowell
·5 min read

Week 15 is here and for most fantasy players, that means the semifinals of your fantasy leagues. If you’ve made it this far, first of all, congratulations. Secondly, think back to that old adage that says, “always start your studs.” Now, throw that out the window and find the players that can take you to a title, even if they might seem like unconventional choices.

NFL players are streaky, and matchups are always important to consider. Over the past three weeks, Baker Mayfield is the overall QB2, David Montgomery has outscored every running back in the league not named Derrick Henry and mass-dropped WR T.Y. Hilton has been a top-three overall scorer.

With most leagues concluding after Week 16, let’s dig into the remaining strength of schedule, focusing on situations to target and avoid.


Top-Five S.O.S.

1) Los Angeles Rams

2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3) Washington Football Team

4) Green Bay Packers

5) Denver Broncos

QB Jared Goff and the Rams face the Jets and Seahawks over the next two weeks, ranking as the most QB-friendly schedule in the league. I do still have concerns about the Rams’ pace of play, but it is hard to ignore these matchups. The G.O.A.T. Tom Brady gets a pair of friendly foes as well in Atlanta and Detroit, locking him in as a playoff starter over the final two weeks. Even with a nice matchup, it will be difficult to trust Alex Smith or even Drew Lock, but expect Aaron Rodgers to keep doing what he has done all year, producing big-time fantasy points, as he faces the Panthers and Titans.

Bottom-Five S.O.S.

32) Seattle Seahawks

31) Minnesota Vikings

30) Carolina Panthers

29) Pittsburgh Steelers

28) Houston Texans

Typically, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson would be automatic weekly starters, and it will be difficult to get away from them even with this information. The Seahawks could find themselves stuck in second gear against the slow play of Washington and the Rams, while Houston gets Indianapolis’ strong defense before facing the Bengals. Kirk Cousins and Teddy Bridgewater have each been productive lately but could find it difficult to maintain that level of play. Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t finished higher than QB15 in the past month.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, center, greets wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) after Lockett caught a pass from him for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The Seattle Seahawks have a tough end-of-season schedule, which means stars like Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett will be tougher to trust in fantasy lineups. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Running Back

Top-Five S.O.S.

1) Tennessee Titans

2) Baltimore Ravens

3) Green Bay Packers

4) Los Angeles Chargers

5) Washington Football Team

You don’t need me to tell you to make sure Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones and Austin Ekeler are in your playoff lineups, but seeing this remaining strength of schedule might make you even more confident. The Ravens backfield committee has made it difficult to rely on any one of their back, even though the trio has essentially been narrowed to just a pair. Facing the Jaguars and Giants, both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins are reasonable options over the next two weeks.

Bottom-Five S.O.S

32) Seattle Seahawks

31) Minnesota Vikings

30) Kansas City Chiefs

29) Dallas Cowboys

28) Arizona Cardinals

Once again, the Seahawks rank at the bottom of this list. While it will be impossible to fade Russell Wilson, avoiding RB Chris Carson is more feasible. The Rams and Washington have combined to allow just six RB1 games all season. Dalvin Cook has a difficult schedule, but he also faced one of the league’s toughest defenses a week ago and still finished as an RB1. There is no benching Cook regardless of matchups. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ezekiel Elliott and Kenyan Drake could find their way to fantasy benches, given their upcoming opponents.

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Wide Receiver

Top-Five S.O.S.

1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2) Los Angeles Rams

3) Chicago Bears

4) Detroit Lions

5) Washington Football Team

It’s no surprise that the wide receiver matchups are quite similar to the quarterback list. This means fantasy players should stick with WRs Mike Evans, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Chris Godwin in the fantasy semifinals. Bears WR Allen Robinson is a no-brainer and this upcoming schedule should allow WR Terry McLaurin to bounce back from a pair of disappointing games. Despite the Lions' soft matchups, injuries to WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, not to mention QB Matthew Stafford, make this a team to avoid with fantasy seasons on the line.

Bottom-Five S.O.S

32) Seattle Seahawks

31) Carolina Panthers

30) Minnesota Vikings

29) Buffalo Bills

28) Jacksonville Jaguars

Three for three. Seattle, facing Washington and the Rams, have the most difficult schedule at all three positions. Maybe you have the depth to sit streaky WR Tyler Lockett but the same can’t be said for WR DK Metcalf. WRs Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs also likely can’t be replaced barring an unreal roster construction, though Robby Anderson, D.J. Chark, Cole Beasley and Curtis Samuel would be far down my ranks, given their difficult foes over the final two weeks of the fantasy season.

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