Yahoo Fantasy Football: Running Back Strength of Schedule, Weeks 14-16

When the subject is fantasy strength of schedule, I need to bring out the disclaimers.

I don’t think much of fantasy strength before the season starts. Too much is unknown or unknowable. And I definitely think looking at a fantasy playoff schedule in the summer is a fool’s errand. 

And even when it’s time to logically examine strength of schedule, I accept how delicate the exercise is. Every football unit is a Jenga tower, capable of collapse at any moment. The weather could come into play. Injuries are a constant part of NFL life. 

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Dalvin Cook is excited about his playoff schedule. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Dalvin Cook is excited about his playoff schedule. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

And for the most part, when it comes to scheduling, I only care about outliers. Tell me which defenses give it away, and tell me which defenses are lockdown units. Offenses primarily control outcomes. So many defensive matchups in the middle simply don’t mean that much. 

And maybe you don’t need all of the playoff weeks. Maybe you’ve locked up a bye, don’t need to play in Week 14. You’ll obviously have to season this list to taste; something I’m encouraging you to do, anyway. 

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All these things said I do put some value in strength of schedule now that we’re about two-thirds deep into the fantasy season. We know a few things. We can look ahead, at least a little bit. 

Below is how I rank the Rushing Schedules for the Fantasy Playoff Weeks — Weeks 14-to-16. It’s part math, it’s part scouting, it’s part special sauce. A good set of matchups probably won’t make a mediocre player into a league winner. A bad set of matches won’t make you want to bench Alvin Kamara. 

It’s something to keep in mind, along with a bunch of other things. And if you want to ignore this exercise completely, that’s your prerogative. I can’t say you’re wrong. 

Enough hedging for now. This is what came out of the blender. 

Running Back Strength of Schedule — Weeks 14-to-16

Get out the calculator 

Patriots: KC, @CIN, BUF

Vikings: DET, @LAC, GB

Bears: DAL, @GB, KC

Broncos: @HOU, @KC, DET

Dolphins: @NYJ, @NYG, CIN

Giants: @PHI, MIA, @WAS

Browns: CIN, @ARI, BAL

Redskins: @GB, PHI, NYG

Eagles: NYG, @WAS, DAL

Packers: WAS, CHI, @MIN

Just what the Patriots finally needed, some good fortune in the schedule . . . Dalvin Cook gets two juicy home games, and a third opponent that is weather protected . . . The Broncos don’t have an answer at quarterback, but it’s not like the offense missed Joe Flacco in Week 9 . . . If Mitch Trubisky can’t put it together, David Montgomery might be sunk in December, no matter the opponents . . . I think there’s a good chance the Dolphins move off Kalen Ballage and roll with one of their unknown backs.

Somewhere in the middle 

Steelers: @ARI, BUF, @NYJ

Ravens: @BUF, NYJ, @CLE

Seahawks: @LAR, @CAR, ARI

Jaguars: LAC, @OAK, @ATL

Jets: MIA, @BAL, PIT

Chargers: @JAX, MIN, OAK

Cardinals: PIT, CLE, @SEA

Buccaneers: IND, @DET, HOU

Raiders: TEN, JAX, @LAC

Bengals: @CLE, NE, @MIA

Falcons: CAR, @SF, JAX

Cowboys: @CHI, LAR, @PHI

Gus Edwards is one of my preferred handcuffs (it’s also handcuff season, peeps), with Baltimore’s run-heavy setup, a solid line, and a mobile, lane-widening quarterback . . . Pittsburgh’s had all sorts of attrition at the skill positions, but the line remains healthy and impactful . . . Leonard Fournette is an obvious regression target at running back, and his sneaky receiving skills keep his floor in a lofty place . . . Jon Gruden uses a narrow usage tree, which has turned Josh Jacobs into one of the best profit players of the season.

Not much for free 

Rams: SEA, @DAL, @SF

Texans: DEN, @TEN, @TB

Chiefs: @NE, DEN, @CHI

Panthers: @ATL, SEA, @IND

Colts: @TB, @NO, CAR

Lions: @MIN, TB, @DEN

Bills: BAL, @PIT, @NE

Titans: @OAK, HOU, NO

49ers: @NO, ATL, LAR

Saints: SF, IND, @TEN

Christian McCaffrey already had a blowup game at San Francisco, so it’s not like any scheduling issues will ever push you off him. Ditto Alvin Kamara, if healthy . . . The 49ers still have one of the best running schemes in the league, but good luck figuring out where the touchdowns are going to come from . . . The Lions can’t run the ball and can’t stop anyone’s passing game; might as well junk the running game completely and go as far as Air Stafford can wing them . . . Devin Singletary finally has the baton in Buffalo, though Josh Allen might wind up being the de-facto goal-line option . . . Game script might be more important to Marlon Mack than some other backs, given his limited use in the passing game. To this point, he’s been helped by competitive games; every Colts game has been decided by seven points or fewer.

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