Best & Worst Playoff Schedules (Fantasy Football)
Fantasy playoffs are just around the corner. Luckily, the Fantasy Footballers Podcast just released the annual PLAYOFF PRIMER episode to help you identify which players should be targeted, held onto, or traded away. Time is especially of the essence as Week 10 marks the trade deadline for many leagues.
This article will provide you with charts showing the schedules for the Week 14-16 schedules for every team. Matchups in Green are a good matchup, while Dark Green indicates a GREAT matchup. Yellow are middle of the pack and Red means they do not give up a lot of points to that specific position.
That said, a friendly disclaimer that these are just projections and not guarantees for production (or lack thereof). So do not carelessly trade away or bench your studs for weaker players simply because of their playoff schedules. Instead, use this as a constructive tool to help tip the scales for any close decisions on your way towards that #FootClanTitle!
Based on 4pt per passing TD / Half PPR scoring
QB Playoff Schedules & Points Allowed
In a wild and unpredictable year, we can at least find solace with one constant that remains true: mobile QBs are gold for Fantasy Football. The current top-5 QBs in fantasy points are ALL dynamic runners minus Aaron Rodgers, though he’s certainly a remarkable scrambler. They’re also all QBs with higher draft capitals, meaning you’ll still need a hefty crowbar to pry them off their fantasy GMs’ cold, Jameis-eaten fingers. But how do their playoff schedules rank?
- ARI Kyler Murray: 23rd best playoff schedule
- KC Patrick Mahomes: 4th
- SEA Russell Wilson: 24th
- BUF Josh Allen: 30th
- GB Aaron Rodgers: 13th
Of this elite group, only Mahomes has a great playoff schedule while Rodgers has a middling one. The rest have absolutely disgusting playoff slates, particularly Allen, who has to bookend his final games against the impenetrable Steelers and divisional rival Patriots. But while their ceilings are lowered due to tough matchups, they’re still must-starts thanks to their otherworldy rushing abilities.
Along with Allen, popular QBs like Deshaun Watson, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Tua Tagovailoa will also end 2020 against formidable competition. With the exception of Watson, these guys are mostly streamers that can be dropped by the end of the year. But for the Houston dynamo, he unfortunately has the WORST projected playoff schedule, facing the TOUGHEST opponents in the Bears and Colts during the fantasy playoffs. His championship matchup against the humdrum Bengals is nothing to fear, but you’ll need to withstand victory through playoffs first.
On the flip side, Christmas is coming early for surprise rookie sensation Justin Herbert, who gets the EASIEST final competition against the Falcons, Raiders, and Broncos sluggish defenses. Herbert could turn out to be a league winning player if he continues to impress. Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson have both struggled this year but offer beautiful playoff matchups. They’re both great “buy-low” trade targets that could pay off so long as you’re able to weather the storm of their brutal upcoming matchups.
Also on the list are Nick Foles, Jared Goff, and Alex Smith/Dwayne Haskins Jr., who should all be more readily available but have inherent risks due to their erratic gameplay. Goff represents the best option of the three and is the only one worth targeting, while the others can remain on waiver wires unless you’re absolutely desperate.
RB Playoff Schedules & Points Allowed
Dalvin Cook has been on fire, notching back-to-back RB1 performances against the Packers and Lions and looking outstanding while doing it. While he’s obviously a phenomenal player on a team that clearly wants to establish the run, he’s also benefited from one of the best schedules thus far. His only difficult matchup was in Week 2 against the Colts ironclad defense, where Cook saved his otherwise pedestrian day with a TD. This was also his worst fantasy performance, though he still finished as the week’s RB17, a credit to his talents. But take a look at his playoff schedule. Yikes. Cook will go from one of the easiest first half’s to the MOST difficult one when it truly counts. He’ll have to face the Buccaneers and Bears, who have bottled up the likes of Aaron Jones, Josh Jacobs, and Derrick Henry, before contending against the Saints’ fifth-ranked defense. Cook is a bona fide stud who should not be traded away… unless you can get hold of another top-end RB with a very favorable championship schedule (more on that later).
Other teams with disadvantageous final matchups for RBs are Arizona, Buffalo, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, and Jacksonville. For the first three teams, this is essentially adding grease to the proverbial dumpster fires as their RBs are already in unfavorable committees: Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell. Meanwhile, Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson remain untrustworthy and lack the upside needed to overcome their difficult schedules. Feel free to trade them all away while you still can. And though it may be difficult to part ways with waiver wire darling James Robinson, it’s worth fielding offers as he’s profited from a baby-soft first half and will start facing stiffer competition as of this week.
But enough pessimism. Do you know who has an extraordinary playoff schedule? None other than the stiff-arm yeti himself, Derrick Henry. Though he’s currently in the midst of a brutal three-game slate, he will finish it off with the BEST projected playoff schedule. After facing Jacksonville’s porous defense in the first week of playoffs, he gets to close the fantasy season against the two EASIEST matchups for opposing RBs: the Lions and Packers. Recall that these were the two teams that Cook just crushed for repeat #1 finishes. And if we want to play the narrative game (which I always do), take a look at your calendar because winter is coming, which just happens to be the seasonal change that Henry apparently needs to fully unleash as a league winning RB1. Henry should be one of the most coveted trade targets for those who can coast through the remaining regular season games, but it definitely won’t be cheap. And while the Ballers’ advise against trading away someone like Cook for Henry, I’m in favor for it… but proceed at your own discretion.
The Midwest dominates the rest of the list as Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis will enjoy the best RB playoff schedules. Packers’ Aaron Jones is obviously a first-class powerhouse, and Bears’ David Montgomery is healing from a concussion but should be ready for action soon to continue being the volume-dependent RB2 he is. If you can obtain either (or both) for a reasonable price, then definitely go for it. Speaking of which, stash Jamaal Williams just in case something happens to Jones, as he’s proven to be one of the most valuable backups.
On the other hand, the Lions and Colts are annoyingly persistent on maintaining a carousel of backs, making their RBs (D’Andre Swift/Adrian Peterson/Kerryon Johnson and Jonathan Taylor/Jordan Wilkins/Nyheim Hines) unusable as it’s frustratingly unpredictable guessing who the “hot-hand” will be. It’s worth stashing the cheapest of those options just in case they’re given the reins by playoffs, otherwise don’t bother.
WR Playoff Schedules & Points Allowed
Right away we can see that the only team with “all-green” matchups is the Cincinnati Bengals, making WRs Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins highly sought after targets as the primary recipients of gunslinger rookie QB Joe Burrow. It helps that they’re both highly graded in consistency and already trustworthy players.
However, the team with the best playoff schedule is actually the Rams. Wideouts Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp will enjoy a progressively easier itinerary that culminates with a divisional showdown against the Seahawks, who have allowed the MOST points to opposing WRs, right in time for the fantasy championships. It’s been a bumpy road for the two receivers, but they should right the ship by the season’s end.
New York, Washington, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Baltimore, and the Los Angeles Chargers round out the list of teams with favorable schedules. Jets WR Jamison Crowder remains a PPR goldmine while outside receiver Breshad Perriman is trending upwards after a recent blowout performance against the Stephon Gilmore-less Patriots. Both guys should be considered, but it’s always hard trusting a player under head coach and fantasy despoiler Adam Gase. WFT’s Terry McLaurin is always a beast regardless of QB and should be targeted if possible. Same for the Bears’ Allen Robinson, though you could probably settle for their rising WR2 Darnell Mooney for free instead. The Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill, who is the #1 WR on the year, has defied all expectations to become an extremely consistent producer and should proceed as such (barring injuries). Similarly, the Chargers’ oft-underrated Keenan Allen is a phenom who will run beautiful routes all the way to your championships, though check your waivers to see if WR2 Mike Williams is somehow available.
The Buccaneers also have a gorgeous end-of-season slate, but it’ll be difficult predicting which of their star-studded cast will benefit. Nevertheless, WRs Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown should all be obtainable at a huge discount after their embarrassing primetime beating against the Saints. I trust them (and Tom Brady) to bounce back. The same cannot be said for the Ravens’ Marquise Brown, who’s disappointed with repeat stinkers. Take a chance on him if you must, but set realistic expectations.
Now, let’s flip it and reverse it. The team with the WORST projected playoff schedule is the Seahawks. However, do not trade away superstar DK Metcalf unless you get an offer you can’t refuse. He is still the primary receiver for an unlimited Russell Wilson and has been exceptionally gangbusters nearly each week. But I’d recommend fielding offers for the hot-and-cold Tyler Lockett, as his week-winning upside is negated by his near goose-egg slumps.
Other teams that stick out are Atlanta, Houston, Carolina, Denver, and Minnesota. Falcons wideouts Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are matchup-proof and should continue to be started without hesitation. Texans WRs Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks have looked great upon Bill O’Brien’s departure, though they are hard to trust against stiffer competition. The Panthers crowded WR room of DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel is already volatile, and I’d look to trade Moore away while he still has name value. Broncos pass-catchers Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick have been dependent on matchups, making them easy trade-away options or outright drops by December. Lastly, the Vikings Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson have fizzled after an explosive first half. The former has a history of declining as the year progresses, and while Jefferson has dazzled football fans everywhere, he still has to catch passes from a hesitant Kirk Cousins on a run-first team against shutout defenders. No thanks.
Target Recap: Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, Terry McLaurin, Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Marquise Brown, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams
TE Playoff Schedules & Points Allowed
As most disgruntled TE-streamers know, if you don’t have Travis Kelce or Darren Waller, then you’re probably not having a good time. Obviously, if you have either of those two, you should hold on for dear life regardless of matchups, although Kelce has one of the best among TEs while Waller has one of the worst. Simply put, it’s been a rough year for the notoriously inconsistent skill position. With TEs, you’re mostly banking on a TD for fantasy relevance anyways, making favorable matchups even more desirable.
On that note, Chicago’s journeyman TE Jimmy Graham has not only seen the MOST targets inside the 10-yard line (tied with Kelce and Davante Adams), but he also has the BEST playoff slate. Although his inconsistency makes him hard to trust, he could be available on waivers or obtainable for pennies on the dollar, so why not stash the goal line threat before anyone notices? Same goes for Buccaneers Rob Gronkowski, who will have his chance to Gronk-smash all over the playoffs with his second-easiest schedule.
The remaining teams with favorable schedules are Denver, Dallas, and Minnesota. Broncos’ Noah Fant blew off the doors in the opener and has dwindled ever since, but will have his opportunity to bookend his season with stellar performances if he can stay healthy. The Cowboys’ Dalton Schultz has been untrustworthy after losing QB Dak Prescott. Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr. has also struggled as he competes for touches with Kyle Rudolph, rendering both obsolete. To be fair, Smith has found recent success, although it took him two TDs to do so — something he is not likely to repeat.
Conversely, the teams with the hardest playoff schedules for TEs are Buffalo, Miami, Washington, and Los Angeles (Rams). You’re not starting a Bills TE, so it’s business as usual there. Dolphins’ Mike Gesicki has been a bust even against soft defenses, so he can be dropped next month. WFT’s Logan Thomas was looking better under QB Kyle Allen, who is now out for the season, making Thomas droppable as well. Out west, the Rams TE committee of Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett continue to work against each other, making both unusable for fantasy. You can try to stash one of them in hopes that the other will be ruled out, but banking on injuries is never advisable.
Team DEF/ST & Points Allowed
Don’t look now, but Seattle has the easiest playoff schedule for DSTs. But don’t bother rostering the team that has given up the most points to opposing offenses. Maybe against the Jets in Week 14… actually, no, just avoid them. Seriously. Same goes for Dallas, who’s team has seen better days. But Cleveland, Arizona, and San Francisco should all be readily available and have great final matchups that can be taken advantage of.
On the other side, Kansas City’s DST has been a popular choice that is currently #6 in fantasy points. But as seen from the table above, they are the ONLY team with an all-red schedule, something that will be difficult to overcome as their defense is not bulletproof like Pittsburgh’s or Baltimore’s. See if you can trade them away, although it’ll be tough as most managers don’t value DSTs highly. Detroit has the second-worst schedule, but you weren’t starting them anyways, and the same goes for their divisional rivals, Green Bay.
Target Recap: Seattle, Cleveland, Arizona, Dallas, San Francisco, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit, Green Bay
Get a full breakdown on the PLAYOFF PRIMER episode of The Fantasy Footballers Podcast!