By: Aaron Schillinger @aaron_schill
Based on 2016 numbers, here we look at the winners and losers based on their 2017 schedule. Whether you’re playing Dynasty or Redraft leagues, matchups are always a factor and cannot be overlooked. There’s definitely a reason that we see so many “start em“ and “sit em“ articles on a weekly basis during the NFL season.
Based on 2016 Fantasy Points Per Game allowed to opposing positions as well as our personal insight looking forward, here are the winners and losers from the 2017 NFL schedule. For example: The Vikings QBs are our first ‘winners’, because opposing defenses they play in 2017 give up the MOST FPPG to the QB position. As opposed to the Chiefs, who are ‘losers’ because their schedule has them playing teams that, based on average, allow the LEAST FPPG to the QB position. Check out the 2017 NFL Strength of Schedule here for a more detailed explanation. Strength Of Schedule
The Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, and the Carolina Panthers.
The Vikings are our first winners based on the 2017 schedule, playing the teams that on average give up the most FPPG to the QB position. Unfortunately for us Fantasy owners, we know Sam Bradford isn’t exactly a glamorous option. For 2QB leagues he should be a viable option in 2017, but not exactly a long term Dynasty option. The NFC South as a whole has a good schedule for QBs, good news for Drew Brees, Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan. The Bears also have a favorable schedule for QBs, which could be good news for Mitch Trubisky or Mike Glennon to surprise some Fantasy owners.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and the Washington Redskins.
As if the Kansas City passing game wasn’t exciting enough to begin with, this isn’t exactly ideal for Alex Smith or the KC receiving core. The Colts and Raiders also are somewhat ‘losers’ as far as their QB schedule goes in 2017. Having said that, Andrew Luck has proven how elite he can be, and also plays in a division that I wouldn’t be worried about his schedule too much. The Redskins, Rams, and Eagles also have schedules that are not favorable for their QBs.
The Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, and New York Jets.
An obvious standout from this list is the Carolina Panthers new rookie RB, Christian McCaffrey. The situation is looking to be a very favorable one for him, and assuming he locks down that lead back role, he will have an excellent opportunity to show what he can do. The Panthers have the best matchups all year for RBs of all teams in the league, with the Patriots and Jets as 2nd and 3rd, respectively. This is good news for those of you who bought in to Mike Gilislee or whatever New England RB you like most. I have never been one to advocate for buying into a NE RB, but their schedule is favorable, the key will be deciding who to start week to week, like always.
The Jets have the third best matchups for 2017 for RBs, and after Bilal Powell has been named the starter over Matt Forte, he could provide owners some nice return on value. He was efficient with his touches last year, I also like the idea Elijah McGuire coming in as a rookie and having a chance to take over this backfield.
The San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins, and Oakland Raiders.
Unfortunately for the Carlos Hyde believers out there, their schedule for 2017 is not a favorable one for RBs. It will definitely be interesting to see how this backfield shakes out under new OC, Kyle Shanahan. He has had some historical success with RBs, which is partly why I was high on Hyde heading into the season, so we will see just how much this poor schedule affects him. The Redskins rookie Samaje Perine has been crawling up draft boards recently, and despite the poor schedule, he’ll have an opportunity to show us what he’s got.
It is also worth noting that the Dallas Cowboys have the 5th worst schedule for the RB position. Whether you’re convinced that Ezekiel Elliot is the next AP, or not, the first five weeks or so of the season he may struggle. Don’t freak out though, his schedule lightens up from week 6 on, but he may be someone that could see a dip in value if he starts off poorly. As an advocator of treating Fantasy like the stock market, this is already a situation that I am keeping my eye out for in case an owner freaks out over a poor start from Zeke.
The Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Good news for Doug Baldwin fans out there, the Seahawks have the best schedule in the NFL for WRs in 2017. Another guy that we actually did a Player Analysis (link) on, after he still continues to be somewhat disrespected in the Fantasy community. Once again, the Vikings have the most favorable schedule here for WRs to go along with QBs and TEs. This is definitely good news for the Stefon Diggs owners out there. Personally, I am on board with grabbing Adam Thielen late and reaping the benefits of his production, especially in a PPR format.
The NFC South as a whole is on the positive end as far as matchups go for WRs in 2017. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the 3rd most favorable schedule here. Great news for Mike Evans who established his status in 2016, also great news for Winston, D-Jax, OJ Howard, and Chris Godwin all on an offense that is shaping up to be a very high-powered one moving forward.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Las Angeles Chargers, and Las Angeles Rams.
The Tyreek Hill hype has slowed down somewhat from what it was prior to the NFL Draft. An offense that has historically been a run-first one, the worst schedule for WRs in 2017 definitely doesn’t help Hill’s case. The Chargers have the second worst schedule for WRs, however with rookie Mike Williams, the return of Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and second year TE Hunter Henry, this offense has been shaping up to be a very high powered passing offense. This will be an interesting receiving core to watch in 2017, and their draw of a poor schedule won’t exactly help the situation. Maybe we will see who is the real deal as far as receivers for the Chargers go.
The Oakland Raiders have the 4th worst schedule for WRs in 2017, but with Amari Cooper itching to break out, and the surprising production from Michael Crabtree, this will be an interesting receiving core to watch as well. Derek Carr will also be tested with this tough schedule and returning from his injury, but this offense has shown that it is definitely one that can put up some good numbers.
The Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, and Buffalo Bills.
The Baltimore Ravens have one of the most unestablished TE cores in the league, and have the most favorable schedule for TEs in 2017. Crockett Gilmore, Dennis Pitta, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle have all had their moments, so this could be an interesting team to keep an eye on at the TE position. After a stellar year from Kyle Rudolph, his name has flown somewhat ‘under the radar’ this off-season. He was actually a guy we feature in our Player Analysis section (link). The QB and TE positions both have the most favorable matchups in 2017 at their positions, and Rudolph could definitely have another excellent season this year.
The San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, and Indianapolis Colts.
Vance McDonald was a good streaming option at the TE position in 2016, but unfortunately for those believers, the 49ers have the worst schedule for TEs in 2017. I was fairly excited about Julius Thomas heading to Miami this off-season to be reunited with Adam Gase. Thomas had 24 TDs between 2013 and 2014 in Denver under Gase, but then again, he also had Peyton Manning. The Colts have the third worst schedule for TEs in 2017, and with the departure of Dwayne Allen to New England, Jack Doyle was a guy that I also was fairly excited about this off-season.
Take the matchups with a grain of salt, but there is no denying that as Fantasy owners, we all look at matchups every week when setting out lineups. It is also worth noting that the Washington Redskins have the 4th worst schedule for TEs in 2017, whether Jordan Reed can prove to be matchup proof will be tested this year, not to mention praying he doesn’t get another concussion.