2015 Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule Rankings: By Team (Part Eight)
Here we are at the end of the line. The four teams below have the hardest fantasy schedules in the NFL this season. Our 29th ranked ballclub has the hardest schedule of all the NFC teams. The last three teams on this list are all from all from the AFC North, which are all 2014 playoff teams. They will all get a chance to play 14 of their 16 games against common opponents this season as they run the gauntlet against the NFC West, AFC West, and their fellow AFC North rivals.
With the risk of picking players from this last batch potentially comes great reward.
The four feature backs from this group finished first, third, eighth and 11th in PPR scoring for ball carriers. The first and the 10th scoring wide receivers are also on these teams. This list also boasts a top five scoring quarterback and top five scoring tight end. Not a shabby list, if they can survive the four hardest fantasy schedules in the NFL this season.
With that all being said, here are teams 29 through 32 as we conclude this eight part series to guide you through the 2015 season.
#29 Rank = Easiest Schedule
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29. Chicago Bears
Division: NFC North
Bye Week: 7
SOS by position: QB 24th, RB 28th, WR 23rd, TE 19th
Fantasy Playoff Schedule (14-16): vs. WAS, at MIN, at TB
Week 17: vs. DET
Favorable Matchups (rank): OAK (32), WAS (30), SD (27), TB (25)
Unfavorable Matchups (rank): SEA (1), STL (3), ARI (5), DEN (6), GB twice (10)
Notable Fantasy Players: QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Kevin White-R, TE Martellus Bennett
Recap: Playing the last place divisional schedule and the NFC West and AFC West. Only four teams in the bottom 10 on their schedule as opposed to six games against top 10 teams. Luckily their fantasy playoff schedule comes against two of their weaker opponents in 2015. Still, they will have to travel to games to SEA and KC, two of the harder places to play, along with another scheduled trip to the west coast with a visit to San Diego. Their schedule is a bit of an oddity with a last place schedule yet the fourth hardest fantasy schedule.
30. Baltimore Ravens
Division: AFC North
Bye Week: 9
SOS by position: QB 28th, RB 19th, WR 30th, TE 21st
Fantasy Playoff Schedule (14-16): vs. SEA, vs. KC, vs. PIT
Week 17: at CIN
Favorable Matchups (rank): OAK (32), SD (27), JAX (23)
Unfavorable Matchups (rank): SEA (1), STL (3), ARI (5), DEN (6), MIA (12)
Notable Fantasy Players: QB Joe Flacco, RB Justin Forsett, WR Steve Smith
Recap: Playing third place schedule along with the AFC West and NFC West. They will be playing all three of their fantasy playoff weeks at home which means a road-heavy early part of the season. Five of first seven games on the road including four trips to the Pacific and Mountain time zones (at DEN, at OAK, at SF, at ARI). Only three games against bottom 12 fantasy defenses and five against top 12 defenses. It will be hard to have confidence in an unproven receivers corps and an aging Steve Smith while going up against the third most difficult schedule for wide receivers. Justin Forsett is also on the wrong side of 30 but should prosper in a Marc Trestman led offense.
Division: AFC North
Bye Week: 11
SOS by position: QB 32nd, RB 26th, WR 32nd, TE 12th
Fantasy Playoff Schedule (14-16): at CIN, vs. DEN at BAL
Week 17: at CLE
Favorable Matchups (rank): OAK (32), SD (27), IND (22)
Unfavorable Matchups (rank): SEA (1), STL (3), ARI (5), DEN (6), NE (7), BAL twice (9)
Notable Fantasy Players: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown, WR Martavis Bryant, TE Heath Miller
Recap: Playing divisional champion schedule and AFC West and NFC West. Three games versus bottom 12 teams and seven games against top 10 teams. Playing NFL’s hardest schedule in 2015. Road games at SEA, NE, BAL, KC, SD, STL – playing all five other AFC playoff teams and two NFC playoff teams. Only teams that finished under .500 last season are OAK, CLE, and STL. Steelers benefited from a soft schedule in 2014, but time will tell if Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown continue to be matchup proof. They’re the only team to have two different positions face the hardest schedule (QB and WR). Brutal NFL schedule may translate to a lot of battles, but it may not translate to consistent fantasy scoring. Still, Brown and Bell are surefire first round picks.
Division: AFC North
Bye Week: 7
SOS by position: QB 30th, RB 32nd, WR 20th, TE 27th
Fantasy Playoff Schedule (14-16): vs. PIT, at SF, at DEN
Week 17: vs. BAL
Favorable Matchups (rank): OAK (32), SD (27)
Unfavorable Matchups (rank): SEA (1), BUF (2), STL (3), HOU (4), ARI (5), DEN (6), BAL twice (9)
Notable Fantasy Players: QB Andy Dalton, RB Jeremy Hill, RB Giovani Bernard, WR A.J. Green
Recap: Playing second place divisional schedule and the AFC and NFC West divisions. Playing strongest schedule in NFL against fantasy defenses in 2015. Playing only two games against bottom 12 teams and playing eight games against the top 10 teams including remarkably playing the top six ranked teams because of their second place finish. Their schedule includes four trips to the Pacific and Mountain time zones, two of which come in back to back primetime games that are also during fantasy playoffs. Their 32nd ranked schedule against running backs does not bode well for Jeremy Hill‘s sophomore season. Already playing in the only division that boasted three playoff teams, they will have their work cut out for them with the rest of their campaign.