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2018 NFL Schedule: Winners & Losers (Fantasy Football)

Apr 20, 2018

DeAndre Hopkins and Co. should have plenty of opportunities for big games

Did you hear the NFL schedule was released? Of course you did as the leaks started pouring out on Twitter yesterday and by 8:00 p.m. ET, we knew exactly who our favorite teams were facing. Perhaps more important, though, especially if you’re reading this, is that there are fantasy implications with each schedule release. Sure, it’s incredibly early to know exactly how things will pan out, but hypothetically, would you want your quarterback facing the Eagles, Vikings, and Jaguars in weeks 14, 15 and 16? I don’t think so. Last season, we knew Dez Bryant’s matchups on paper could give him trouble and sure enough, it wasn’t a pretty year.

No matter how early it is, we can look to certain matchups or weeks, and make an educated guess as to what we believe might happen based on history and the current makeup of teams. Obviously, you wouldn’t change your draft strategy completely on this very day based on the schedule, especially when we’re still waiting for the NFL Draft; but our featured experts below are here to help give you an early leg up with instant analysis and reactions as to what you may want to be aware of for fantasy purposes.

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Q1. Which notable player has favorable matchups in 2018 and should see a boost in value?

Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU) | DeAndre Hopkins (WR – HOU)
“According to the overall strength of schedule, the Texans have the league’s easiest schedule this season, which includes an appealing stretch for QB Deshaun Watson and WR DeAndre Hopkins in Weeks 13-15 at home against the Browns, Colts and at the Jets in Week 15.”
– Jody Smith (FantasyPros)

Blake Bortles (QB – JAC) | Corey Davis (WR – TEN)
“Love QBs DeShaun Watson and Blake Bortles (how is that for a bold one). Bortles’ schedule in weeks 14 thru 16 of Tennesse, Washington and Miami shouldn’t scare anyone. Also, I like Corey Davis and the Titans’ schedule this year and he could be the breakout WR from last years draft.”
– Ken Zalis (Pressbox)

Alvin Kamara (RB – NO)
“The Saints seemed prime for a fast start and a boost in early season value. With home matchups vs. TB and CLE to start the year, Alvin Kamara and company should start quick and offer you a great return on the draft capital you spend on them. ”
– Andy Holloway (The Fantasy Footballers)

Tom Brady (QB – NE)
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’d say Tom Brady here, as he plays in what might be the worst division in football. He gets to play the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins in 6-of-17 games during the season, and then gets matchups with the Texans, Lions, Colts, Chiefs, Packers, and Steelers mixed in. Not that they are all terrible defenses, but they aren’t ones that you’re concerned about when slotting Brady into your lineup. ”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Rex Burkhead (RB – NE)
“Burkhead is the big winner from last night, as the Patriots have what is clearly the easiest schedule of any team. Seeing that they are still top five in talent, this should all translate to plenty of positive game scripts which will benefit the Patriots’ running game. New England has other options, of course, but as it stands now, Burkhead is expected to get the bulk of the work, especially on the goal-line.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Q2. Who is a player facing a difficult schedule that fantasy owners should be aware of?

David Johnson (RB – ARI)
“Someone who I noticed that had a particularly bad schedule at first glance was David Johnson. Not only are we worried about his team being in many games, but having to play against the Rams twice is not going to be a matchup to look forward to. Even worse – he plays one of those games in Week 16, championship week. Not just them, though, as he’ll play the Broncos, Vikings, Chargers, and Falcons throughout the season. It’s not going to be easy for Johnson to reclaim the RB1 spot.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Matthew Stafford (QB – DET) | Ben Roethlisberger (QB – PIT)
“I always love Mathew Stafford as the volume is there, but road games at Arizona and Buffalo in weeks 14 and 15 and the Vikings at home in week 16 is not a great finish for the Lions offense. Add Golden Tate and Marvin Jones into this as well. Ben Roethlisberger has struggled on the road the last few years so week 14 and 16 road games at Oakland and New Orleans should have their owner at least pause and look for another option.”
– Ken Zalis (Pressbox)

Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC)
“Chiefs fans will get to see what Pat Mahomes is made of rather early in 2018. Road matchups vs division rivals LAC and then perennial road challenge Pittsburgh will test the new offense quickly. Fantasy owners shouldn’t freak out if they start slow.”
– Andy Holloway (The Fantasy Footballers)

LeSean McCoy (RB – BUF)
“McCoy was given no favors by the scheduling committee. His out of division games include road games at Baltimore, Houston, and Minnesota, while Buffalo “welcomes” Tennessee, Chicago, and Jacksonville. Pairing that with the rumors of Buffalo trading up for Josh Allen, McCoy ought to begin thinking about retirement.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Miami Dolphins
“Miami ends the fantasy season against two of the best defenses in the league, traveling to Minnesota in Week 15 and hosting the Jaguars in Week 17. The Dolphins are already in a state of flux, so the playoff run won’t make acquiring Miami players any more appealing.”
– Jody Smith (FantasyPros)

Q3. For the fantasy playoffs (weeks 14-16), is there a notable player that jumps out as having a particularly easy schedule?

Odell Beckham (WR – NYG)
“If there’s one who stood out on first glance, it’s Odell Beckham. He will start by playing against the Redskins, who don’t use Josh Norman to shadow opposing No. 1 receivers for whatever reason (Beckham would burn him anyway), and they still don’t have the cornerback who’ll be starting on the other side of the field on the current roster (I don’t think). After that, he’ll play against the Titans who just signed Malcolm Butler. Whether they trust him or Adoree Jackson in man coverage on Beckham, it’ll be easy money in fantasy football. And in the championship week, he’ll play against the Colts secondary that leads with Quincy Wilson.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Demaryius Thomas (WR – DEN)
“The Denver Broncos have an unbelievably easy road during the fantasy football playoffs. They will go up against San Francisco, Cleveland and Oakland, who were are all bottom quadrant pass defenses last season. I’ll be keying on Demaryius Thomas as a trade target mid-season this year unless these teams see drastic improvement during the season.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Deshaun Watson (QB -HOU) | LeSean McCoy (RB – BUF)
“Week 16 at Philly could be tough, but Weeks 14 and 15 vs. Indianapolis and the NY Jets could be a great spot for Deshaun Watson and the Texans. LeSean McCoy has home games with the Jets and Detroit in weeks 14 and 15 and should get his owners to the Championship game.”
– Ken Zalis (Pressbox)

Jimmy Garoppolo (QB – SF)
“Jimmy Handsome and company has a trifecta of home games in the fantasy playoffs, which is always attractive. Denver, Seattle, Chicago at home sets up to be an interesting end to the fantasy season and a potential boon for Jimmy G owners.”
– Andy Holloway (The Fantasy Footballers)

Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)
“Prescott also has an excellent fantasy playoff run, playing at the Colts (2nd most fantasy points allowed to QB) in Week 15 and hosting the Bucs (allowed 2nd most fantasy points to QBs) in championship week.”
– Jody Smith (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their thoughts on the NFL schedule. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

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