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2022 NFL Schedule Release: Players With Easy & Difficult Fantasy Football Playoff Matchups

May 13, 2022
T.J. Hockenson

Between the new additions and the unfriendly playoff schedule, T.J. Hockenson’s fantasy value for this season is far from ideal.

Last night the NFL released the schedule for the 2022 season. While we’ve known each team’s opponents for months, we now know which weeks they will face each opponent. Now, fantasy players know the fantasy playoff matchups and which NFL players have easy or tough matchups those weeks.

While plenty will change between now and the last month of the fantasy football season, let’s look at which players have the easiest and most challenging schedule for the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-17).

All stats are based on PPR scoring.

Easiest Schedules

Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN) 

  • Week 14 vs. Lions
  • Week 15 vs. Colts
  • Week 16 vs. Giants
  • Week 17 vs. Packers

Cousins was a top-12 quarterback for the second year in a row last season, averaging 18.8 fantasy points per game. He has one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Furthermore, his playoff schedule offers plenty of fantasy value. Last year the Lions, Giants, and Packers all ranked in the top 14 in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks. The Packers will be better this year, assuming Jaire Alexander stays healthy. Even so, Cousins has two excellent matchups against poor Detroit and New York secondaries. Furthermore, the matchups against the Colts and Packers should be higher scoring games, leading to a strong fantasy performance for Cousins.

Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR)

  • Week 14 vs. Seahawks
  • Week 15 vs. Steelers
  • Week 16 vs. Lions
  • Week 17 vs. Buccaneers

Over the past two years, McCaffrey played only 10 of 33 possible games because of injuries. However, he has an excellent playoff schedule if he can stay healthy. The Seahawks and Lions were two of the five fantasy friendliest defenses for running backs last season, each giving up over 23 fantasy points per game to the position. Meanwhile, the Steelers gave up the 13th most fantasy points to running backs, giving up 19.5 per game. More importantly, the Seahawks and Buccaneers gave up the most and second-most receptions to running backs last year. So whether the Panthers are playing with a lead or chasing points, McCaffrey has an excellent matchup for each week of the fantasy playoffs.

Breece Hall (RB – NYJ) 

  • Week 14 vs. Bills
  • Week 15 vs. Lions
  • Week 16 vs. Jaguars
  • Week 17 vs. Seahawks

The top pick in every rookie draft has an excellent playoff schedule. Detroit and Seattle were two of the friendliest teams towards running backs last season. The Lions have several young defensive linemen but lack experience up front. Meanwhile, the Seahawks did very little to improve their defensive line this offseason and released their defense leader, Bobby Wagner. While the Jaguars were surprisingly one of the better teams at stopping running backs last season, the matchup should be competitive and keep the Jets in a neutral game script. Hall is a running back to target in your fantasy drafts with two elite playoff matchups.

CeeDee Lamb (WR – DAL) 

  • Week 14 vs. Texans
  • Week 15 vs. Jaguars
  • Week 16 vs. Eagles
  • Week 17 vs. Titans

Now that Amari Cooper is a member of the Browns, Lamb takes over as the No. 1 wide receiver in Dallas. Lamb was the WR19 last season, averaging 14.6 fantasy points per game even with Cooper on the team. Now fantasy players will get a chance to see him as the top guy in the Dallas offense. More importantly, Lamb has three excellent matchups during the fantasy playoffs. The Texans, Jaguars, and Titans gave up the eighth-most or more fantasy points to wide receivers last year. All three still have sub-par secondaries. Next season, Dallas will be fighting for a playoff spot, so expect Lamb to have a huge fantasy playoff run.

Brandin Cooks (WR – HOU) 

  • Week 14 vs. Cowboys
  • Week 15 vs. Chiefs
  • Week 16 vs. Titans
  • Week 17 vs. Jaguars

One of the more underrated wide receivers in the NFL is Cooks. The veteran has bounced around the league but has produced for fantasy players regardless of who is at quarterback. Cooks had 134 targets last season, the 13th most in the NFL. Yet, Houston did very little to challenge Cooks’ target share last season. More importantly, the Chiefs lost their top cornerback in free agency. Meanwhile, the Titans and Jaguars struggled to slow down wide receivers last season. The Texans will likely be chasing points in all of those games, giving Cooks plenty of opportunities to produce for fantasy teams.

Dawson Knox (TE – BUF) 

  • Week 14 vs. Jets
  • Week 15 vs. Dolphins
  • Week 16 vs. Bears
  • Week 17 vs. Bengals

Last year Knox broke out and turned into a solid fantasy tight end. He averaged 10.9 fantasy points per game and ended the year as the TE11. Luckily for fantasy players, Knox has an excellent playoff schedule to take advantage of this year. The Jets gave up the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends last season. Meanwhile, the Bengals gave up 14.3 fantasy points per game to tight ends last season, the most in the NFL. So while Knox isn’t an elite fantasy tight end, his excellent playoff matchup should give him the edge over other mid TE1 candidates during your fantasy draft.

Most Difficult Schedules

Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB) 

  • Week 14 vs. BYE
  • Week 15 vs. Rams
  • Week 16 vs. Dolphins
  • Week 17 vs. Vikings

For years, Rodgers has been a top fantasy quarterback. However, he has likely come to an end after the Packers traded away Davante Adams. With a lack of proven playmakers at wide receiver, the Packers will lean on their two star running backs in 2022. Furthermore, Rodgers has a rocky playoff schedule. First, he has a bye in Week 14. So, drafting Rodgers isn’t ideal for those of you who start your playoffs that week. Secondly, he faces a Jalen Ramsey-led secondary in Week 15 and a Xavien Howard-led unit in Week 16. Furthermore, the Vikings re-signed Patrick Peterson this offseason and used their first two draft picks on defensive backs. So, if you draft Rodgers, be sure to trade him away before the trade deadline.

Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC) 

  • Week 14 vs. Dolphins
  • Week 15 vs. Titans
  • Week 16 vs. Colts
  • Week 17 vs. Rams

Ekeler was a fantasy superstar last season, ending the year as the RB2, averaging 21.5 fantasy points per game. However, much has changed from a year ago. The Chargers re-signed Mike Williams and added Gerald Everett this offseason. They also used a fourth-round pick on Isaiah Spiller, who will cut into Ekeler’s workload. Finally, the cherry on top is the playoff schedule. Ekeler will face four teams who ranked in the top seven in the fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs last season. He is still a first-round pick, but Ekeler is a candidate to trade away midseason, given his playoff schedule.

Dameon Pierce (RB – HOU) 

  • Week 14 vs. Cowboys
  • Week 15 vs. Chiefs
  • Week 16 vs. Titans
  • Week 17 vs. Jaguars

Given his situation, the fourth-round running back is a popular pick in rookie drafts. Many believe he will beat out Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead for the starting role and provide low-end RB2 value this season. While that is certainly possible, Pierce’s playoff schedule is far from ideal as he faces some tough run defenses. Last season the Titans and Jaguars both ranked in the top five in the fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs. Furthermore, the Texans will be in a negative game script for most of their matchups against the Cowboys and Chiefs, thus limiting Pierce’s upside in those contests. While the rookie running back is an appealing option for fantasy players, the awful playoff schedule limits his upside.

Michael Thomas (WR – NO) 

  • Week 14 vs. BYE
  • Week 15 vs. Falcons
  • Week 16 vs. Browns
  • Week 17 vs. Eagles

After missing the entire 2021 year because of an ankle injury, Thomas hopefully will return to full strength this season. However, he won’t have the same fantasy value as a few years ago after changes at quarterback and wide receiver. To make things worse for the veteran, his playoff schedule is full of matchups against elite cornerbacks. After a Week 14 bye, Thomas will face A.J. Terrell, Denzel Ward and Darius Slay to close the fantasy playoffs. Last year, all three ranked among the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Between the injury concerns and the playoff schedule, fantasy players might want to let a league mate draft Thomas this year.

Drake London (WR – ATL) 

  • Week 14 vs. BYE
  • Week 15 vs. Saints
  • Week 16 vs. Ravens
  • Week 17 vs. Cardinals

London should produce right away for fantasy players as the Falcons have only one other talented pass-catcher on the roster in Kyle Pitts. While he should see a massive target share as a rookie, his playoff schedule is far from ideal. London has a bye in Week 14 and then a terrible matchup against Marshon Lattimore and the New Orleans secondary. Then he faces Marlon Humphrey and a dangerous Ravens defense. While the Week 17 matchup isn’t awful, it’s still far from an ideal matchup for London. The rookie receiver will see a massive target share this season, but he might not be trustable during the fantasy playoffs.

T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET) 

  • Week 14 vs. Vikings
  • Week 15 vs. Jets
  • Week 16 vs. Panthers
  • Week 17 vs. Bears

Before he suffered a thumb injury that ended his season prematurely, Hockenson was producing for fantasy managers. He averaged a career-high 12.1 fantasy points per game, making him the TE6 on a points per game basis. However, the Lions added D.J. Chark and Jameson Williams in the offseason, thus limiting Hockenson’s potential target share in 2022.

Furthermore, his playoff schedule lacks upside as Hockenson has several tough matchups. The Vikings held him to 9.6 fantasy points per game in two meetings last year. Meanwhile, the Panthers and Bears ranked among the top five in the fewest fantasy points allowed to tight ends last season. Between the new additions and the unfriendly playoff schedule, Hockenson’s fantasy value for this season is far from ideal.

CTAs


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Mike Fanelli is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @Mike_NFL2.

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