The NFL schedule was just released, and thus we can now start to dissect what it may mean for fantasy football. After all, the schedule is a critical component of success or failure for many players. Of course, offensive and team talent is still the most important thing, but the schedule can boost a player’s production if it is favorable.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few players whose fantasy production may benefit in 2022 based on who their team will face. Unfortunately, we don’t know how offseason changes will affect each team’s defense his year, so we’ll have to rely on 2021 data for now. I’d recommend FantasyPros’ outstanding Matchup Calendar and SOS chart to guide me through this process.
Below are two players for each key position who look like they will benefit based on this season’s schedule. For this analysis, I’ve limited it to players who should be starters in most leagues based on the latest half-point PPR ECR.
Russell Wilson could get off to a fast start with his new team with a road grudge match against the Seahawks, though they weren’t too bad against opposing QBs last year. However, his home opener opponent during Week 2, the Texans, is an excellent matchup. The Chiefs, whom the Broncos will face twice as an in-division opponent, were the second-worst team against QBs last season. In addition, Wilson gets juicy out-of-division matchups against the Ravens, Jets, Colts, Titans, and Jaguars.
The Washington Commanders, whom Dak and the Cowboys will face twice this season, were the worst team against opposing QBs last year. In addition to two against the Commanders, Prescott and the Cowboys face several teams who struggled vs. quarterbacks in 2021, including the Lions, Vikings, Texans, Colts, Jaguars, and Titans. Nevertheless, Prescott and his pass-catchers (more on a few of them below) are set up nicely for success.
Two of the Bears’ division mates — The Lions and Vikings — were among the teams who gave up the most points to opposing running backs in 2021. Coupled with that are matchups against the Texans, Giants, Falcons, and Jets, who were the worst team in the league in this category last year by far. There’s a lot to like about Montgomery in fantasy circles this year.
Taylor is already the consensus No. 1 overall pick by pretty much everyone, so it’s not like he needed any help. But he’s going to get it anyway. He plays in a division with the Texans (listed here a lot) and Jaguars, whom he’ll face in Weeks 1 and 2. So a good start for him should be a given. Better than his start will be his finish, though. From Weeks 15-17 (the fantasy playoffs in most leagues), the Colts will face the Vikings, Chargers, and Giants — three of the worst rush defenses in the league in 2021. So if anyone doubted taking Taylor No. 1 overall, this should cement it.
Earlier I mentioned that the Commanders were generous to opposing QBs in 2021, and the same could be said for wide receivers. The Cowboys struggled against opposing wideouts, so roughly a quarter of new Eagle A.J. Brown’s matchups are favorable. You can question his QB, but you can’t question his talent and, for this year, his strength of schedule. In addition to facing the Commanders and Cowboys twice each, the Eagles’ wide receiver gets matchups against the Vikings, Jaguars, Texans, Cardinals, and Titans. All in, that’s nine games against teams who finished in the bottom 10 vs. WRs in 2021. Giddy-up!
Lamb’s QB, Dak Prescott, was listed above, so it is only natural that his new No. 1 receiver would also find himself with a favorable schedule. CeeDee’s stock was already on the rise after the departure of Amari Cooper (WR – CLE) this offseason. Now he gets the benefit of what should be a soft schedule as well. Though WR and QB points against don’t always much up precisely, they tend to trend in the same direction. For Lamb, that translates to seven contests against the bottom 10 defenses against wideouts from 2021, including the Commanders twice, the Vikings, Rams, Texans, Jaguars, and Titans.
Pat Freiermuth’s rookie season was somewhat overshadowed by Kyle Pitts (TE – ATL), but he proved himself a worthy fantasy TE. He’ll have to do it with a new QB this season, but whether it’s Mitchell Trubisky (QB – PIT) or rookie Kenny Pickett (QB – PIT), he should be in line to be productive once again. But, of course, his schedule doesn’t hurt either. Two of his AFC North division rivals, the Ravens and Bengals, struggled mightily against TEs in 2021. In addition, Pittsburgh will face the Jets, Eagles, Colts, and Raiders, all of whom had difficulty defending against the position last season.
Teams who struggle vs. WRs don’t always against tight ends as they tend to match up against different positions on the defense. That said, this is the third entry for a member of the Cowboys’ passing attack, so there is some similarity. The division-rival Eagles were the second-worst team against opposing TEs in 2021, just barely behind the Chargers. So in addition to facing them twice, Schultz and the Cowboys will match up with four other bottom-10 tight end defenses, including the Bengals, Lions, Colts, and Texans.
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