FANTASY FOOTBALL – Considering strength of schedule

Week six is over and the season is about halfway through. For many of you with middling records, it feels like your team is third and five in enemy territory, fans are pounding on the plastic seats and the Jaws music is playing. It’s time to make a smart play. If you’re 5-1 or better, the next few weeks won’t necessarily make or break your chances for the fantasy playoffs so you have a unique opportunity to gameplan early for the final weeks.

Generally, it takes at least eight wins to secure a spot in the fantasy playoffs. If you’re 6-0 or 5-1, you can probably take a couple losses in weeks 7-9 in trying to prepare for a push in weeks 10-13. If your record looks more like 3-3, you need to make some moves now before it’s too late.

Many of the players listed below are likely already taken, so the advice is to offer trades for them. Package players at a position where your opponent is weak in order to poach a player with a soft schedule in the weeks you desperately need to win.

This article is split into two sections, the first covering weeks 7-9 for people who need to win right now and the second covering weeks 10-13 for those planning for the future. To jump to the second list, click here.

If you have a middling or lousy record, here are players who have the best matchups for the stretch of weeks seven through nine. The numbers are based on the points those defenses have given up, and the lower the number the better for you.

 

Quarterbacks

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Tony Romo and Jason Witten have soft schedules coming up and may be due for some big games | Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Tony Romo (DAL) is the top QB pick for the middle weeks, facing the Giants (14th) the Redskins (2nd) the Cardinals (5th) and a bonus Jaguars (3rd) in week 10.

Tom Brady (NE) comes in a close second with the Jets (4th) the Bears (7th) and the Broncos (9th).

Derek Carr (OAK) has an honorable mention for a quick two-week blitz if you can stomach betting on the Raiders. He has it pretty good as he faces the Cardinals (5th) and the Browns (6th) before heading off to Seattle (12th). He just put up 282 yards and four touchdowns against the Chargers, a tough team with a great secondary who before the matchup was giving up only the 28th most points to QBs.

 

Wide Receivers

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Mike Wallace is on an upswing and faces a couple of soft secondaries coming up | Photo: Reuters

Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline (MIA) have arguably the softest schedule in the middle weeks as they get the Bears (6th) the Jaguars (5th) and the Chargers (30th). Jarvis Landry is weasling into fantasy relevance.

Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell (NE) get the Jets (9th) the Bears (6th) and the Broncos (28th). Since Shane Vereen is more of a passing back, he can be included here as well.

Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins (CLE) have been less than spectacular, but their schedule includes the Jaguars (5th) the Raiders (24th) and the Buccaneers (3rd).

James Jones and Andre Holmes (OAK) become interesting in the next few weeks as they face the Cardinals (2nd) the Browns (11th) and the Seahawks (21st)

 

Running Backs

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Ben Tate just put up 25-78-2 against the Steelers and will enjoy a soft schedule for the next few weeks | Photo: Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports

Ben Tate (CLE) is easily the best pick for the middle weeks as he gets the Jaguars (4th) the Raiders (7th) and the Buccaneers (6th).

Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey (TB) get a bye week and then the Vikings (14th) the Browns (3rd) and the Falcons (1st) in week 10.

 

Tight Ends

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Larry Donnell has the easiest schedule for any tight end for the rest of the season | Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Larry Donnell faces The Cowboys (1st), a bye week, the Colts (5th) and the Seahawks (4th) in weeks seven through ten.

Jason Witten gets the Giants (30th) the Redskins (7th) the Cardinals (6th) and the Jaguars (2nd)


Jermaine Gresham (CIN) gets the Colts (5th) the Ravens (26th) and the Jaguars (2nd)

 

If you have a winning record and are looking to scam for the distant future, here are the players with the softest schedules for the final push of weeks 10 through 13.

 

Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan (ATL) is looking good in the final weeks as he’ll see the Buccaneers (10th) the Panthers (8th) the Browns (6th) and the Cardinals (5th).

Tony Romo (DAL) gets the Jaguars (3rd), a bye week 11, the Giants (14th) and the Eagles (1st).

Andrew Luck (IND) gets a bye in week 10 and then the Patriots (31st) the Jaguars (3rd) the Redskins (2nd) and the Browns (6th) in week 14, should you manage to get there.

Andy Dalton (CIN) gets the Browns (6th) the Saints (11th) the Texans (19th) and the Buccaneers (10th).

 

Wide Receivers

Julio Jones and Roddy White (ATL) should fly in the final push as they face the Buccaneers (3rd) the Panthers (7th) the Browns (15th) and the Cardinals (2nd).

AJ Green (did you know his real name is Adriel?) and Mohammed Sanu (CIN) have the second easiest schedule towards the end as they will face the Browns (15th) the Saints (4th) the Texans (10th) and the Buccaneers (3rd).

Keenan Allen (SD) has a bye in week 10 and then the Raiders (24th) the Rams (8th) and the Ravens (12th).

 

Running Backs

Steven Jackson  and Antone Smith (ATL) have a bright future in weeks 10-13, facing the Buccaneers (6th) the Panthers (8th) the Browns (3rd) and the Cardinals (30th)

DeMarco Murray (DAL) gets the Jaguars (4th) a bye week 11, the Giants (12th) and the Eagles (5th).

Matt Forte (CHI) lines up against the Packers (11th) the Vikings (14th) the Buccaneers (6th) and the Lions (24th).

 

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell (NYG) continues to see a soft schedule as he faces the Seahawks (4th against TEs) the 49ers (23rd) the Cowboys (1st) and the Jaguars (2nd).

Garret Graham (HOU) has a bye week 10 and then the Browns (13th) the Bengals (3rd) the Titans (10th) and the Jaguars (2nd) in week 14.

Heath Miller (PIT) gets the Jets (8th) the Titans (10th), a bye week, the Saints (31st) and the Bengals (3rd) in week 14.

So what have we learned? The players that appeared on both lists, and the best looking picks when only considering strength of schedule might be Tony Romo and Larry Donnell. Ben Tate has a ridiculously soft schedule in the middle weeks with JAX, OAK and TB. Atlanta and Cincinnati WRs look good for the final stretch after getting over a middle-season hump. Tampa Bay RBs look good for the middle season and so does Derek Carr and the Oakland WRs. Atlanta RBs look to be getting an easy finish towards the end.

Of course, there are many other factors to consider as you head into your crucial matchups but hopefully this list can provide an additional angle. If you already have some of these guys then just sit back, feel good, crack a beer and rosterbate. If not, maybe try to trade for them. Here’s to the second half of the season. Good luck and game on.

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Matt Mackle

Matt is a sports and arts writer, musician and journalist. He has worked as an editor for various publications including The Miami Herald. At 30 years old, he is still quite serious about a career in rock n roll. For now, he writes fantasy football articles for tuffgnarl and manages websites for a nonprofit.

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