Matt Hicks, Staff Writer
It’s playoff time and every decision counts. That’s why we’re bringing you an in-depth look at the strength of schedule for every fantasy relevant skill position player. To get a real look at strength of schedule we looked at the schedule of every player from Weeks 14-16.
When looking at the defense, we ignored their overall rank and instead looked at how they’ve performed specifically against the position being evaluated. We totaled their three match-ups together to get their total strength of schedule (SOS).
In this case, the higher the number, the easier the schedule. Note that the statistics being used reflect Week 1-12 of the 2017 regular season and reflect ESPN standard scoring. To help put strength of schedules into context, we also include their overall season rank, by position, for each player. This is also based on ESPN PPRscoring.
To see players’ individual strength of schedules, we’ve provided the excel sheet which we use to calculate SOS here.
- Devin Funchess (SOS 78, Rank 18)
Funchess has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners in 2017. He came out of nowhere to be the WR 16 on the season. This steady WR2 play has big upside in Week 15 when he plays Green Bay; who has given up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Things get even better for Funchess in Week 16 when he plays Tampa Bay; who’s given up the most fantasy points to opposing WRs this season. Funchess is a WR1 until further notice
- Kelvin Benjamin (SOS 70, Rank 46), Zay Jones
- Jarvis Landry (SOS 70, Rank 9). Kenny Stills, Davante Parker
Landry’s has at least 5 receptions in every game this season, that consistency has allowed him to be the 9th best WR this season. Stills hasn’t had consistent success, but he’s been hot the last 4 weeks; seeing 35 targets for 392 yards and 2 touchdowns. Consider both of these guys must starts in Week 14 against New England (28th) and in Week 16 against Kansas City (31st).
- Michael Crabtree (SOS 70, Rank 29), Amari Cooper
- Sterling Shepard (SOS 64, Rank 44)
- Keenan Allen (SOS 61, Rank 3), Tyrell Williams
Allen very well could be the highest scoring wide receiver in the playoffs. He’s propelled to the WR4 on the season, primarily from 3 monster performances in Weeks 11-13. In those games he saw 41 targets and caught 33 of those (80%) for 436 yards (145 per game) and four touchdowns. He faces Kansas City (31st) in Week 15 and the Jets in Week 16 (22nd).
- Marqise Lee (SOS 61. 27), Dede Westbrooke
- Julio Jones (SOS 60, Rank 6), Mohammad Sanu
Julio has struggled this season in tough match-ups, luckily for his owners he doesn’t have any of those in the playoffs. He faces off against the Saints (14th) in Weeks 14 and 16. In Week 15, he goes up against Tampa Bay. The Bucs have given up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season and were the team Julio put up his monster 12 receptions, 353 yards, and 2 touchdown game against. Sanu is a consistently underrated player; he’s WR 38 on the season and his weak strength of schedule makes him a great flex play, especially in Week 15.
- Alshon Jeffery (SOS 58, Rank 9), Nelson Agholor
- Dez Bryant (SOS 58, Rank 20)
- Larry Fitzgerald (SOS 57, Rank 4)
- Antonio Brown (SOS 57, Rank 1), JuJu Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant
Brown and his fellow receiving corps have a tough match-up in Week 14; facing off against the Baltimore Ravens, who have allowed the 2nd least fantasy points per season to opposing wide receivers this season. After that, though, things get good for owners with the Steelers receivers; real good. They face New England (28th) in Week 15 and Houston (27th) in championship week. Brown is match-up proof but don’t get excited about Bryant in Week 14. After that, let loose on all three of these guys.
- Demaryius Thomas (SOS 54, Rank 24), Emmanuel Sanders
- Adam Thielen (SOS 54, Rank 7), Stefon Diggs
Diggs has slowed down considerably from his great start to the season, however, Thielen has been a consistent impact player. They have great match-ups in Week 14 against Carolina (21st) and in Week 16 against Green Bay (30th). That makes Thielen a must start; but I’d keep Diggs on the bench from this point on. Proceed with caution in Week 15 with him, though, as he faces the Bengals, who have allowed the 3rd least fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.
- Marquise Goodwin (SOS 54, Rank 41)
- Marvin Jones Jr (SOS 52, Rank 11), Golden Tate
- Robert Woods (SOS 51, Rank 26), Cooper Kupp
Woods and Kupp have both been great success stories this season, but it’s time to pump the brakes on them. They have two tough match-ups that will likely slow down these receivers and the rest of the Rams offense. In Week 14 the Rams play the Eagles (10th) and then the Seahawks (15th). Woods gets downgraded to a solid flex play, and Kupp should only be taken seriously as a weak flex play in PPR leagues. You can consider them both, however, in Week 16 when they play the Titans (26th)
- Tyreek Hill (SOS 50, Rank 8)
- Rishard Matthews (SOS 50, Rank 36)
- Josh Gordon (SOS 49, Rank 139), Ricardo Louis, Corey Coleman
Gordon came out in a big way in Week 13. He caught 4 passes for 85 yards in his first game back from a long suspension. He could be the spark in a Browns offense on the edge of breaking out for a big game. In Week 14 he’s a must start as he faces off against the Packers, who have allowed the 30th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season. Things get harder after that, though, when he faces Baltimore (2nd) in Week 15 and Chicago (17th) in Week 16.
- AJ Green (SOS 46, Rank 5)
Don’t panic from Green’s strength of schedule. He faces 3 moderately tough match-ups in Chicago (17th), Minnesota (16th) and Detroit (13th). Green is still a must start, but may be closer to a high WR2 than his true WR1 value.
- Davante Adams (SOS 46, Rank 12), Jordy Nelson
- Jamison Crowder (SOS 41, Rank 40), Josh Docston, Ryan Grant
- Mike Wallace (SOS 40, Rank 49), Jeremy Maclin
- Mike Evans (SOS 39, Rank 21), Desean Jackson
Evans continues to disappoint this season. The player thought, by many, in the preseason to be a top 3 WR this season has fallen to WR 21. Evans can be left on the bench in more shallow leagues in Week 14 when he faces the Lions (13th) and even in deeper leagues when he faces the Falcons (5th) in Week 15.
- Doug Baldwin (SOS 36, Rank 15), Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett
Baldwin has been his consistent self this season, showing up as a strong WR2 on the season and a viable WR1 most weeks. His value drops in the playoffs, however, as he faces the Jaguars in Week 14; they’ve allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season. He then faces the Rams (6th) in Week 15. The good news is, he could be your difference maker in Week 16 when he plays the Cowboys (29th). Richardson and Lockett, although they’ve been effective this season, should not be considered good flex options in Weeks 14 and 15.
- Brandon Cooks (SOS 36, Rank 13), Danny Amendola
- Michael Thomas (SOS 32, Rank 10), Ted Ginn Jr
- Robby Anderson (SOS 30, Rank 14), Jermaine Kearse
I’m a huge fan of Robby Anderson, and he’s done a lot to make a case for being match-up proof. That being said, we need to temper expectations for him in the playoffs. The Jets play Denver (4th) in Week 14 and then the Saints (14th) and Chargers (12th). Anderson should be considered a low WR2 or solid flex options in those games; in contrast to the WR 1 level production he’s showed recently.
- DeAndre Hopkins (SOS 27, Rank 2)
Hopkins is match-up proof. I repeat, it does not matter who Hopkins plays, you play him and you expect him to produce as a WR 1. Week 14 isn’t too bad, as he matches up against the 49ers (19th). In Week 15, however, the Texans play the Jaguars (1st) and in Week 16 they face off against the Steelers (7th). It’ll make you nervous, but don’t back off Hopkins; we’ve doubted him all season and he’s proven us wrong every single week.
- Kendall Wright (SOS 25, Rank 68)
- TY Hilton (SOS 17, Rank 25)
It’s been a tough season for Hilton and it won’t get any better in the playoffs. He has the toughest fantasy schedule: Week 14 against the Bills (11th), Week 15 against the Broncos (4th), and Week 16 against the Ravens (2nd). In dynasty leagues, consider selling Hilton for short term assets.
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