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Football Daily Dose

Remaining Strength of Schedule

by Ryan McDowell
Updated On: December 16, 2020, 10:03 pm ET

Week 15 is here and for most fantasy players, that means the semifinals of your fantasy leagues. If you’ve made it this far, first of all, congratulations. Secondly, think back to that old adage that says, “always start your studs.” Now, throw that out the window and find the players that can take you to a title, even if they might seem like unconventional choices.

NFL players are streaky, and matchups are always important to consider. Over the past three weeks, Baker Mayfield is the overall QB2, David Montgomery has outscored every running back in the league not named Derrick Henry and left-for-dead WR T.Y. Hilton has been a top-three overall scorer.

With most leagues concluding after Week 16, let’s dig into the remaining strength of schedule, focusing on situations to target and avoid.



Top-Five S.O.S.


1) Los Angeles Rams

2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3) Washington Football Team

4) Green Bay Packers

5) Denver Broncos


QB Jared Goff and the Rams face the Jets and Seahawks over the next two weeks, ranking as the most QB-friendly schedule in the league. I do still have concerns about the Rams’ pace of play, but it is hard to ignore these matchups. The G.O.A.T. Tom Brady gets a pair of friendly foes as well in Atlanta and Detroit, locking him in as a playoff starter over the final two weeks. Even with a nice matchup, it will be difficult to trust Alex Smith or even Drew Lock, but expect Aaron Rodgers to keep doing what he has done all year, producing big-time fantasy points, as he faces the Panthers and Titans.


Bottom-Five S.O.S.


32) Seattle Seahawks

31) Minnesota Vikings

30) Carolina Panthers

29) Pittsburgh Steelers

28) Houston Texans


Typically, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson would be automatic weekly starters, and it will be difficult to get away from them even with this information. Seattle could find themselves stuck in second gear against the slow play of Washington and the Rams, while Houston gets Indianapolis’ strong defense before facing the Bengals. Kirk Cousins and Teddy Bridgewater have each been productive lately but could find it difficult to maintain that level of play. Roethlisberger hasn’t finished higher than QB15 in the past month.


Running Back

Top-Five S.O.S.


1) Tennessee Titans

2) Baltimore Ravens

3) Green Bay Packers

4) Los Angeles Chargers

5) Washington Football Team


You don’t need me to tell you to make sure Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones and Austin Ekeler are in your playoff lineups, but seeing this remaining strength of schedule might make you even more confident. The Ravens backfield committee has made it difficult to rely on any one of their back, even though the trio has essentially been narrowed to just a pair. Facing the Jaguars and Giants, both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins are reasonable options over the next two weeks.


Bottom-Five S.O.S


32) Seattle Seahawks

31) Minnesota Vikings

30) Kansas City Chiefs

29) Dallas Cowboys

28) Arizona Cardinals


Once again, the Seahawks rank at the bottom of this list. While it will be impossible to fade Russell Wilson, avoiding RB Chris Carson is more feasible. The Rams and Washington have combined to allow just six RB1 games all season. Dalvin Cook has a difficult schedule, but he also faced one of the league’s toughest defenses a week ago and still finished as an RB1. There is no benching Cook regardless of matchups. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ezekiel Elliott and Kenyan Drake could find their way to fantasy benches, given their upcoming matchups.

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Wide Receiver

Top-Five S.O.S.


1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2) Los Angeles Rams

3) Chicago Bears

4) Detroit Lions

5) Washington Football Team


It’s no surprise that the wide receiver matchups are quite similar to the quarterback list. This means fantasy players should stick with WRs Mike Evans, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Chris Godwin in the fantasy semi-finals. Bears WR Allen Robinson is a no-brainer and this upcoming schedule should allow WR Terry McLaurin to bounce back from a pair of disappointing games. Despite the Lions' soft matchups, injuries to WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, not to mention QB Matthew Stafford, make this a team to avoid with fantasy seasons on the line.


Bottom-Five S.O.S


32) Seattle Seahawks

31) Carolina Panthers

30) Minnesota Vikings

29) Buffalo Bills

28) Jacksonville Jaguars


Three for three. Seattle, facing Washington and the Rams, have the most difficult schedule at all three positions. Maybe you have the depth to sit streaky WR Tyler Lockett but the same can’t be said for WR DK Metcalf. WRs Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs also likely can’t be replaced barring an unreal roster construction, though Robby Anderson, D.J. Chark, Cole Beasley and Curtis Samuel would be far down my ranks, given their difficult foes over the final two weeks of the fantasy season.


COVID & Injury News


The Buffalo Bills designated WR John Brown to return from the injured reserve list. Brown is eligible to return this week after missing the past three games with an ankle injury. … The Raiders placed rookie WR Henry Ruggs on the reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning he will not be available for the team’s Thursday night game. … Baltimore activated veteran WR Dez Bryant from the COVID list and will be eligible to play this week, unless he decides to retire again. … The Ravens placed backup QB Trace McSorley on the injured reserve with a knee injury. That leaves Tyler Huntley as the only backup option behind QB Lamar Jackson. … Chargers stars WR Keenan Allen (hamstring), RB Austin Ekeler (quad) and WR Mike Williams (back) all were limited in Tuesday’s practice. With a Thursday game, this trio will need to be monitored up until kickoff. … Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey is expected to miss the team’s Week 15 game against the Packers. It’s another tough blow for fantasy players considering this is one of the top matchups in the league for opposing backs. … The Lions are not “overly optimistic” about QB Matthew Stafford’s chances of playing in Week 15, as he continues to recover from last week’s rib injury. … Steelers RB James Conner is dealing with a quad injury and is in danger of missing the team’s matchup against the Bengals. … Dolphins WR DeVante Parker has a slight hamstring strain, leaving his status for Week 15 up in the air. … Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones underwent a procedure to repair a broken finger. A similar operation cost teammate WR Chris Godwin one game earlier in the year, which suggests Jones could sit out this week. … The Washington Football Team is reportedly optimistic that QB Alex Smith will be able to play this week, despite the calf injury that knocked him out of last week’s game.