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Brady Gets a Break: Fantasy Quarterback Strength of Schedule, Weeks 14-16

When the subject is fantasy strength of schedule, we must start with the disclaimers.

I don’t think much of fantasy strength of schedule before the season starts. Too much is unknown or unknowable. And I definitely think looking at a fantasy playoff schedule in the summer is a fool’s errand.

And even when it’s time to logically examine strength of schedule, I accept how delicate the exercise is. Every football unit is a delicate construction, capable of collapse at any moment. The weather could come into play. Injuries are a constant part of NFL life.

And for the most part, when it comes to scheduling, I mostly care about outliers. Tell me which defenses give it away, and tell me which defenses are lockdown units. Offenses primarily control outcomes. So many defensive matchups in the middle simply don’t mean that much.

And maybe you don’t need all of the playoff weeks. Maybe you’ve locked up a bye, don’t need to play in Week 14. You’ll obviously have to season this list to taste; something I’m encouraging you to do, anyway.

All these things said, I do put some value in strength of schedule now that we’re about two-thirds deep into the fantasy season. We know a few things. We can look ahead, at least a little bit.

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Below is how I rank the Quarterback Fantasy Schedules for the Fantasy Playoff Weeks — Weeks 14-to-16. It’s part-math, it’s part-scouting, it’s part-special sauce. A good set of matchups probably won’t make a mediocre player into a league winner. A tricky matchup won’t make you want to bench Lamar Jackson.

It’s something to keep in mind, along with a bunch of other things. And if you want to ignore this exercise completely, that’s your prerogative. I can’t say you’re wrong.

Enough hedging for now. This is what came out of the blender.

Get out your calculators (good schedules) 

Jaguars: LAC, @OAK, @ATL

Patriots: KC, @CIN, BUF

Dolphins: @NYJ, @NYG, CIN

Colts: @TB, @NO, CAR

Bucs: IND, @DET, HOU

Steelers: @ARI, BUF, @NYJ

Browns: CIN, @ARI, BAL

I guess with Brady’s schedule, you have two fears. Can the Patriots throw over the top of those defenses (or anyone)? And will the running game chew up the majority of the touchdowns? Nonetheless, it’s nice to see the Patriots catch a break, for once . . . To nobody’s surprise, the Cincinnati defense shows up three times here . . . If Nick Foles can get in form quickly, he could be a difference-maker in December, especially in the Superflex world. All three games should be weather-proof, too (the final one, indoors), and while the Falcons defense showed up in Week 10, it’s been a sieve most of the year.

The fantasy football playoff schedule is a point in Tom Brady's favor. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

Somewhere in the middle (average schedules)

Vikings: DET, @LAC, GB

Raiders: TEN, JAX, @LAC

Broncos: @HOU, @KC, DET

Seahawks: @LAR, @CAR, ARI

Titans: @OAK, HOU, NO

49ers: @NO, ATL, LAR

Rams: SEA, @DAL, @SF

Lions: @MIN, TB, @DEN

Bears: DAL, @GB, KC

Redskins: @GB, PHI, NYG

Cardinals: PIT, CLE, @SEA

Eagles: NYG, @WAS, DAL

Bengals: @CLE, NE, @MIA

Giants: @PHI, MIA, @WAS

Packers: WAS, CHI, @MIN

Saints: SF, IND, @TEN

Panthers: @ATL, SEA, @IND

Let Dwayne Haskins start against some fair matchups before we bury him. He was set up to fail in his early appearances . . . The Eagles still haven’t figured out their identity. A shame they couldn’t keep DeSean Jackson in one piece. I don’t trust any of Philly’s wideouts . . . Say this for Ryan Tannehill, he’s been a notable step forward from Marcus Mariota . . . Green Bay has potential weather issues for Weeks 15-16, and then goes inside for the daunting Minnesota draw . . . Daniel Jones is still looking downfield for chunk plays (that’s good), but he needs some pocket awareness before the holidays . . . Is Mitch Trubisky a cross-off after just three seasons?

Not much for free (tricky schedules)

Texans: DEN, @TEN, @TB

Cowboys: @CHI, LAR, @PHI

Jets: MIA, @BAL, PIT

Ravens: @BUF, NYJ, CLE

Chargers: @JAX, MIN, OAK

Falcons: CAR, @SF, JAX

Chiefs: @NE, DEN, @CHI

Bills: BAL, @PIT, @NE

Denver’s defense looks much more imposing today than it did in the middle of September . . . You wonder if Josh Allen might be playing too conservatively, afraid to really let it rip downfield. John Brown has been a consistent player but we haven’t seen a blow-up week since the opening game . . . Obviously you’re not sitting Mahomes or Jackson or Watson. Elite players make most opponents irrelevant . . . Watching Philip Rivers struggle at the end of the Oakland loss was soul-crushing. It’s time for the Chargers to aggressively draft their next quarterback . . . I still think Sam Darnold has a chance to be a long-term right answer at quarterback. His first half was a series of unforeseeable events.

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