Fantasy Football 2018: Playoff Schedule Analysis for QB, DST

Patrick Mahomes has a brutal schedule for the fantasy playoffs

For quarterbacks and defense/special teams (DSTs) in fantasy football, league scoring can make a difference when it comes to the best and worst playoff schedules. For the sake of this analysis, the quarterback scoring reflected is six points per passing touchdowns, with no bonuses. The difference from six to four points per touchdown may make a difference, so please be sure to use this as a guide, but check your league's scoring.

 

For DST scoring, it may vary even more. For this exercise, Yahoo! standard DST scoring was used. This gives points for the standard categories (sacks, interceptions, etc.) and factors in points against (but not yards against). Again, these factors may make a difference, so be sure to check your own league’s scoring.

 

Quarterbacks

 

The Good

 

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Remaining schedule: at CLE, vs. NO, vs. ATL, at NO

 

After throwing multiple touchdown passes in every game he’s played since Week 1, Newton has become an every-week starter. The fantasy owners that have him should be rewarded with a nice playoff schedule. Newton faces two teams in the top five in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks (New Orleans, Atlanta). Both of those matchups are at home, as well, which bodes well for Newton. Week 14 against Cleveland isn’t terrible, but fantasy owners with a bye in that week have smooth sailing at quarterback for the rest of the season (even if Greg Olsen is out the rest of the season).

 

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Remaining schedule: vs. CAR, at DEN, vs. CIN, at BAL

 

Mayfield may end up winning some fantasy owners their leagues. Carolina and Cincinnati are in the top five in terms of fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks. Those playing into Week 17 have a tougher matchup against Baltimore, but for those leagues ending in Week 16 Mayfield may be a nice option. He’s had an up-and-down rookie season, but he’s done well against weaker competition. He’s struggled against tougher opponents, which is expected from a young quarterback. With two “easier” matchups in the playoffs, consider adding him if he’s available and starting him.

 

Drew Brees, New Orleans

Remaining Schedule: at TB, at CAR, vs. PIT, vs. CAR

 

The schedule on paper for Brees looks great, although Brees excels at home (especially in primetime). The game at Carolina in Week 15 is on Monday night, but it is in Carolina. In the past couple games, the New Orleans offense (and Brees) have struggled. Brees hasn’t thrown for 200 yards in either of the past two games. He did manage four touchdowns on Thanksgiving to save his fantasy day (had just 15 completions), but hopefully the schedule will help fantasy owners in the playoffs. The matchups against Tampa Bay and Carolina are great: both of those teams are in the top five in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.

 

The Bad

 

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City

Remaining Schedule: vs. BAL, vs. LAC, at SEA, vs. OAK

 

Unfortunately for Mahomes owners, he has one of the worst playoff schedules. All three teams he faces in Weeks 14-16 are in the bottom 10 of fantasy points scored by opposing quarterbacks. The Chargers allow the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and the Ravens and Seahawks allow the sixth- and seventh-fewest. Just for comparison, in leagues with four points per TD pass, those three opponents are third, fourth and fifth in fewest points given up to the position.

 

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Remaining Schedule: at HOU, vs. DAL, vs. NYG, at TEN

 

Luck has had a few great games this season, but overall, he’s been pretty consistent regardless of opponent. He has a tough playoff schedule, however. All three teams he faces in Weeks 14-16 are ranked between sixth and 10th in terms of fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Luck has already faced Houston and threw for 464 yards and four touchdowns in that game back in Week 4. So even with a few tough matchups, he should be safe to start throughout the fantasy playoffs.

 

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Remaining Schedule: at ARI, at BUF, vs. MIN, at GB

 

Hopefully, fantasy owners were not counting on Stafford to get them through the fantasy playoffs. He has one of the worst schedules for quarterbacks. All three teams he faces in Weeks 14-16 are among the five stingiest defenses against quarterbacks in fantasy. This is as tough of a schedule as you get, and two of those games are on the road. In Week 9, when Stafford faced the Vikings, he threw for 199 yards and no touchdowns. Stafford owners should find another option if possible.

 

Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)

 

The Good

 

Denver Broncos
Remaining Schedule: at SF, vs. CLE, at OAK, vs. LAC

 

The Broncos are largely owned (over 80 percent), and they have a good playoff schedule. The 49ers allow the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing DSTs and the Oakland Raiders are third in that respect. The other two games are at home, which bodes well for the Broncos as well. Fantasy owners should hold on to this DST through the playoffs.

 

Detroit Lions

Remaining Schedule: at ARI, at BUF, vs. MIN, at GB

 

The Lions have one of the best playoff schedules for DSTs. Unfortunately, the DST isn’t very good, and often, that bites fantasy owners. However, for those looking to gamble, the Bills allow the most fantasy points and the Cardinals allow the second most  to opposing DSTs. The Vikings are 10th in this respect. The Lions DST was better earlier in the season, but may suffice as an option considering the low (currently under 10 percent) ownership rate.

 

Washington Redskins

Remaining Schedule: vs. NYG, at JAC, at TEN, vs. PHI

 

The Redskins may be in the playoff hunt, but in the first few weeks of the fantasy postseason they are playing teams that have given up on their seasons. The New York Giants are known for turning the ball over, and the Jaguars allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing DSTs. The Titans also are in the top 10 (ninth) for this category. The Redskins are owned in a little more than a third of Yahoo! leagues, which means they should be available for streaming purposes, or longer.

 

The Bad

 

Kansas City Chiefs

Remaining Schedule: vs. BAL, vs. LAC, at SEA, vs. OAK

 

The Kansas City DST is owned in nearly three quarters of fantasy leagues. However, fantasy owners may want to look elsewhere in the playoffs. The matchups against the Ravens and the Chargers, even though they are in Kansas City, are going to be tough ones for the DST. The Chiefs DST has improved as the season has gone on, but shouldn’t be counted on for the fantasy playoffs.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

Remaining Schedule: vs. CIN, at KC, vs. BAL, at DEN

 

Similar to the Chiefs, the Chargers are owned in nearly three quarters of leagues. They had a great stretch of matchups in the middle of the season, but fantasy owners need to let go. While the matchup against the Bengals isn’t a bad one, the games at Kansas City and vs. Baltimore are not good. The Chiefs allow the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing DSTs and the Ravens are 10th. Drop the Chargers and find a new DST.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Remaining Schedule: at OAK, vs. NE, at NO, vs. CIN

The matchup against Oakland is a good one for the Steelers, but then it’s time to drop this DST. New England (fourth fewest) and New Orleans (fewest) aren't kind to opposing DSTs. The Steelers also are just a different at home compared to on the road, which makes that Week 16 matchup in New Orleans even more concerning. Find a new DST.

 

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

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