Fantasy Football 2018: Playoff Schedule Analysis for RB, WR, TE

Gus Edwards should help fantasy owners win a championship

Now that it's fantasy football playoff time, matchups become even more important as owners need to make sure the most production from their running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. While it's not uncommon to stream defense/special teams (DST) or alternate quarterbacks, even in the playoffs, that's not really the best strategy to employ with your RBs or WRs. Now more than ever, starting the right one is critical.

 

For this exercise, PPR scoring was applied. Please note that this analysis may not directly correlate with standard or modified (0.5 points per reception) scoring.

 

Running Backs

 

The Good

 

Baltimore Ravens

Remaining schedule: at KC, vs. TB, at LAC, vs. CLE

 

Gus Edwards was a waiver wire pickup after he had a big game in Week 11. He had another 100-yard game in Week 12. Week 13 wasn’t as great, but he has great matchups at Kansas City and vs. Tampa Bay the next two weeks. The Chiefs allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and the Bucs are fifth in that distinction. Alex Collins is on injured reserve, so this is Edwards’ backfield. If he’s still available, pick him up.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

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

 

The Chargers have a great schedule for their running backs in Weeks 14 and 15. Week 16 against Baltimore, however, is going to be tough. The Bengals and Chiefs are first and second in most fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. The Ravens are on the opposite end of the spectrum and have given up the fewest. Justin Jackson was the better running back in Week 13 (over Austin Ekeler), but Melvin Gordon should be back sooner rather than later. If he's active, Gordon is a great start in Week 15, but is going to be tough for fantasy owners to trust in Week 16.

 

The Bad

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Remaining schedule: vs. NO, at BAL, at DAL, vs. ATL

 

Peyton Barber has scored touchdowns in the past three games. However, the Ravens allow the fewest points to opposing running backs. The Saints allow the third-fewest and the Cowboys aren't too far behind (eighth). If your league plays into Week 17, the Falcons are a great matchup for Barber, but he has a tough stretch before then.

 

Washington Redskins

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

 

Adrian Peterson had an amazing 90-yard TD run in Week 13. However, he didn’t really do much else besides that as he ended the game with 98 rushing yards. And unfortunately for him, his playoff schedule doesn't look that promising. He also has Chris Thompson to compete with for touches. The Jaguars and the Titans are both in the bottom five in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.

 

Wide Receivers

 

The Good

 

Carolina Panthers

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

The positive is that the Panthers have a great schedule for their wide receivers. The Saints are allowing the most fantasy points to the position. The Browns also are a great matchup. However, it's tough to figure out which Carolina target to trust. Devin Funchess should see an increase in targets with Greg Olsen out. However, Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore are going to remain part of the game plan. At least one will have a great game in Weeks 15 and 17, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who.

 

Houston Texans

Remaining schedule: vs. IND, at NYJ, at PHI, vs. JAC

 

Fantasy owners are clearly going to start DeAndre Hopkins regardless of matchup, but they should feel more confident because of the schedule. Demaryius Thomas also has made an impact since coming over via trade. In Weeks 15 and 16, both wide receivers have great matchups. The Jets and the Eagles are in the top four in terms of most fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers.

 

Dallas Cowboys

Remaining schedule: vs. PHI, at IND, vs. TB, at NYG

 

In the past two weeks, Amari Cooper has had eight receptions in each game. He seems to have found a groove with Dak Prescott. After his 180-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 12, he did come back to earth a bit in Week 13. However, his playoff schedule is great. The matchups against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay are good ones. Both teams are in the top three in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers.

 

The Bad

 

Miami Dolphins

Remaining schedule: vs. NE, at MIN, vs. JAC, at BUF

 

The Dolphins face the Vikings and Jaguars in the final two weeks of the fantasy playoffs. Both of these teams are in the bottom six in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers. While not many people are starting Danny Amendola (who has been hurt), DeVante Parker or Kenny Stills, they shouldn’t be fantasy options to win championships.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Remaining schedule: vs. NO, at BAL, at DAL, vs. ATL

 

With DeSean Jackson on the shelf for possibly the rest of the season, Chris Godwin has been a big name on the waiver wire. He and Mike Evans have done well even with Jameis Winston at quarterback. However, the playoff schedule is tough for the wideouts. The matchup against the Saints is good, but Baltimore and Dallas are the top two teams when it comes to shutting down opposing wide receivers in fantasy.

 

Detroit Lions

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

 

Marvin Jones Jr. went on injured reserve, which meant that Kenny Golladay had his chance to shine. However, in the past two weeks, Golladay has eight receptions for 140 yards after an excellent Week 11. The schedule doesn't get any easier either with both the Bills and Vikings being very tough on opposing wide receivers this season.

 

Tight Ends

 

The Good

 

Cleveland Browns

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

 

In Week 13, David Njoku had a tough game. Fantasy owners were a little disappointed with his three-catch, eight-yard effort. However, if fantasy owners made it to the playoffs in spite of Njoku, his schedule is great. Carolina and Cincinnati are both in the top five for fantasy points allowed to tight ends. With the tight end landscape as barren as it is, it may not be that hart to trust Njoku.

 

New Orleans Saints

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

 

In the past four games, Benjamin Watson has two receptions for 21 yards. Even though the Saints' schedule is great for tight ends (Tampa Bay and Carolina are both in the top five in fantasy points allowed to opposing TEs, Steelers are in the top 10), it’s going to be hard to trust any Saints tight end in the fantasy playoffs.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

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

 

If fantasy owners want to take a chance on Antonio Gates, he has a great schedule for the fantasy playoffs. However, this is not a recommended streaming option, even if the tight end position is a wasteland as Gates has been inconsistent at best and also has had three games in which he didn't record a single catch.

 

Note: The Baltimore Ravens also have a great schedule for tight ends, but they don’t have any tight ends that are really fantasy relevant.

 

The Bad

 

Houston Texans

Remaining schedule: vs. IND, at NYJ, at PHI, vs. JAC

 

Simply put, the Texans have one of the worst schedules for opposing tight ends. The Jets and the Eagles have been very stingy to the position. Ryan Griffin and Jordan Thomas have had success at times, but neither should be considered in fantasy leagues during the playoffs.

 

Los Angeles Rams

Remaining schedule: at CHI, vs. PHI, at ARI, SF

 

Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett aren’t owned by many fantasy owners in the first place, but they are options in two-TE leagues. Unfortunately their schedule is tough for the fantasy playoffs. The games in Weeks 14-16 are against teams that are in the bottom 10 in terms of most fantasy points allowed to the position.

 

— 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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