When looking at the fantasy playoffs, one of the keys is the schedule. While rosters may be set by now, plenty of teams are still looking at the waiver wire. Many owners still have tough start/sit decisions to make. The deciding factor may just be schedule.
In addition, if fantasy owners have a bye in Week 14, they can start preparing for Weeks 15 and 16. Some schedule analysis for quarterbacks and defense/special teams (DSTs) can be found below.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Remaining schedule: at ARI, at SF, vs. LAR, vs. JAC
The Arizona Cardinals actually allow the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Even though the thought of Patrick Peterson is daunting for wide receivers, quarterbacks find the other receiver and still rack up fantasy points. The matchup against the Rams is a tough one, so Mariota owners have two good matchups, but they may want to find other options for Week 16 (and Week 17 if you're still playing into that week).
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Remaining schedule: vs. SEA, vs. HOU, at SF, at TEN
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a tough Week 14 matchup, however Bortles has a great schedule for Weeks 15 and 16. He faces two teams that are allowing plenty of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Over the past five weeks, San Francisco hasn't allowed more than 30 fantasy points to an opposing quarterback, but in six of the last seven games, they have given up at least two touchdown passes. The Houston Texans have allowed 13 TD passes in the past six games alone.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Remaining schedule: vs. BAL, vs. NE, at HOU, vs. CLE
Setting aside Week 14 (the Baltimore Ravens allow the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks), Roethlisberger's playoff schedule is great. Weeks 15-17 are matchups that are very favorable to opposing quarterbacks. The Texans allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and that's Big Ben's Week 16 matchup. Roethlisberger may just win fantasy owners a championship.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Remaining schedule: at JAC, vs. LAR, at DAL, (vs. ARI)
In looking at Wilson's schedule, his Week 14 and 15 matchups are tough. He faces the Jaguars and Rams, both who are in the bottom five in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. While Wilson just had a great game against the Eagles at home, he has a tough playoff schedule ahead of him. Fantasy owners are likely not going to bench him, but keep in mind he may not throw for three touchdowns again.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Remaining schedule: at MIA, at PIT, vs. BUF, vs. NYJ
Brady owners were certainly disappointed with his Week 13 performance at Buffalo. The schedule doesn't get much better for Brady in the fantasy playoffs either. He faces a Miami defense without Rob Gronkowski, as the Dolphins are coming off a game in which they harassed Trevor Siemian into three picks and no touchdowns. While Brady is certainly better than Siemian, he then faces the Steelers and Bills again, a pair of tough matchups for opposing quarterbacks.
Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts
Remaining schedule: at BUF, vs. DEN, at BAL, vs. HOU
Most fantasy owners in the playoffs are not using Brissett for their championship push. However, if he was on fantasy rosters, now would be a good time to drop him. Buffalo and Baltimore are in the bottom five in terms of fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks. In two of the past three weeks, the Ravens have held QBs to fewer than 10 fantasy points. Don't count on Brissett in the playoffs.
Defense Special/Teams (DST)
Remaining schedule: vs. IND, vs. MIA, at NE, at MIA
The Colts and the Dolphins are both in the top five in terms of fantasy points scored by to opposing DSTs. The Bills’ defense isn't phenomenal, but the schedule allows them to be a nice streaming option for three of the remaining four weeks of the season. The Patriots are a tough matchup, so the Bills would not be recommended for Week 16.
Remaining schedule: at PIT, at CLE, vs. IND, vs. CIN
The Ravens DST is 90 percent owned, so owners should feel confident starting their DST for the fantasy playoffs. The matchup against the Steelers isn't the best, but it certainly isn't terrible. The matchups against the Browns (who allow the most fantasy points to opposing DSTs) and the Colts however are great, and will hopefully win those who have the Ravens DST a championship.
Remaining schedule: at JAC, vs. LAR, at DAL, vs. ARI
On draft day, many teams took the Seahawks DST early. However, this DST isn't going to have an easy time in the playoffs. The Jacksonville Jaguars will play tough, and that's not an easy matchup. The Rams are in the bottom five in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing DSTs. Over the past five weeks, the Cowboys have allowed more than 20 points to opposing DSTs three times, and less than 10 twice.
Los Angeles Chargers
Remaining schedule: vs. WAS, at KC, at NYJ, vs. OAK
The Chargers were a trendy add for Week 13, when they faced the Cleveland Browns. However, the remaining schedule is rough. In two of the past five weeks, the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets have held opposing DSTs to single-digit fantasy points. The Kansas City Chiefs are in the bottom five in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing DSTs. The Chargers can go back to the waiver wire for the fantasy playoffs.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.