Strength of Schedule Targets

Updated: November 25th 2021

With the fantasy regular season nearing the end in most RSO leagues, owners with competitive teams need to begin thinking about reinforcing their squads for the final push into the playoffs.  Below I lay out a few NFL teams with particularly favorable offensive schedules for the rest of season or in the fantasy playoffs (weeks 15-17).  Many of the players on these teams may not be considered must start options at this point.  Not all teams have notably great offenses, but RSO owners should at least entertain obtaining certain players from each team based on the schedule ahead.  Players in the final year of the contract make easier trade targets from teams out of the playoff picture.

Efficiency Strength of Schedule

The following graph shows projected strength of schedule ranks of passing vs rushing for weeks 11 to 17 from Sharp Football Stats.  Upward and toward the right indicate easier projected schedules.

High-End Passing Offenses

Dallas has put up the fourth most passing yards per game with third highest yards per attempt so far this year and get Michael Gallup back soon.  They have a great end of season schedule featuring three great matchups from week 14 to 16 against fellow NFC East Washington (twice) and the Giants.  Prescott, Lamb, and Cooper all have enormous potential to end the league year.

The Bengals don’t have the high end matchups to finish the year but also don’t have much in the way of “avoid” games either.  Cincinnati is one of the highest volume passing offenses in the NFL ranking 7th in attempts despite playing only 9 games.  Burrow, Chase, and Higgins make for high-cost acquisition targets while Boyd and Uzomah could be nice cheaper pieces for weekly matchups.

Lower-Tier Passing Options

Philadelphia’s end of year schedule is spectacular with two games against Washington and the Giants plus another game against bottom-feeder Jets.  The Eagles transformed into a run-heavy offense but with a passing-attack that should highly concentrate targets between rookie wide receiver Smith and newly-extended Dallas Goedert at tight end.

Las Vegas’ year turned to complete turmoil the last few weeks with loss of head coach Jon Gruden and speedster Henry Ruggs but have one of the best schedules from weeks 13 to 17 and many games which could turn into shootouts.  There is considerable volatility with the potential for many shoot-out games or complete dysfunction on the part of the Raiders.  The loss of Ruggs should firm up target share for tight Darren Waller and slot specialist Hunter Renfrow down the stretch.

San Francisco exists at the polar opposite ends of the volume/efficiency passing metrics for a run-heavy offense.  The 49ers average the fifth highest yards per attempt with the fourth fewest passing attempts.  The next five weeks include games against Jacksonville, Seattle, and Atlanta.  Set the wheels up for George Kittle and Deebo Samuel while Jimmy Garoppolo sits as a weekly streaming option for as long as San Francisco is in contention.  Rookie quarterback Trey Lance would instantly become a starting fantasy quarterback option if he eventually starts but would be scary for the pass catchers.

While Houston and Cleveland have excellent end of year schedules, the state of both offenses make it difficult to trust many of the players.  Brandin Cooks should continue garnering a boatload of targets and Tyrod Taylor has superflex streaming appeal for Houston.

Rushing Offenses

We should note running back fantasy production, in particular, is massively volume –driven and efficiency only plays a minor part.  That means game script and roles mean a lot more than the quality of run defenses faced.

The Denver Broncos play a host of games down the stretch against defenses susceptible to the run and prefer a run-heavy approach instead of Teddy Bridgewater leading the way.  Melvin Gordon and rookie Javonte Williams have both shown well this season with a near 50-50 split in touches but it is the rookie shining, breaking tackles at a ridiculous pace.  The real question is if they are able to maintain the run-script playing the likes of Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Arizona.  Either way, big games are possible for each against these poor rushing defenses. Gordon or Williams instantly becomes an RB1 if the other is injured or other-wise unable to go at some point down the stretch.

Chicago similarly has an outstanding schedule for running backs with games against each of the NFC North teams and the Giants in week 17.  The switch to Justin Fields may help the rushing game as mobile quarterbacks have been shown to increase the output of running backs.  David Montgomery could play a big role over the next two months for fantasy players.

Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

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