As we often say, talent outweighs everything, so you shouldn’t put too much stock into the schedule when drafting a fantasy squad. That doesn’t mean the schedule should be ignored, though, and there are factors to consider. Below are the teams/players most impacted and some interesting general takeaways.
Week 17 correlation
The primary discussion around the schedule from a fantasy football perspective now seems to center around best ball formats, as those in large tournaments (such as Best Ball Mania IV) will want a monster stack to increase their odds of winning it all. Bengals-Chiefs is the big game on the Week 17 slate that people will want a piece of, but don’t sleep on Raiders-Colts as an undervalued option because of the star power of Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, Jonathan Taylor, and perhaps rookie Anthony Richardson. Another game that jumps out to us is 49ers-Commanders.
Week 14 bye weeks
Anyone hoping to have the NFL change the schedules to make sure there are no byes in Week 14 were disappointed, so leagues will have to decide how they want to play it out—we’d highly recommend not starting the fantasy playoffs until Week 15 to avoid bye weeks coming into play. This year, there are at least only two teams not playing in Week 14 (Arizona and Washington), but commissioners still need to determine how to break up the fantasy playoffs in leagues where more than four teams make it.
Still the King
There are reasons to be concerned about the Titans with the team finishing last year at 7-10 and the rest of the AFC South perhaps improving—possibly making Derrick Henry a risky fantasy investment early in the first round. Fortunately, the season-long slate appears to set up very favorably for Tennessee both in terms of stinginess of opponents and general strength of schedule. In particular, we’d be excited about how Week 15 through Week 17 could position King Henry for another monster end-of-season run with two matchups versus Houston sandwiching a game against Seattle (both defenses ranked in the bottom three versus the run in 2022).
Delayed lift-off for the Jets
Again, we don’t want to overreact to the NFL schedule, but the difficult start to the season for New York is notable with a bunch of top-tier pass defenses (v BUF, @ DAL, v NE, v KC, @ DEN, v PHI) coming before their Week 7 bye. The Chiefs would appear to be the only favorable matchup to begin the year, and Aaron Rodgers has started slowly in three of the past four seasons. If nothing else, it might be worth thinking about another streaming option to pair with Rodgers early in the campaign.
Stay out of the water
The Dolphins hiring Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator will be an automatic boost to their unit, but the drafting of South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith elevates the secondary in a big way as the rookie pairs with Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey. All three cornerbacks are extremely confident and physical, so Miami might be a new no-fly zone on the backend—something to monitor for those that might be peaking ahead to the fantasy playoffs where potential QB1 options Aaron Rodgers (Week 15), Dak Prescott (Week 16), and Lamar Jackson (Week 17) will have tough draws if the group lives up to expectations.