Strength of Schedule: Best and Worst Matchups

Jack Delaney uses SCOUT Fantasy's Strength of Schedule tool to determine which players have the best and worst matchups this Fantasy Football season.

Successful daily fantasy football players thrive on finding the right scheduling opportunities to take advantage of, but you can also use schedule strength to help you in your season-long preparation.

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A defensive unit is obviously going to mutate from year to year, but it’s also very difficult to make a poor defense turn into a mediocre defense or an excellent defense in just one season. It’s also not likely that the Seattle Seahawks will turn into the Jacksonville Jaguars this year and vice versa, so you can use information from last season to create a gauge on a player or team’s strength of schedule for this year.

Let’s take a look at SCOUT’s 2015 Fantasy Strength of Schedule and how this can help aid your draft decisions.

Quarterbacks

Best Schedule: Jameis Winston

It helps Winston that he finds himself with massive weapons like Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans in his rookie year, but you can’t discount how a softer schedule may aid the rookie quarterback in providing quick fantasy production.

He has six favorable games in the NFC South, but he also has the chance to finish with a lot of passing attempts to stay in the game against offensive powerhouses. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts in Weeks 12-13, which is also the time most fantasy players are trying to lock down a spot in their fantasy playoffs.

Worst Schedule: Ben Roethlisberger

You can buy a premium pass to see my thoughts on why Roethlisberger may not live up to expectations in 2015, but having a tough schedule only strengthens my argument.

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Big Ben will have to start the season without Le’Veon Bell’s ability to create a balanced attack, and it could take the Pittsburgh Steelers a few games to get into a groove. Pittsburgh’s defense will have a hard time containing the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, and matchups with the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are always hard-fought contests.

Running Backs

Best Schedule: Jonathan Stewart

Stewart has a great opportunity to make Fantasy owners very happy with no competition to start the season. DeAngelo Williams is now a member of the Steelers, and a healthy Stewart is capable of lighting up your fantasy scoreboard.

Stewart’s last 16-game season was in 2011, however, so adding handcuff Cameron Artis-Payne is a wise investment. Just like Winston, Stewart benefits from playing NFC South foes in six games.

Worst Schedule: Jeremy Hill/ Giovani Bernard

The Bengals appeared to find a sweet spot towards the end of the season in regards to the workload distribution between Hill and Bernard, but the back part of the Bengal’s schedule will prove extremely difficult in 2015.

Cincinnati faces three NFC West teams, the Broncos and three divisional opponents between Weeks 11-17. You aren’t going to avoid Hill or Bernard because of the tough schedule, but keep it in mind for your playoffs.

Wide Receivers

Best Schedule: Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans

This NFC South guys just keep piling up on the list. Jackson and Evans recorded 1,000-yard seasons with the quarterback combination of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon, so Winston offers a nice upgrade even if he is a rookie.

Winston will just stand in the pocket and pass all day, and Evans has already mentioned how it will be a nice change of pace from his time with Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M.

Worst Schedule: Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant

Winston stacked up with his wide receivers, so it makes sense that Roethlisberger’s receivers would also face a difficult schedule.

Brown is still a first-round pick, and Bryant may be on the verge of a big season. These guys should be on your rosters if you have a chance to snag them, but just remember that the Steelers will not have a walk in the park in 2015.

Tight Ends

Best Schedule: Jared Cook

Probably hearing the words Cook and best schedule already gave you a headache, but at least the big tight end has an upgrade at the quarterback position with Nick Foles running the show.

This is where scheduling may not matter for fantasy success, but Cook could be utilized as a streaming option in a favorable matchup.

Worst Schedule: Delanie Walker

Even if he doesn’t have a friendly schedule for tight ends, I’m still buying into Walker. I reviewed how much rookie quarterbacks relied on their tight ends in year one, and it appeared that mobile quarterbacks had an affinity for connecting with their big-pass catchers.

Walker does not face any competition, so I am buying into him as an undervalued player.

If you’re preparing for your 2015 fantasy football draft, it appears that you could stack a few players in the NFC South to make a few nice pairings. This isn’t a tool that can predict the future, but it’s an additional research material in your arsenal to try and find an edge against your opponents.

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