I had heard the concept before but I actually realized its power from “The League”. Taking players based on their schedule and match ups over the course of the season will often result in a better performance, yet so rarely do people tend to actually take advantage of this tool. Last year was the first year I implemented this into my team, however I did not do this from the outset of the season, I actually used it to pick up certain defenses come playoff time so that I wouldn’t be stuck in the waiver claim frenzy every week. However, depending on your goals for the season it wouldn’t be difficult to use it from draft night.
Scout.com has produced an incredible table that you can organize based on what weeks you want to see the strength of schedule for. I highly recommend that you use this to draft according to your goals for this season. I use this on a standard 13 week regular season with two rounds of two week match ups as playoffs (ESPN standard). It works quite similarly to if you stop after week 17 due to stars not playing in week 17. In this article I will only address the playoff situation in depth but will layout a table with some basics that you can use. I have broken down the season into pieces so that you can consider trading pieces around with people who don’t know about the match ups through the season.
This table is based solely on match ups, I will then break down the playoffs by combining the match ups with skill levels. Kickers are not discussed because there isn’t a huge correlation with the match up for them.
|Whole Year||Teddy Bridgwater||Jonathan Stewart/Christian McCaffrey||Doug Baldwin/Seattle Receivers||Whoever wins Ravens starting job||49ers|
|Reg. Season||Teddy Bridgewater||Jonathan Stewart/Christian McCaffrey||Cameron Meredith||Jesse James||Jaguars|
|Wks. 1-5||Russell Wilson||Jonathan Stewart/Christian McCaffrey||Doug Baldwin/Seattle Receivers||Charles Clay||49ers|
|Wks. 6-10||Teddy Bridgewater||Ezekiel Elliott||Cameron Meredith||Delaine Walker||Jaguars|
|Wks. 11-15||Jameis Winston||DeMarco Murray||Mike Evans/DeSean Jackson/Adam Humphries||Virgil Green||Saints|
|Wks. 16-17||Cam Newton||Ravens RBs||Kelvin Benjamin/Devin Funchess||Whoever wins Ravens starting job||49ers|
As you can tell, specifically from the defensive units, these are not always the best choices. All 3 of the teams that won spots as the defensive unit with the best match up that week are teams with poor defenses, defenses that are retooling, or part of teams with horrid offenses that won’t let them rest very much.
So, I am going to account for this and produce a list that works for the playoffs. I suggest that during the regular season, unless you get the Broncos or Seahawks defense in the draft, you just play it week to week with your defense checking match ups for the next week.
Here are Weeks 14-17 in depth:
Quarterback: Here, the NFC South takes 4 of the top 5 spots in the order of Jameis Winston, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, then Matt Ryan. I think that any of these four will be ideal to quarterback your team through the playoffs to a championship. Not much to discuss here, although I may move Matt Ryan up above Cam Newton solely due to the weapons he has but at this point in the season we should see how each is performing.
Running Back: Lamar Miller, Ravens Running Backs, Falcons Running Backs, Saints Running Backs, Jets Running Backs. Lamar Miller remains a good choice, as do DeVonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman of the Falcons. However, the Ravens have a questionable offensive line so only Danny Woodhead may be usable from there. The Saints running backs, as discussed in our Boom or Bust Article, can go off any week and may be tricky to predict but worth the risk if you are down going into the second week of a playoff match up. Jets running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell are not worth it here. Their great match up is deceiving as the team also has the worst match ups against the quarterback and receiver positions these weeks. Given the talent, or lack thereof, that the Jets have at those positions, these teams should be able to commit more resources to stopping the run, avoid the Jets running backs at all costs.
Wide Receiver: The top two teams here are must stays, Tampa Bay and Atlanta trot out elite quarterback and receiver combinations that will help in the post season. However, not knowing much about the Miami and Cleveland combinations, I would avoid these two despite their high rankings. Don’t ignore the fact that within the top 10 we also have the talented receiving corps of the Giants and Saints.
Tight End: Zach Miller, Kyle Rudolph, the Ravens mess at TE, Martellus Bennett, Cameron Brate. All are viable options outside of the Ravens who are trying to recover from having too many injured tight ends last season. However, watch Zach Miller within the first few weeks of the seasons as he may end up sharing many snaps with Dion Sims.
D/ST: Defensive match ups can almost always turn an average defense into an elite one. Do not mess with this list too much, it has been adjusted in advance for horrible defenses. Titans, Seahawks, Redskins, Falcons.
Hopefully these scheduling tips will help you make some draft day decisions. Look to add these players as the season moves on and capitalize on the best times to use them. I traditionally have liked to only use this in the playoffs because I think it all evens out over the course of the season, however the numbers say otherwise so I suggest that I as well as you change that for this season.
Cover photo courtesy of Daily Snark