How many times have you drafted the perfect fantasy football team, only to have your team hit a wall in the playoffs because your players’ real-life teams face stiff competition in the NFL’s Weeks 14-16?
After you’ve picked your perfect fantasy football team name and start preparing for your fantasy football draft, you’ll want to pay some attention to each player’s NFL schedule during your league’s playoffs.
Here are our predictions for players whose schedules during that period of time should help you achieve your goal of bringing home the championship.
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans
Schaub isn’t the greatest option at quarterback, given the Texans’ run-first offense, but Houston has a creampuff schedule over the final three weeks of most fantasy football seasons: at New England and at home against Indianapolis and Minnesota.
The Patriots had the second-worst pass defense in the NFL last season, and the potent New England offense will likely force Houston to throw a lot to keep pace. The Colts’ pass defense figures to be a sieve this year, and Minnesota’s was 7th-worst in the league in 2011.
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams
Jackson’s Rams face Buffalo on the road, Minnesota at home, and Tampa Bay on the road in Weeks 14-16. The Bills’ run defense was fifth-worst in the NFL last year, the Colts’ was fourth-worst, and the Buccaneers’ was dead last.
Just make sure you handcuff Jackson with Isaiah Pead to protect your investment.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears
As you might expect from Schaub’s name above, Texans WR Andre Johnson has a fantastic schedule during the fantasy football playoffs. But so does Marshall, whose Bears travel to Minnesota, host Green Bay, and travel to Arizona.
We’ve already established that the Vikings defense is not good. Green Bay’s pass defense was actually the worst in the NFL, plus Chicago will likely be required to pass a lot to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and Company. The Cardinals defense was mediocre at best. Marshall could have room to work against these three teams.
Jared Cook, TE, Tennessee Titans
Trusting Cook as your fantasy football team’s TE1 is a reach, but the Titans do have a schedule during the playoffs that makes Cook an interesting stash option if you have the roster space. They face the Colts in Indianapolis, the Jets at home, and the Packers on the road.
Last season, the Colts, Jets, and Packers allowed the 13th-most, the 12th-most, and the second-most fantasy points to tight ends, respectively.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense
The Eagles are already an attractive fantasy football team defense, given their propensity to cause turnovers, but their schedule in Weeks 14-16 should put them squarely on your pre-draft radar. They’re on the road at Tampa Bay and at home against Cincinnati and Washington.
Tampa Bay threw 24 interceptions and lost 16 fumbles last year—both of which were second-worst in the league. Combined, the 40 turnovers were worst in the NFL. The Bengals are good about protecting the ball, but they’re in the lower half of the league in points scored and yards gained. And Washington, of course, will have a rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III.