The Best and Worst Schedule-Adjusted Playoff Slates

By C.D. Carter (4for4 Contributor), on Dec 5, 2013

C.D. Carter's picture

C.D. is a journalist and writer specializing in quarterback streaming. Carter's work has been featured in the New York Times Fifth Down blog, and he was nominated for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's 2012 newcomer of the year award. He's the author of "How To Think Like a Fantasy Football Winner."

Follow C.D. Carter on Twitter: @CDCarter13.

Dive head first into the deluge of data, fellow fantasy footballers.

We’ve benefited all year from 4for4’s brutally accurate schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed chart, offering us a clear view of which defenses are generous to quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.

We enter the fantasy playoffs with a glut of data from which to make our most important lineup decisions. If you trust the numbers – and you should – you have an instant and significant edge on your competitors, who, at best, are using points-against data that hasn’t been adjusted for strength of schedule.

In your league mates’ research, 23 points given up to Joe Flacco is the same as 23 points allowed to Peyton Manning. We know this to be untrue.

I can’t think of a better time to examine which players have the tastiest fantasy playoff schedules, and which guys face a veritable murderer’s row through the next three weeks.



Carson Palmer (ARI)
Week 14: vs. STL
Week 15: at TEN
Week 16: at SEA

Palmer couldn’t ask for a more hideous playoff schedule. His easiest matchup is this week against a Rams’ secondary giving up the fifth fewest fantasy points to enemy signal callers.

He’ll roll into Week 16 to face a Seattle defense allowing just 11.1 schedule-adjusted points to quarterbacks. Palmer will also get a taste of the NFL’s most hostile environment on fantasy championship Sunday.

Don’t roll with old Carson just because he got you through November.

Andy Dalton (CIN)
Week 14: vs. IND
Week 15: at PIT
Week 16: vs. MIN

Dalton is going to win fantasy footballers a few titles this year. He gets the distinct honor of facing the indescribably terrible Minnesota secondary that now allows 22.6 schedule-adjusted points to quarterbacks. That makes Dalton a perfect stash for Quarterback By Waiver Wire (QBBWW) adherents.

Everyone’s favorite ginger also gets the Steelers’ crumbling, aged, ragged secondary in Week 15. Only eight teams are more generous to signal callers.


Running backs

Andre Brown (NYG)
Week 14: at SD
Week 15: vs. SEA
Week 16: at DET

Brown owners should relish in his Week 14 matchup against the Chargers. It gets ugly after that.

I don’t think you can sit Brown unless you’re blessed with never-before-seen running back depth, but beware his Weeks 15 and 16 nightmare matchups against the Seahawks and Lions. Detroit, for one, is giving up an astoundingly low 14.7 points per game to runners – the lowest in the league.

Opposing running backs have cracked the 60-yard mark just once in the Lions’ past seven contests. You read that right: once.

C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson (BUF)
Week 14: at TB
Week 15: at JAX
Week 16: vs. MIA

The Bills’ runners have the sort of fantasy playoff schedule you pray for when you’re making deals with various deities before your drafts in August.

Tampa is a top-10 unit in schedule-adjusted points allowed to backs, but it’s Weeks 15 and 16 that make us salivate. The Dolphins and Jaguars are the seventh and eighth most generous defenses to running backs.

Jacksonville, while vastly improved in rush defense since being shredded time and again in September and October, should still be a target for owners. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have been gouged to the beautiful tune of 124.5 rushing yards per game over the past five.

Spiller and Jackson are is a rare backfield combination that can be played together in the waning weeks of the 2013 campaign.


Wide Receivers

Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd (ARI)
Week 14: vs. STL
Week 15 : at TEN
Week 16: at SEA

The late-season Palmer downgrade naturally applies to the guys catching his passes. Floyd and Fitzgerald, after putting up frighteningly similar numbers over the past month, finish the season with two of the worst matchups a fantasy owner could have. Tennessee, thanks to their shutdown cornerbacks and soft front seven that encourages teams to run and run often, has allowed fewer schedule-adjusted points to receivers than any team in the league.

Probably you can’t bench either guy. Just temper your expectations.

Torrey Smith (BAL)
Week 14: vs. MIN
Week 15: at DET
Week 16: vs. NE

Smith, fantasy’s 16th highest scoring wide receiver through 13 weeks, gets the most favorable playoff schedule of any No. 1 pass catcher in the NFL. Minnesota, as we know, is a sieve against most skill positions, and Detroit has allowed some of the biggest receiver stat lines of 2013.

The Lions’ secondary allowed 14 receptions to Steelers’ receivers in Week 11, just a week after permitting 18 catches by Chicago wideouts in Week 10.

The Patriots are middle of the road in adjusted fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, but they’ve shown that their secondary is exploitable, especially to high-end pass catchers like Smith.  

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