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2023 Playoff Primer

The Fantasy Football playoffs. What a glorious time of the year. Holidays are in full swing, pumpkin spice is a thing of the past and the NFL Playoffs are upon us. For most leagues, the playoffs begin in Week 14, with the fantasy Super Bowl in Week 17. (Do not have your Super Bowl in Week 18).

But each and every year I hear quips such as “I don’t pay attention to any of that schedule stuff...” or “I’ll worry about it when I get there” or “I have to make the playoffs first”.


On draft day, you should definitely take the NFL schedule into consideration to avoid a bye week quagmire, or to use a tasty playoff matchup as a tiebreaker between two players when you’re on the clock.

Every single season, I see people dreading and lamenting their playoff foes. “Oh my goodness, I finished first place in the regular season but now have awful playoff matchups.” Avoid that now. Be proactive. This is chess; not checkers.

Here we will review four terrific schedules and four terrible playoff schedules to keep on your radar throughout the year.

Best Playoff schedules

New Orleans Saints: The Saints own the NFL easiest schedule by a wide margin, their opponent's winning percentage was a mere .422 last season. Their fantasy playoff schedule is icing on the cake; Home vs the Lions in Week 13, Home vs Carolina Week 14, Home vs the Giants Week 15 ( this in the midst of a seven-game indoor streak ), Week 16 vs the Rams and Week 17 in Tampa who both figure to be long out of the playoff race and shutting down their key starters. All of these matchups bode well for both Derek Carr and the receivers, Chris Olave, Michael Thomas and crew as the Panthers, Lions and Rams were in the top six in yards allowed last season. All of these matchups are against teams that were in the top 12 in receptions to wide receivers in 2022.

Green Bay Packers: Jordan Love’s first year as a full-time starter has gone fairly well. Christian Watson has had a steady year two, Romeo Doubs is emerging as a PPR mainstay, and rookies Jaylon Reed and Luke Musgrave have been a pleasant surprise. Aaron Jones is enjoying another 45-50 target season as the Packers head into an ideal finish; In Detroit Week 12, hosting Kansas City Week 13 and hope for some garbage time points. In East Rutherford to battle the Giants Week 14, hosting a Bucs team in Week 15 that could be in shambles due to life after Brady. Week 16 against a potentially improved Panthers team and a Week 17 division showdown versus the Vikings, who, by all means could, still have one of the league's worst defenses.

Minnesota Vikings: Justin Jefferson has just had a top 3 season by a wide receiver in NFL history. Jordan Addison has been electric in year one, by catching 90 passes thus far. T.J Hockenson has had a tremendous first full season in Minnesota where he is in the upper echelon of Tight Ends. Kirk Cousins is in MVP discussions approaching 5000 yards and 45 touchdowns. The Vikings play SEVEN of their last NINE games indoors, so this NFC North team will be sheltered from the usual late season elements. A Week 13 bye will be a fantastic breather for what's to come; Week 14 versus the Raiders in Las Vegas, Week 15 in Cincinnati which could be an epic shootout, then the Lions and Packers both at home. Bake in the possibility that the Vikings defense is still bad, there could be some games where the Vikings have to score a lot to keep pace. Every Viking offensive player is a must start in this time of year.

Chicago Bears: Yes, there's a trend; The NFC North has a tremendous end to their season, which you should take full advantage of during your fantasy postseason. A Week 13 bye will give the bears some much needed hibernation (corny but necessary), leading them into this finish;

Detroit at Home

At Cleveland

Cardinals at home

Falcons at home

Three home games in the treacherous Solider Field could be just what the doctor ordered. The Lions are a dome team, and the Cardinals and Falcons are also not only dome teams, but also a candidate to be out of the playoffs and already looking ahead to 2024 by this point in the season. Any and all of your Bears are a start at this point.

Worst Post season Schedules:

New York Giants: Holy cow. Hopefully you’ve sold Saquon Barkley and Darren Waller by now because you won't want anything to do with them come Weeks 14-17. A Week 13 bye messes up any chances if you must win that week to make it in the postseason. And then;

Home vs Green Bay, at New Orleans, at Philadelphia, Home vs Rams.

The Green Bay Packers intercepted the fourth most passes in 2022 and allowed the third fewest completions to opposing quarterbacks.

The New Orleans Saints allowed the fifth fewest completions, third fewest passing touchdowns and second fewest net yards per pass attempt.

Daniel Jones has only played in Philadelphia once. A 20/30 187-yard 2 touchdown game in 2020. The Eagles secondary allowed the fewest passing yards and hauled in the 5th most interceptions in 2022. The defenses they face at this stage in the season could be too much to overcome in your fantasy post season.

Washington Commanders: As with their NFC East brethren, Washington is a bad idea to pivot for your fantasy playoff life. A Week 13 matchup vs the Dolphins could be advantageous for the run game, but a Week 14 Bye takes stars like Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson out of your lineup. To end their season; a road game traveling across country to against Aaron Donald and the Rams, a trip to the Meadowlands to face Sauce Gardiner and the Jets. Home versus potentially the league's best defense in San Francisco in Week 17. This screams of “all hands-off deck” and moving any and all Commanders to the sidelines for this stretch of games.

Kansas City Chiefs. Yes, I said it. The Chiefs fantasy playoff schedule is not ideal. First of all, their opponents; Week 13 at Green Bay. Week 14 at home hosting the Bills. Week 15 in New England to face Bill Belichek , Week 16 at home hosting the Raiders and Week 17 at home hosting the Cincinatti Bengals. You’ve got strong defenses, strong offenses, the elements. Look at those wintry elements;

At Lambeau Field

A frigid Arrowhead vs Buffalo

A cold Foxboro vs New England

Two more potentially icy mixes versus the Raiders and Bengals in Arrowhead.

Second... do we know the state of the Chiefs offense? Do any of the receivers hit? Can any of the running backs handle the workload? We won't know any of this on draft day, but as the season progresses, the Chiefs offensive options may not be the league winners’ we’ve grown accustomed to. Second, we all know the Chiefs will be leading the division and in position to rest starters. How early do they choose to rest players like Kelce? I get it, you’re going to want a slice of the Chiefs fantasy football pie; temper your expectations come playoff time.

Los Angeles Rams: This team’s fate could be sealed early on, depending on the health of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. Even worse, is their playoff matchups; Week 13 hosting the Cleveland Browns. Week 14 in Baltimore to face the Ravens, Week 15 hosting the Commanders, hosting the Saints in Week 16 and then flying all the way to East Rutherford to play the Giants in Week 17. The Commanders, Saints, Browns and Ravens all were in the bottom five of touchdowns allowed in 2022. Washington, New Orleans and Cleveland were in the bottom five of completions by quarterbacks. If Stafford, Kupp and Cam Akers have lasted this long, it is a miracle in itself. The Rams are devoid of play makers on both sides of the ball and are starting an early pick in the 2024 NFL Draft square in the face. Kupp, Akers and Stafford have a significant ADP heading into the year, don’t be tricked into being able to rely on them with your season on the line.

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