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Strength of schedule in the NFL can be the difference between a winning season and not making the playoffs in any given season. It's also paramount when it comes to putting together a quality fantasy football team.
And with the NFL's release of its 2019 schedule, we get our first hint of which players to potentially avoid and which to target.
With the Oakland Raiders coming in with the hardest strength of schedule, according to Pro Football Focus, that could hint at fantasy owners proceeding with caution when potentially selecting players like Derek Carr and even perennial fantasy stud Antonio Brown in the early rounds of drafts.
Not only do the Raiders play in the AFC West, with Super Bowl contenders like the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, but they also face the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans and Chicago Bears. Those stout defenses are usually ones to avoid playing against in fantasy, meaning Brown might not live up to his WR1 ranking this season.
The Chiefs are also toward the top when it comes to hardest strength of schedule, but when you have the reigning NFL MVP in Patrick Mahomes under center, it's probably a good bet that the team's skill-position players will maintain their fantasy production.
As if the New England Patriots needed any more help, Tom Brady and Co. have one of the easiest schedules, according to PFF. Not only do they get their yearly dose of AFC East rivals, who all project to be sub .500 teams, but they also get the Cincinnati Bengals, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins.
Easiest 2019 NFL schedules, based on their opponents win % from last season:— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) April 18, 2019
Redskins - .469
Patriots - .473
Rams - .473
Giants - .473
Jets - .473
Bengals - .473
Eagles - .477
Seahawks - .479
Bills - .480
Browns - .484
Saints - .488
Lions - .496
Ravens - .496
Steelers - .496
The Los Angeles Rams have the same opponents' win percentage from last season as the Pats and Sean McVay's team was a fantasy football factory in 2018. It's not crazy to think players like Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Jared Goff will be even better in 2019. Los Angeles also has the easiest fantasy schedule per PFF, so you might want to consider bumping Rams' players up your draft boards.
With so much emphasis on the NFL strength of schedule each season, this is a good point of reference for fantasy owners to start with heading into the 2019 season.
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Taylor Smith is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Taylor also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username jtsmittyyy. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.