Recently, the NFL was set ablaze when by a massive robbery. The Chicago Bears stole future Hall of Famer Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. Or is the the Las Vegas Raiders? Regardless of location we honestly shouldn’t call them the Raiders anymore. They’re the Jon Gruden’s now. Risen from the depths of broadcasting, Gruden has returned to the NFL only to make one dim-witted move after the other. His most recent accomplishment testifying to his amazing comeback story.
With most fantasy drafts over it’s time to focus on the other aspect of fantasy football. Managing your team. One of the best ways I’ve done so over the years is by looking ahead at schedules to find players who will likely start off slow but are very talented and likely to rebound. By doing so I can target players who will fluster their owner’s early on resulting in sweet bargains like Chicago got. Fellas, it’s time to find some Khalil Mack’s that can help you win your league.
Rivers gets the luxury of facing the Chiefs college football defense week 1. After that however he has away games against the Bills and the Rams respectively. The Bills defense could go either way this year as they have plenty of talent, it’s just Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen are gonna turn the ball over a lot. Even if the latter happens however, expect Melvin Gordon and the Chargers defense to be the beneficiaries rather than Rivers. Plus it’s a cross country trip which usually dampens the performance of the away team so poor ol’ Rivers and co. might not be themselves this game. From then on out though Rivers gets enjoy an incredibly easy schedule. The only threats are the Titans, Cardinals, and Broncos. Luckily they’re all at home which should dampen their effect on his performance. Remember what I said about cross country trips? The Titans will be in that boat so knock that down to only 2 tough matchups. But wait Luke, isn’t Denver a divisional rival who he’ll have to play twice making that 3 bad matchups? Yeah, that’s true. Don’t worry about it because their second matchup is during week 17. By then you’re league will probably be over and you’ll be celebrating how you won your fantasy championship with the help of Philip Rivers’ top 5 play from week 3 on.
Did you know Big Ben averaged 28 PPG after his bye week last year? Keep in mind this wasn’t just inflated by a performance or two as his lowest point total during that stretch was 21. Prior to his bye that was his highest mark and he only hit it twice. In fact, he scored 15 points or fewer 4 times prior to his late season tear. If he underwhelms at the beginning like last year look to capitalize as his playoff schedule is juicy. From weeks 14-16 he plays the Raiders, Pats, and Saints. All of which should be shootouts. Albeit, to get there you’ll have to suffer through a gruesome 3 game stretch from week 11-13 where the Steelers take on the Jags, Broncos, and Chargers. However you can use that to your advantage. Most trade deadlines are around the 20th of November. Big Ben’s week 11 matchup is on the 18th. Find his owner and point out Big Ben’s schedule to freak him out a little. Furthermore, use the trade deadline to further pressure them. Sounds a little cruel writing that but it’s worth a shot. I’m not saying pull a “Godfather”, just give them an offer they can’t refuse.
The Bills first 4 games are against the Ravens, Chargers, Vikings, and Packers. All of whom will likely put the Bills in bad game scripts while boasting top 10 run defenses each. Whichever turnover-prone Bills QB is at the whelm at the time will likely struggle during that period meaning plenty of stacked boxes for 30 year old McCoy. Ruh-roh Raggy. That’ll be more than enough to make Shady’s owners forget about the massive workload on his shoulders. Send an offer around weeks 3 or 4 and profit for the rest of the season as his schedule softens into a much more RB-friendly landscape.
During Weeks 3-5 the Ravens faces the Broncos, Steelers, and Browns respectively. Each of them have a good bid at a top 5 run defense. However, Collins only has 3 bad matchups the rest of the way. For someone who the Raven’s have treated with the utmost respect (only had 2 snaps all preseason) it is certain he’s due for a heavy workload this year. Already an excellent breakout candidate Collins is set to have a monster year. Don’t fall into the “non-believer” crowd when the going gets tough during the 3 game stretch mention earlier. He will rebound and he will be a part of many championship rosters in 2018.
The Packers start the year by facing the Bears, Vikings, and Redskins. Each of whom have vaunted D-lines who could make things difficult early on for Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. I imagine by that point the latter will have lost the majority of his role to Aaron Jones when he comes back. Say Williams also doesn’t meet coach’s expectations then he too might become an odd man out. However Mike McCarthy recently raved how this is going to be a “big year” for Williams so there’s a good chance that doesn’t happen either. Regardless, keep an eye on the backfield and try to snag one of Jamaal Williams or Aaron Jones for one of the two will become a feature back at some point down the road. And when that happens there is huge potential as the Packer’s RBs combined production resulted in an average of 19.6 fantasy PPG in PPR last year.
Usually when one was used they were featured. Finding that RB could be a league winning move. Take advantage of the bad early season schedule for the Packers or Aaron Jones’ suspension and swing for the fences.
While on the topic of Green Bay, let's talk about Davante Adams. The same 3 teams mentioned in the Packers RBs post above also boast solid secondaries. More specifically, during those matchups Adams will have to face Kyle Fuller, Xavier Rhodes, and Josh Norman. Two of the 3 Adams could simply beat by being moved around the Packer's formations. Not to mention his quarterback is Aaron *expletive* Rodgers. Albeit Rodgers might not be enough to carry him through that tough stretch and Adams will struggle to live up to his 2nd round ADP as a result. #12 has also had slow starts before (see the RELAX season) and rebounded tremendously afterwords. Say Rodgers takes a bit to get back to form or rough schedule brings Davante’s numbers down and you got yourself an opportunity.
Don't worry if this happens. There’s a reason he took a pretty penny to draft. The Packers WR1 is a TD monster and Adams is more than ready to fill Jordy's shoes. He’ll be a top tier receiver down the stretch and you just might be able to get him for the cost of a low end #2. Could very well play out like Keenan Allen last year in my opinion. Be sure to keep an eye out on his early season production and plan accordingly.
During weeks 4-8 the Jets face the Jaguars, Broncos, Colts, Vikings, and Bears. Out of those 5 only 1 is a good matchup. The rest are terrible. Every team other than the Colts projects to be a top 10 pass defense this year. Their pass rush alone will be a tough enough task for rookie Sam Darnold, despite his excellent preseason play, to overcome. From there New York’s schedule softens up mightily with many pass heavy game scripts on the way. Recall Anderson was a top 20 receiver in 2017 and would’ve likely been a WR1 through the end of the season had McCown not gotten hurt. His struggles during that 5 week span mentioned earlier will drop his cost astronomically if not leave him on the waiver altogether. Capitalize and prepare to trade for him when the eclipse rises over the Jets’ schedule.
Godwin has been a WR1 hidden on Tampa’s depth chart for a year now. Dirk Koetter and Co. are finally realizing this as Godwin has surpassed DeSean Jackson on the depth chart. Beat writers are even speculating he’ll be the 1B to Evans’ 1A come the end of the season. Winston is the perfect QB to take advantage of him as he is more than willing to trust his receiver to get the ball in 50/50 scenarios. Something that Chris Godwin excels at. With Mike Evans across from him he’ll see plenty of soft coverage during his prove-it campaign. Furthermore, old-man Ryan Fitzpatrick will make it hard for him and all the other Tampa receiving threats to succeed during Winston’s 3 game absence. During that time owners will grow weary of holding him on their roster giving you the perfect time to strike.
Might struggle early on as he separates himself from the pack and forms chemistry with Dak. His early season schedule isn’t too bad, it’s his playoff schedule we want. During that time he faces the Colts, Buccaneers, and Giants. The first two project to be bottom 10, potentially bottom 5 secondaries. New York being a toss up as they were a mess last year on defense however if their locker room issues have cleared up then they’ll go back to being a decent opponent for receivers. Such will be the case for WR1s at that point as Janoris Jenkins is a formidable matchup and should rebound back to form down year. I don't expect this to be a problem however, as Gallup is an excellent route runner and his strengths compare favorably with Dak’s. Hopefully the Cowboys will do what smart teams do with their top players and move him around to create mismatches. Regardless, his late season appeal is something to take note of and his low value right now might make him a solid target to acquire. Could easily produce WR2 numbers down the stretch with all the vacant targets in Dallas.
If we’re being honest he has a relatively soft schedule for a tight end in general. In his first 6 games he has to face the Steelers, Saints, and Jets, Raiders, Ravens, and Chargers. The Steelers have generally been tough on TEs but without Ryan Shazier they’ll probably worsen in that regard as they did little to replace him. The Raiders are a dream matchup for TEs so that’s also not gonna help bring his stock down. However, the other 3 teams mention should all have top 12 TE defenses and could cause Njoku to be inconsistent early on. From there on his schedule softens up tremendously with the only other defense with top 10 potential against his position being the Panthers and the Ravens. The latter occurring during week 17, a week many fantasy owners do not play. Sadly, the Panthers come to town during week 14 however the rest of his playoff schedule is amazing with the Bengals, who have problems at safety and mid-linebacker, and the Broncos, who have been the worst TE defense outside of Oakland for years. Do I need to say more?