Adam Levitan

Football Daily Dose

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Scheduling for Success

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The following is a service for teams coasting toward the fantasy playoffs. The first six rounds of your draft went something like Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Brandon Marshall, Matt Ryan, Eric Decker and Stevan Ridley. You stole Owen Daniels late. You took a last-round “why not” pick on the Bears D/ST. In other words, you’re now 9-1, 8-2 or 7-3 and the playoffs are a cinch. Life is good.

If this sounds something like your situation, then we can start preparing for Weeks 15 and 16. There’s no worse feeling than scratching and clawing your way there all season and then realizing you have terrible matchups. So with fantasy trade deadlines on the horizon, here are the best and worst of the fantasy playoff skeds.

We’re ideally looking for home matchups with potential good weather against soft defenses:

1. DOLPHINS: Week 15 vs. Jaguars; Week 16 vs. Bills -- Conditions won’t get much better than this for Reggie Bush and Brian Hartline owners. The weather should be beautiful, the Dolphins are at home and they’re playing two defenses currently giving up at least 27.3 points per game.

2. TEXANS: Week 15 vs. Colts; Week 16 vs. Vikings -- Another team with rare back-to-back home games these two weeks. The only thing that will stop Arian Foster, Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson is if they’re rested in preparation for the playoffs. But the Texans figure to secure a first-round bye, so resting guys in Week 16 wouldn’t make much sense.

3. RAIDERS: Week 15 vs. Chiefs; Week 16 at Panthers -- All three of these bottom-feeders will have packed it in by the time these matchups roll around. In many instances, that results in shootouts. It’s not like the Chiefs or Panthers defend anyone anyway. They are ranked 28th and 20th respectively in points per game allowed right now. Borderline guys such as Carson Palmer and Darrius Heyward-Bey are worth stashing.

4. BUCS: Week 15 at Saints; Week 16 vs. Rams -- The Saints’ defense has turned it around a little of late, but they’ve held an opponent to less than 24 points just once all season. It’s also important to note that both of these games will be played in plus weather conditions. Again, there’s a lot to be said for that when we’re talking about mid-December.

5. EAGLES: Week 15 vs. Bengals; Week 16 vs. Redskins -- I laid out some reasons I like Nick Foles in yesterday’s Dose. Here’s one I didn’t mention. Two games at home against two defenses ranked 25th and 27th in points allowed. They’d be higher on this list it weren’t for weather concerns. LeSean McCoy strikes me as a buy-low candidate if owners are selling.

HONORABLE MENTION: Falcons (vs. Giants, at Lions) and Chiefs (at Raiders, vs. Colts)

1. 49ERS: Week 15 at Patriots; Week 16 at Seahawks -- Two brutal spots for an inconsistent offense. The Patriot game could be affected by weather and we all know how tough it is to play at Seattle. Michael Crabtree is a guy I’d be really scared about, along with Vernon Davis -- who is already struggling badly.

2. COLTS: Week 15 at Texans; Week 16 at Chiefs -- Another team with two road spots. The Texans defense has the ability to completely shut teams down, especially at home. The Chiefs have been awful this year, but they still have Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali. Reggie Wayne could see Jonathan Joseph and Flowers these weeks.

3. BENGALS: Week 15 at Eagles; Week 16 at Steelers -- Yes, the Eagles defense has been horrific in coverage and in tackling. But they certainly have the talent to put together a dominant late season run when it means nothing, a la 2011. So Cincy gets back-to-back road games in hostile environments here. It’s a lot to ask of Andy Dalton and I wouldn’t want anything to do with BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

4. GIANTS: Week 15 at Falcons; Week 16 at Ravens -- At least that Week 15 game will be played in a dome, so Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz can safely air it out. But the Falcons are still ranked sixth in the league in points allowed per game right now. And then going to Baltimore in late-December isn’t fun at all -- even if they are playing without Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis.

5. N/A: I thought about the Bills here (vs. Seahawks, at Dolphins), but those really aren’t bad spots thanks to the location of the games. The Seahawks’ defense drops off in a big way on the road and Miami in the winter is a great place to be. I only saw the above four teams as having truly “bad” schedules in the fantasy playoffs.

Coach Chan Gailey said he isn’t afraid to give C.J. Spiller 20-30 carries on Thursday night. They don’t think he’s a “fragile” player. … The 2-7 Panthers are sitting Steve Smith out during garbage time so they can get a look at younger players. … The Giants coaches have ripped into David Wilson. They just don’t trust the rookie to do anything except run. … Tony Romo heaped more praise on Dez Bryant Tuesday. The trust issues are diminishing quickly.

Ben Roethlisberger has a SC sprain in his throwing shoulder and isn’t expected to play this week. There’s no timetable for his return yet. … Jay Cutler appears unlikely to play Monday night. He’s got a long history of concussions dating back to Vanderbilt. … Antonio Brown (ankle) is officially questionable, but he still wasn’t feeling right as of Tuesday. Consider him a longshot. … Danny Amendola clavicle confirmed that he emerged from his return relatively healthy. … Greg Jennings (groin) could start running full speed by next week. A Week 13 return appears reasonable. … Brady Quinn (concussion) has been cleared to play. He’s tentatively expected to take the starting job back from Matt Cassel. … Alex Smith is headed for a second opinion on his concussion. Strange. …

Darren McFadden (ankle) is very iffy for Week 11. Expect more of Marcel Reece. … Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) is questionable for Week 11. If active, he’ll start. … Donald Brown (knee) is listed as day to day. He should be fine to rotate with Vick Ballard Sunday. … The “injury” sustained by Alfred Morris prior to the bye was a mere stinger. He’s fine to start this week. … The Cowboys don’t sound optimistic on DeMarco Murray (foot) for this week. They probably think they can beat the Browns at home without him.

Adding a different D/ST each week based on matchups is a fine strategy. Here are three units that might be on waivers to consider for streaming purposes:

* For more waiver thoughts at all positions, check out Chris Wesseling’s latest here.

1. COWBOYS vs. Browns - Yes, Cleveland is coming out of a bye. But this Cowboys’ secondary is for real and Brandon Weeden has 12 interceptions in nine games. It’s just a tough spot for the Browns on the road here.  

2. RAMS vs. Jets - The Jets can’t get out of their own way. They’re 24th in points per game and Mark Sanchez has 13 turnovers by himself. A back-to-back road spot with one trip to the West coast and one trip halfway across the country is brutal.

3. BENGALS at Chiefs - I’m hesitant to play a leaky defense on the road, but an opportunity to go against Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn is too good to pass up. Potential for a pick-six or two at all times. 

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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