Often times, the best fantasy seasons can get blown up in a one-and-done scenario and often the difference between winning and losing can come down to a single player with a favorable matchup.
It’s never too early to begin planning for the run to a championship and we’re looking at what, on paper at this time, look to be the five best closing schedules based on opponents and the five worst. The teams listed have their final four games because, while most fantasy championships are decided in Week 16, there are some leagues that play 17-week schedules or have a free-for-all game in Week 17 that can win fantasy owners some transaction money as well.
THE FIVE BEST
Philadelphia Eagles (NY GIANTS, at Washington, DALLAS, at NYG Giants) – With two games against the hapless Giants, another with Washington and games in Week 14 and 16 at home, the Eagles closing schedule is about as good as it could be.
Green Bay Packers (WASHINGTON, CHICAGO, at Minnesota, at Detroit) – With Washington and Chicago having to come to Lambeau Field in December, that is a huge advantage for the Packers and, given that they’ve owned the NFC North all season, going into climate-controlled games at Minnesota aren’t much worse.
Cleveland Browns (CINCINNATI, at Arizona, BALTIMORE, at Cincinnati) – Getting Cincinnati twice and the struggling Cardinals in the mix, this is a pretty good schedule for a team that underachieved to date and needs to finish the season strong, whether it leads to an unlikely playoff berth or not.
Minnesota Vikings (DETROIT, at LA Chargers, GREEN BAY, CHICAGO) – With three of four games at home, where Minnesota has been dominant since US Bank Stadium opened, they will be a hard team to beat or keep out of the playoffs.
New England Patriots (KANSAS CITY, at Cincinnati, BUFFALO, MIAMI) – The Patriots have three of four games at home and the only road game against hapless Cincinnati, which should play to their strengths…again.
THE FIVE WORST
Los Angeles Rams (SEATTLE, at Dallas, at San Francisco, ARIZONA) – With the Seahawks, Cowboys and 49ers on their plate for the fantasy playoffs, the road to trying to repeat at NFC champions will be a tough road for the Rams.
Buffalo Bills (BALTIMORE, at Pittsburgh, at New England, NY JETS) – The Bills have been a good story in the first half of the season, but landing the Ravens and then road games at Pittsburgh and New England will be as tough as it gets for AFC contenders.
Chicago Bears (DALLAS, at Green Bay, KANSAS CITY, at Minnesota) – The Bears have been a disappointment this season when compared to expectations and all four of their final opponents are currently set to be playoff teams
Seattle Seahawks (at LA Rams, at Carolina, ARIZONA, SAN FRANCISCO) – With road games against the Rams and Panthers to start the fantasy playoffs and closing out with San Francisco, the only saving grace here would be the Week 16 home game against the Cardinals.
Washington Redskins (at Green Bay, PHILADELPHIA, NY GIANTS, at Dallas) – The Redskins 2019 season has been a disappointment and things don’t get easier with the Packers, Eagles and Cowboys on the closing slate of games.
Here is the Week 11 Fantasy Market Report:
Kyle Rudolph – In a year when tight ends haven’t been consistently producing huge numbers, Rudolph was invisible at the start of the season. In the first five games (he was healthy for all of them), he was targeted just eight times, catching six passes for just 36 yards and no touchdowns. When Adam Thielen went down in Week 7, Rudolph got incorporated back into the offense. In the last four games, he has caught 15 passes for 112 yards and four touchdowns, making himself fantasy relevant once again.
Michael Thomas – While Thomas has been dominant throughout his career, what he has accomplished this season is nothing short of astounding. In nine games, he has been targeted 108 times, catching 86 passes for 1,027 yards and four touchdowns – a pace that would shatter his career highs across the board. He’s on pace for 183 targets, catching 153 passes 1,826 yards and seven TDs. He has just two games with less than 11 targets, one game with less than eight receptions, one game with less than 89 receiving yards, five games with 10 or more receptions and five games with more than 110 receiving yards. You don’t hear his name in MVP discussions, but there is no more valuable receiver in the league this year to his team.
Ronald Jones – Jones hasn’t been a guy fantasy owners have wanted to start every week because he’s been in a timeshare with Peyton Barber and didn’t look worthy of his draft slot as a rooking. But, in his last six games, he has rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns and caught 14 passes for 142 more yards. He still isn’t a guaranteed starter in most leagues, but he’s giving owners a viable option if they need a player.
Golden Tate – Tate was kind of an afterthought after missing the first four games of the season due to suspension. But, with all the turmoil in New York, he has been the steadying influence on the offense in the six games he’s played. In the last five games, he has been targeted 54 times, catching 30 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns. He has caught six or more passes in four of those games and has 80 or more receiving yards in four of those five as well. Tate has never been a touchdown machine, but he has a history of being a volume-of-receptions guy and he is quickly establishing himself as the No. 1 receiving target in New York.
Melvin Gordon – It took Gordon some time to get up to speed after his holdout. In his first four games, Gordon rushed 44 times for just 112 yards in one touchdown – averaging just 2.5 yards a carry. In his last two games, he has looked like Gordon of old, rushing 42 times for 188 yards and three touchdowns. For a guy who was a pain for fantasy owners the first half of the season, he’s looking like his former self, which was one of the most dynamic fantasy running backs in the game.
Devonta Freeman – The biggest concern for most fantasy owners was whether Freeman could stay healthy for 16 games after battling injuries much of 2017 and missing all but two games last year. While he left Sunday’s win against New Orleans with an ankle injury. The fact of the matter is that he has no 100-yard rushing games through nine games, has just two games with more than 13 carries and two games with 40 or more rushing yards, has averaged just 7.4 yards per reception with just three games with more than three catches and his three TDs this season have all been as a receiver. His production had ground to a halt. In his last three games, he has rushed 30 times for just 96 yards, caught 13 passes for just 79 yards and scored no touchdowns. In this instance, an injury may be a good thing because it will end the temptation to keep him in your lineup.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Jalen Ramsey played the “you’re no Antonio Brown card” last week before the Steelers-Rams game, but anyone who has JuJu already knows that. Without Ben Roethlisberger gun-slinging, Smith-Schuster’s numbers have suffered. In his last six games, he has three or fewer receptions in four them and yardage days of 15, 7, 16 and 44 in the mix. He has had just enough big games to keep him in lineups, but, at this point, he’s doing fantasy owners more harm than good if they continue starting him every week.
Robby Anderson – He’s been a fantasy enigma. He has a history of stringing together very productive games over the last three years, but this season has been brutal. He has two games with more than 43 receiving yards, has just one touchdown and individual yardage days of 23, 11, 16, 10, 43, 33 and 11. Most owners who had him have likely already dumped him and those who haven’t should consider it because it just doesn’t look like his typical month on fantasy dominance is coming.
Sammy Watkins – Back in Week 1, Watkins set the fantasy world on fire, catching nine passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. In the nine games the Chiefs have played (seven with Watkins in the starting lineup, he has caught 31 passes for just 314 yards and no touchdowns. He hasn’t hit 65 receiving yards in any game despite the Chiefs slinging the ball early and often in games.
John Brown – Big things were expected from Brown in Buffalo and he showed that early. In his first two games, he caught 14 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. Since then, he has been extremely consistent, catching either four or five passes in every game since and has consistent yardage numbers (51, 69, 75, 83, 54, 76 and 77), but has caught just one touchdown in those seven games. He still gets decent fantasy numbers on a weekly basis, but the big-play, huge-point games he has made a name for himself getti8ng, just haven’t materialized – he doesn’t have a catch of 30 yards since Week 1. We don’t recommend dumping him, but we do suggest managing your expectations for the huge games and big plays Brown has been known for.