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Stack 'Em - Players With Favorable Fantasy Schedules


Rooting for a team is great. It is what fuels fandom, and sports in general. And it is why some times we opt to draft one of our favorite team's players instead of another guy. Look at your team at the end of your draft and it wouldn't be weird to find some homer-picks in it. It happens.

But just the fact that we have a favorite team we root for shouldn't be the main reason to stack players from a certain franchise. Stacking players is surely a sound strategy when trying to maximize value in fantasy football, even more so in DFS competitions when we have much more options available on a weekly basis given the re-draft nature of such games. Although the underlying ability of team defenses wouldn't vary a lot during a single season, their outcomes definitely will. Good players are going to be (mostly) good, and bad players will remain (mostly) bad. But you have to account for hot and cold streaks, injuries, changes in the schemes, etc. As a rule of the thumb, though, you can be sure that you should exploit as many matchups as you can, both on season-long leagues and DFS tourneys.

With the draft season at the verge of finalizing prior to the 2019 kickoff, I bring you some teams which schedules favors their top players at some point during the upcoming season, split in three regular-season spans and one final postseason chunk. Pick them at the right time and enjoy the taste of victory!

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Early Season Favorable Schedules (Weeks 1-5)

San Francisco 49ers: Best matchups against QB, best against TE

What’s to like: San Francisco is by no means one of the favorite teams to win the Super Bowl this year. We all know and should acknowledge that. In fantasy terms, the team doesn't have any real killer on the roster. Even with that, though, the 49ers feature some high-upside players worth considering for the start of the season.

The first five weeks have San Francisco facing teams that will give the 49ers the best matchups (aka bad defenses against) at the quarterback and tight end positions. Turns out, one is the most valued position in football and the other one has one of its best values playing in San Francisco. Garoppolo is nothing sort of a risky bet, but a favorable schedule should help him start the season strong. On the other hand, Kittle profiles as the No. 1 target for Garoppolo to exploit on offense.

The WR and RB positions won't be in bad matchups either. San Francisco's RB will have the fourth-most favorable matchups from W1-W5 and the WR group ranks seventh.

Who it helps most:

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, TE George Kittle

 

Los Angeles Rams: Second-best matchups against QB, 2nd-best against WR

What's to like: Although the Rams have their absolute best player in the form of RB Todd Gurley, he won't face soft defenses to start the season (22nd-best matchups). On the other hand, though, the Rams will play the second-most favorable defenses against QB and WR, where they have really good players available too.

Jared Goff is considered a top-10 QB and all of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp are also inside the Top-25 WR league-wide. If you add what should be favorable matchups to their already-high floors you will be in to start the season as strong as you possibly can.

Who it helps most: 

QB Jared Goff, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Robert Woods, WR Cooper Kupp

 

Mid-Season Favorable Schedules (Weeks 6-10)

Baltimore Ravens: Best matchups against RB, 2nd-best against TE, 4th-best against QB

What’s to like:  While Lamar Jackson is definitely the sexiest player on the Ravens roster and the one everybody will pick as soon as they can get their hands on him, you're better waiting a little bit for him. As one of (if not) the best players in Baltimore, Jackson will see the fourth-worst defenses against quarterbacks from W6 to W10. On top of that, the RB unit of Baltimore will have the easiest schedule and the TE of the team will face the second-best matchups.

To this, it should be added that the WR corps will have the 16th-toughest schedule, so expect Baltimore to exploit the running game of both Jackson and the RB group, while also throwing the highest amounts of passes to those playing the TE position.

Who it helps most:

QB Lamar Jackson, RB Mark Ingram, RB Justice Hill, TE Mark Andrews

 

Arizona Cardinals:  Best matchups against QB, 3th-best against WR, 5th-best against RB

What’s to like: In kind of a similar fashion to the situation in Baltimore, Arizona features a glaring young QB. Kyler Murray should have already established in the league by the sixth week, and from that point up to the tenth week he will have the most favorable matchups at the position.

What makes this so good, you say? Turns out the WR group of the Cardinals will also be facing an easy schedule by then, having the third-best matchups coming their way in that span. David Johnson, the go-to option on offense for Arizona if we strictly adhere to pure player ability, can also be expected to excel against the fifth-best matchups for the RB position.

Who it helps most:

QB Kyler Murray, RB David Johnson, WR Larry Fitzgerald, WR Christian Kirk

 

Late Season Favorable Schedules (Weeks 11-15)

Atlanta Falcons: 2nd-best matchups against QB, 2nd-best against WR

What’s to like: Atlanta looks primed to heavily rely on both Matt Ryan and Julio Jones late in the season. The Falcons have the second most favorable matchups for the QB and the WR positions in this span. Also, they will face the 29th-hardest matchups against RB, which will probably cut their rushing game in favor of a passing style of play.

With options at the WR position such as the aforementioned Jones, and others stepping up like Mohammed Sanu (always a cheap value) and Calvin Ridley (impressive rookie season in 2018), expect Rayn to connect a lot of times for big gains and the receivers to put up massive numbers while probably fading RB Devonta Freeman giving them fewer touches.

Who it helps most:

QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones, WR Mohammed Sanu, WR Calvin Ridley

 

Carolina Panthers: Best matchups against QB, 4th-best against RB, 4th-best against WR

What’s to like: If Cam Newton stays healthy all season long, the most damage he could do might come in the latter part of the year. He will have the easiest schedule in terms of QB-matchups just before entering the last two weeks of the season, and he will be helped by another couple of good matchups for both the WR and RB units.

Christian McCaffrey is surely the best value Carolina has to offer and a fourth-easiest schedule won't do him any bad. Same goes for D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. There has been a heated debate all preseason long about who will be the WR1 in the Panthers offense. Once we reach this point in the season that will probably be on the rearview, and even if the leading role wasn't still clearly assigned, be sure both of them will enjoy a nice five-game run with such favorable matchups as Carolina will be having at the WR position.

Who it helps most:

QB Cam Newton, RB Christian McCaffrey, WR D.J. Moore, WR Curtis Samuel

 

Fantasy Playoffs Favorable Schedules (Weeks 15-17)

Jacksonville Jaguars: Best matchups against QB, 5th-best against RB

What’s to like: By the time fantasy playoffs rolls, you will probably be better suited looking at the whole league and potential real-life playoff scenarios rather than the strength of schedule as we have it now. Even with that, knowing what we know today, Jacksonville's attack looks like a good bet for the final three weeks of the season.

Barring injury or some bizarre event, Nick Foles will still be the starting quarterback and will face the softest defenses against QB production in this short span, and it is not out of the equation that he'll be available for free at that point. Another great pick for the last three games of the regular season would be Leonard Fournette, assuming he's still healthy by then. Although he's got "just" the 5th-best matchups among RB, only Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley could be considered similar in production to him while having better matchups, although their potential scoring will be hit by different things (Chubb will probably lose time to Hunt once he comes back and Gurley might see fewer touches to stay in shape for the real NFL playoffs).

Who it helps most:

QB Nick Foles, RB Leonard Fournette

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