2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: AFC South schedule breakdown
All four teams in the division have playoff hopes, but only the Colts and Titans have schedules that fit their offensive identities.
You can do plenty of research when it comes to every NFL skill-position player, but none of it would matter if you knew they'd have a tough schedule, or even an easy one.
This June, we graded every defense based on talent, depth and coaching, then used those grades to determine which teams had the easiest and hardest schedules. The results are published by division. The goal is to draw some conclusions about Fantasy players who you might not start every week regardless of matchup.
AFC South common opponents: AFC North, NFC West
Texans team defensive grades -- Run: 7 | Pass Rush: 10 | Pass Coverage: 6
Sked specs: Week 7 bye, Week 2 Thursday game at Bengals, nine games indoors, 12 games on turf, zero games with opponent coming off a bye week.
Sked notes: The Texans are helped by having the best defense in their own division, though that gap is closing. Playing some inferior offenses from outside the division will help them win a bunch of low-scoring games. It's a particularly icky schedule for Lamar Miller, whose first easy matchup might not come until Week 6 against the Browns. There should be some opportunities for Deshaun Watson, assuming he's the starter.
Texans projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 22nd | Pass: 13th
Predicted record: 10-6
Colts team defensive grades -- Run: 3 | Pass Rush: 2 | Pass Coverage: 4
Sked specs: Week 11 bye, Week 15 Thursday game vs. Broncos, nine games indoors, 12 games on turf, one game with opponent coming off a bye week (vs. Steelers, Week 10).
Sked notes: The combination of a potent schedule and a lousy defense should force the Colts to be involved in a slew of high-scoring games. That's really good news for Fantasy, except when it comes to Frank Gore and the Indianapolis run game. Not only might it mean less involvement from the Colts' running backs, but the team drew the toughest opponents for run defenses. Tack on the obvious age and wear-and-tear issues, and he becomes a dangerous Fantasy player to trust.
Colts projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 32nd | Pass: 26th
Predicted record: 8-8
Jaguars team defensive grades -- Run: 8 | Pass Rush: 6 | Pass Coverage: 8
Sked specs: Week 8 bye, no Thursday game, three games indoors, three games on turf, one game with opponent coming off a bye week (vs. Chargers, Week 10).
Sked notes: This has to be the year for Blake Bortles. The regime change, the improvement to the run game and a schedule with only a handful of tough pass defenses should give him the opportunity to become a reliable quarterback. It's nowhere near as easy for rookie Leonard Fournette, who faces a slew of tough run defenses pretty much all season. Also of note, five of their first seven games are on the road.
Jaguars projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 21st | Pass: 8th
Predicted record: 6-10
Titans team defensive grades -- Run: 7 | Pass Rush: 6 | Pass Coverage: 5
Sked specs: Week 8 bye, Week 11 Thursday game at Steelers, three games indoors, two games on turf, one game with opponent coming off a bye week (at Colts, Week 12).
Sked notes: It's the middle of the Titans slate that looks particularly juicy, not the early portion and certainly not the strange NFC West gauntlet they'll face in Weeks 14 through 16. It's better for the run game than it is the pass game, too, though there certainly will be some "bombs away" moments for Marcus Mariota starting in Week 5.
Titans projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 9th | Pass: 21st
Predicted record: 9-7
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