2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: AFC East schedule breakdown
The Patriots' schedule doesn't do them many favors, while the Dolphins could close the gap with a favorable early season slate.
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 East common opponents: AFC West, NFC South
Bills team defensive grades -- Run: 7 | Pass Rush: 4 | Pass Coverage: 1
Sked specs: Week 6 bye, Week 9 Thursday game at Jets, one game indoors, 12 games on turf, zero games with opponents coming off a bye week.
Sked notes: It's a tough start for LeSean McCoy, who takes on the Jets, Panthers and Broncos run defenses in Weeks 1 through 3. Things ease up for Shady and the Bills in general, including a late-season three-game home stand, but the installation of two new schemes on both sides of the ball along with both Patriots games in the last five weeks of the season (including at New England in Week 16) make it tricky.
Bills projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 10th | Pass: 19th
Predicted record: 6-10
Dolphins team defensive grades -- Run: 8 | Pass Rush: 5 | Pass Coverage: 9
Sked specs: Week 11 bye, Week 8 Thursday game at Ravens, one game indoors, four games on turf, one game with opponent coming off a bye week (at Falcons, Week 6).
Sked notes: Everything sets up better for Ryan Tannehill to take another step forward, especially with only one dangerous secondary in the Dolphins' first 10 games. But in those same 10 games, Jay Ajayi will see about six tough defensive fronts. Playing three straight on the road in Weeks 2 through 4 stink, then things get nasty after the bye. The Fins have two games against the Pats, two against the Bills, the Broncos at home and at the Chiefs.
Dolphins projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 24th | Pass: 5th
Predicted record: 8-8
New England Patriots
Patriots team defensive grades -- Run: B | Pass Rush: C+ | Pass Coverage: B-
Sked specs: Week 9 bye, Week 5 Thursday game at Buccaneers, one game indoors, 11 games on turf, two games with opponents coming off a bye week (at Raiders in Mexico, Week 11; vs. Dolphins, Week 12).
Sked notes: After years of some pretty easy schedules, the Patriots have some bumps in the road. The aforementioned back-to-back games against teams coming off a bye (which comes after a game in Denver!) will be a test, and the short week game at Tampa Bay might deliver their first loss of the season. Their schedule is front-loaded with good run defenses, but only four opponents (if that many) will have the pass defense to truly make things tough on the Patriots' pass catchers. If the Pats realized this back when they knew their opponents, then their offseason moves were genius.
Patriots projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 14th | Pass: 9th
Predicted record: 13-3, AFC representative in Super Bowl LII
New York Jets
Jets team defensive grades -- Run: 7 | Pass Rush: 4 | Pass Coverage: 2
Sked specs: Week 11 bye, Week 9 Thursday game vs. Bills, one game indoors, 11 games on turf, one game with opponent coming off a bye week (vs. Panthers, Week 12).
Sked notes: It almost doesn't matter what the schedule is -- given the state of the Jets offense, pass rush and secondary, we could be on the brink of a meltdown season. Nevertheless it sure doesn't help that their itinerary from Week 6 on is dastardly. In addition, the Jets are one of three teams to begin the season with back-to-back road games.
Jets projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 13th | Pass: 17th
Predicted record: 3-13
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