2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: NFC West schedule breakdown

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.   

NFC West common opponents: NFC East, AFC South

Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals team defensive grades -- Run: 6 | Pass Rush: 7 | Pass Coverage: 8
Sked specs: Week 8 bye, Week 10 Thursday game vs. Seattle Seahawks , league-high 11 games indoors, four games on turf, no games with opponents coming off a bye week.
Sked notes: The NFC West is loaded with tough run defenses, which is why the Cardinals have one of the toughest schedules for it, but it shouldn't stop you from chasing David Johnson one bit. On the other hand, the lack of tough pass rushes and secondaries, especially early on, might make Carson Palmer worth a second look. Just look at the schedule -- his first real tough matchup comes in Week 10 against Seattle! Admittedly, there's an offensive line concern that could hamper Palmer, plus his schedule from Week 10 on isn't a peach (though their game at Seattle is in Week 17 and could be for the NFC West title), but if the opponent details suggest anything, it's that he and John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald and everyone else could have solid starts.
Cardinals projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 30th | Pass: 12th
Predicted record: 10-6

Los Angeles Rams

Rams team defensive grades -- Run: 10 | Pass Rush: 8 | Pass Coverage: 3
Sked specs: Week 8 bye, Week 3 Thursday game at San Francisco 49ers , three games indoors, four games on turf, one game with opponent coming off a bye week (at New York Giants , Week 9).
Sked notes: New coach Sean McVay will have his hands full. While the Rams defense should be a problem for everyone's run game, McVay's new toys on offense weren't improved very much this offseason. How many games can they win when their schedule is loaded with powerful offenses and run-stopping division foes? The worry is that Todd Gurley might once again get minimalized from week to week, especially after word got out that he might not play as many third downs.
Rams projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 27th | Pass: 23rd
Predicted record: 4-12

San Francisco 49ers

49ers team defensive grades -- Run: 8 | Pass Rush: 3 | Pass Coverage: 2
Sked specs: Week 11 bye, Week 3 Thursday game vs. Rams, three games indoors, three games on turf, three games with opponent coming off a bye week (at Washington Redskins , Week 6; vs. Dallas Cowboys , Week 7; vs. Cardinals, Week 9).
Sked notes: If you're looking for a reason to stay away from any 49ers players, look no further than the first three games of the season. The Carolina Panthers , Seahawks and Rams are three of the toughest run defenses in the league and will get the first crack at slowing down Carlos Hyde (assuming Hyde is their starter). Things lighten up from there but it's tough to expect the 49ers pass rush and secondary from slowing down opposing passing games. The Niners take on a slew of great quarterbacks, so it could make for some tough sledding -- except for Pierre Garcon , who is the de facto No. 1 receiver and on the brink of a 150-target season.
49ers projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 31st | Pass: 25th
Predicted record: 5-11

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks team defensive grades -- Run: 9 | Pass Rush: 9 | Pass Coverage: 10
Sked specs: Week 6 bye, Week 10 Thursday game at Cardinals, two games indoors, 10 games on turf, two games with opponents coming off a bye week (vs. Houston Texans , Week 8; at 49ers, Week 12).
Sked notes: We'll find out soon enough if Seattle did enough with its offensive line. The Seahawks' defense should do its thing, but they've got a lineup loaded with strong run defenses that could curb any impact from Eddie Lacy or anyone else in that backfield. The good news is that the 'Hawks have just two trips to the east coast all year and don't have consecutive weeks on the road even once.
Seahawks projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 28th | Pass: 10th
Predicted record: 12-4

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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