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Digging into the NFL schedule isn't a process that will clinch you a playoff spot in your Fantasy league, but it will provide some insight that could change your drafting plans. Players you might consider snagging could have a bunch of tough opponents in their future, or a bunch of weak ones. Knowing the difference could save you some headaches in 2018.
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In early June we graded every defense based on talent, depth and coaching, then used those grades to figure out which teams had good schedules and which teams had bad schedules. Below, you'll see how a team's slate of opposing defenses rank -- the higher the number, the easier the schedule. This should serve as at least a tie-breaker when considering two players for one draft pick.
AFC East common opponents: AFC South, NFC North
Bills projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 6th | Pass: 17th
Sked specs: Week 11 bye, no Thursday game, three games indoors, 13 games on turf, no games with opponent coming off a bye week.
Sked notes: Five of the Bills' first seven games are on the road and each of the first five are against playoff contenders with good defenses. It means another slow start for LeSean McCoy is coming. The Bills' second-half schedule is easier and basically rooted in cold, wintry Buffalo. Maybe we'll get another Snow Bowl treat. Ultimately, the try-hard defense should keep the Bills in a bunch of games but the offense has too many question marks to be counted on for even 23 points per week.
Dolphins projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 8th | Pass: 5th
Sked specs: Week 11 bye, Week 8 Thursday game at Texans, three games indoors, seven games on turf, back-to-back games with opponent coming off a bye week (vs. Bears, Week 6; vs. Lions, Week 7).
Sked notes: The absolute toughest run defenses Kenyan Drake will face won't come until December, meaning he's a dynamite candidate to get off to a hot start and sell high by your league's trade deadline. Miami's passing game has a favorable schedule and could be forced to play from behind a lot, but doesn't have the personnel to inspire you to invest a top-100 pick. Kenny Stills has plenty of late-round appeal.
Patriots projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 1st | Pass: 4th
Sked specs: Week 11 bye, Week 5 Thursday game vs. Colts, one game indoors, 11 games on turf, one game with opponent coming off a bye week (at Jets, Week 12).
Sked notes: By virtue of playing in an inferior division, the Patriots have one of the best schedules -- again. It's even better than last year when they had a daunting November/December run with five road games in six weeks (they won five of those games). So even with four road tilts in five games from late October through late November, no one should blink at the Patriots' docket. Shoot, they play three straight at home from Week 4 through 6! Give some serious thought to Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and the Patriots run game -- their favorable sked should create a lot of opportunities for those guys to rack up yards.
Jets projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 3rd | Pass: 19th
Sked specs: Week 11 bye, Week 3 Thursday game at Browns, one game indoors, 11 games on turf, one game with opponent coming off a bye week (vs. Patriots, Week 12).
Sked notes: The Jets open with three games in 11 days, two on the road, then a little break before playing at Jacksonville, followed by a three-game homestand. That's the ultimate Jekyll & Hyde start for any team, especially one in transition like the Jets. Their run game would be worth eyeballing if they had one good back to count on.