The start of the NFL season is still four months away, but things are starting to take shape. The NFL Draft and free agency told us where everyone will be playing in 2020, and with the , now we know when and who everyone will be playing.
Dave Richard has a full breakdown of the schedule,, including a breakdown of the first four weeks of the season — the time when we can be most confident of what teams are going to look like, before injuries and other shocks change the landscape. That 30,000-foot view has value, and can help you break ties when trying to figure out who to draft for your starting lineup, but the schedule release might matter even more for determining those late-round picks.
You're never going to avoid Michael Thomas or Dalvin Cook because of a tough matchup, but the right matchup absolutely matters when it comes to identifying streaming options. And, if you want to load up on running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends to build contingencies upon contingencies (and you should), you'll probably end up streaming at quarterback, DST, and kicker.
It's a viable strategy, and here are the top options to target in the later rounds on Draft Day for 2020, based on their early-season schedules:
QB to stream
- Teddy Bridgewater - vs. LV, @TB: Bridgewater opens his Panthers career with two bottom-10 defenses against quarterbacks from 2020, and a bevy of weapons to put to use in the offense Joe Brady set records with at LSU. A gunslinger, he's not, but Bridgewater should find plenty of room for success in both games. And, if you can find a streamer for Week 3 (Bridgewater has the Chargers), matchups against the Cardinals and Falcons in Weeks 4 and 5 could have Bridgewater looking like a top-12 QB nearly one-third of the way through the season.
- Ben Roethlisberger - @NYG, vs. DEN: A lot is going to depend on how Roethlisberger returns from his elbow injury, but if he comes back fine, the opening set should allow for a very soft landing. Everything that could possibly go wrong for the Steelers offense did last season, but 2020 is already looking brighter.
- Tyrod Taylor - @CIN, vs. KC: Taylor probably won't be the starter for the Chargers all season, but Justin Herbert probably isn't coming to take his job this early. That leaves Taylor with at least two opportunities to be a viable Fantasy starter, first with a matchup against a Bengals defense that allowed the sixth-most points to quarterbacks last season, and then in a game he'll likely be chasing points in against the Chiefs. Taylor may not be the long-term answer for your Fantasy team either, but he should be a good place holder.
- Carson Wentz - @WAS, vs. LAR, vs. CIN: Wentz is right on the cusp of being a streamer, and he could absolutely emerge as your long-term starter, so this is more about making him a priority for your late rounds. The opener against Washington should give him plenty of opportunities to play with his new toys, and while the Rams won't be pushovers, this will be just their second game without Wade Phillips running things on defense, so growing pains and a potential shootout could allow Wentz to get off to a hot start.
- Jimmy Garoppolo - vs. ARI, @NYJ: Outside of a few weeks at the end of his first season with the 49ers, Garoppolo hasn't really been much more than a game manager as a starting QB. But even a game manager can put up good numbers against the Cardinals. Just ask, well ... Jimmy Garoppolo, who had eight touchdowns in two games against them in 2020. You might be able to dump him after Week 1, but the Jets aren't exactly a terrifying matchup either.
DST to stream
- Steelers - @NYG, vs. DEN: We focused on borderline starters in the QB section, but for DST and kicker, we'll be willing to go a little more high end, because you should be streaming DSTs no matter who you pick. The Steelers should be one of the first units off the board in most drafts, and the schedule ensures you'll start them for at least two weeks; you'll probably drop them ahead of Week 3 vs. the Texans. Daniel Jones has a lot of potential, but he was a gold mine for opposing DSTs last season, thanks to his 12 interceptions and 18 fumbles in 13 games. Unless he fixes that issue in a hurry, the ferocious Steelers defense should feast. You shouldn't reach for any DST, but if you've got an early pick in the second-to-last round, make this one a priority.
- Bills - vs. NYJ, @MIA: The Bills are in a similar spot to the Steelers, as they should be one of the first five units off the board and have an excellent opening stretch. If the Steelers aren't there when it comes time to pick your DST, the Bills are a fine consolation prize, though they're another team you'll likely part ways with before Week 3 against the Rams.
- Titans - @DEN, vs. JAC: The Titans' offense actually helps their DST, because when its working right, they'll chew up clock without necessarily putting up huge scores every week. The Titans were a borderline top-10 unit a year ago, and they should get off to another good start. Both Denver and Jacksonville could have better offenses than a year ago, but both have to prove it before we believe it.
- Patriots - vs. MIA: You may be tempted to reach to make sure you get the Patriots, but don't do it. Just don't. If they're there, great; they could put up huge numbers against the Dolphins in Week 1. Unfortunately, they've got a Week 2 matchup with the Seahawks on the way, and the Chiefs looming in Week 4, both on the road. If you're not going to start a DST in two of the first four weeks, you're going to cut them. If they fall to you with your penultimate pick, however, the Pats should help you get off to a good start.
- Bears - @DET, vs. NYG: The Bears are the cautionary tale for those of you who want to reach on a DST like the Patriots. However, there is still plenty of talent here, and while the Lions aren't a great matchup, the Giants could be.
K to stream
- Jake Elliott - @WAS, vs. LAR, vs. CIN: With kickers, it's all about the offense they play with and the matchup, and you should be more than willing to swap them in and out 16 times, if that's what it comes to. Never, under any circumstances, reach for a kicker before your final pick However, the Eagles early schedule could make Elliott a fixture, especially if Wentz's new weapons pan out quickly.
- Will Lutz - vs. TB, @LV: Lutz will be one of the first kickers taken in that final round, and if you're in position to take him, you're lucky.
- Chris Boswell - @NYG, vs. DEN: Boswell was a fringe-y option with some of the worst QB play in the league leading the Steelers offense. If Big Ben is back, Boswell could be a weekly fixture.
- Younghoe Koo - vs. SEA, @DAL: The Falcons are a great team to kick for, as evidenced by Koo's 11.0 Fantasy points per game last season, and two straight games indoors to open the season won't hurt.
- Robbie Gould - vs. ARI, @NYJ: The same great matchups that make Garoppolo a potential option should also put Gould on your radar.