Fantasy Football Weeks 14-16: Breaking down the best and worst playoff matchups

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You made it. The playoffs. They're here, and you've still got something to play for. Way to go!

Your season now hangs in the balance with every game, which means the stakes have never been higher. You can't afford to look ahead, and you can't afford to stumble. But you don't want to be so myopic that you find yourself stuck with a bunch of bad matchups after winning in the first round of the playoffs.

We're taking a look at every team's playoff schedule to see who has the best and worst, and where you might be able to find an edge. At this point in the season, that could be the difference between an early exit and glory.

Best playoff schedules based on points allowed

Team Week 14 OPP Rank Week 15 OPP Rank Week 16 OPP Rank Total Rank
DEN @SF 7 CLE 11 @OAK 3 1
ARI DET 9 @ATL 4 LAR 12 2
CAR @CLE 11 NO 18 ATL 4 3
CLE CAR 13 @DEN 20 CIN 1 4
SEA MIN 23 @SF 7 KC 5 5
ATL @GB 17 ARI 6 @CAR 13 6
BAL @KC 5 TB 2 @LAC 29 7
CHI LAR 12 GB 17 @SF 7 8
DAL PHI 19 @IND 15 TB 2 9
NO @TB 2 @CAR 13 PIT 21 10
LAC CIN 1 @KC 5 BAL 32 11
OAK PIT 21 @CIN 1 DEN 20 12
CIN @LAC 29 OAK 3 @CLE 11 13
PIT @OAK 3 NE 22 @NO 18 14
MIN @SEA 25 MIA 10 @DET 9 15
BUF NYJ 14 DET 9 @NE 22 16
DET @ARI 6 @BUF 16 MIN 23 17
NE @MIA 10 @PIT 21 BUF 16 18
HOU IND 15 @NYJ 14 @PHI 19 19
GB ATL 4 @CHI 31 @NYJ 14 20
LAR @CHI 31 PHI 19 @ARI 6 21
TEN JAX 24 @NYG 8 WSH 26 22
WSH NYG 8 @JAX 24 @TEN 27 23
NYJ @BUF 16 HOU 28 GB 17 24
JAX @TEN 27 WSH 26 @MIA 10 25
IND @HOU 28 DAL 30 NYG 8 26
NYG @WSH 26 TEN 27 @IND 15 27
MIA NE 22 @MIN 23 JAX 24 28
PHI @DAL 30 @LAR 12 HOU 28 29
SF DEN 20 SEA 25 CHI 31 30
TB NO 18 @BAL 32 @DAL 30 31
KC BAL 32 LAC 29 @SEA 25 32
  • We'll get to some specifics soon, but there are a few things worth noting here. Most notably, the schedules for the Chiefs and Buccaneers, two teams Fantasy owners have been relying on all year. Here's the thing: You're not sitting most of your studs. In Kansas City, that mostly means you're not sitting anyone. In Tampa ... well, it might mean you're only starting Mike Evans as a definite must-start option. Everyone else is negotiable.
  • Below, you'll find specifics for Fantasy scoring for passing and rushing, with specific recommendations for the upcoming playoff weeks.

Best playoff schedules by passing points allowed

Team Week 14 OPP Rank Week 15 OPP Rank Week 16 OPP Rank Total Rank
ARI DET 7 @ATL 3 LAR 6 1
CLE CAR 5 @DEN 13 CIN 2 2
NO @TB 1 @CAR 5 PIT 14 3
CHI LAR 6 GB 17 @SF 4 4
DEN @SF 4 CLE 16 @OAK 8 5
CAR @CLE 16 NO 9 ATL 3 6
PIT @OAK 8 NE 11 @NO 9 7
OAK PIT 14 @CIN 2 DEN 13 8
DAL PHI 12 @IND 21 TB 1 9
BUF NYJ 18 DET 7 @NE 11 10
BAL @KC 10 TB 1 @LAC 28 11
LAC CIN 2 @KC 10 BAL 29 12
MIN @SEA 22 MIA 15 @DET 7 13
SEA MIN 31 @SF 4 KC 10 14
ATL @GB 17 ARI 25 @CAR 5 15
GB ATL 3 @CHI 27 @NYJ 18 16
HOU IND 21 @NYJ 18 @PHI 12 17
CIN @LAC 28 OAK 8 @CLE 16 18
PHI @DAL 26 @LAR 6 HOU 20 19
JAX @TEN 23 WSH 19 @MIA 15 20
NE @MIA 15 @PIT 14 BUF 32 21
SF DEN 13 SEA 22 CHI 27 22
NYG @WSH 19 TEN 23 @IND 21 23
LAR @CHI 27 PHI 12 @ARI 25 24
TB NO 9 @BAL 29 @DAL 26 25
NYJ @BUF 32 HOU 20 GB 17 26
IND @HOU 20 DAL 26 NYG 24 27
MIA NE 11 @MIN 31 JAX 30 28
TEN JAX 30 @NYG 24 WSH 19 29
WSH NYG 24 @JAX 30 @TEN 23 30
KC BAL 29 LAC 28 @SEA 22 31
DET @ARI 25 @BUF 32 MIN 31 32
  • Unfortunately, the best passing game schedule belongs to a passer we aren't going to be comfortable trusting in the most important games of the season. Josh Rosen has certainly shown flashes -- two multi-TD games in his past four -- but he's not ready to be a Fantasy contributor, and the offense around him isn't good enough to carry him. He has actually managed well enough against the likes of San Francisco and Oakland, showing he can take advantage of a good matchup, but you're not leaving your championship hopes in the hands of Josh Rosen.
  • A more interesting set of matchups belongs to Baker Mayfield and Mitch Trubisky, both of whom face top-five matchups in Weeks 14 and 16. You may not want to trust Mayfield in Week 13 against a still-tough Broncos' pass rush on the road, but he might be too hard to sit even against a middling matchup. And that Week 16 matchup against the Bengals at home has to have you salivating. Trubisky's isn't quite as good, as he has to travel west to take on the 49ers in San Francisco, but if he's healthy, you're starting him there for sure.
  • If you want a streaming option for Mayfield or Trubisky in Week 15, Derek Carr gets the Bengals in Week 15. The even better option, however, is Lamar Jackson (presumably), who gets to take on the Buccaneers at home that same week. Assuming he can hold off a healthy Joe Flacco by then, Jackson could carry you to the championship, with his legs if not his arm.
  • You'll feel good continuing to ride Marcus Mariota in Week 13 against the Jets, but the ride may end there — he has to take on the Jaguars in the first game of the playoffs. And the matchups after that aren't good enough to keep him stashed.
  • Yes, Patrick Mahomes has the second-worst set of matchups in the playoffs, but … it doesn't matter. You've gotta dance with who you came to the dance with, and you came to the dance with one of the best dancers around. You're not sitting him against any matchup after the rookie season he's had.
  • You might consider sitting Jameis Winston in Weeks 15 and 16, but you've gotta keep him out there for a shootout against the Saints in Week 14. The Saints defense is much-improved in recent weeks, but it still gave up 400-plus yards to Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier this season, and Winston had 363 yards against the Saints the last time he saw them.

Best playoff schedules by rushing points allowed

Team Week 14 OPP Rank Week 15 OPP Rank Week 16 OPP Rank Total Rank
DEN @SF 22 CLE 3 @OAK 4 1
CIN @LAC 24 OAK 4 @CLE 3 2
LAC CIN 2 @KC 7 BAL 26 3
CAR @CLE 3 NO 29 ATL 5 4
ATL @GB 11 ARI 1 @CAR 25 5
BAL @KC 7 TB 6 @LAC 24 6
ARI DET 17 @ATL 5 LAR 16 7
MIN @SEA 13 MIA 8 @DET 17 8
OAK PIT 23 @CIN 2 DEN 15 9
WSH NYG 9 @JAX 14 @TEN 18 10
CLE CAR 25 @DEN 15 CIN 2 11
DET @ARI 1 @BUF 12 MIN 30 12
NE @MIA 8 @PIT 23 BUF 12 13
TEN JAX 14 @NYG 9 WSH 21 14
DAL PHI 19 @IND 20 TB 6 15
GB ATL 5 @CHI 32 @NYJ 10 16
JAX @TEN 18 WSH 21 @MIA 8 17
CHI LAR 16 GB 11 @SF 22 18
HOU IND 20 @NYJ 10 @PHI 19 19
LAR @CHI 32 PHI 19 @ARI 1 20
NO @TB 6 @CAR 25 PIT 23 21
BUF NYJ 10 DET 17 @NE 27 22
NYJ @BUF 12 HOU 31 GB 11 23
SEA MIN 30 @SF 22 KC 7 24
NYG @WSH 21 TEN 18 @IND 20 25
PIT @OAK 4 NE 27 @NO 29 26
SF DEN 15 SEA 13 CHI 32 27
KC BAL 26 LAC 24 @SEA 13 28
IND @HOU 31 DAL 28 NYG 9 29
MIA NE 27 @MIN 30 JAX 14 30
PHI @DAL 28 @LAR 16 HOU 31 31
TB NO 29 @BAL 26 @DAL 28 32
  • A Broncos' rookie running back could be a league winner, which wouldn't have been much of a surprise during draft season. Of course, we would have put our money on Royce Freeman, not Phillip Lindsay, to be the one to carry you to a title. However, Lindsay continues to be the hot hand in Denver's backfield, and now he's got the best schedule for the playoffs in the league. Freeman should benefit from the soft schedule, too, but Lindsay looks like a must-start option from this point on.
  • Joe Mixon will hopefully continue to be the main cog of the Bengals' offense, and he'll benefit from the same matchups as Lindsay, in a different order. He's a must-start, top-15 type back every week.
  • Whether it's Austin Ekeler or Melvin Gordon, someone is going to get great matchups for the Chargers. Ekeler seems likely to be the main option at least until Week 15, with Gordon expected to miss multiple games with his knee injury. Even if Gordon is back by Week 16, Ekeler figures to be a must-start option in that championship game matchup against the Falcons. Not a bad outcome for those of you who took a late-round or early-season waiver flier on him.
  • Gus Edwards is in a similar spot to Ekeler and Lindsay, as an out-of-nowhere player with the chance to help you win a title. He's got two great matchups to open the playoff schedule, with the Chiefs and Buccaneers on the schedule. Figure out Week 16 if you get there — Edwards should play a big part until then.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Peyton Barber isn't someone you're crazy about starting most weeks anyway, but you're going to want to steer clear if he's on your roster come playoff time. In fact, I wouldn't be opposed to dropping him to speculate on a good DST matchup or one of my top handcuffs, because it seems unlikely the schedule is going to offer him a chance to make a positive impact for you.
  • Josh Adams isn't your typical undrafted free agent — injuries pushed him down draft boards, but he ran well at his pro day out of Notre Dame, and has shown out in limited opportunities with the Eagles. We've seen how valuable being the lead back in this offense can be, and if the Eagles are rolling, you won't worry much about matchups. Still, it could be tough to trust him given these matchups.

Best playoff schedules by DST points allowed

Team Week 14 OPP Rank Week 15 OPP Rank Week 16 OPP Rank Total Rank
DET @ARI 1 @BUF 2 MIN 12 1
WSH NYG 14 @JAX 6 @TEN 9 2
JAX @TEN 9 WSH 13 @MIA 7 3
DEN @SF 10 CLE 15 @OAK 5 4
TEN JAX 6 @NYG 14 WSH 13 5
LAR @CHI 26 PHI 8 @ARI 1 6
NYJ @BUF 2 HOU 17 GB 16 7
MIN @SEA 18 MIA 7 @DET 11 8
HOU IND 25 @NYJ 3 @PHI 8 9
DAL PHI 8 @IND 25 TB 4 10
NE @MIA 7 @PIT 29 BUF 2 11
ATL @GB 16 ARI 1 @CAR 24 12
BUF NYJ 3 DET 11 @NE 31 13
NYG @WSH 13 TEN 9 @IND 25 14
CIN @LAC 28 OAK 5 @CLE 15 15
GB ATL 20 @CHI 26 @NYJ 3 16
SEA MIN 12 @SF 10 KC 27 17
MIA NE 31 @MIN 12 JAX 6 18
IND @HOU 17 DAL 19 NYG 14 19
CHI LAR 30 GB 16 @SF 10 20
NO @TB 4 @CAR 24 PIT 29 21
BAL @KC 27 TB 4 @LAC 28 22
ARI DET 11 @ATL 20 LAR 30 23
SF DEN 22 SEA 18 CHI 26 24
PHI @DAL 19 @LAR 30 HOU 17 25
CAR @CLE 15 NO 32 ATL 20 26
CLE CAR 24 @DEN 22 CIN 21 27
PIT @OAK 5 NE 31 @NO 32 28
KC BAL 23 LAC 28 @SEA 18 29
LAC CIN 21 @KC 27 BAL 23 30
OAK PIT 29 @CIN 21 DEN 22 31
TB NO 32 @BAL 23 @DAL 19 32
  • The Lions haven't quite embraced Matt Patricia's defensive identity yet, ranking just 24th in Fantasy scoring among DST units to date. The schedule is so enticing, however, with matchups against the worst and second-worst offenses in the league in terms of points allowed to opposing DST units. And, to the Lions' credit, they do have double-digit outings against the Bears (with Chase Daniel) and Jets, in addition to more impressive outings against the Patriots, Packers and Vikings. I'm not sure I'd trust them in that Week 16 rematch against Minnesota, but the Lions DST could be a nice set-and-forget option for the next two games, and it is available in 79 percent of CBS Fantasy leagues. One thing that should give you pause: Both games are on the road.
  • Washington isn't a great option either, despite the lofty ranking. It gets a middling matchup against a Giants' offense that found its footing in Week 14, and then heads on the road for matchups against the Jaguars and Titans to close out the Fantasy season. I'll roll the Giants out there in Week 15 against Jacksonville no matter who is under center, but if Marcus Mariota is healthy, the Titans aren't a team you seek out. Another problem is, you probably aren't using them in Week 13 against the Eagles. Can you justify holding a DST for two weeks?
  • There isn't one widely available DST I'm looking at for all three weeks, but if you picked up the Titans for Week 13 against the Jets, you'll want to hold them for Week 14 against the Jaguars, too. The Titans owner may want to see if Washington's DST is out there, because then you can just trust it for Week 15's juicy matchup.
  • On the opposite end of things, the Chargers are going to put you in a tough spot. The matchup against the Bengals in Week 14 is obviously a viable one given the absence of Andy Dalton, but you'll have to pass on Week 15's matchup against the Chiefs on the road, and I'm not sure Baltimore's offense is weak enough to make the Chargers worth stashing for a potential championship game. Still, if someone dropped the Ravens for Week 13's matchup against Pittsburgh, they'll be a fine streaming option for Week 14.

So who should you sit and start? And what shocking running back could win you Week 13? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking RB finishes in the top 10 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

Fantasy Writer

Though he can be found covering three different sports depending on the time of year, there is one unifying theme in how Chris Towers approaches sports; "Where's the evidence?" It doesn't matter how outlandish... Full Bio

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