Week 7: Analyzing Ease of Schedule

By Jen Ryan
(Reference Link: http://www.footballdiehards.com/eosforecast.cfm)

There are a few great matchups this week for both receivers and running backs. The teams I am looking at today don’t just have great Week 7 matchups but their next three games look savory as well. Whenever I consult our Ease of Schedule tool I take a hard look at the current matchups but I always factor in the following weeks as well. Here are some teams who have great matchups this week and beyond.

Arizona Cardinals – v. Baltimore Ravens, @ Cleveland Browns, BYE
Carson Palmer has a dream matchup at home against the Baltimore Ravens this week. The Ravens are allowing a league high 21.5 fantasy points to opposing receivers. Derek Carr, Josh McCown, and Colin Kaepernick all went for over 20 fantasy points against this defense. Palmer is a far superior quarterback than those three and should have a field day tearing apart the Ravens defense this weekend. The following week he will travel to Cleveland to face the Browns who are allowing 17.8 points to quarterbacks. Palmer’s worst fantasy week this season was 16 points. He should pick apart Cleveland as well.

Receivers Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd will all be beneficiaries of Palmer’s sweet matchup this week and next. The Ravens are ridiculously bad against receivers and only the Kansas City Chiefs are worse. They have allowed nine touchdowns this season and an average of 222 yards per game to receivers. Anyone of these players can go off this week or next against the Browns who have surrendered seven touchdowns this season and an average of 172 yards per game to receivers.

The Arizona backfield, mainly Chris Johnson, also has to be chomping at his gold plated teeth at these next two matchups. The Ravens will give him a bigger headache than the Browns, as they have only allowed a single 100 yard game this season and two rushing touchdowns, but Johnson’s role in the passing game should still give him great upside this week. The Browns, on the other hand, have provided running backs with double digit fantasy days each week with the exception of Week 2 where the held the Tennessee Titans back field to four fantasy points. That says more about the Titans than it does about the Browns.

Verdict: Carson Palmer, the current QB5, is in more of my daily lineups than I can count right now. He very well could see his best fantasy performance this week and should keep the points train moving right along into Week 8 before they go into the bye as the leader of their division. Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown have seen the most action from Palmer, with Brown steadily outpacing Fitzgerald in targets and receptions over the past three games. I have my money on contrarian play Michael Floyd to return value this week. Chris Johnson is the back to own in Arizona and while I will have some exposure to him this week I expect him to be one of, if not the, highest owned backs against the Browns in Week 8.

New Orleans Saints - @ Indianapolis Colts, v. New York Giants, v. Tennessee Titans
Drew Brees, his receiving corps, and the Saints backfield all have favorable matchups over the next three weeks with the exception of Tennessee vs. the pass and New York vs. the run. Brees is averaging points in the teens and the Colts defense is allowing quarterbacks fantasy points in the teens so you can conclude that Brees should have a typical day against the Colts. The Giants and the Titans are similar matchups but it should be noted that Colin Kaepernick hit the 20 point mark against New York and Tyrod Taylor gave Tennessee their only 20+ point quarterback performance. It should also be noted that these are mobile quarterbacks so Brees will likely put up his usual numbers.

Willie Snead is the most exciting receiver in New Orleans at the moment and that will remain true this week against the Colts. Brandon Coleman will have the hassle of dealing with Vontae Davis all afternoon but could see his numbers trend upward the following two weeks. Both the Giants and Titans have allowed double digit days to receivers in all but one game respectively.

Mark Ingram is the RB3 behind Devonta Freeman and Matt Forte, who he only trails by eight fantasy points. He dominates the touches in the Saints backfield and has been playing as a top tier running back. Of his three upcoming matchups all are favorable except for the New York Giants. Though the Giants are not a favorable matchup for backs they are still allowing an average of 18 fantasy points to them this season.

Verdict: Drew Brees’ upcoming schedule should see him stay the course in terms of fantasy scoring. He could always have a boom week but his safe floor in the upper teens makes him a great play. Ingram is playing lights out and should continue to do so but I am taking a good look at Khiry Robinson this week and next to contribute in the passing game and possibly see some looks in the red zone on passing downs. Snead has emerged as the WR1 in New Orleans. Coleman’s preseason ADP is starting to look like an enormous miss but his Week 8 matchup against the New York Giants will be worth considering as a play.

Minnesota Vikings - @ Detroit Lions, @ Chicago Bears, vs. St. Louis Rams
Teddy Bridgewater has massively underperformed this season. Outside of his two double digit scoring games he scored a combined 19 points in his three other contests. His four interceptions to three touchdowns ratio is perplexing considering the high hopes the fantasy world had for Bridgewater in his second season. The Vikings transition to a run heavy team with the return of Adrian Peterson figured to take a hit on Bridgewater’s numbers but his poor play thus far was certainly unexpected. He will have two chances to redeem those who are willing to take a chance on him before a difficult Week 9 game against the St. Louis Rams.

Adrian Peterson was drafted like an RB1 but has only performed like one on a few occasions this season. At this moment he is outside of the top ten. Norv Turner was supposed to give Peterson more passing targets from the backfield than he has seen in his career but this has not come true yet. Peterson has a chance to turn that all around over his next few games.

The receiving corps in Minnesota is a tricky one to pin down each week. Mike Wallace is the top receiver on the Vikings but he too has underperformed. Charles Johnson had a great outlook as the WR2 but before a rib injury sidelined him he put up three clunkers to start the season. Stefon Diggs has emerged over the past two weeks as a legitimate play in PPR leagues but practice reports from this week have him as the WR4 on the depth chart. The Vikings offense at this moment makes little to no sense.

Verdict: Right now it is hard to trust anyone outside of Adrian Peterson or possibly Kyle Rudolph as a bye week filler in the hopes that he scores a touchdown. These next two games for the Vikings offense overall will say a lot about what we can expect from these players. Peterson is a top back this week and I love Wallace’s upside but I would like to see what they do against the crumbling Lions before deciding who to fire up for their game against the equally awful Bears defense.

As I say each week, our Ease of Schedule tool is so much more than a quick glance at red and blue. Further analysis will help you make smart fantasy football decisions for this week and beyond. At this point you should already be focusing on the final weeks of the fantasy season to consider matchups for your playoffs and championships. It is important to win now but it is equally as important to start making the necessary moves to secure players with favorable matchups before your trade deadlines.