By Jen Ryan
(Reference Link: http://www.footballdiehards.com/eosforecast.cfm)
Last week, we took a look at a few teams who had favorable match ups over the next few games as well as the remainder of the season using our East of Schedule tool. It is meant to be used as a reference but I am here to analyze these matchups for you. This week presents friendly matchups to consider when setting your lineups in season long and daily leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars - @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, vs. Houston Texans, vs. Buffalo Bills
Jaguars receivers don’t just have a favorable match up this week but they get two more before the bye when they will be at Houston in Week 6 and at Buffalo in Week 7. Matchups will become difficult after the bye week and the Jaguars do not have a favorable matchup after the Buffalo game. Starting Week 9, Jaguars receivers will have five difficult matchups and three neutral matchups remaining. Things do look bright for Jacksonville receivers during the fantasy playoffs when they face the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, and New Orleans Saints.
Running backs, specifically T.J. Yeldon, also have a favorable matchup against the Buccaneers this week. The coaching staff appears confident in allowing Yeldon workhorse duties and has given him 20+ carries in two of their past three games. After Week 5, Yeldon will have six unfavorable matchups compared to four favorable. If you look ahead to his playoff schedule you will see that Yeldon will be worth riding out for the rest of the season. He will have a difficult time running on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15 but he could run wild in your fantasy Super Bowl in Week 16 against the New Orleans Saints.
Verdict: The next three weeks present great opportunities to use both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Robinson is the flashier name of the two but it is Hurns who is proving to be the more efficient receiver, completing 73% of his targets as opposed to Robinson who is managing a sub-par 37.5% completion rate. Hurns saw more targets than Robinson in Week 4 and if that trend continues we could see the more efficient receiver of the two pull away. Hurns is consistently around $1,500 cheaper than Robinson on Draft Kings. I highly recommend using him while the cost is still low.
It may be hard to acquire Yeldon now that he had his first 100 yard game but he is certainly a back to target if you are in the trade market. There will be opportunities to use him in daily games as well, especially towards the end of the season.
San Diego Chargers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, @ Green Bay Packers, vs. Oakland Raiders
Keenan Allen could be in for very strong outings over the remainder of the season. Philip Rivers has just two difficult matchups against the pass remaining on the schedule: Week 6 at Green Bay and Week 13 against Denver. Stevie Johnson looks like he could miss a few games, leaving the heavily targeted Allen with all the opportunity in the world. With Antonio Gates returning from a four game suspension this week the entire Chargers offense could have high scoring fantasy outputs this week and beyond.
The picture is not quite as pretty for running backs, who have six difficult matchups remaining, but there is still reason for optimism. While I am not particularly high on Melvin Gordon I am very high on Danny Woodhead. You could argue he belongs lumped in with the receivers due to his usage in the passing game, but it is important to remember that he is also being used as the goal line back.
Verdict: The Chargers offense in general should be fantasy contributors for the remainder of the season. Keenan Allen is explosive and Philip Rivers looks to him often throughout each game. Ladarius Green performed well in Gates’ absence but Gates should resume his role as the TE1 for the Chargers and a TE1 in fantasy football. Danny Woodhead appears to have not missed a beat after missing most of last season. His receiving contributions, usage in the red zone, and ridiculously low price in daily fantasy make him a weekly starter in all formats. He has yet to crack the $5,000 price point.
Arizona Cardinals - @ Detroit Lions, @ Pittsburgh Steelers, vs. Baltimore Ravens
Larry Fitzgerald is the 3rd highest fantasy scorer this season just behind Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. His five touchdowns are more than any player who is not a quarterback. Carson Palmer is playing lights out and so is his veteran receiver. John Brown has been lost in this mix a bit but still sees his opportunities due to minimal usage of tight ends in Bruce Arian’s offense. The Cardinals next for matchups leading up to their bye are against teams that are on the softer side against the pass. This bodes well for their running backs as well.
Chris Johnson is another veteran who has been a surprise in this offense. He contributes on the ground and through the air. Pass catching specialist Andre Ellington is also gearing up for a return, possibly even this week. Running backs have just one unfavorable matchup on the ground prior to the bye when they play at Pittsburgh.
Verdict: If you want Larry Fitzgerald in your season long leagues you will have to pay top dollar for him. Despite his success there are still nine receivers priced higher than Fitzgerald who currently sits at $6,800. This is a bargain considering his production. Keep playing him while he continues to be underpriced. Chris Johnson is not giving you much if he does not score and if Ellington eats into his carries he may not be worth rostering too much longer. Take a chance on John Brown when you choose to due to his upside, but he can be maddening to predict due to Fitzgerald’s sheer dominance. All these points are facilitated by Carson Palmer who has been a bargain in season long leagues and daily fantasy alike.
Even though our Ease of Schedule Forecast is generally used as a reference tool you can really use it to your advantage when you dig deeper. This goes for both redraft and daily fantasy. Matchups are far too important to overlook and need to be a factor in your decision making. Think short term and long term when using Ease of Schedule and use these matchups to your benefit when submitting rosters or building winning rosters in daily fantasy.