The NFL schedule is officially out, and that means we can start breaking things down for fantasy football purposes. Next week we’re going to dive deep into fantasy football strength of schedule, but to kick things off we'll take a quick look at some winners and losers from the 2020 NFL schedule.
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Here at PFF, we do things a bit differently when it comes to fantasy football strength of schedule. Instead of basing things off of fantasy points allowed in the past, we base things on each team’s current roster and use PFF player grades to determine the fantasy football strength of matchup for each skill position. With this methodology, we can account for the actual personnel on the field as opposed to just displaying what happened in the past.
Dak Prescott – No. 2 QB Strength of Matchup Schedule
Not only does he get an additional receiving weapon in CeeDee Lamb, but Prescott also gets a very favorable schedule thanks in part to getting to face his NFC East foes twice. Dallas also has plus matchups with Arizona on the schedule in Week 6 and Cincinnati in Week 14. Prescott should be especially hot in the October with a string of four top-10 matchups against the Giants, Cards, Redskins and Eagles.
Lamar Jackson – No. 4 QB Strength of Matchup Schedule
He doesn’t need it, but Jackson gets a plus schedule in 2020. The reining No. 1 fantasy signal-caller benefits from getting to face the NFC East and has fantastic matchups in the fantasy playoffs with Jacksonville and the Giants on the schedule in Weeks 15 and 16.
Kenyan Drake – No. 5 RB Strength of Matchup Schedule
Drake was a surprise league winner for a lot of fantasy players in 2019. He’s also the beneficiary of a favorable schedule thanks to contests against both the NFC East and AFC East. While the Pats remain a tough matchup out of those teams, Drake should have plenty of room to run in most of those contests. He also gets plus draws in Weeks 3 and 4 against the Lions and Panthers, so expect him to come out the gate fast.
Jonathan Taylor – No. 6 RB Strength of Matchup Schedule
We can’t necessarily say the same thing for Taylor, as he’ll almost certainly open the season in a committee with Marlon Mack. However, we do expect him to emerge as the lead back as the season wears on. Down the stretch, Taylor draws favorable matchups against the Lions, Packers and twice against the Texans.
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – No. 1 WR Strength of Matchup Schedule
Yep, arguably the league’s best wide receiver duo draws the No. 1 schedule for wide receivers. They’ll also be catching passes from some guy named Tom Brady, who draws the No. 6 schedule for quarterbacks. Evans and Godwin get top-12 matchups in a whopping 10 of 16 games thanks to a favorable divisional schedule along with matchups against the Vikings, Giants and Raiders.
Kenny Golladay – No. 2 WR Strength of Matchup Schedule
He’s locked in as a top-10 wideout in our fantasy football rankings and gets a nice draw this season. Golladay plays in a favorable division and also will see matchups against the NFC South, along with the Redskins. His teammate, T.J. Hockenson, also draws the No. 4 matchup for tight ends. With favorable schedules nearly across the board, Matthew Stafford is shaping up to be an ideal late-round target.
Evan Engram – No. 1 TE Strength of Matchup Schedule
Injuries have derailed Engram over the last two seasons, but we know from his rookie campaign that he has elite fantasy potential. If he’s able to stay healthy (and that’s a big if), Engram has the schedule to capitalize for fantasy purposes. He comes out of the gate with plus draws against the Bears and Rams in Weeks 2 and 4, then gets plus matchups in the middle of the season with two contests against the Eagles and wraps things up with favorable games against the Browns and Cards in the fantasy playoffs.
Josh Allen – No. 31 QB Strength of Matchup Schedule
He’s been one of the most productive fantasy quarterbacks over the last two years, but the Bills' schedule isn’t going to do Allen any favors this season. His divisional schedule is a tough one with two games against the Pats and Jets, and he also gets an absolutely brutal stretch to end the season. From Weeks 12-16, Allen faces the Chargers, 49ers, Steelers, Broncos and Patriots. Yikes. This schedule also isn’t favorable for the Bills' backfield, as it’s the worst strength of matchup schedule for running backs.
Melvin Gordon – No. 30 RB Strength of Matchup Schedule
The newly signed Broncos running back could get off to a sluggish start with matchups against the Titans, Steelers, Bucs, Jets and Patriots. It isn’t all bad for Gordon, as he will face the Chiefs in Weeks 7 and 13 and the Panthers in Week 14. However, those are the only top-10 matchups he has all season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – No. 31 RB Strength of Matchup Schedule
With a very similar schedule to Gordon, it could be tough sledding at times for the rookie. We should also note that the Chiefs are expected to use a backfield committee with Damien Williams also seeing touches. While I don’t expect that committee to continue through the whole season, a lack of bell cow volume and a tough schedule to open the season with matchups against the Ravens and Pats in September could lead to frustration among Edwards-Helaire fantasy owners.
DeAndre Hopkins – No. 31 WR Strength of Matchup Schedule
There’s a lot to like about the Cardinals’ passing game heading into this season, but the wide receiver strength of matchup isn’t one of them. Hopkins is going to face touch coverage within his division, especially against San Francisco, which grades out as the toughest matchup for receivers. He’ll bookend the fantasy football season with matchups against the 49ers in Weeks 1 and 16. He’ll also face a tough one with the Patriots in Week 12.
DeVante Parker – No. 30 WR Strength of Matchup Schedule
Speaking of facing the Patriots, Parker will have to see them twice, with the second matchup coming during the fantasy playoffs in Week 15. He’ll also have to content with tough coverage from the NFC West along with having to face Buffalo twice. Of course, another key factor in Parker’s 2020 fantasy outlook is when Tua Tagovailoa will be under center for the Dolphins.
Hayden Hurst – No. 32 WR Strength of Matchup Schedule
Hurst saw one of the biggest boosts in fantasy value after being traded to the Falcons in the offseason, but he gets a rough draw from the schedule-makers. Hurst has only one top-10 matchup for tight ends (Week 3 vs. Chicago). Otherwise, he’ll face rough matchups against the NFC North (especially the Vikings) and against divisional foe New Orleans in Weeks 11 and 13. Hurst’s schedule suggests he should be viewed as more of a matchup-based streamer than a deep fantasy sleeper.