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Jahnke: Early look at 2021 fantasy football playoff matchups to target

Nov 29, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL regular season is less than 100 days away. It's great to look forward to Week 1, but the opening week is only so important for fantasy football. It's actually not too early to start looking ahead to the weeks when things will really matter: the fantasy playoffs.

The NFL added a week to the 2021 NFL season, so fantasy playoffs will look a little different this year. As usual, it doesn’t make sense to have the playoffs the final week of the regular season because several teams will be resting players. NFL teams have bye weeks as late as Week 14, which leaves Weeks 15, 16 and 17 as the most logical for the fantasy playoffs. 

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As things currently stand, the following players are lined up with excellent matchups once the fantasy playoffs hit. These were found using PFF's Strength of Schedule tool, which is already live for the 2021 season. 

These players are recommended for redraft leagues as well as bigger best ball contests like Underdog Fantasy’s Best Ball Mania II.  

QB Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Matchups: Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans

The rookie quarterback might not start Week 1, but chances are he will be starting by the end of the season. Lance is a high-upside quarterback thanks to his rushing ability and the talent around him.

The 49ers have three straight games that all look very favorable when the fantasy playoffs hit. These teams gave up the second-, third- and fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks during the 2020 season. The Titans have made some notable moves to upgrade their coverage and pass rush, adding Janoris Jenkins and Bud Dupree in free agency and drafting cornerback Caleb Farley in the first round. That will certainly help the Titans, but the matchup should still be an advantage for San Francisco.

May 25, 2021; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) warms up during Organized Team Activities at San Francisco 49ers Training Facility. Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

These teams were particularly bad at covering wide receivers, which is also good news for those who draft Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. Lance is the perfect late-round draft pick for any fantasy manager willing to be patient.

Honorable Mention:

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
Daniel Jones, New York Giants

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