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Fantasy Football: Players to target on teams that spent the most time trailing in 2019

Unlike most other sports, football is an incredibly situational game — tendencies, playcalling and even usage rates differ in relation to the score. 

Time spent trailing — or, inversely, leading — is incredibly relevant in fantasy football. Here, we use PFF’s new strength of schedule metric to help us identify some of the players you can target on teams that spent the most time trailing in 2019.

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Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are a fascinating franchise heading into 2020 with newly appointed head coach Matt Rhule at the helm. We don’t yet know with certainty what the Panthers’ philosophy will be under Rhule, though we do know that they played the third-most snaps (running and passing plays) while trailing in 2019.

The NFC South boasts two of the most impressive teams in the NFL in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints, while the Atlanta Falcons could very well see some positive regression, especially when you factor in the injuries they sustained in 2019.

Then you have the Panthers, who have a relatively flawed roster, most notably on the defensive side of the ball. The most notable losses include linebacker Luke Kuechly and cornerback James Bradberry as well as multiple other starters from a season ago.

It’s likely safe to assume that the Panthers will be spending a decent chunk of time trailing once again in 2020. However, the team has a lot of potential in the passing game, most notably at the wide receiver position, and according to PFF’s fantasy strength of schedule metric, the Panthers’ wide receivers have the seventh easiest schedule in 2020. That makes players such as D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and Robby Anderson prime targets in fantasy football leagues.

Moore is the premier target of the group — his 392 yards after the catch ranked eighth in the league in 2019 while his 13 missed tackles forced after the catch ranked seventh.

Meanwhile, Samuel operated as the deep threat for the Panthers in 2019. His 14.8 average depth of target (aDOT) ranked 21st among all wide receivers with 100-plus snaps. Unluckily for Samuel, though, Carolina's quarterback play severely hindered his production — he had 19 inaccurate incompletions (incompletions that were the result of a poor throw), the 12th most among all receivers in 2019. Any potential improvement from Teddy Bridgewater could lead to a positive regression for Samuel, particularly when working downfield.

Anderson was also slighted by his quarterback play. A noted deep threat, Anderson was thrown 25 inaccurate incompletions, the third most among all receivers in 2019. Both Anderson and Samuel possess the potential to outproduce their totals in 2019, even if the team uses them in similar roles.

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