Fantasy Football: Two players at each position with the hardest schedule using PFF's strength of schedule metric

2X3GAHG Denver Broncos first-round selection in the NFL football draft quarterback Bo Nix looks over a jersey after a news conference Friday, April 26, 2024, at the team's headquarters in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

• A tough start for two rookie quarterbacks in 2024: The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots have the most difficult strength of schedules among all teams through the first 10 weeks of the season.

• The Dallas Cowboys’ already-limited backfield will face an uphill battle: Heading into his age-29 season, Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys grade out with the toughest strength of schedule in the league. 

• Check out PFF's Strength of Schedule Tool: PFF's Fantasy Strength of Schedule (SoS) metric provides a league-wide, season-long view of opponent matchups for each fantasy position.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Every year, there are a handful of players considered to be “elite” who are all but opponent-proof… then, there’s the rest of the league. Today, we’re here to focus on the latter – and in particular, those with a challenging schedule that could impede their overall upside for fantasy managers. 

Here’s a look at two players at each position graded with the most difficult schedule (SOS) through the first 10 weeks of the 2024 NFL season using PFF’s strength of schedule tool

Note: SOS ratings grade each team’s schedule by position with a rating from 0-10, with 0 being the most difficult schedule and 10 being the easiest.


Bo Nix, Denver Broncos

  • Strength of schedule (SOS) rating: 0.0/10

Rookie quarterback Bo Nix hasn’t officially been named the starter for the Denver Broncos just yet, but things certainly appear to be trending that way. When he is inevitably named the starter, he’ll need to come to grips with the fact that he’s starting his NFL career with an absolutely brutal stretch of schedule that might just be enough to scare him back to the NCAA. Nix and company will not only play six of their first 10 games on the road, but they’ll also come against the formidable secondaries of the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs (among others).

Nix is surprisingly athletic and could be a viable long-term asset in dynasty, but one look at his rookie schedule is enough to have redraft managers running in the opposite direction.

Drake Maye and Jacoby Brissett, New England Patriots

  • Strength of schedule (SOS) rating: 0.1/10

The New England Patriots quarterbacks room has the second-most difficult schedule through the first 10 weeks of the season with a 0.1 rating. They’ll play seven total games on the road in this span, including a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium (where they’re technically the “home” team). For an offense that is already projected among the bottom of the league due to a lack of weapons in the passing game, their challenging schedule certainly doesn’t help matters.

Honorable mentions: Brock Purdy (49ers), Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)

Running backs

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

  • Strength of schedule (SOS) rating: 0.0/10

The Dallas Cowboys didn’t make much of an investment in the run game this offseason, missing out on Texas prospect Jonathon Brooks in the draft and eventually re-signing veteran Ezekiel Elliott with not much else in the way of competition outside of Rico Dowdle

Elliott heads into his age-29 season coming off a campaign where he posted career lows with 3.5 yards per attempt, 69.2 rushing grade, 2.54 yards after contact per attempt and a 2.6 breakaway yard percentage. Pair his waning performance with shakeups on the offensive line and the absolutely brutal schedule ahead, and Elliott suddenly looks like one of the biggest red flags on the draft board, even if he could be in line for significant volume on one of the league’s most productive offenses. 

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

  • Strength of schedule (SOS) rating: 0.6/10

The Atlanta Falcons got a major upgrade at quarterback this offseason, which is good news for the scoring potential of former No. 8 overall pick Bijan Robinson. However, he’ll have an uphill battle with the rushing defenses in store for him. Robinson’s strength of schedule rating of 0.6/10 ranks third-lowest among running backs, set to face a number of formidable defensive lines, including the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (among others).

Honorable mentions: Javonte Williams (Denver Broncos), Devin Singletary (New York Giants), Najee Harris & Jaylen Warren (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Wide receivers

Marvin Harrison Jr., Arizona Cardinals

  • Strength of schedule (SOS) rating: 0.0/10

Welcome to the NFL, rook! That seems to be a common theme here, with plenty of the 2024 NFL Draft class making the list of “most difficult schedules.” Marvin Harrison Jr. enters the NFL with an elite, NFL-ready skill set that sets him up leaps and bounds ahead of most rookies, but even so, he’ll have his hands full with showdowns against the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills through the first three weeks of the season – three of six teams to earn a 90.0 or higher coverage grade in 2023. 

Tennessee Titans WRs

  • Strength of schedule (SOS) rating: 0.0/10

The Tennessee Titans upgraded their wide receiver room in a big way this offseason by signing veterans Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd, and they’ll need every bit of help they can get taking one look at the schedule. They’ll start the year with matchups against the Chicago Bears secondary, led by Jaylon Johnson whose 91.0 coverage grade ranked second among all defenders last season, followed by a showdown against the New York Jets’ trio of Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed and Michael Carter II

Later down the stretch are matchups against the Bills, who ranked fourth in the league with a 91.2 coverage grade in 2023, a matchup in the dead heat of Miami Gardens (where no one seems to fair particularly well), and against the Detroit Lions

Honorable mentions: Seattle Seahawks WRs, Minnesota Vikings WRs

Tight ends

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

  • Strength of schedule (SOS) rating: 1.4/10

There might not be a trickier evaluation at the tight end position for 2024 than Cleveland BrownsDavid Njoku. Though he closed out the year red-hot with QB Joe Flacco under center, he’ll have to contend with a ripe connection between starter Deshaun Watson and WR Amari Cooper now, as well as a tough schedule. The Browns’ strength-of-schedule rating of 1.4 is the third-lowest in the league (AKA, the third-most difficult).

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

  • Strength of schedule (SOS) rating: 1.7/10

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts just got a big-time upgrade at quarterback with Kirk Cousins, which should do wonders in terms of his catchable target rate. Last year, his 69.8% catchable target rate ranked 42nd among 43 qualifying tight ends. Now, all he’ll have to overcome this season is a challenging upcoming schedule that ranks fifth-hardest in the league. Facing several of the league’s best linebackers in coverage this season, expect Pitts to have his hands full after ranking dead last in separation percentage among tight ends over the past two seasons.

Honorable mentions: Hunter Henry (New England Patriots), George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers)

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