One way to plan for a championship season is to look at matchups during the fantasy playoffs, which we’ll call Week’s 14, 15 and 16. Will our players still be healthy? Will the NFL have devolved into a Thunderdome match? Will civilization still be around? Who knows, but we’re in the fantasy football business and when drafting a player, we want to consider as many factors as possible.
Good playoff matchups
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are the only team with three home games Week’s 14-16, which is good in itself, but add in favorable rushing matchups and Josh Jacobs makes for a strong back to finish your fantasy season. In Week 14, the Raiders face the Colts, then the Chargers and end with the Dolphins in Week 16. Each of those teams ranked 20th or worse in defensive efficiency last season. Jacobs had all seven of his touchdowns at home last year and in wins. There is a good chance they’re favored at least in two of these games, giving him a good shot at production.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
We know what Henry can do, but good matchups are good matchups and when the Titans take on the Jaguars, Lions and Packers in the fantasy playoffs, his upside will be high. Those three teams all ranked 31st, 23rd and 29th in fantasy points allowed to running backs last season. Only the Lions game is at home, which isn’t ideal, but each of these matchups should give Henry enough opportunity to get on a roll.
Gordon moves to a team with a better offensive line in 2020 and after an extremely tough first five matchups, gets it much easier from Week 6 on. That includes his fantasy playoff matchups, as he gets the Chiefs in Week 13, Panthers Week 14, Bills Week 15 and Chargers Week 16. Each one of those teams ranks 18th or worse in run defense efficiency while the Panthers were the worst in the league last season.
Poor playoff matchups
You really can’t get a much worse stretch of matchups for Cook for the fantasy playoffs. Coming off two home games against the two worst rush defenses last season, the Panthers and Jaguars, they head to Tampa Bay in Week 14, then return home to face Chicago and then back on the road on short rest to take on New Orleans. That’s a murderer’s row for running backs.
Drake came on strong after being traded to the Cardinals from Miami and has kept his lead back job after the bulk of offseason moves. Playing in the NFC West isn’t great for matchups, but to start the season Drake has a fairly easy run defense schedule. But, Week 12 will put a stop to that, as the Cardinals’ schedule goes — at Patriots, vs. Rams, at Giants, vs. Eagles, vs. 49ers. As long as he’s seeing good work as a receiver, he still has upside, but the team will need to be playing well at this point for to help him put up strong numbers.
Chubb has a good schedule overall and is very much worth an early pick this season, but he will have some tough sledding in the fantasy playoffs. He does manage to miss the Steelers one, as they matchup in Week 17, but the playoffs have him at home against the Ravens in Week 14 and then on the road to take on the Giants and Jets. The Ravens weren’t great against the run last season, but they added help this offseason and I expect them to move back into the top tiers against the run. The Giants and Jets’ offenses hurt their run defense but when it comes to efficiency, they both ranked in the Top-7.