Thursday, November 20, 2008

Using the NFL schedule to your advantage

As the days get colder and the NFL moves into Week 12, our thoughts begin to turn toward playoff time.

Every week is critical now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and begin to position our teams for a postseason run. It’s time to take a serious look at the remainder of the NFL schedule and the matchups that will help you maximize your fantasy team’s potential.

I often use statistical rankings as a guide for which teams are the toughest and easiest to run and pass against. Of course anything can happen on any given week, but a quarterback who faces a few of the league’s 10 weakest pass defenses in the coming weeks is more likely to outperform his peers and give your team a boost in these critical games.

I’ve analyzed the schedule and crunched the numbers for you. Here are some of the players with the best and worst matchups in the next few weeks:


g Matt Ryan and Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons bobbled last week’s potential game-winning bomb, but after a tough test this week against Carolina, they should shine against San Diego and New Orleans in Weeks 13 and 14.

g Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte’s been on a decent roll lately. That should continue this week against St. Louis and pick up again when he closes out the season vs. Green Bay and Houston.

g Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s pinky shouldn’t be much of a problem against San Francisco this week or Seattle the next - assuming he's done hanging out with homeless dudes.

g Jamal Lewis hasn’t cracked 90 rushing yards in a game this season for the Cleveland Browns. His best chances come when his team hosts Houston this week and Indianapolis the next — then the fun’s over at Tennessee.

g As if the Titans’ running duo of LenDale White and Chris Johnson wasn’t already valuable, check out these upcoming opponents: Detroit (Week 13), Cleveland (Week 14), Houston (Week 15) and Indianapolis (Week 17).

g Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington gets to air it out against St. Louis, San Francisco, Kansas City and his old team, the Jets, in four of the season’s final five weeks.

g Jeff Garcia of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could do some damage against Detroit this week, New Orleans the next and San Diego’s league-worst pass defense in Week 16, aka the Super Bowl in most fantasy leagues.

g Brett Favre and his receiving corps could put on a show against Denver (Week 13), San Francisco (Week 14) and Seattle (Week 16).

g Buffalo’s Trent Edwards and Lee Evans have been relegated to the bench in most leagues. But they might be able to get back on track thanks to a schedule that includes Kansas City, San Francisco, the New York Jets and Denver.


g Marion Barber deserves the benefit of the doubt, but his Cowboys face a brutal stretch of run-stuffers starting in Week 13 — Pittsburgh, the Giants and Baltimore.

g Detroit Lions rookie RB Kevin Smith also must run a brutal three-game gauntlet starting this week — Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Minnesota.

g It looks like Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is starting to break out of his funk, and facing Cincinnati this week might continue the trend. But after that he meets four brick walls known as New England, Dallas, Baltimore and Tennessee.

g You hardly ever sit Saints QB Drew Brees, but be warned: He faces two of the league’s top five pass defenses (Green Bay, Tampa Bay) the next two weeks.

g Washington Redskins RB Clinton Portis has been excellent this year when healthy. So he might just be a little less excellent against the Giants and Ravens in Weeks 13 and 14.

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