It's Week 14, which for most fantasy leagues means the first round of the playoffs. As promised, then, we're going to revisit fantasy strengths of schedule one last time for pass offenses and run offenses overall. If your league still allows trades or free-agent acquisitions, setting up your starting lineup to feature players with easy playoff schedules might mean the difference between winning and losing the championship. If your league's rosters have been locked, then the information presented herein might mean the difference between hope and despair.
Just to recap one more time for those who haven't read previous installments of the strength-of-schedule series, I've used Football Outsiders' rankings for pass defense DVOA and run defense DVOA (current rankings here) to calculate the average defense each team will face from Weeks 14 to 16. Below is the result, a table displaying the easiest and toughest fantasy playoff schedules for offenses:
I'll be posting the full stats and rankings on Football Outsiders' website either later Wednesday or Thursday, but for now I'll highlight several of the teams listed above that are most likely to actually impact your team.
Baltimore Ravens pass offense (average opponent ranking: 25.7)
Joe Flacco & Co. may, by themselves, propel you to your league's championship game. As we detail below, they face the worst pass defense according to DVOA this week. Next week, they face the second worst. Their Week 16 rematch against the Cleveland Browns isn't as favorable -- especially given the Ravens' passing woes against them last week -- but hopefully fantasy owners have other players to run the anchor leg of their championship relay.
New York Giants pass offense (average opponent ranking: 8.3)
In a case of, "Who cares about real football when you have fantasy football?" the Giants' passing statistics have been pleasing to the eye over the past four games even though their win-loss record hasn't. Based on their schedule over the next three weeks, the Giants might have to shift toward more of a ground attack to win games, thereby leaving Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks owners out to dry with their fantasy seasons on the line.
The easiest matchup for the Giants' pass offense in that period of time is this week's game against the No. 12 Dallas Cowboys pass defense. They then face the No. 11 Washington Redskins in Week 15 before truly sabotaging your championship hopes against the No. 2 New York Jets in Week 16.