Winners, Losers and Overreactions from the NFL Schedule

Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 5:31 pm ET

Winners, Losers and Overreactions from the NFL Schedule


Written By: Zachary Dennison

Twitter: @dennydoitster15

Instagram: Zach_Dennison_

If you have any questions for me or if you want to discuss this at all, my DMs are always open, give me a follow and let's talk Fantasy. 

The NFL schedule just released and like everyone I’m putting together my thoughts on it, trying not to overreact to anything. I will probably go through and do my predictions for each NFL team’s schedule and will probably get 95% wrong like almost everybody who does their schedule predictions too. But what I will do for everyone who comes to check out these articles is to call out some winners, losers and some overreactions we don't need to fall for after this schedule release. It’s hard to do, it is what us fans love to do the most and over react to a NFL schedule and say the NFL screwed “them”.  When in reality we don't know what injuries are going to pop up, players that are going to breakout, older players that just can't play anymore and what young players show they’re busts. This is the time of year when everyone is hopeful and thinks their team is going to bust out a 13-4 season and that this is going to be their year. It’s fine I’ve done it with my favorite team, sometimes I’m right other times way off, but that’s the ups and downs that comes from being a fan. I’m going to be writing this article a little differently than most, my winners and losers will only be by a slight margin, these fantasy players have so many factors working for or against them, the schedule won't really come into effect in till about week 6-8, that's when we’ll really be able to see how the matchups will affect our fantasy players in the fantasy playoffs. I try to wait in till a little after the NFL schedule drops for me to do this since I do like to see everyones reations and over reactions to the schedule, so I'm going to start things off with my winners from the schedule release.



NFC South Wide Receivers - After the schedule release the teams in this division have some of the easiest schedules when it comes to opposing defensive backs and pass rushes they face. Now this doesn't mean you can just start moving all these players up your boards since the schedule is never actually meant to come out and automaticlly move players up and down the board, but it is meant to be kept in the back of your mind as a tie breaker. Now this tie breaker right now only works for 3 out of the 4 teams since the Saints are still figuring out if they're going to have a run first QB as their starter or a gunslinger. With Wintson fire that offense up too, but between DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, Kyle Pitts, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, this might be the most talented set of wide receivers all in the same divison we've had in a while. The reason they're winners is because they get to face eachother twice each this year and all these pass defenses are below average at best, even the Bucs had some games where opposing receivers ate them up. They also get the NFC and AFC east as part of their schedules, which means games against the cowboys, jets and eagles who all have what we would call awful pass defenses in the league. It might be tough to sort out who you want to draft and where on each of these teams, but DJ Moore, Calvin Ridley and Chris Godwin are all on my must own list. Godwin is going to be a great value, he's going in the 4th-6th round range again after a injury filled year, but in the games he played he was spectacular, I see a big comeback year from him in 2021.


Denver Broncos O-Weapons - Fire up some Jerry Jeudy, Cortland Sutton, Gordon, Javonte Williams and Noah Fant. These guys can't all possibly break out, especially since it’s most likely it’s going to be a run first offense. But with a schedule like theres I’d be willing to take the risk on some of these guys now more than I was before the schedule release. With a schedule that’s going to be one of the easiest when it comes to opposing defenses and their fantasy playoff schedule is looking pretty great too, getting the Lions, Bengals and Raiders in the end of the year fantasy playoff stretch. Now don't overreact, it is still a Teddy Bridgewater/Drew Lock qb room, unless Drew Lock took a step towards franchise QB in this offseason this offense could still be a stagnant one. If they were to get an Aaron Rodgers this offseason than you can start moving all the offensive weapons up by a round or two, but in till that day happens, if ever, just keep the Broncos schedule in the back of your mind when you go into your drafts.


Sam Darnold Truthers - This one includes myself being someone who has been a fan of Sam since he came out of college. I’ve seen some people actually say Zach Wilson will have a better fantasy season this year, like yeah the dude that’s only played weak competition at BYU and looks like he’s 16 is going to be better than the guy who’s played in the league the last 3 years. The Panthers got a lot of weak pass rushes on the schedule against them, with the Bucs being the toughest two games for opposing pass rush being in the same division. They have about 7-10 games this year facing teams with very weak secondaries, with a lot of those same teams having no real pass rushers on those teams. He could be looked at as a fantasy sleeper in the later rounds, or a nice back up that could fill in when your starter has a tough matchup or is on bye.



Pittsburgh Steelers Offense - Not getting any offensive lineman early in the draft was the 2nd big hit that offense took after losing three starters prior to the draft. Now they get hit with one of the hardest schedules in the league, I was already down on Juju and Claypool with Big Ben as their QB, but with a bad line now I am becoming more down on the offense as a whole Dionte Johnson and his massive target share included. Najee Harris might be one of the few I’m still confident in and that's just because of the massive amount of touches he is going to get this year on all 3 downs. But other than the RB position this team will have some rough streches, Dionte will go through his share of games where he drops the ball to much, JuJu always seems to go through couple game streches where he completely disappears during the season and who knows what Ben we get this year another year older with a bunch of games where he is going to take a beating.


Both Joe Mixon and Josh Jacobs - Jacobs was already a loser from this offseason after they added Kenyan Drake to the backfield. But this schedule is not an easy one, he gets to face some of the toughest run defenses from last year and some of the other teams should be well improved at their run defense. Plus with an O-line that got worse this offseason it is not looking good for the Josh Jacobs lovers. The Mixon being on the loser chart is more of a just be cautious with drafting him ahead of other top backs. He is still more of a winner than loser this offseason because of Gio being gone and an improved offensive line and more offensive talent. But he gets a brutal early schedule and an even harder set in the fantasy playoffs, between the rough start and finish he can definitely be considered a loser from the schedule drop.


Kyle Pitts and his redraft owners - Let’s start with his future redraft league owners, since the schedule has dropped his adp has continued to rise since he was drafted. I’m going to let everyone know one thing, this guy is NOT going to be a top 8 tight end even, only one tight end in fantasy history has finished top 12 in their rookie year and that was Evan Engram when the top 3 receiving options on that team all got hurt for most of the season. So let’s slow down on Pitts hype, they still have Julio for now, ridley and hurst. While under Aurther Smith at Tennessee, Jonnu’s top target season was 66, now I think Pitts gets past that threshold. Plus let’s get to why Pitts is a loser and that is his schedule, he gets plenty of really tough matchups early and late in the season, now I’m sure we’ll see some breakout games where he gets 8 catches, 100+ yards and a TD. I just don't know if there will be enough of those games this year to justify him going ahead of Hockenson, Andrews, and Godert.




Don’t change your Board’s - So many people go to their early season draft boards after the NFL releases the schedule and moves players up and down based on that. Don’t be one of those fantasy players that falls for the hype and hoopla, the schedule release as I’ve mentioned in previous parts of this post is meant to be used as a tiebreaker when it comes down to a couple players and you can't decide. I know there are even more of you out there that haven’t even checked in on fantasy yet considering we are still months away from the season, this is just as much for people who won't start doing fantasy research till a couple weeks before the season. For those people don't base your picks too much on how easy or hard a player's schedule looks, half these teams that had great defenses last year, will only be average this year, just like there will be plenty of defenses that were bad last year that will become really good in 2021, which is the perfect segway to my next topic. 

2020 and 2021 defenses are the same - I started part of this in my last post, these teams change so much year to year in this league it’s not even funny. The way to really look at the NFL schedule is by looking at positional groups, like for wide receivers, don't look at how these defenses played in 2020 but look at the opposing corners they face and the opposing pass rushers vs the offensive line. Now even players decline or get injured mid season, so it’s not an exact science but if you actually wanted to go ahead and maybe see what players get a hot start to the season, or have a lot of favorable matchups around the fantasy playoffs, this is the way to do it, not by looking at defenses as a whole or by what these defenses did last year, by looking at position groups, maybe what teams got new defensive coordinators or what teams lost their DCs and could struggle early. So try not to overreact to all these graphics you’ll see of what teams have the easiest SOS or what teams have the hardest SOS.



If you have any questions for me or if you want to discuss this at all, my DMs are always open, give me a follow and let's talk Fantasy.



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