Draft Engine Expert Analysis

fantasy football, fantasy, NFL, strength of schedule, wide receivers, davante adams, dj chark, allen robinson
Strength of Schedule: Wide Receivers
Before drafting your fantasy football teams, you're going to want to know which wide receivers have favorable/tough matchups.
Zachary Cohen
29 July, 2020

At DraftEngine, we use unique and proprietary algorithms to assess how a player’s fantasy output will be affected by the quality of their opponent. On a very basic level, we do not use popular “fantasy points against” stats, but rather we factor in the caliber of previous opponents when assessing a defense. Over the course of a
season, teams will face differing degrees of opponent quality at every position, making fantasy points against easy to misuse. Oversimplifying for clarity: Allowing 250 WR receiving yards to the Buccaneers or Rams is calculated far differently than allowing 250 WR receiving yards to the Ravens or Raiders.

While we realize a lot can change once the 2020 season gets started—and rest assured our calculations are adjusted after every game—here’s a look at some fantasy strength-of-schedule considerations going into the season. We’ll tell you which opponents to target or avoid if you’re streaming or have a deep bench, and we’ll highlight some players whose schedules project to affect their fantasy value.

Defenses to target

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins allowed 27 WR receiving TD last year, five more than any other team.

Detroit Lions: With an inept pass rush and a mediocre defensive backfield, the Lions were gashed by every half-decent passing game they faced down the stretch last year. And now top CB Darius Slay is gone.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs allowed the most receptions (240) and yards (3,176) to WRs last season.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings allowed 70 or more yards to 11 WRs in the second half of 2019 alone. With Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes gone, they’ll be relying on a lot of young, unproven cornerbacks this year.

New York Giants: Ten WRs dropped 20 or more PPR fantasy points against the Giants last year. Seventeen WRs tallied at least 14 PPR points. The Giants’ cornerbacks resembled Madden on rookie mode most games.

Defenses to avoid

New England Patriots: The Patriots secondary held WRs to just four receiving TD in 17 games last season.

Kansas City Chiefs: Only the Patriots allowed fewer fantasy points to WR than the Chiefs did last year.

Buffalo Bills: Only one WR reached 100 yards versus the Bills last year. And while garbage-time points count just the same in fantasy, it’s worth noting that all of DeVante Parker’s 135 yards came when the Dolphins were trailing by double digits.

Chicago Bears: Only the Bills and Patriots allowed fewer WR receiving TD than Chicago did last season.

WRs with favorable schedules

Allen Robinson/Anthony Miller (CHI): The Bears play the Lions and Vikings twice, plus the Giants and Bucs. By our metrics, those are four of the five easiest defenses for fantasy WRs. Robinson racked up 44 catches for 547 yards in six divisional games last season, while Miller’s four best career games have come against teams on the schedule in 2020.

Davante Adams (GNB): Last year, Adams played nine games against teams he’ll face again in 2020. In those games, he played at a 126-catch, 1,659-yard pace.

D.J. Chark (JAX): Chark scored four TD against the AFC South last season, and this year he gets tantalizing non-divisional matchups with the Dolphins, Lions and Vikings.

WRs with tough schedules

Brandin Cooks/Will Fuller (HOU): Starting the season with the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers is rough. Two games against the Jaguars could also be a time to bench Cooks and Fuller, as Jacksonville held Houston WRs to
just 233 yards in two games last season.

DeVante Parker (MIA): The start of Miami’s season (New England, Buffalo, Jacksonville) could prove frustrating for fantasy owners banking on another garbage-time bonanza from Parker. Weeks 14 and 15 versus the Chiefs and Patriots might be two key fantasy weeks in which Parker needs to be benched.

Marquise Brown (BAL): The Ravens schedule projects to be so easy on their running game, it seems unlikely Brown will get many targets. Non-divisional matchups with the Chiefs, Patriots and Jaguars don’t bode well. And it’s worth noting that in 2019 games against teams that are on Baltimore’s 2020 schedule, Brown played at a 42/530/4 pace; against teams he won’t face this year, he produced at a 67/851/13 pace.