If we knew how every 2019 NFL game would play out, we'd all be a whole lot richer. There are plenty of smart people in Vegas doing their best to predict outcomes, and these can become a part of your fantasy football draft strategy. Strength of schedule obviously doesn't always play out as its expected to in the preseason. Injuries happen, players bust, and honestly, they're all just playing with an oddly shaped ball that can take weird bounces. The same is true of the fantasy playoff schedule: There's definitely some shifting to be expected, but looking at Weeks 14 through 16 right now can matter come winning time.
Of course, there are multiple ways to determine strength of schedule for the upcoming season. One popular method is to look at 2018 winning percentages. However, there's so much movement and change every offseason that those aren't representative of each team's talent for '19.
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Instead, we've taken the over-under win totals from OddsShark to give each team a talent factor for the upcoming season. They aren't perfect (for one, they take whole team strength into account rather than just a particular side of the ball that could be more relevant to fantasy matchups), but they're a simple method for understanding each team's 2019 expected talent level.
The chart below displays the averaged, projected winning percentage of a given NFL squad's opponents for 2019 based on the winning percentage each opponent would churn out if they hit their over-under total exactly. (A math note: The over/unders that include halves shifted the scale to a few more wins than will actually occur in the 2019 season, so that's why there are more percentages above .500 than below. It doesn't affect the actual strength factor, though.)
2019 NFL Strength of Schedule
Over-Under Factor SOS
So, what should you take from this? There are a lot of good quarterbacks who play relatively easy schedules: Tom Brady, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Carson Wentz, Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, and Jared Goff. At the other end, what projects to be a rough year for Denver and Miami might be even a bit worse than expected. Maybe that hurts Phillip Lindsay and Kenyan Drake a tad. Also, be aware that Houston's overall schedule is tough, but you'll see why Deshaun Watson might be the QB you want in the fantasy playoffs below.
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Week 14 vs. Broncos
Week 15 @ Titans
Week 16 @ Buccaneers
If you make it to the fantasy playoffs through the meat of the Texans' schedule, you get a little dessert in Weeks 14-16. It's always nice to have warm-weather/dome games in December, and all three of these fit that bill. After facing a tough test against New England in Week 13, Houston starts the fantasy playoffs with a matchup against the meager Broncos. Denver has a solid defense on paper and Deshuan Watson might be running for his life, but the Broncos could be out of the playoff hunt by then, and they won't be taking chances with injured players.
Then Houston heads on the road for a meeting with Tennessee, who the Texans host in Week 17. There could be a ton of divisional implications on the line in this game, meaning the Texans will surely play anyone who's a bit iffy and go with their best options for all four quarters. And then if your fantasy team is still alive, Watson and co. should engage in a serious shootout in Tampa Bay on fantasy championship Sunday.
Week 14 @ Giants
Week 15 @ Jets
Week 16 vs. Bengals
The obvious caveat here is that Weeks 14 and 15 spent in the northeast could feature some snow, but odds are that the most rostered MIami player, even deep into the season, will be running back Kenyan Drake. So even a bit of snow shouldn't really affect him. Rather, matchups with two so-so New York teams could lead to big games for Drake.
Then in Week 16, a Bengals team that will probably be out of playoff contention will travel to Miami. Both might be thinking a bit about draft position by that point, so there might be a question of who features in the game. But whatever Dolphins players get touches that day should have room to produce.
Week 14 vs. Chiefs
Week 15 @ Bengals
Week 16 vs. Bills
The fantasy playoffs begin for New England with a marquee matchup against Kansas City in the late-afternoon slot that Sunday. KC's defense isn't terrible and the Chiefs are obviously a good team, but just like 2018 Week 1, the Patriots should hang with the Chiefs in a high-scoring affair, regardless of the final outcome.
A trip to Cincinnati shouldn't pose any issues for Tom Brady and Co. New England might be primed to put the final nail in the coffin of the Bengals' season. And then in Week 16, there's always a chance Buffalo has an outside hope of winning the division still. As they've done consistently in recent memory, New England will rise to the occasion and squash those dreams in dominating fashion, a good day for all your Pats' players in your fantasy championships.
Week 14 vs. 49ers
Week 15 vs. Colts
Week 16 @ Titans
It's always gotta be fun to own Saints players competing at home down the stretch of the season. Meaningful games at home are where Drew Brees and his receivers seem to thrive. A matchup with a terrible San Francisco defense should help Saints players come through in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. After that, New Orleans shouldn't be too slowed by a decent Indy defense in a game that could wind up with both teams breaking 30 points.
Traveling to Nashville for Week 16 isn't a game that has a lot of public cachet, but that's not important. Nothing impressive stands out about Tennessee's defense, so someone on New Orleans should cap your fantasy season off with yet another big week, although he wish that game wasn't on the road.
Week 14 @ Eagles
Week 15 vs. Dolphins
Week 16 @ Redskins
The Giants might get hammered by the Eagles in Week 14, but that doesn't mean Saquon Barkley can't put up garbage-time numbers against an average defense. And it gets much better the next two weeks, as New York will take on two teams projected to be fighting for draft position. Someone's gotta produce in those matchups of bad teams, and once again Barkley (and Evan Engram) figure to step up.
Week 14 @ Cardinals
Week 15 vs. Bills
Week 16 @ Jets
The highest any of these defenses slot in our preseason rankings is the Cardinals at No. 22. I shouldn't need to explain to you why that's appealing. Of course, things could change over the course of a long season, but if things shake out as we expect, the Steelers should put up a lot of points in the fantasy playoffs.
There's always a chance Weeks 15 and 16 feature weather prohibitive to Ben Roethlisberger's production, but it's not like Big Ben hasn't played in the cold before. Expect three straight games of 30 or more points for Pittsburgh at just the time you need Roethlisberger, James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster to carry you to victory.
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Week 14 @ Bears
Week 15 vs. Rams
Week 16 @ Eagles
You won't be sitting Ezekiel Elliott no matter who he's playing in these final weeks, but Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper might be a different stories. Heading to Soldier Field to play the best defense in football is no one's idea of a cup of tea. Then you throw in a meeting with Aaron Donald the next week and it would be difficult to picture yourself making the fantasy football championship if you're too dependent on Cowboys.
Week 16 won't be a fun one either. It could be a cold day in Philadelphia with divisional stakes on the line. And since you're most likely to be counting on Zeke, it's important to note that the addition of Malik Jackson on the interior should give Philly a pretty effective run defense.
Week 14 vs. Steelers
Week 15 vs. Browns
Week 16 @ Seahaws
By midseason, Kyler Murray may finally have settled in to the NFL routine. He might be a part of the reason you make the fantasy playoffs. But, man, I wouldn't want anything to do with him in this stretch. We have Pittsburgh as a top-five fantasy defense. They're somewhat susceptible to points but you can bet they will be coming for Murray all game long. Cleveland will be looking to complete one of their best seasons in recent memory.
And for whatever the opposite of icing on the cake is, Murray and Arizona have to head to Seattle in Week 16. That building will be rocking and it might be the biggest test Murray faces on the road all season. You wouldn't want to be counting on him (or his receivers) in a situation where it would be easy to see him having a rough game.
Week 14 @ Saints
Week 15 vs. Falcons
Week 16 vs. Rams
For Weeks 14 and 15, this stretch isn't overly intimidating from a defensive opponent standpoint. San Francisco should put up some points in those weeks, but it's doubtful they're the better team on the field in either game -- especially in New Orleans against an aggressive Saints defense. If the other offenses control the game, there's only so much Jimmy Garoppolo can do.
But those matchups pale in comparison to Week 16 against the Rams. The NFL hasn't announced that game time yet, leaving it open to flex scheduling into a primetime slot. You know Aaron Donald would love to pressure Garoppolo all game long. I certainly wouldn't want my quarterback to need to overcome the Rams to win a fantasy football title.