Fantasy football playoff schedules, or matchups in Weeks 14-16, are something we talked about way back in the preseason. They feel like they will matter in making the difference between a fantasy championship and a heartbreaking postseason loss. It's just hard to put much draft stock into fantasy playoff schedules because injuries, surprises, and depth chart changes make it tough enough to just make the playoffs, never mind trying to forecast what teams will look like in December. However, we know there will be sleepers and busts in those weeks, and now that we have a much better feel for what matchups will look like, we can find some potential trade targets as we near the fantasy trade deadline in your leagues.
There are a lot of good names at both ends of the list, especially the bad matchup side. You wouldn't care if a middling third receiver had a bad matchup, nor will you really care if a "must-start" like Patrick Mahomes does because you know you're playing him anyway. If a player like Mahomes (or Cooper Kupp or Alvin Kamara) is on the "worst matchups" lists, it doesn't mean you should trade him; rather it means you should at least file that information away and arm yourself accordingly. And remember, you have to get to Week 14 for any of these to matter.
Headlining the good matchups, as he really has all season, is Tom Brady. We've grouped four or more players at every position, laid out there fantasy playoff schedule, and given a brief piece of analysis. Some of the schedules are scary because of one or two matchups, and others have all three games that we'd like to avoid. When it comes to the D/STs we list, it's hard to plan that far ahead if you're streaming the position, but as soon as your playoff spot is secure, it could be worth it.
Most of the matchups in here won't get markedly better or worse, so this should be a resource for fantasy owners from now until the conclusion of the fantasy football season.
When is the fantasy football trade deadline?
While you should check your league rules to see if your trade deadline is different, these are the main sites' default trade deadlines. All the deadlines are at the conclusion of the dates listed, essentially 11:59 p.m. on those dates.
Yahoo: November 9
ESPN: November 21
CBS: November 14
Fantasy Playoff Schedules: QB
Schedules listed below all reflect Weeks 14-16, the most popular sequence of fantasy playoff weeks.
Best QB matchups
Baker Mayfield, Browns vs. CIN, @ ARI, vs. BAL
It's fair if you've given up on Mayfield, but the Browns have a favorable schedule down the stretch, including in the fantasy playoffs. He's even been dropped in some leagues, so if you're contending, he's worth a stash in hopes things get better in time to take advantage of these matchups.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers @ NO, vs. ATL, vs. LAR
Garoppolo's upside will always be capped by the amount San Francisco runs, but this is a good stretch for him, especially that Week 15 game against Atlanta.
Tom Brady, Patriots vs. KC, @ CIN, vs. BUF
Yes, the Patriots schedule has been easy all season, and, yes, it stays that way during the fantasy playoffs, at least for the first two weeks.
Gardner Minshew/Nick Foles, Jaguars vs. LAC, @ OAK, @ ATL
Minshew or Foles could win some fantasy championships in Atlanta in Week 16. That secondary will get torched by DJ Chark.
Daniel Jones, Giants @ PHI, vs. MIA, @ WAS
Jones will continue to be up-and-down in his rookie season, but there could be more up than down when we get to this finishing stretch.
Worst QB matchups
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs @ NE, vs. DEN, @ CHI
You're not benching Mahomes ever, but if you had a really enticing trade offer for him, there will be other ways to handle the fantasy playoffs.
Josh Allen, Bills vs. BAL, @ PIT, @ NE
New England is the scariest part here -- we wouldn't want any part of Allen in that rematch of a three-interception game earlier this season.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys @ CHI, vs. LAR, @ PHI
The Eagles' secondary is exploitable if you can get to your championship, but it will be tough for Prescott to get you there.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers vs. WAS, vs. CHI, @ MIN
Rodgers should play well against Washington before two tough matchups to close out the fantasy season.
Fantasy Playoff Matchups: RB
Best RB matchups
Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt, Browns vs. CIN, @ ARI, vs. BAL
He's an every-week start (and Kareem Hunt shouldn't change that), and he'll be especially valuable in the fantasy playoffs. Hunt looks like he'll be a PPR weapon, too.
Kalen Ballage, Dolphins @ NYJ, @ NYG, vs. CIN
He's not good, but if he's getting touches, he'll have a chance to score in these matchups.
Mark Ingram, Ravens @ BUF, vs. NYJ, @ CLE
Ingram's workload hasn't been as high as hoped, but he'll be able to dominate efficiently in Weeks 14-16 no matter the quantity.
David Montgomery, Bears vs. DAL, @ GB, vs. KC
Assuming the rookie doesn't break down as the season goes on, he should close the season on a high note.
Derrius Guice, Redskins @ GB, vs. PHI, vs. NYG
As long as Guice is healthy, he'll be in a lot of fantasy lineups down the stretch -- better pick him up now in the leagues he's still available. Of course, he could be hurt again by the time Week 14 rolls around, which means one more December in the sun for Adrian Peterson.
MORE: RB handcuffs Chart
Worst RB matchups
LeSean McCoy or Damien Williams, Chiefs @ NE, vs. DEN, @ CHI
Yuck, yuck, yuck. There's no telling whose job it is at this point, either.
Alvin Kamara, Saints vs. SF, vs. IND, @ TEN
Like Mahomes, you won't sit Kamara, but maybe you can shop him if you're really bought in on embracing fantasy playoff matchups.
Devonta Freeman or Brian Hill, Falcons vs. CAR, @ SF, vs. JAX
We'd be especially wary of Week 15 against the 49ers.
Todd Gurley, Rams vs. SEA, @ DAL, @ SF
Trying to win a fantasy championship running against the 49ers might be futile for Gurley.
Marlon Mack, Colts @ TB, @ NO, vs. CAR
These are teams better passed on than run on, so Mack's role might be less than you'd hope for. (UPDATE: With Mack suffering a broken hand in Week 11, the Colts starter might be Jonathan Williams.)
Fantasy Playoff Schedule: WR
Best WR matchups
Terry McLaurin, Redskins @ GB, vs. PHI, vs. NYG
This comes with a grain of salt, as the QB play in Washington could've bounced all over the place between now and then. McLaurin is good enough to rise above that anyway in Weeks 15 and 16.
DJ Chark, Jaguars vs. LAC, @ OAK, @ ATL
Chark's been great, and nothing about this down-the-stretch schedule will change that.
Deebo Samuel/Emmanuel Sanders, 49ers @ NO, vs. ATL, vs. LAR
There's still a few weeks to ensure that Sanders is trustable in San Francisco's offense, and if so, he'll be a great play in the fantasy postseason.
Sterling Shepard/Golden Tate/Darius Slayton, Giants, @ PHI, vs. MIA, @ WAS
Who knows health-wise with these guys, but some Giants' receiver will play well during the fantasy playoffs.
Worst WR matchups
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs @ NE, vs. DEN, @ CHI
Like Mahomes, it's tough to sit Hill. But these games could be more bust than boom for the Chiefs' No. 1 WR.
Michael Thomas, Saints vs. SF, vs. IND, @ TEN
Thomas should play OK in these games against teams that have limited passing success more through overall secondary play rather than one or two lockdown corners.
Julio Jones/Calvin Ridley, Falcons vs. CAR, @ SF, vs. JAX
Julio will be an auto-start regardless but could be held down slightly, and Ridley might be a sit for a few of these games.
Rams WRs vs. SEA, @ DAL, @ SF
All these good receivers facing San Francisco in the fantasy playoffs will go a long way toward determining fantasy football fates.
Fantasy Playoffs: TE
Best TE matchups
Darren Fells, Texans vs. DEN, @ TEN, @ TB
Fells has been sneaky good all season, and he can cap it off with some title-winning touchdowns.
Gerald Everett, Rams vs. SEA, @ DAL, @ SF
There's always a chance Tyler Higbee pushes his way back into the conversation here, but expect it to be Everett.
Greg Olsen, Panthers @ ATL, vs. SEA, @ IND
Olsen could hang them up at any point now, so this could be a strong conclusion to a solid career.
Hunter Henry, Chargers @ JAX, vs. MIN, vs. OAK
You'd be starting him regardless, but maybe you try and trade for him to shore up your TE spot as a contender.
Zach Ertz/Dallas Goedert, Eagles vs. NYG, @ WAS, vs. DAL
Both might seem like solid plays by the time Week 14 roles around.
Worst TE matchups
Travis Kelce, Chiefs @ NE, vs. DEN, @ CHI
Another player you wouldn't ever sit, but he's shoppable when you consider this closing schedule.
Mark Andrews, Ravens @ BUF, vs. NYJ, @ CLE
Buffalo and the Jets are both average defenses that defend the tight end very well.
Vance McDonald, Steelers @ ARI, vs. BUF, @ NYJ
Arizona's a great matchup and you know that - but McDonald is a Week 14 play and then drop because the Bills and Jets should shut him down.
Jonnu Smith/Delanie Walker, Titans @ OAK, vs. HOU, vs. NO
If playing time here is still a question, too, we'd stay far away.
D/ST Fantasy Playoff streams
Best D/ST matchups
New England Patriots vs. KC, @ CIN, vs. BUF
Obviously we don't like KC in Week 14, but if you can make it through that, Weeks 15 and 16 should allow fantasy's top defense to lead you to glory.
Baltimore Ravens @ BUF, vs. NYJ, @ CLE
The Browns offense could be clicking by Week 16, but don't count on it.
Green Bay Packers vs. WAS, vs. CHI, @ MIN
We don't love the Packers' run defense against Dalvin Cook in Week 16, but they can get you there with two great matchups before that.
Houston Texans vs. DEN, @ TEN, @ TB
No J.J. Watt, no problem against these teams.
Kansas City Chiefs @ NE, vs. DEN, @ CHI
Find a different Week 14 option, but then ride KC to a fantasy championship.
New York Giants @ PHI, vs. MIA, @ WAS
Philly feels like a tougher matchup than it is, but if you don't like that, be sure to stash the Giants for Weeks 15 and 16 as Miami and Washington tank as hard as they can.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ ARI, vs. BUF, @ NYJ
Turnovers should come Pittsburgh's way aplenty in this stretch, and they've also got the Week 16 Le'Veon Bell revenge game.
Worst D/ST matchups
Buffalo Bills vs. BAL, @ PIT, @ NE
Pittsburgh and Mason Rudolph could turn out OK for Buffalo, but Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady won't.
Carolina Panthers @ ATL, vs. SEA, @ IND
Carolina's pass rush could neutralize Atlanta, but there are a lot of weapons in these three offenses.
Chicago Bears vs. DAL, @ GB, vs. KC
Weird to think you'd draft the Bears early only to bench them in the fantasy playoffs, but do you really want to play them against Zeke, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes?
Denver Broncos @ HOU, @ KC, vs. DET
Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes should keep Denver far from your fantasy playoff roster.
Los Angeles Rams vs. SEA, @ DAL, @ SF
The Rams are another highly drafted D/ST that won't have a great go of it down the stretch.
San Francico 49ers @ NO, vs. ATL, vs. LAR
San Francisco has proven itself worthy of every-week consideration, and maybe Atlanta will be vulnerable, but none of these will be easy games to hold the oppoisition's scoring down.