The fantasy playoffs usually don’t start until week 14 of the regular season. That may seem far away, but if you start preparing now, your team will be unstoppable when the time comes. While defenses can under/over perform throughout the season and thus impact the favorability of fantasy playoff matchups, you can at least be prepared for what is likely to happen and use this as input for your draft strategy. The top defenses will still likely be pretty hard to beat, and the bottom defenses likely won’t get a ton better. With that said, let’s take a look at some 2017 quarterbacks who have favorable and unfavorable schedules in fantasy crunch time.
2017 Quarterbacks: Good Playoff Schedules
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
The New Orleans Saints have been notoriously awful at stopping the pass the last few years. I have a difficult time seeing that changing much. The Falcons play the Saints in Week 14 and 16. In 17 career regular season games vs. the Saints, Ryan threw for over 5,000 yards and 30 scores against just 8 picks. In the last 3 years, Ryan averaged 328 yards and 2.3 touchdowns vs. New Orleans.
Sandwich those games with a middling Buccaneers squad in week 15, and you have a nice outlook in the playoffs for Ryan.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Carr heads into week 14 with a tough matchup against Kansas City. The Raiders star has never had a great fantasy day against the Chiefs, especially in Arrowhead Stadium. Carr averaged less than 200 yards and a score in his 3 career games in KC. If you can get away with streaming a guy like Carson Wentz (vs. LAR), Sam Bradford (vs. CAR), or whomever the Houston starting QB is (vs. SF), then you get a beautiful week 15/16 slate against Dallas and Philly. Neither has a cornerback worth a lick and should get roasted by the Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree combo.
2017 Quarterbacks: Bad Playoff Schedules
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Week 14 starts out in LA vs. a Chargers defense that should be very difficult to pass against with Jason Verrett coming back to join Casey Heyward & co. It doesn’t get any easier after that vs. Arizona’s vaunted Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. To put icing on the cake, Cousins faces the league’s top cornerback duo in Chris Harris & Aquib Talib when they play Denver in week 16. For my money, I would be looking for streaming options each of those weeks, making it hard for me to want to invest a draft pick in Cousins. However, fantasy owners could take advantage of his much easier early-season schedule. If you draft Cousins, look to trade after week 8 when he will face Seattle, Minnesota, and the Giants all before his ugly playoff schedule.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Aside from a few good matchups, Dak really has a tough season all around. His playoff schedule (@NYG, @OAK, vs. SEA) is rough. Two road games against teams with solid secondaries, and then a home game against the nasty Seahawks in week 16? I’ll pass. Dallas’ defense could force Prescott to throw more and that may not necessarily be a good thing. Ezekiel Elliot’s new suspension won’t help either. Dak has a bright future ahead, but don’t be shocked if he experiences a sophomore slump.