Preparing for 2023 Fantasy Football Playoffs: NFL Schedule Release

“Preparing for the Playoffs” is a series designed to help you optimize your teams for the fantasy football playoffs. For the first installment of this series, we’re going to gear things toward the best ball tournaments on the DraftKings and Underdog Fantasy platforms. Playoff weeks matter most in all fantasy formats, but this is especially true in best ball tournaments with millions of dollars at stake.

A lot can change between now and December. With that in mind, if you’re drafting teams today, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the advantageous matchups in each week of the fantasy football playoffs. That’s why we’ll provide schedule lookaheads deep into the regular season.

Schedule listings throughout this column are ordered by Week 15, then Week 16, and finally, Week 17 unless otherwise noted. A list of every team’s schedule from Week 15 to Week 17 is at the bottom of this column. All data comes from our flagship tool, The Edge.

Win-Loss Predictions for Every Team | Full 18-Week Schedule 

Top Game Environments

Ideally, we want to build stacks around games between two high-powered offenses that can mitigate their opponent’s pass rush. Those matchups have the most shootout potential. In late December games, indoor venues are a bonus, as they completely remove game-altering weather.

Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
Vikings at Bengals Bills at Chargers Bengals at Chiefs
Cowboys at Bills Lions at Vikings Dolphins at Ravens
Eagles at Seahawks Cowboys at Dolphins Lions at Cowboys
Ravens at Jaguars Cardinals at Bears Cardinals at Eagles

Week 15’s Top Game Environments

Vikings at Bengals: Joe Burrow and Kirk Cousins were top-five in passing touchdowns and yards passing last season. They are also uncommon opponents with above-average offensive lines and premier pass catchers. There’s a clear path to a shootout in this contest.

Cowboys at Bills: The Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys have top-10 caliber offenses and defenses, making this a game that could play out several ways. One of those is a high-scoring affair that breaches 50 total points. Keep in mind Buffalo can have severe weather in December.

Eagles at Seahawks: This is a matchup between top-10 scoring offenses that boasts two of the best groups of pass catchers in the league.

Ravens at Jaguars: This is a matchup between two teams with vulnerable secondaries and MVP contenders at quarterback. When these teams played last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Baltimore Ravens, 28-27.

>> READ: Win Total Bets to Take

Week 16’s Top Game Environments

Bills at Chargers: We don’t have to get too cute here. Justin Herbert play host to Josh Allen in a late-season indoor venue. There’s plenty of shootout potential in this matchup.

Lions at Vikings: These division rivals breached 50 total points in both matchups last season. There also is the benefit of two top-10 offenses that can effectively mitigate their opponent’s pass rush squaring off indoors.

Cowboys at Dolphins: This matchup can play out several different ways, as both teams have top-10 type offenses and top-five caliber defenses. The early line for this game is Miami Dolphins -1.5, which means oddsmakers project this to be a close contest. That’s a plus when two uncommon opponents with highly capable offenses square off.

Cardinals at Bears: If Kyler Murray is back from injury, this contest features two of the most mobile quarterbacks in the sport, each facing one of our defenses to target. Keep in mind that game-altering weather is expected during Chicago winters.

Week 17’s Top Game Environments

Bengals at Chiefs: The fantasy upside in Patrick Mahomes vs. Burrow is obvious. These two teams have played four times in the past two years but have exceeded 51 total points only once during that stretch.

Dolphins at Ravens: When these teams squared off in Week 2 of last season, the Dolphins beat the Ravens, 42-38. We’ve already seen this matchup go nuclear.

Lions at Cowboys: These teams have top-five offensive lines, and both finished in the top five in points scored per game last season. Both sides have considerable upside through the air and on the ground in this indoor matchup.

Cardinals at Eagles: The Philadelphia Eagles are currently -10 favorites in this contest, so this could realistically be a comfortable win for Philadelphia. That said, if Murray is back in action, the Cardinals could push this game into shootout territory. 

Defenses to Target

We want to target defenses with a below-average pass rush or secondary. Ideally, we’d target below-average defenses in both areas. 

Cardinals Defense (vs. SF, at Chi, at Phi): As things stand right now, Arizona has a bottom-five pass rush and cornerback group. It also faces the two best teams in the NFC — the San Francisco 49ers and Eagles — along with a high-potential Chicago Bears offense in the fantasy playoffs.

Rams Defense (vs. Wash, vs. NO (TNF), at NYG): Despite having future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald, the Los Angeles Rams have a below-average pass rush and secondary. The Rams do not face any top-10 caliber offenses in the fantasy playoffs, but they give each of these more middle-of-the-pack offenses a boost for fantasy purposes.

Raiders Defense (vs. LAC (TNF), at KC, at Ind): The Las Vegas Raiders have a high-quality edge group led by Maxx Crosby, but they still have a bottom-tier secondary. This group could get shelled by their high-powered division rivals, the Chargers and Chiefs, to kick off the fantasy playoffs.

Bears Defense (at Cle, vs. Arz, vs. Atl): The Bears have multiple good players at linebacker and in their secondary, but their pass rush remains below average. The Bears’ defense is a good matchup for Deshaun Watson and Murray.

Vikings Defense (at Cin, vs. Det, vs. GB): Passers like Mac Jones and Daniel Jones breached 300 yards passing against the Minnesota Vikings last season. Minnesota has some dangerous pass rushers, but new defensive coordinator Brian Flores is still working with a below-average secondary. Burrow and Jared Goff could surpass 300 yards passing against this Vikings defense in the fantasy playoffs.

>> READ: Betting First Coach to be Fired

Elite Fantasy Quarterback Schedules

Jalen Hurts at Sea, vs. NYG, vs. Arz: The Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants are solid matchups for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ loaded offense, while Arizona is a potential smash spot.

Patrick Mahomes at NE (MNF), vs. LV, vs. Cin: Mahomes is as close to matchup-proof as any quarterback in history, but Week 16’s game vs. the Raiders comes with massive upside. Week 17’s tilt against the Cincinnati Bengals is the obvious top-game environment.

Josh Allen vs. Dal, at LAC, vs. NE: The Bills’ offense runs through Allen, who threw on 65 percent of plays last season. Week 16’s matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers comes with the most upside out of this group, followed by Week 15’s tilt with the Cowboys.

Lamar Jackson at Jax (SNF), vs. SF (MNF), vs. Mia: Lamar Jackson can hang points on virtually any opponent, but he could face two top-five defenses in Weeks 16 and 17.

Justin Fields at Cle, vs. Arz, vs. Atl: Justin Fields has a good-looking fantasy playoffs schedule, capped off by two plus matchups against the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons. Fields is the most volatile option among this group, but he comes with a slate-breaking rushing upside.

Joe Burrow vs. Min, at Pit, at KC: Burrow has slate-breaking upside in any contest, but he has two potential shootouts in the fantasy playoffs against the Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs. The Bengals also beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 37-30 in their Week 11 meeting last season.

Justin Herbert at LV (TNF), vs. Buf, at Den: Herbert gets a bottom-10 Raiders secondary in Week 15, but he gets two top-10 units in Buffalo and the Denver Broncos to finish the fantasy playoffs.

Trevor Lawrence vs. Bal (SNF), at TB, vs. Car: The Jaguars beat the Ravens 28-27 in Week 12 last season, which shows the shootout potential in that matchup. The Jaguars are currently -3.5 road favorites against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and -5 favorites against the Carolina Panthers.

Isolated Quarterback Matchups

Week 15

Russell Wilson at Lions: Russell Wilson is on the comeback trail after a disastrous 2022 season. We are bullish on a bounce-back season out of Wilson, giving this indoor contest in Detroit some high-scoring potential. When projecting a range of outcomes for Wilson this season, keep in mind the Broncos scored 24 or more points in three of his final four games. Two of those outputs came against the Chiefs and the Chargers.

Week 16

Deshaun Watson at Texans: Watson did not look like his old self when he began his Cleveland Browns season against the Houston Texans last season. In Week 16, he’ll get his second crack against a Texans team projected to finish comfortably below .500.

Week 17

Anthony Richardson vs. Raiders: Anthony Richardson is a dual-threat quarterback who draws a bottom-five Raiders defense for championship week. As a bonus, this contest is indoors. Richardson also has an appealing matchup against the Falcons in Week 16.

>> READ: 5 Teams With Easiest Schedule

Running Back Smash Spots

Week 15

Derrick Henry vs. Texans: Houston allowed the most yards rushing to running backs last season. Derrick Henry has breached 200 yards rushing in four of his previous five meetings against the Texans. Henry had 126 yards rushing in the other.

Josh Jacobs at Chargers: Brandon Staley’s Chargers gave up the second most yards rushing to running backs last season. Josh Jacobs has exceeded 100 yards on the ground in two of his previous three outings against Los Angeles.

Week 16

Nick Chubb at Texans: After dealing with Henry in Week 15, last year’s worst run defense draws Nick Chubb behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.

Derrick Henry vs. Seahawks: Speaking of the Big Dog, Henry draws last year’s sixth-worst run defense against running backs in the Seahawks. In 2021, Henry ran for 182 yards and three scores while adding six receptions for 55 yards receiving against the Seahawks.

Week 17

Derrick Henry at Texans: Houston draws its ground-based nemesis for the second time in three weeks. If Henry is fully operational for the fantasy playoffs, he has a tremendous three-game stretch here.

Najee Harris at Seahawks: Not only did the Seahawks surrender the sixth most yards rushing to running backs last season, but they gave up the fifth most yards receiving to the position. Najee Harris will run behind a significantly improved Steelers’ offensive line this season, and he’s one of the few runners in the league who could see 20 carries with more than five targets in a game.

Breece Hall at Browns (TNF): Often, it takes a full year for a running back to return to peak form after suffering a season-ending knee injury like the one Breece Hall did last season. With that in mind, the Browns allowed the fifth most yards rushing to running backs last season. Hall is capable of massive spike games when he’s at full throttle.

Top 10 Fantasy WR Schedules

Justin Jefferson at Cin, vs. Det, vs. GB (SNF): Bengals vs. Vikings is the top game environment for Week 15 and a potential smash spot for everyone involved. Justin Jefferson torched the Detroit Lions for 223 yards receiving in one game and the Green Bay Packers for 184 and two scores in last year’s opener. Jefferson has a massive ceiling in all of these contests.

Ja’Marr Chase vs. Min, at Pit, at KC: If the Vikings secondary plays as it did in the wild-card round against the Giants last year, Ja’Marr Chase could destroy the Week 15 slate. Chase had 10 receptions for 129 yards receiving and a score in his lone matchup with the Steelers last season. Chase was held to 97 and 75 yards receiving against the Chiefs last season, but he went nuclear for an 11-266-3 line against Kansas City in 2021.

Tyreek Hill vs. NYJ, vs. Dal, at Bal: The New York Jets allowed the fewest yards receiving to wide receivers last year, but the Cowboys and Ravens were in the bottom 10 in that category. Freak athletes like Tyreek Hill tend to have an advantage against uncommon opponents, like Dallas is for Miami.

Cooper Kupp vs. Wash, vs. NO (TNF), at NYG: Cooper Kupp nearly split his reps between the slot and perimeter last season. The Washington Commanders gave up the eighth-most PPR points to slot receivers last year. The New Orleans Saints surrendered the 12th-most PPR points to perimeter receivers in 2022, while the Giants allowed the sixth-most. The Giants led the league in man coverage rate last season, making Week 17’s matchup even more appealing for Kupp, who is among the league’s best route runners.

Stefon Diggs vs. Dal, at LAC, vs. NE: The New England Patriots gave up the eighth-most yards receiving to wide receivers last year while the Cowboys allowed the ninth-most. The Chargers were on the other side of the spectrum, giving up the 24th-most yards receiving to the position. Stefon Diggs will face his brother, Trevon, when the Bills play the Cowboys. Diggs breached 90 yards receiving in both of his matchups against New England last year.

A.J. Brown at Sea, vs. NYG, vs. Arz: A.J. Brown played most of his reps on the perimeter last season. Seattle allowed the fewest PPR points to perimeter receivers in 2022. The Giants gave up the sixth-most, while the Cardinals allowed the 18th-most. Brown didn’t have an overly impactful fantasy output in any of his three games against the Giants last year, nor did he in his matchup with the Cardinals.

Davante Adams vs. LAC (TNF), at KC, at Ind: The Chiefs (17th), Chargers (24th) and Indianapolis Colts (25th) were each above-average pass defenses in terms of yards receiving allowed to wide receivers in 2022. Davante Adams surpassed 100 yards receiving twice against the Chargers and once against the Chiefs last season.

Ceedee Lamb at Buf, at Mia, vs. Det: The Lions allowed the second-most yards receiving to wide receivers last year, but they’ve added considerable talent to their secondary. Miami and Buffalo have top-10 secondaries entering the season. That said, each of these matchups has legitimate shootout potential. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. Den, at Min, at Dal: Denver gave up the third-fewest yards receiving to wide receivers last season. Minnesota allowed the most, while Dallas surrendered the ninth most. Amon-Ra St. Brown had six receptions on nine targets for 68 and 73 yards receiving in his matchups with the Vikings last year.

Garrett Wilson at Mia, vs. Wash, at Cle (TNF): The Dolphins and Commanders were in the middle of the pack in yards allowed to wide receivers last year. Both teams upgraded their secondaries this offseason. Cleveland gave up the fifth-fewest yards receiving to wide receivers last year. Garrett Wilson gets a massive quarterback upgrade with Aaron Rodgers’ arrival in New York.

Premium Fantasy TE Schedules

Travis Kelce at NE (MNF), vs. LV, vs. Cin: The Patriots allowed the 24th-most yards receiving to tight ends last season. Travis Kelce will be the pass-catcher Bill Belichick’s opponent-specific game plan focuses on the most. Kelce was held below 50 yards receiving in both of his matchups against the Raiders last year. The Bengals held Kelce to 56 and 78 yards receiving last season.

T.J. Hockenson at Cin, vs. Det, vs. GB (SNF): The Bengals gave up the 10th-most yards receiving to tight ends in 2022 while the Lions surrendered the 14th-most. The Packers allowed the second-fewest yards receiving to tight ends last year. T.J. Hockenson was a volume monster once he was traded to Minnesota last season.

Mark Andrews at Jax (SNF), vs. SF (MNF), vs. Mia: Jacksonville allowed the fourth-most yards receiving to opposing tight ends in 2022. The 49ers gave up the 22nd-most, while the Dolphins allowed the eighth-most. Mark Andrews faces two top-five caliber defenses in Weeks 16 and 17.

George Kittle at Arz, vs. Bal (MNF), at Wash: The Cardinals surrendered the third-most yards receiving to tight ends last season. Baltimore allowed the seventh-fewest, while the Commanders gave up the fifth-fewest.

>> READ: 5 Teams With Hardest Schedule

Under the Radar Matchups

Week 15

Jets at Dolphins: This game between division rivals could play out in many ways, as both teams have high-upside offenses paired with top-five-level defenses. Similar to the Packers vs. Vikings games of the past, this matchup has some shootout potential.

Giants at Saints: This is a late-season indoor game between two solid quarterbacks where neither defensive line should have a significant advantage. When these two teams met in 2021, the Giants won 27-21 in overtime behind Jones’ 402 yards passing.

Week 16

Bengals at Steelers: In Week 11 of last year, the Bengals beat the Steelers 37-30. That type of shootout shouldn’t be the expectation, but it’s on the table between these AFC North rivals.

Colts at Falcons: This is an intriguing indoor matchup between two young but ascending offenses that each will face league-average defenses. Richardson, Jonathan Taylor, Drake London, Kyle Pitts and Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite Bijan Robinson have considerable upside in this matchup.

Week 17

Chargers at Broncos: Denver beat Los Angeles 31-28 in last year’s season finale.

Falcons at Bears: This contest could come with adverse weather, but these are two young, talented offenses facing league-average (at best) defenses.

Jets at Browns: Cleveland often has a severe wind game or two late in the year, but any matchup with Rodgers and Watson at quarterback needs to be on your radar.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule for Every Team

Arizona Cardinals: vs. SF, at Chi, at Phi

Atlanta Falcons: at Car, vs. Ind, at Chi

Baltimore Ravens: at Jax (SNF), vs. SF (MNF), vs. Mia

Buffalo Bills: vs. Dal, at LAC, vs. NE

Carolina Panthers: vs. Atl, vs. GB, at Jax

Chicago Bears: at Cle, vs. Arz, vs. Atl

Cincinnati Bengals: vs. Min, at Pit, at KC

Cleveland Browns: vs. Chi, at Hou, vs. NJY (TNF)

Dallas Cowboys: at Buf, at Mia, vs. Det

Denver Broncos: at Det, vs. NE (SNF), vs. LAC

Detroit Lions: vs. Den, at Min, at Dal

Green Bay Packers: vs. TB, at Car, at Min (SNF)

Houston Texans: at Ten, vs. Cle, vs. Ten

Indianapolis Colts: vs. Pit, at Atl, vs. LV

Jacksonville Jaguars: vs. Bal (SNF), at TB, vs. Car

Kansas City Chiefs: at NE (MNF), vs. LV, vs. Cin

Los Angeles Chargers: at LV (TNF), vs. Buf, at Den

Los Angeles Rams: vs. Wash, vs. NO (TNF), at NYG

Las Vegas Raiders: vs. LAC (TNF), at KC, at Ind

Miami Dolphins: vs. NYJ, vs. Dal, at Bal

Minnesota Vikings: at Cin, vs. Det, vs. GB (SNF)

New England Patriots: vs. KC (MNF), at Den (SNF), at Buf

New Orleans Saints: vs. NYG, at LAR (TNF), at TB

New York Giants: at NO, at Phi, vs. LAR

New York Jets: at Mia, vs. Wash, at Cle (TNF)

Philadelphia Eagles: at Sea, vs. NYG, vs. Arz

Pittsburgh Steelers: at Ind, vs. Cin, at Sea

San Francisco 49ers: at Arz, vs. Bal (MNF), at Wash

Seattle Seahawks: vs. Phi, at Ten, vs. Pit

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: at GB, vs. Jax, vs. NO

Tennessee Titans: vs. Hou, vs. Sea, at Hou

Washington Commanders: at LAR, at NYJ, vs. SF

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