As recently as 2017 the Fantasy Sports and Games Association estimated  that more than 59 million people played fantasy sports, 80% of that fantasy football. A staggering 47 million then stand to say that on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays they will be a little busy, glued to the television. Newer fans might well be inundated with mountains of articles and oceans of stats. Old hands skip ahead, make their own projections and polish trophies. While the fantasy-curious - the new people- are liable to be met with gatekeepers that seem positioned to keep them from the community. Take this building block if you're in that latter group, actually- either group.Studying schedules is a great first step to your championship season.

 

Deshaun Watson QB Houston Texans: An early worrying sign is the current ADP on ESPN.com for Watson. Coming off the board at pick 42 as the third quarterback taken screams that casual players have not come around to the roster changes that have occurred for him. The fantasyfootballcalculator.com ADP of 64th for dynasty startups, while still the third quarterback taken, is much more palatable than his redraft ADP. Let’s turn towards the actual NFL season and based upon cbssports.com defense versus position data we were able to rank the positional strength of schedule of all 32 teams. The above table shows how the Texans have a bottom five schedule in all major positions outside of running back. His first month opponents (KC, BAL, PIT, MIN) average out to be a top six unit against quarterbacks. Kansas City the only team of the group that wasn’t top six in their own right.

While the addition of receiver Brandin Cooks may lessen the blow of losing a top five receiver in Deandre Hopkins, accounting for schedule, we should expect some drop in production. This early gauntlet features some ferocious pass rushers, T.J. Watt of the Steelers, Calais Campbell and Derek Wofle for the Ravens, so a Texans team that gave up 48 sacks last season might very well be shaking in fear. To pile on,  the Chiefs and Steelers were both top six in defense against receivers. . It’s hard to be immediately optimistic for an offense losing Hopkins who was responsible for most of Watson’s production over the last two seasons. Hopkins accounted for 31% of Watson’s targets, 32% of completions, 34% of yards, and 35% of touchdowns. Watson lost a third of what made him the player he is in the offseason and now he runs into a buzz saw for the first month, a case of early disappointment could be inbound.

Other poor first month schedules: Matt Ryan QB Atlanta Falcons, Daniel Jones QB New York Giants, Ryan Tannehill QB Tennessee Titans. Josh Jacobs RB Las Vegas Raiders: While a new city and new stadium may bask this team in a new light, the same old problems for Jacobs hide in the shadows. A player that saw only 27 targets in his rookie season, he needed to make all he could from his impressive rushing numbers. Therein lies the problem for Jacobs, outside of a layup of a week one matchup against Carolina, the optimism will run out quickly. New Orleans, New England, and Buffalo, all top twelve defenses against running backs finish out the month. New acquisitions Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards at receiver, and pass catching back Theo Riddick further hurts any narrative espousing an increase to that receiving work total.  The reason receiving work matters so much is a safe points floor is then made even when a team is chasing points. This schedule forecasts a chasing-points-scenario for all three games. While home to the Saints, a proposed top 5 offense in points scored is never a good situation for a pure ground game back, especially trying to run against that stellar Saints front four led by defensive end Cameron Jordan. The passing game is going to be needed to chase New Orleans, and Jacobs is not equipped to help there. New England is a different beast. While losing multiple players in both free agency and opt-outs, no team seemingly has home field advantage like the Patriots. For the past two seasons, in only four of the sixteen games played at Foxboro,  have the Patriots given up 21 points or more. Defensive rosters change all the time, but the old general in head coach Bill Belichick still stands, and points are not scored in bunches on his watch. Buffalo has strength in their secondary led by corner Tre’Davious White and safety Micah Hyde. They gave up the second fewest points in 2019, No big deal. Playing to their speed is how head coach Doug McDermott prefers things and eliminating receiving threats puts more pressure on the run game. This could be a disastrous outcome for the Raiders in week four.

Other poor first month schedules: Melvin Gordon RB Denver Broncos, David Johnson RB Houston Texans, Le’Veon Bell RB New York Jets A.J. Green & Tyler Boyd WR Cincinnati Bengals: A quick hit on this pair is warranted. At the time of publication the only rookie quarterback to start week one will be Joe Burrow. The season-long outlook is one matter, the first six weeks is another. With four away games, and four against quality defenses (LAC, PHI, BAL, IND) there is a potential for Burrow to struggle early and hurt the receiver’s production. A.J. Brown WR Tennessee Titans: The Titans are an easy candidate to regress in offense going into 2020. A team that ran the second fewest offensive plays, and coming in at only 15th in total yards, the Titans somehow scored the third most touchdowns at 54. Playing for an offense that currently has no true secondary receiving threat, Brown stands alone for opposing defenses to cover. If we’re looking solely at rankings from last season the Titans have three top ten defenses versus receivers in their first four games. Losing Chris Harris and Derek Wolfe would have sunk the Broncos, but bringing in corner A.J. Bouye for Harris and Jurrell Casey at defensive end for Wolfe keeps them afloat. There is also Bradley Chubb, who is returning after a season ending injury, so at Denver is a very unappealing week one start. Jacksonville is a team that will go without any complimenting, just like Jacobs has a nice week one matchup, Brown has a nice path here in week two.The week three matchup of Tennessee and Minnesota features the 3rd and 4th highest run to pass ratio teams in the NFL.  On top of that heavy run ratio we see both teams being extremely slow, Minnesota third slowest and Tennessee 7th slowest in plays  per game. This game doesn’t seem to play out in Brown’s favor, who has big game upside in spades, five games of 100 yards in his rookie campaign is illustrious what many drafters are expecting.

Brown also has major bust capability with eight games of less than 50 yards, as well as only three games of five receptions or more. The Titans will need to either repeat in just some  insane efficiency or have higher workloads to be successful in slow games such as that. Brown finishes his month against the Steelers. Now with the Ravens down a player after Earl Thomas was dismissed, the Steelers may stand to be the NFL’s best defensive unit.

Other poor first month schedules: Will Fuller & Brandin Cooks WR Houston Texans, Devante Parker & Preston Williams WR Miami Dolphins, Sterling Shepard & Darius Slayton WR New York Giants Travis Kelce TE Kansas City Chiefs: Another quick hitter, three top twelve defenses against is on tap for weeks 2 through 4 for Kelce. The main issue is that Kelce is still, and will be for some time, a Chief, and the Chiefs may just be an offensive juggernaut. So, rock and roll with Kelce, but just in case he struggles, here’s a written warning: he might not be unstoppable coming out of the gate. Mike Gesicki TE Miami Dolphins: Miami is yet another team that must run a back to back New England and Buffalo gambit. A week one matchup that sees Miami trekking up to Foxboro is extremely unideal. Belichick will  have more time to prepare against Miami week one than in any other game, and that should be enough to worry fantasy managers. It’s hard to be excited to start Gesicki against both New England and Buffalo, teams that on average gave up less than four receptions per game to tight ends last season. Both teams were also bottom six in yards given up to tight ends, forty-one yards or less for both teams, which is not appealing. The work will need to be there as it was  towards the end of 2019. Geisicki was Miami’s real second passing option, he is now at best third with receiver Preston Williams returning. A reprieve does come up in week three with a short trek to Jacksonville, and once again no defending a bereft-of-talent Jaguars defense. The most difficult to ascertain matchup will be week four versus Seattle. While the Patriots and Bills are tough matchups on paper, Seattle comes in as the 31st defense versus tight ends. The addition of safety Jamal Adams, who played a large part in the Jets 4th ranked defense versus tight ends in 2019, is just the man to pull this defense out of the gutter againstrue position. Tight ends feast in the middle of the field. A dominating presence such as Adams will take away yards after the catch opportunities, the real way yards are usually picked up for tight ends.

Other poor first month schedules: Darren Waller TE Las Vegas Raiders, Jack Doyle TE Indianapolis Colts

A building block, that is what this article is, what it wants to be. Newer members to the fantasy community we welcome you, we encourage you, we support you. Incremental gains in knowledge and understanding is the best way to build yourself up in fantasy. At the end of the day whether a long time veteran or first year player, a strong base builds towards a better future.

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