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Players Poised To Start Strong With Soft Early Schedules


It's been more than two months since the NFL released the full 17-week schedules for the 2020 season. We have no idea if we will get to actually watch any football during the upcoming fall and winter, but here's to hoping. If we make it there, though, the strength of schedule will always make a huge impact on how successful your fantasy team performs in your league. In DFS football there are no worries about planning for season-long runs in contrast to redraft leagues. Each weekend you pick your brand new team trying to exploit the best matchups and run with it. Not so easy in leagues where you have to draft your squad prior to the start of the season.

Even if that's the case, early soft SOS should absolutely be taken into consideration when you draft your team, or at least when it comes to making late-round picks or snatching some free agents from the waiver wire to start the year. Although often overlooked, picking players expected to put on huge performances from Week 1 and during the first few matches can be key to lock up a playoff spot. The longer you hesitate on putting a player in your starting lineup, the worse. You need to be ahead of the competition as soon as you can.

That's what I'm doing here today. I'm highlighting three teams with the easiest schedules from Weeks 1 to 5 and the players that can benefit the most from that early stretch of games so you can go ahead and erase any doubt you have about drafting them, or in the case of those with "less" value, go ahead and pick them for free before any other fantasy GM does so. Let's get to it!

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San Francisco 49ers

The Niners start 2020 with the softest five-week slate of games in the whole NFL. San Francisco will be facing the worst and second-worst averaged defenses against the run and the pass respectively. That's a cupcake start for the year right there, no matter how you look at it. The Niners, though, don't have many players with an ADP inside the top-12 or top-24 players at their position, which might make you pause before drafting some of them.

  • Tight end George Kittle is a must-draft player at his position if you want to invest a high draft pick on a TE. And I'm not talking just for the first few weeks, but rather the whole season. He's a known asset and PFF has him finishing 2020 as the TE1 with 251.1 PPR points. So there's that.
  • More pressing is Raheem Mostert's situation. While currently getting drafted as the RB24, he projects to finish the year as the RB12 (234.4 points) but he's allegedly asked for a trade and he might be out of San Francisco by the time the season starts. If something indicates a change in that position and he becomes a lock to retain the RB1 status on the Niners, then you can safely draft him inside the first six rounds. He would rack up huge points during the first weeks of the year so if he ultimately gets traded you'd be selling him as high as possible. Win-win situation.
  • While Deebo Samuel has the best WR-projection of any Niners' receiver he's currently injured and he might miss a few games. Fade Samuel given the unknowns he carries and the fact that he won't be able to fully exploit this early soft schedule.
  • Samuel's status opens the door to other players, namely WRs Brandon Aiyuk and Jalen Hurd. The greatest thing about these two is that their current ADPs are 142.3 and 230.8 respectively, getting off draft boards as the WR64 and WR122. That's like saying they're going mostly undrafted and available for free after drafts. Given the super-soft early schedule of San Francisco and the potential absence of Samuel, both Aiyuk and Hurd should be FLEX targets at the very least, with the upside of getting big numbers early boosting his price to flip them for something valuable after Week 5.
  • Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a lock to be the starter at QB, but he's also a middling fantasy option. He's currently the QB21 by positional ADP and PFF has him finishing the year as QB20. He's only draftable in two-QB leagues, so pass on him but don't hesitate to stream him during the first few games of the year if available for free once your draft is finished.

 

Chicago Bears

The Bears will benefit the most on the running side of the game during the first five weeks of the season. Chicago faces the second-softest SOS overall during that span only behind San Francisco, and that's made up of the softest opponents at stopping the run and the fifth-softest against the pass. That bodes well for Bears truthers, as the QB situation of Chicago is not exactly clear while the backfield should be.

  • While I expect QB Mitchell Trubisky to be in the starting lineup come Week 1, the word on the streets is that there will be an open competition between him and QB Nick Foles to see who gets the first start. I don't believe it and think Chicago will keep riding Trubisky until it becomes untenable, but we'll see. Same with Garoppolo above, don't waste a draft pick on either quarterback. Let them slip and, if anything, get them for free and stream them at some point during the first five-week span if your actual starter faces way strong competition and tough matchups.
  • Don't let the shaky quarterback situation move you away from WR Allen Robinson II. Robinson is a stud and seemingly QB-proof. He's getting drafted as the WR9 and although that might seem a little overboard (he's projected to finish 2020 as the WR24) he has the upside to play as a high-end WR2 or low-end WR1 all year long. Draft Robinson and enjoy the ride, more than anything during the first few games of the season.
  • Now what will matter the most around Chicago is its backfield. It will face the softest SOS for the first five weeks and it will feature two clearly contrasting RBs in David Montgomery (the rusher) and Tarik Cohen (the pass-catcher). Montgomery is currently the RB25 (ADP 61.9) and Cohen the RB38 (ADP 125.2). At those prices, both of them should return positive ROIs as they are projected to rank above their current draft positions. Montgomery projects to 218 carries (57.9% of Chicago's) for 167.4 PPR points, and Cohen is expected to see 72 targets (16.1%) to finish as the third most-targeted Bear while racking up 155.9 PPR points through the year.
  • Although already past his prime, Jimmy Graham (ADP 270.7) should be available for free while facing a soft early schedule.
  • Anthony Miller (ADP 157.0) could be a great late-round flier expected to get good points earlier in the year taking advantage of that easy five-game span to start the season.

 

New England Patriots

The regression that the Patriots will suffer after losing Tom Brady was expected to be huge before adding Cam Newton, and although the new Patriot QB will definitely raise the team's floor we'll have to wait until we actually see him to know his current form. No matter what, though, New England faces the third-softest SOS against the run and the seventh-softest against the pass. Not many teams will have it so easy against both those types of defense. Only Dallas and San Fransisco will have it easier against the run, and the Niners alone against the pass too.

  • Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room. Cam Newton's ADP slowly dropped from January (near-100) to June, when it touched the ground (above 250) and then suddenly started to rise in July after his signing with New England. He's currently getting drafted with an ADP of 142.1 good for QB21. No change here in comparison to either of the quarterbacks from the teams above, with Newton being a player with QB1 upside but so many doubts around his health that it doesn't make much sense to tab him as your No. 1 option in redraft leagues. You can use a late-round pick on him, though, as he is supposedly going to at least start the year healthy and the early schedule benefits him. Newton could be one of the strongest streaming options for the first few games of the season and (maybe?) droppable/tradable after that.
  • The Patriots receiving corps are slim at best, that's right, but that also works in your favor if you get any shares of their parts as they're about to rack up targets no matter what. WR Julian Edelman is going off the boards as the WR36 these days with an ADP of just 120.6, making him a great addition with a 10+ round pick and with clear WR1/2 upside whether Newton plays over expectations or not. Taking advantage of the soft schedule, though, N'Keal Harry (ADP 137.9) and Mohamed Sanu Sr. (ADP 266.7) are clear late-round fliers or waiver wire targets to snatch early, exploit, and then drop. Don't hesitate at running with them at least for the start of the year.
  • New England's backfield is the one poised to benefit the most during the first five weeks of the season. RBs Sony Michel and James White complement each other nicely, with the former being the clear carrier and the latter in on pass-catching situations. Michel is the RB39 and projects to finish as the RB34 with 192 rushing attempts for 150.4 PPR points. White is the RB35 and projects to end 2020 as the RB32 with 77 targets (third-most in NE) and 153.7 PPR points. Both of them are thus expected to return more than positive ROIs for those fantasy GMs using them all year long, with even more upside during the first few games of the year.



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Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More