What You Need to Know:

  • The Green Bay Packers have the easiest 2023 fantasy football schedule for passing based on 2022 pass defense efficiency.
  • The New York Giants have the hardest 2023 fantasy football schedule for passing based on 2022 pass defense efficiency.
  • The Minnesota Vikings have the easiest 2023 fantasy football schedule for rushing based on 2022 run defense efficiency.
  • The Miami Dolphins have the hardest 2023 fantasy football schedule for rushing based on 2022 run defense efficiency.

There is no perfect way to determine strength of schedule for the upcoming NFL season. Some are much better than others – such as our metric that relies on Vegas win totals – but even the best ones are not actionable for fantasy drafts.

Strength of schedule is difficult because teams change dramatically every season, especially on defense. Simple turnover luck can help the worst passing defense in the league improve to a middle-of-the-pack unit the next season.

Teams also target their weaknesses during the offseason, so the worst defenses tend to add more talent than the elite ones from the season before.

All of that said, some of those strength of schedule failings can be mitigated by using efficiency numbers that take game script out of the equation, looking at each schedule critically, and focusing primarily on the extremes on either side.

Full Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule, Passing:

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Rank (1=Easiest)Team
1Green Bay Packers
2New Orleans Saints
3Indianapolis Colts
4Carolina Panthers
5Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6Atlanta Falcons
7Chicago Bears
8Detroit Lions
9Houston Texans
10Tennessee Titans
11Baltimore Ravens
12Denver Broncos
13Cincinnati Bengals
14San Francisco 49ers
15Minnesota Vikings
16Los Angeles Chargers
17Jacksonville Jaguars
18Cleveland Browns
19Seattle Seahawks
20Pittsburgh Steelers
21Arizona Cardinals
22Kansas City Chiefs
23Philadelphia Eagles
24Las Vegas Raiders
25Dallas Cowboys
26New York Jets
27New England Patriots
28Buffalo Bills
29Washington Commanders
30Los Angeles Rams
31Miami Dolphins
32New York Giants

The Packers face four of the bottom 11 pass defenses from a year ago over the first five weeks – Bears (31), Falcons (30), Lions (22), and Raiders (32) – before going on bye in Week 6.

Three of those are on the road, and that home game is against a Lions defense that added some talent in the secondary this offseason.

Still, this is a great opening schedule for Jordan Love as he attempts to prove he is a starting-caliber quarterback, and it does not get much more difficult as the season goes along. The Packers are only scheduled to play four teams that finished inside the top 18 in pass efficiency defense last season.

It is not a surprise to see the top of this list dominated by the NFC South.

The Saints ranked well in defensive pass efficiency last season, but the Bucs were midpack while the Panthers and Falcons had bottom-six units.

Tampa surprisingly was able to keep Jamel Dean this offseason while Carolina and Atlanta look like they could get better play from their secondary this season. It is possible all of the NFC South teams are slightly over-ranked here.

On the other end of the spectrum, the NFC East teams are hurt by a division that includes the first (Eagles) and third (Cowboys) ranked defenses by pass efficiency last season.

Also hurting the Giants is a Commanders defense that finished 17th in that metric, will have a healthier pass rush with Chase Young back, and added a corner in the first round.

None of this is great news for Daniel Jones, who averaged 5.9 yards per attempt, took 16 sacks, and totaled four touchdowns in five games against the division last season.

The Dolphins are in for a tough go in the passing and rushing game this season.

In their own division, the Bills were the “worst” of the group at “only” ninth in pass efficiency defense in 2022, and they have to face the aforementioned NFC East.

They get a little luck with the Panthers and Titans, but 11 of their games come against teams that finished in the top 12 of pass defense efficiency.

Tua Tagovailoa will have earned it if he matches his performance from last season.

Easiest Schedule Fantasy Football Playoffs, Passing

Rank (1=Easiest)TeamOpponents
1Indianapolis ColtsPIT, ATL, LV
2Carolina PanthersATL, GB, JAX
3Houston TexansTEN, CLE, TEN
4Green Bay PackersTB, CAR, MIN
5Chicago BearsCLE, ARI, ATL

The Texans stand out in this group because they get two matchups against a Titans team that allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season.

Tennessee did not add a ton of help, but health in the secondary could go a long way to them improving this year.

That said, it is also possible the Titans are just bad, Derrick Henry is no longer on the team by this point in the season, and their defense is getting roasted. C.J. Stroud should also be settled in as the starter by this point in the season.

Tod Burrows identified that Titans-Texans matchup as a sneaky one to target for Week 17 stacking in best ball tournaments.

Pass efficiency defense likely will not matter as much for Anthony Richardson‘s fantasy value since so much of his anticipated value is as a runner, but it is still good to see an easy schedule for the fantasy playoffs. Especially since it would not be a surprise if Richardson improves quickly as a passer under coach Shane Steichen.

Full Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule, Rushing

Rank (1=Easiest)Team
1Minnesota Vikings
2Chicago Bears
3Green Bay Packers
4Detroit Lions
5Denver Broncos
6New Orleans Saints
7Kansas City Chiefs
8Las Vegas Raiders
9Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10Carolina Panthers
11Atlanta Falcons
12Tennessee Titans
13Dallas Cowboys
14Los Angeles Rams
15San Francisco 49ers
16Arizona Cardinals
17Washington Commanders
18Pittsburgh Steelers
19Baltimore Ravens
20New York Jets
21Los Angeles Chargers
22Indianapolis Colts
23Seattle Seahawks
24Houston Texans
25Buffalo Bills
26Jacksonville Jaguars
27Cincinnati Bengals
28New England Patriots
29New York Giants
30Cleveland Browns
31Philadelphia Eagles
32Miami Dolphins

The Vikings are a fascinating team to see at the top of this list after they finished 25th in EPA per rush and 26th in yards per carry a season ago.

It is interesting both given the uncertain future of Dalvin Cook, who at this point seems more likely to be somewhere else when Week 1 rolls around, and the likelihood the Vikings would have rebounded somewhat even without an easy schedule after dealing with injuries along the offensive line last season.

The Vikings face just three defenses that ranked inside the top 16 in rush defense efficiency last season and only one that ranked inside the top 10. Depending on what happens with Cook, this could be a great situation for Alexander Mattison or whoever ends up atop the depth chart — seventh-round rookie DeWayne McBride is a name to watch.

Hilariously given their overall struggles on defense, the Vikings actually had the best run defense in the division in 2022, finishing 16th in rush defense efficiency.

The Lions (27th), Bears (30th), and Packers (31st) all finished in the bottom six.

The Bears in particular should be better this year, and the other two units have a chance as well. That might mean the Vikings and the rest of the division are slightly too high in these rankings.

As mentioned above, the Dolphins have a rough go in both the passing and running game. It is particularly tough down the stretch.

Every one of Miami’s opponents from Week 12 until the end of the season finished in the top 10 in rush defense efficiency last season, and three of the seven games come against teams that finished in the top five.

The backfield is already too crowded for fantasy comfort, and this schedule does Raheem MostertJeff Wilson, and Devon Achane no favors.

The Eagles also stand out with the second-hardest run defense schedule, but the schedule is frontloaded.

The Eagles have six games against defenses that finished outside the top 12 in rush defense efficiency last season, and four of those come over the final four weeks of the season.

As shown in the table below, the Eagles actually have the easiest run defense schedule for the fantasy playoffs.

It might not play out that way if the Giants’ and Seahawks’ offseason additions work out, but the Cardinals offer about as juicy a matchup as possible in Week 17.

Easiest Schedule Fantasy Football Playoffs, Rushing

Rank (1=Easiest)TeamOpponents
1Philadelphia EaglesSEA, NYG, ARI
2Chicago BearsCLE, ARI, ATL
3Tennessee TitansHOU, SEA, HOU
4Minnesota VikingsCIN, DET, GB
5Carolina PanthersATL, GB, JAX

Even if Justin Fields‘ stats are removed from the equation, the Bears were a good rushing team last season.

Their running backs ranked 13th in yards per carry despite seeing a stacked box at the seventh-highest rate.

David Montgomery is no longer there, but they could have a better situation with D’Onta Foreman, Khalil Herbert, and fourth-round rookie Roschon Johnson. If one of those three emerges as the clear lead back, they could be a great option in the fantasy playoffs.

Depending on what happens with Derrick Henry, the Titans getting the Texans twice over the final three weeks including in Week 17 could be interesting for best ball tournaments.

Houston made additions this offseason including hiring DeMeco Ryans as head coach, so it is not a given they will actually be a great matchup.

However, if they are and Henry is traded midseason, third-round rookie Tyjae Spears would be in a great spot for the playoffs both in standard fantasy football leagues and best ball tournaments.

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Which NFL team has the easiest 2023 fantasy football schedule for passing?

The Green Bay Packers have the easiest 2023 fantasy football schedule for passing based on 2022 pass defense efficiency.

Which NFL team has the hardest 2023 fantasy football schedule for passing?

The New York Giants have the hardest 2023 fantasy football schedule for passing based on 2022 pass defense efficiency.

Which NFL team has the easiest 2023 fantasy football schedule for rushing?

The Minnesota Vikings have the easiest 2023 fantasy football schedule for rushing based on 2022 run defense efficiency.

Which NFL team has the hardest 2023 fantasy football schedule for rushing?

The Miami Dolphins have the hardest 2023 fantasy football schedule for rushing based on 2022 run defense efficiency.