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Takeaways from the 2024 Schedule Release

NFL Fantasy

The NFL schedule release has become a huge event across the country, with attentive fans racing to their calendars to plan tailgates and travel for the upcoming season. We now know the week-by-week matchups for the 2024 season, which always elicits excitement, projections and a wide array of conclusions. Each week is its own separate entity, but the start of the season and fantasy playoffs serve as a critical foundation for a successful fantasy football campaign. 

Here are my initial thoughts on the 2024 NFL schedule. We also took a look at the biggest bye weeks of 2024, and then Friday we’ll have a look at the top QB pairings for 2024 based on the schedule.

Fantasy Takeaways of the 2024 NFL Schedule Release

Five Easiest NFL Schedules: Weeks 1-5

5. Chicago Bears

The Bears face five opponents with an average projected win total of 7.5 over the first five weeks of the season. That includes home matchups against Tennessee, the Rams and Carolina. Last year, the Bears started the season with four straight losses, so 2024 gives them every opportunity to shine against a favorable starting slate. 

4. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins also battle five straight opponents with an average projected win total of just 7.5 games, but three of those games are at home, including the opening two games of the season (Jaguars, Bills). An early-season Week 5 trip to New England also provides a weather advantage for their speed-based offensive attack.

3. Seattle Seahawks

Three home games in the first five weeks for Seattle, with their first five opponents carrying an average of just 7.3 projected wins. A tough Week 4 road game at Detroit is balanced by an opening home matchup with Denver and a Week 5 visit from the New York Giants.

2. San Francisco 49ers

The defending NFC Champions have an excellent chance to start the season strong with three home matchups, including the Patriots and Cardinals in Weeks 4 and 5. Their toughest projected matchup is the Jets, who they host in Week 1 on Monday Night Football.

1. New York Jets

The Jets are the only team to open the season against five teams with a projected win total of less than seven games. Their Week 1 matchup at San Francisco is as tough as possible, but that is more than compensated by four subsequent games against the Titans, Patriots, Broncos and Vikings. That’s four straight games (two at home) against teams with a projected win total of 6.5 games or less. Aaron Rodgers will be given every opportunity to get the Jets off to a 4-1 start for only the seventh time in franchise history.

Five Hardest NFL Schedules: Weeks 1-5

5.  Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings face an opening group of opponents with an average projected win total of 9.5. They face San Francisco, Green Bay and Houston, with a Week 5 battle against the Jets in London. The only saving grace? They have an easy opener at the Giants and face the 49ers and Texans at home.

4. Arizona Cardinals

Arizona has the exact same opponent projected win total (9.5) as Minnesota, but faces a brutal trio of three teams with a 10.5 win total or higher. The Cardinals have a much harder opening game at Buffalo, and battling the Lions at home is hardly an advantage. The Bills, Lions and 49ers would be a daunting task for any team.

3. Los Angeles Rams

Residing in the same division as Arizona, the Rams have virtually the same schedule, but start the year with two straight road games and a trip to San Francisco. An 0-3 start to the season is certainly possible, followed by a trip to upstart Chicago and a visit from the Packers.

2. Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City opponents decrease in difficulty over the first five weeks, but their first two games against the Ravens and Bengals are statistically the hardest of any team in the league. The Chiefs then have road matchups with the Falcons and Chargers before an easier home game against the Saints. The league is clearly making the Chiefs’ three-peat as difficult as possible.

1. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens face the hardest opening five games to start the season. The average projected win total of their opponents is 9.9, with an incredible four teams carrying a 10.5 win total line or higher. Baltimore only has two home games, with road battles at Kansas City (Week 1), at Dallas (Week 3) and at rival Cincinnati in Week 5.

Five Easiest NFL Schedules: Weeks 13-17

5.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay has the distinct advantage of facing Carolina twice during the most critical span of the fantasy season, including during the fantasy championships in Week 17. Las Vegas at home in Week 14 is also as favorable a nondivisional matchup as the Buccaneers could have imagined.

4. Atlanta Falcons

You could make an argument that Atlanta has the easiest end-of-year schedule of opponents with the Vikings, Raiders, Giants and Commanders all holding 6.5 win total projections. They only place fourth because of three road games during that time.

3. Washington Commanders

Washington only has four opponents during this part of the schedule due to a Week 15 bye. The Titans at home in Week 13 is ideal, as are the three home games during this five-week stretch. Their toughest game is division-rival Philadelphia at home in Week 16.

2. Arizona Cardinals

Arizona faces five opponents who only average 6.3 projected wins for the upcoming season during the late-season stretch. The Cardinals received a gift with the Patriots and Panthers in Weeks 15 and 16, while ending this stretch with a winnable game at home against the division-rival Rams. Their Week 13 matchup is home against the Vikings with rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

1. Indianapolis Colts

There is no team with an easier finishing schedule than the Indianapolis Colts. They will battle four teams that all have 6.5 or lower projected win totals, sandwiched around a bye in Week 14. While Indianapolis has three road games, there is no better ending to the fantasy season than Denver, Tennessee and the Giants.

Five Hardest NFL Schedules: Weeks 13-17

5.  San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers may start the season with an easy list of opponents, but they end with a challenge. San Francisco travels to Buffalo (Week 13) and Miami (Week 16), and ends this stretch against the Lions at home. Only the home matchups against the Bears and Rams keeps San Francisco from being ranked worse than fifth.

4. Miami Dolphins

Just like the 49ers, the Dolphins start easy but end with a huge challenge. Miami will travel to cold-weather Green Bay and talented Houston, before ending the year with two of the NFL’s best defenses in San Francisco and the Browns at home.

3. Detroit Lions

No easy schedule for the Lions this season, as they end this stretch with Green Bay, Buffalo and San Francisco, who all have projected win totals at 10.5 or higher. They lack any semblance of an “easy” game, as the other two matchups are against division-rival Chicago.

2. Houston Texans

The Texans were the surprise team of the NFL last season, and they certainly have a challenging 2024 schedule to prove it. The Texans face four teams with an average of 10.3 projected wins this season, including the Dolphins, Chiefs and Ravens in order. While their Week 14 bye helps the actual team, it also hurts fantasy owners who need a big performance to reach the fantasy playoffs.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers

I have never seen an end-of-season gauntlet as hard as Pittsburgh has this season. They will play all five weeks, and in order, will travel to Cincinnati, host Cleveland, travel to Philadelphia and Baltimore, before hosting the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Throw in their Week 18 battle against the Bengals, and the Steelers face five teams in six weeks that carry a projected win total of 10.5 or higher. Just an all-time tough Week 13-17 schedule for the Steelers.

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